As an aquaculturist, you are in charge of the farming of aquatic organisms, including culturing and growing freshwater and marine finfish, shellfish, and aquatic plants. Aquaculturists specialize in operating, monitoring, and maintaining aquatic farms, including rearing fish classes in natural or controlled environmental such as tanks, ponds, or net cages. Aquaculturists require a broad range of knowledge such as fish health, water chemistry, and mechanical skills, and can work on land-based operations or large freshwater and marine grow-out sites. Aquaculturists play a key role in ensuring the sustainability and quality management of Canada’s aquatic farms.
At a glance
Imagine you are kneeling on a floating dock peering down into a net cage four metres wide and eight metres deep, carefully watching the school of trout swimming inside the cage. You are an aquaculturist working for a large fish farm, and this cage is one of dozens you monitor daily. But you have been observing these particular fish all morning. You've noticed in the past few days that they seem sluggish and are not feeding as voraciously as usual. You are concerned about their health and are trying to determine a cause for their unusual behaviour.As an aquaculturist, you know there are a number of factors that could be contributing to the changes in behaviour you have noted in these trout. As a first step in your investigation, you spend several hours monitoring the trout's behaviour and carefully recording your observations so you can accurately describe what is wrong. You also check the cage's equipment to make certain all the pumps and aerators are working properly. The fish are fed a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients, but to rule out malnourishment, you check that food stocks have been stored properly and haven't passed their expiry date. Water quality may also be an issue: these fish are raised in a natural environment, but their net cages are near the shore of a large lake and share water with summer cottages, boats, swimmers, and other wildlife. You collect water samples from the cages and the lake and send those to the lab to be tested for contaminants. You also gather a few sample fish that will be sent to a fish pathologist for autopsy and bacterial plating. With your careful observations, analytical testing, and aquaculture expertise, you should be able to find the cause of the problem and restore these trout to full health.
Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as an aquaculturist:
Manage and operate facilities such as hatcheries, nurseries, and final grow-out sites.
Monitor systems and operations, for example fish behaviour, feed consumption, and water quality parameters such as temperature, salinity, and oxygen levels.
Calculate feeding regimes and make necessary adjustments according to observations and husbandry activities.
Implement breeding programs and coordinate growing schedules.
Maintain records, for example stock, cage movements, splits, and transfers.
Clean tanks and screens and hand-feed where required.
Maintain inventory and order supplies and feed.
Install, repair, and maintain equipment
Aquaculturists work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to:In the office:
Doing paperwork and analyzing data for reporting
Maintaining databases of information, for example records of growth, feeding, and mortality rates
Communicating on the phone and in meetings with colleagues, supervisors, government officials, and the public
Maintaining inventory and ordering supplies
In the field:
Monitoring equipment and operations
Monitoring fish behaviour and health
Cleaning and maintaining equipment
Where to work
There are a number of places aquaculturists can find employment. They include:
Commercial fish farms and feed producers
Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments
Colleges, universities, and research institutes
Pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms
Marine science institutions and aquariums
Education & requirements
In most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as an aquaculturist is a college technical diploma.If you are considering a career as an aquaculturist, the following programs are most applicable:
Fish and Wildlife
Fisheries and Biology
Certification is not mandatory in order to work as an aquaculturist, though many practitioners choose to belong to organizations such as the Aquaculture Association of Canada.High school courses that will prepare you for a job as an aquaculturist include:
Agriculture support worker
Crop and livestock producer
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