The Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (DISAFA) performs research to deliver knowledge and innovation, and provide evidence-based sustainable solutions to current and future challenges. DISAFA has a strong experience on animal husbandry and animal nutrition as well as on product quality.

In particular, in the fish nutrition sector, DISAFA researchers have a particular experience on the use of alternative protein sources (insect, poultry by-products and vegetable meals) and lipid sources in aquafeed and their effects on growth, digestibility, product quality, intestinal health, microbiota and metabolic responses of freshwater fish species.

Other expertise are related to the methods of fish slaughtering as well the effect of stocking densities on welfare of fish reared under organic aquaculture rules.

DISAFA offers two installations:

1) UNITO- DISAFA-AQUA (fish nutrition platform)

2) DISAFA-INSECTS – Insect rearing farm

UNITO- DISAFA-AQUA (fish nutrition platform)

Infrastructure: UNITO-DISAFA-AQUA (Fish nutrition platform)

Location: Carmagnola, ITALY

Web site address: https://www.disafa.unito.it/do/home.pl

Contact: Laura Gasco (laura.gasco@unito.it)


The DISAFA-AQUA is the experimental farm for aquaculture trials. The farms is mainly dedicated to rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) nutritional trials (whole life cycle) but other freshwater species can also be reared (i.e sturgeons – Acipeser baerii, A. trasmontanus, A. gueldenstaedtii).

It offers three independent growing systems and one digestibility system. All systems are available for TNA.

Growing tanks system: includes twelve (3000L) indoor, twenty-one (100L) and twenty-four (400L) outdoor tanks. For all tanks, the water is provided by an artesian well water (constant temperature of 13 ± 1 °C all over the year) supplied in flow-through open system.

Digestibility system: two series of six cylindro-conical tanks (240L – flow-through open system) with automatic faeces collector (Choubert et al. 1982), recognized by EIFAC as the most valid method for in vivo evaluation of apparent digestibility coefficients (ADC) of diets and ingredients, and the estimation of suspended matter loss of dietary origin.

Two full-time permanent technical staff work on site. DISAFA-AQUA is located in Carmagnola, 25 km from Turin.

Services currently offered by the infrastructure

DISAFA-AQUA allows experimentation in on all stages from eggs to large trout but also growing trials using sturgeons. It hosts all UNITO research teams working on farmed salmonids (which can bring scientific support to visiting scientists) but also other research organizations or universities in Italy and Europe.

In addition to the above services, research laboratories are available at DISAFA headquarter (Grugliasco – about 25 km far from the experimental infrastructure). These laboratories have all the necessary analytical equipment for nutrition related work. In particular, laboratory facilities are equipped for proximate, chemical composition, mineral, HPLC, GC, histology and microbioma analyses to be carried out on feed and biological fish samples.

Another important aspect that could be evaluated at DISAFA-AQUA is how the feed influence the flesh quality when using potential alternative feedstuff. At the experimental farm a laboratory equipped with a vacuum machine, a bench colorimeter, a portable pHmeter, a refrigerated chamber, and a 80°C fridge for sampling and storage of chilled and frozen samples is available to perform shelf life trials. Moreover, at DISAFA headquarter other flesh quality parameters (texture, TPA and cooking losses) could be assessed in order to complete the panel of quality analysis. Sensory analyses can be performed using untrained panelist and results can be coupled with results of electronic nose.

Modality of access

Each user is expected to stay 10 days, typically 5 days at the beginning of the experiment to finalize the technical protocol details and start the experiment and 5 days at the end of the experiment for final measurements and sampling. The TNA access includes the use of tanks and the trial follow-up (daily feeding and husbandry of fish; manipulation, and sampling of fish). The whole trial is performed under the supervision of scientific staff and implemented by skilled technical staff. Scientific support will include advice on experimental design and methodology, documentation of results for all experiments conducted in the project and appropriate sampling and storage of samples.

TNA user will be strongly integrated in all processes, from trial set up to trial ongoing, sampling, data recording, due analyses and assessment, and preparation and dissemination of results.

Unit of access

One unit of access for the DISAFA-AQUA is defined as one tank/week. One typical access consists of 144 units of access (12 tanks for 12 weeks: i.e. three (or four factors), in quadruplicate (or triplicate) during 12 weeks).

One unit of access includes: advice on experimental design, use of tanks (including fish supply and daily maintenance) and measurements, routine sampling and biometric measurements, conservation of samples, access to an office with internet communication. Fish feeds (not extruded) can be produced using the feed plant. Specific raw material should be provided by user.


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