Core Competencies

  • Aquaculture of fishes and mussels
  • Cultivation of macro- and microalgae
  • Water analytics and treatment
  • Production of algae extracts
  • Algae ingredients and their use in biotechnology
  • Fish physiology research
  • Fish reproduction and larval rearing
  • Selective breeding of fish
  • Marine ecology

Development of a land-based marine multi-trophic aquaculture for sustainable resource utilization

The Aquaculture workgroup primarily deals with the development of a land-based marine multi-trophic aquaculture system, in which organisms of different trophic stages (fishes, mussels, algae) are cultivated in an interrelated system. The main advantages of such integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) lie above all in the optimum utilization of the feed energy used, and in increasing the added value. Through the secondary production of highly valuable algae and filter organisms for nutritional purposes as well as medical and cosmetic applications, IMTA systems can represent an advantageous economical and ecological supplementation to conventional, land-based aquaculture systems.

The Fraunhofer EMB has made its aim to test the feasibility and profitability of IMTA concepts. In doing so, the interactions among organisms with regard to their performance potential, quality and well-being play a decisive role. Techniques such as ultrasound and thermographic analyses will be tested for the non-invasive monitoring of fish and mussel growth.

In the macroalgae focus area, local species whose ingredients are important for the industry are primarily used (e.g. carrageenan and alginate). The objective of the workgroup is to determine the optimal cultivation parameters for different macroalgae and evaluate their aquaculture potential.


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Aquaculture of the thicklipped grey mullet

The thicklipped grey mullet (Chelon labrosus) is an omnivorous fish species which is a sustainable alternative to carnivorous fish for aquaculture. The project’s objective is to make this fish usable for marine aquaculture as a new and sustainable species. To achieve this, new farming technologies and innovative approaches for reproduction and larval rearing in closed circulation systems are applied to ensure stable fingerling production independent from wild catches.

Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture, IMTA systems

Conventional aquaculture has the disadvantage of generating large amounts of sewage that must be purified at great expense. Such problems are reduced in the IMTA because several organisms from various trophic levels are used to decrease the load of nutrients and waste. The particulate nutrients of the fishes are taken up by filtering organisms and the dissolved nutrients are utilized by macroalgae. This technique improves water quality and generates additional products. Further research is conducted to investigate possible positive feedback effects of the invertebrates on the fish.

Fish monitoring

Aquaculture systems need techniques that continuously record (online) all important (abiotic and biotic) parameters to make fish production precisely controllable. Apart from the already established measurements of water parameters, it is particularly important to monitor the fish biomass, behavior and feed intake. To do this, processes that allow the most non-invasive treatments and observation methods and recording of the animals as possible are developed.

Macroalgae and their application in aquaculture and biotechnology

In multi-trophic aquaculture, the nutrient-rich wastewater of the fish tanks is utilized for mussel and algae cultivation. The algae biomass provided can be used for producing active compounds. From the algae, extracts are manufactured, purified and tested for their effect on biofilms and stem cells in various assays – which can promote proliferation or be cytostatic or cytotoxic. Other possible applications for medicine and other fields are being analyzed.


  • Short-term effects of increasing CO2, nitrate and temperature on three Mediterranean macroalgae: biochemical composition - Dagmar B. Stengel, Rafael Conde-Álvarez,SolèneConnan, Udo Nitschke, Francisco Arenas, Helena Abreu, José Bonomi Barufi, Fungyi Chow, Daniel Robledo, Erik-Jan Malta, Mayte Mata, Talina Konotchick,Cristina Nassar, Ángel Pérez-Ruzafa, David López, Ronny Marquardt, FátimaVaz-Pinto, Paula Celis Plá, Maibe Hermoso, Esther Ruiz, Gema Ordoñez, Pauli Flores, Marianela Zanolla, Elena Bañares-España, María Altamirano, Nathalie Korbee, Kai Bischof, Félix L. Figueroa - Aquatic Biology - 2014 doi: 10.3354/ab00576


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