Test Installations for Marine Experiments


ILVO’s aquatic test installations belong to various research groups as follows:

  • The Aquaculture research group specialises in the biology of freshwater and saltwater culture species, the structural and nutritional needs for culture and the optimisation of aquaculture techniques, including infrastructure, improved feed converstion, feed composition, water purification, waste treatment and waste recoversion in polyculture installations, etc. The research rooms are equipped with various tanks and recirculation systems as well as a seawater pipeline straight into the building.
  • The Chemical Environmental and Chain Management research group specialises in detection of chemical contaminants in marine matrices such as sediment, suspended material and various biota, as well as monitoring of the biological effects of these chemical contaminants.
  • The Biological Environmental research group focuses on researching the effects of all types of human activity (zand/gravel extraction, BAGGERSOORTEN, hard substrates such as windmills and pipelines, fisheries) on life in the marine seabed (macrobenthos, epibenthos, demersal fish) and life in the water column (zooplankton and the (semi-)pelagic fish species).
  • The Technical Fisheries research group explores the impact of the BOOMKOOR fisheries, the economic feasibility, ecological valuation of fishery techniques, alternatives for the BOOMKOOR fisheries, diversification of fishery techniques, minimisation of bycatch, effects of climate change, etc.


ILVO has various recirculation systems for experiments that test exposure to contaminants or other stressors, feed experiments, survival tests or innovative aquaculture setups (such as water purification). These installations are built to maximise flexibility.

The Aquaculture Research Group has 10 tanks of 500 l, each with their own recirculation system for general purposes. For feed experiments and survival tests we have 11 small (120 l) and 2 large (2000 l) fish tanks on one recirculation system under controlled light and temperature conditions; 17 small (120 l) fish tanks on one recirculation system; 5 large fish tanks (2000 l) on one recirculation system; and various fish tanks from a few litres up to 3000 l, with and without their own recirculation systems. For large projects, installations can be made to order. In addition to the abovementioned setups, ILVO also has a BROEDHUIS for shellfish and areas dedicated to growing phytoplankton and artemia. Rental of these installations is determined per contract. The price depends on the need of the customer (infrastructure, recirculation flow-through, personnel, and so forth).

The Chemical Monitoring Research Group is responsible for the scientific guidance and advice regarding chemical environmental monitoring. This group has 24 aquaria (60x30x35cm – 50 l) available to perform exposure experiments with toxic chemicals. Manual and continual water refreshment can be chosen (after the necessary adjustments are made). The exposure room is completely separate from other installations, with its own supply of seawater, ventilation, light programme, cooling and waste circuit. Waste water is not recuperated but is chemically purified.

The Biological Monitoring Research Group has its own exposure room with a separate recirculation and cooling system. It contains 16 cilindroconical tanks (11 l) and 10 small fish tanks (120 l). Either flow-through or recirculation are available.

The Technical Fisheries Research Group has various recirculation systems for stocking (fish and shrimp) and testing of various fishing techniques: 8 medium-sized fish tanks (570 l) and 18 small fish tanks (100 l). This group also has a separate room with its own cooling and recirculation system. A SLEEPTANK is also available (6.6 m x 1.5 m x 0.7 m (7 m³).


Daan Delbare aquaculture facilities)
Johan Robbens (chemical exposure tests)
Kris Hostens (exposure testing for non-chemical stressors)
Hans Polet (technical fisheries installations)