This research group is specialised in the biology of marine culture species, the structural and nutritional requirements for the culture and the optimisation of culture techniques, including infrastructure, improved feed conversion, feed composition, water purification, waste treatment and polyculture systems, etc.
The research rooms are equipped with various tanks and recirculation systems and fresh seawater is available on a continuous base.


  • Advice
    ILVO can give scientific guidance about innovative as well as specialised and commercial culture in mono- and polyculture as well as recommendations about species to culture, culture conditions, water purification, waste disposal, construction of professional aquaculture systems, cost-benefit analysis, etc.
  • Renting out installations to third parties
    ILVO Animal Sciences Unit has several recirculation systems in which contaminant exposure trials, feed trials, survival trials or innovative aquaculture installations (such as water recirculation) can be carried out. These systems are constructed to be flexible to target species and research. For exposure trials: 10 tanks on a recirculation system with online monitoring system under controlled conditions for light and temperature. Hatchery with 20 cylindro-conical tanks for the rearing of fish and shellfish larvae. For feed trials, survival trials and/or innovative aquaculture installations: 10 small (120 l) and 2 large fish tanks (2,000 l) on a single recirculation system under controlled conditions for light and temperature; a recirculation system with 17 small fish tanks; a recirculation system with 5 large fish tanks (2,000 l); and various fish tanks ranging from several litres up to 3,000 l, with or without their own recirculation system. Customised installations can also be made upon request. Furthermore, the ILVO Animal Sciences Unit also has facilities to culture phytoplankton, zooplankton organisms, rotifers and hatching of Artemia.
  • Seawater
    The ILVO Animal Sciences Unit has a direct connection to the sea to pump up seawater. After mechanical filtration, the seawater is stored in a tank of 40 m3 before being redistributed to the fish tanks. and can pump in fresh sea water. By means of a, the sea water is transported to a tank with a capacity of 40,000 l and is kept in constant movement. Sea water is available, ranging from a few litres up to 30,000 l, each Tuesday afternoon between 2 and 4 pm or on Friday (only upon making an appointment by telephone).
  • Testing of seawater
    This research group can test the chemical quality of seawater for third parties. This includes the determination of ammonium/ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and phosphate concentrations, pH, salinity, conductivity and carbonate hardness. Upon request, specific tests can also be carried out for boron, iodine, copper, magnesium, strontium and oxygen concentrations.
  • Scoring sustainability of aquaculture products
    At the request of companies, organisations or NGOs, sustainability assessments can be done for aquaculture species. Buyers/clients can use these to highlight the sustainability (or not) of the culture process each target species. These sustainability assessments also serve as a reliable guideline to award additional quality marks or labels. They can be developed to meet the client’s requested profile and needs, and take into account the environmental impact, animal welfare, nutrition, fish stocks, and food safety and socio-economic aspects.
  • Research mussel seed
    This research group can count, weigh and measure mussel seed.


Daan Delbare