Geothermal Aquaculture Economics

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
6 December 2006, at 12:00am

IDAHO - It's 20 degrees outside in southern Idaho's dairy country, but 100,000 angelfish swim contentedly in steaming water pumped from hot springs into Ken Ashley's 6,000-square-foot geothermal greenhouse.

"We've done breeding experiments and growth experiments to see what we can profitably produce," said Ashley, who also toys with African cichlids -- along with the trout and tilapia that are the mainstay of his SeaPac of Idaho fish farm.

Aquaculturists in Idaho, the U.S. leader in rainbow trout production at 44 million pounds annually, have seen the value of their trout fall 5 percent to $35.3 million since 1999, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as pollution controls become more stringent and cold-water spring flows decline.

To help bolster stagnating revenues, University of Idaho researchers at the Aquaculture Research Institute near Hagerman want to raise interest in aquarium fish like the monogamous angelfish pairing in Ashley's greenhouse.

Ninety-degree water from the 1,000-plus springs that dot the landscape from Yellowstone National Park to Oregon is plentiful and disease-free.

Source: Casper Star Tribune