NTNU is the largest university in Norway, with about 40.000 students and it has the national responsibility for graduate engineering education. “NTNU Oceans” is one of NTNU’s four strategic research areas, which all addresses complex challenges of great importance for society through interdisciplinary cooperation (https://www.ntnu.edu/research/strategicareas).

NTNU Oceans has as an overarching vison to help solve the big sustainability challenges in the ocean space. Our main goals are to support science, communication, and innovation within key areas of technology, natural science, social science, humanities and art, and facilitate interdisciplinary activity at the borders between these areas. Our research efforts are combined to create new multidisciplinary solutions supporting a sustainable production of marine living resources, energy and minerals.

Through its research and outreach activities (i.e. Ocean Week), NTNU Oceans contributes to Norway’s role as a maritime nation. Sustainable use of ocean resources – seafood and marine bio-resources is one of six marine multidisciplinary research areas, and is centered on

• Salmon farming, with a special focus on the environmental factors

• Aquaculture technology

• Improved utilization of “new” bio-marine living resources.

NTNU Sealab provides a joint multidisciplinary platform for aquaculture and marine science research and education. It assembles researchers and students in the field of aquaculture biology and technology, fisheries, processing of marine resources, marine engineering, coastal community development and marine toxicology. NTNUs special aquaculture competence is related to several biological aspects of fish, zooplankton, and micro-/macro-algae, open ocean cage systems, land-based recycling systems (RAS), and hatchery technology and logistics.

NTNU Centre for fisheries and aquaculture: Sealab

Infrastructure: NTNU Centre for fisheries and aquaculture: Sealab

Location: Trondheim, NORWAY

Web site address: www.ntnu.no/sealab

Contact: Elin Kjørsvik (elin.kjorsvik@ntnu.no)


The Center for Aquaculture and Fisheries (NTNU Sealab) has hatchery and recycling aquaculture systems, in addition to several smaller temperature regulated experimental rooms, all with access to freshwater and seawater. The NTNU experimental aquaculture infrastructure may combine collaboration within cybernetics and fish farming expertise to generate new knowledge in a wide range of fields, from fish physiology, nutrition, welfare/stress, and development studies, to climate change responses, ecotoxicology, and bacterial community experiments.

NTNU Sealab has licenses for conducting experiments on many fish species, most commonly used are cold-water species such as Atlantic salmon, trout, lumpfish, ballan wrasse, cod, and Atlantic halibut.

At NTNU Sealab, the laboratories are used for research and training of students in biology, engineering, and microbiology at PhD, MSc and bachelor levels. The NTNU “International Master Programme in Ocean Resources” and the bachelor programme “Aquaculture Engineering” are the main aquaculture study programmes.

NTNU Sealab houses laboratories for experiments on cultivation of both marine and freshwater organisms under controlled conditions. NTNU Sealab infrastructure provides access to experimental and analytical laboratories:

CODTECH larviculture laboratory – The automated start-feeding system consists of 16 self-cleaning rearing tanks (100-200 L). It is especially designed for controlled experiments with marine fish larvae and planktonic organisms, with systems for production of live feed organisms and microalgae. The CODTECH laboratory is suitable for experiments on a wide range of freshwater and marine species. Environmental variables, such as temperature, light, dissolved oxygen, and carbon dioxide are monitored and controlled electronically. There are automated systems for feeding live prey and formulated feed.

In-house cultures of live prey organisms (rotifers, Artemia, copepods) and microalgae provide a good basis for nutritional and developmental studies of marine fish during larval and fingerling life stages. The installations thus provide a unique degree of flexibility and automation, which can guarantee optimal cultivation conditions on a continuous basis. Incoming water undergoes a microbial maturation process whereas effluents are submitted to an advanced disinfection procedure. The latter makes the facilities particularly attractive for experiments with different bacterial communities and possible contaminants. This combination makes the facility one of the most advanced cultivation hatchery units in Europe.

The CODTECH larval rearing laboratory is especially designed for experiments with fish larvae, plankton organisms, and fish juveniles. The tanks are “self-cleaning”, with fully controlled light, temperature, and water flow. Automated feeding is used for both live prey and formulated diets. There are 16 self-cleaning rearing tanks (á 100-200 L) available in this laboratory.

Plankton laboratory – NTNU Sealab is partner in EMBRC, and our National Center for Plankton Technology (Plankton lab) offers nine experimental laboratories (á 10 – 30 m2) for plankton experiments (zooplankton and algae), and live prey cultivation. The NTNU laboratory houses world unique cultures of marine copepods, and is well equipped for indoor, controlled algal experiments.

Recirculation laboratory (RAS) – The recirculation system (RAS) laboratory consists of three independent recirculation aquaculture systems each holding six tanks (in total 18 tanks á 380 litre), fully equipped for different types of fish experiments in fresh or brackish water, with automated systems for controlled feeding and environmental parameters.

Analytical laboratories (biochemistry and histology) – The analytical laboratories are equipped with a wide variety of instruments, such as spectrophotometer and spectrofluorometer (both including temperature control and a microplate reader), GLC and HPLC instruments for e.g lipid and protein composition, etc, a coulter counter and an algae incubator. At the histology/morphology laboratory there are fluorescence and light microscopes with computer-assisted stereological software for making volumetric calculations from histological sections, as well as equipment for tissue embedding, sectioning, staining, and tissue analyses.

Routinely operated are also various physiological equipment, such as Ussing chambers for assessing intestinal integrity, clinical blood autoanalyzer, and mitochondrial respiration (OXPHOS).

