Belgian Biologist Stijn Van Hoestenberghe decided to put his thesis into practice and started a fish farm Aqua4C, on a completely new ideology.

After his studies, he worked 3 years as a consultant in a shrimp fish farm in the Seychelles and realized a lot was going wrong in fish farms. As a diver he also noticed how little fish were left in the ocean.

According to Stijn, the main problem was that “fish farms try to breed the fish that people like to eat, whether it is sustainable or not, instead of choosing a fish that is suitable for breeding. For instance to produce 1 kg of salmon, you have to feed it 3 kg of anchovies.

As a result of this policy, the anchovy’s population in Peru is nearly eradicated.”

With his biology background, Stijn looked for a suitable fish and started breeding with terapontidae, a kind of perch he found in Australia, which is omnivore. He then experimented on making his own fish feed, mainly based on ingredients that could be grown locally in Belgium, like corn, flax seed, algae, coleseed and soy. This feed is 100% vegetarian and is even edible for humans.

The fish are kept in huge tanks, filled with fresh rain water (of which there is plenty in Belgium). To make the production even more eco-friendly, the waste water with the fish feces is purified in reed land before it goes to his neighboring farmer, to water the tomatoes in the greenhouses.

Because the fish live on a vegetarian diet, the water contains less sodium and more phosphate, which is an excellent fertilizer for the tomatoes. This is a win-win situation for both entrepreneurs.

It takes about 1 year to breed a fish of 700gr, while a salmon needs 3 years before it reaches an adequate size and a cod even needs 4 years to fully grow.

Another advantage of this fish is that it contains a lot of omega 3 fats, even more than salmon.

The first batch of fish was given to some leading restaurants, which were very excited about it. They said the fish had a good structure and taste.

The farm is completely automated and constant monitoring assures the water quality is optimal for the fish.

Stijn is aiming for a production of 2 tons of fish per year.

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