Here is a quick look at our project.

AT THE TANKS

 

This is the most traditional part of our project.  Tiny paddlefish fry are stocked into 100,000 gallon tanks and fed a pelleted food.  At the end of the summer, they are large enough to stock into big water.  So the tanks are drained and they are moved in fish hauling tanks with oxygen.

At the lake

Once the water temperatures cool, the fish are stocked into the lakes.  They will live here for the next ten years.  At their current size, about 18 inches in length, they are reasonably safe from predation from other fish and birds.  Even though they are a river fish, paddlefish grow very well in lakes in the Midwest.  This is because our lakes are rich in zooplankton, the main food source for paddlefish.

Paddlefish posses many unique features that make this type of aquaculture possible. They are not interested in anything on a hook, so they will not accidentally be caught or interfere with sports fishing.  They will not reproduce in a lake environment, so you never have to worry about multiple age classes in the same lake.   Actually, you will never find them in a lake unless you put them there.

We use very specific collection gear to catch our paddlefish.  The large mesh size ensures that smaller fish can swim through.

Making caviar

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Live paddlefish are transported to the processing room.  We use a proprietary blend of Jurassic Period salts, often matching a salt to the subtle differences between one lake and the next.  These beautiful eggs, ranging from light to dark gray sometimes with a green tint, become Big Fish Farms caviar.