Services currently offered by the infrastructure

NTNUs CODTECH lab provides a stimulating and integrated environment for basic and applied research in marine aquaculture, such as e.g. fish functional development and growth, fish nutrition, stress physiology, and environmentally related issues.

The cross-disciplinary research group at NTNU with expertise in marine biology and technology, control systems, physiology, microbiology has long experience in innovating and improving aquaculture technology related to the cultivation of salmonids and marine fish species. In the previous AQUAEXCEL projects, the CODTECH lab was “fully booked”, with several experiments related to cultivation of fish larvae and micro-algae, i.e. demonstrating the high potential and economic relevance of using microalgae products based on Pavlova in hatcheries. Currently, the facility is accessed by about 60 users/year, of which about 10 % are from outside Norway.

The NTNU aquaculture research group has a long and broad experience in developing biological knowledge and technology for intensive larval rearing of coldwater species, with numerous national and international research projects, and major international involvement in R&D. The group has a high competence in innovating and improving start feeding techniques related to the cultivation of marine cold water and tropical fish larvae. The group has long experience with salmonid rearing, physiology and nutrition, as well as salmonid ecology. A major expertise has been built up on the establishment of a stable tank environment, reduction of opportunistic bacteria, and the stimulation of a balanced microflora, both in the fish gut and in live prey organisms. Specific attention has been given to the function of probiotic bacteria in intensive aquaculture. During recent years, the facility has also contributed significantly to the development of methods for cultivation of continuous lines of copepods (Calanus finmarchicus and Acartia tonsa). These organisms are considered as important alternative larval feed sources in mariculture, as well as being increasingly used as model species for environmental and toxicological studies.

Marine fish require different types of live prey during the first stages of their life. NTNU has the capacity and experience to produce different types of live feed, depending on the species cultivated and the specific needs of the experiments: microalgae, rotifers, artemia and copepods. These prey organisms can also be enriched in various ways, to provide fish larvae with requested nutritional contents according to experimental design.

Modality of access

Duration of work: On average, each user or user group may stay up to three months at the infrastructure (max 90 days). Initial planning of the experiment will happen well in advance, either by e-mail or through a meeting. Upon arrival, a user(group) will typically do preparatory work in the lab about 1 week before arrival of experimental organisms, and subsequent experiments are conducted. Analysis of samples may be done during or after the experimental period. Specific tools and instruments needed for individual measurements and analysis can be made available if within budget limits.

Unit of access: The unit of access is defined as one month of experimental/analytical laboratory use. One typical access can consist of 3 units of access.

Specify what is included in one unit of access: All include advice on experimental design, fish and plankton/live prey supply, purchase of fish feed, daily maintenance and measurements, routine sampling, conservation of samples, provision of monitoring data, access to office space and internet. This involves equipping the facility and making the necessary preparations before arrival, the training of users in using the control systems and ICT tools prior to, and technical assistance during the experiment. The purchase of fish material, (live and/or formulated) feed or algae is included. Any specific, experiment related components that are not readily available at Sealab need to be purchased by the users themselves. For analytical labs, assistance for sample preparation, and processing of data. User training will be provided if needed.

As soon as a proposal for access is approved by the evaluation panel, the group leader will be contacted and be appointed a contact person at the infrastructure. This person will be responsible for the preparation of the planned experiments. Typically, the group leader will be invited to a meeting for a first discussion on experimental set-up, in advance of the start of the project. Details to be clarified with the facility provider are the number of tanks, species, quantity of eggs, larvae, or larger fish, instruments and analytical labs needed. In addition to the contact person, researchers and/or students working in similar field of research may join the group. This will stimulate the interaction between external and internal users of the facilities, resulting in an expansion of the existing collaborative network and eventually in joint publications. In addition, they will be given the possibility to access analytical laboratories. A project may typically last about 7 weeks, including preparations and performance of the experiments. Upon request, guest researchers and students can join different educational elements that are part of the International Master of Marine Coastal Development.

Monitoring and controlling equipment is designed in-house, and therefore, state-of-the-art expertise will also available to external users. During the transnational access project, support will be offered on a scientific, technical and logistic level:

In addition to the above, technical support for daily experimental work and technical help for samplings will be provided to all users. In case of specific needs, NTNU scientists using the infrastructures (larval development, nutrition, physiology, pathology) will assist users for experimental design and data interpretation.

Scientific support: The scientific staff involved in the ongoing interdisciplinary research and education activities consists of professors, post-doctoral researchers and PhD-students from several departments and faculties. The presence of experts and broad knowledge in first feeding experiments and cultivation of planktonic organisms, fish physiology, larval development and nutrition, microbiology, functional genomics, biotechnology, marine cybernetics, robotics, control systems and ICT tools in intensive aquaculture systems, provides a stimulating research area for external researchers and students visiting the facilities at Sealab.

Technical support: Dedicated technical staff for operation of 18 tanks, instruments, monitoring and sampling gear, adjustment of experimental systems, temperature, water quality, water exchange rate according to experimental design. Supply of live prey organisms, microalgae, and laboratory assistance to perform standard analyses of samples.

Logistic support: All users will be offered an office space, and will be connected to the wireless communication area of NTNU. They will also have the opportunity to use technical workshops, digital meeting rooms and library services. The university’s Office of International Relations offers professional services to all guest researchers. Accommodation is offered within the city of Trondheim by NTNU.

Unit of access

The unit of access is defined as one month of experimental/analytical laboratory use. One typical access can consist of 3 units of access.

Watch a TNA success story performed at NTNU Sealab facilities>>>


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