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Calanus produces superior aquaculture feed from a renewable marine resource

Calanus harvests the zooplankton Calanus finmarchicus – the largest renewable and harvestable resource in the Norwegian Sea – to produce superior starter feed for farmed marine fish and shrimp.


Aquaculture provides sustainable and nutritious food for a growing global population and accounts for an increasing amount of dietary protein requirements. However, fish and shrimp farms often experience significant biomass loss, which in turn can increase costs and negative environmental impacts.

This problem can partly be attributed to the use of sub-optimal starter feed. Due to the lack of availability of fish meal in recent years, plant protein has become the predominant protein source in aquaculture feed. However, it lacks certain nutrients found in marine protein sources.

Aquaculture starter feed from North Atlantic copepods

Calanus finmarchicus is a 3–4 mm long copepod found in abundance in the North Atlantic. The annual biomass production of Calanus sp. is approximately 290 million metric tons, which is many times higher than the total biomass of all fish species in the same area and implies that it can be harvested with minimal impact.

C. finmarchicus closely resembles the natural prey of shrimp and saltwater fish in their natural habitat and thus offers optimal nutritional composition. The company Calanus AS harvests and processes C. finmarchicus to produce three types of starter feeds: Calanus® Hydrolysate, Calanus® Powder and Calanus® SeaFrozen.

Calanus® Hydrolysate and Calanus® Powder are suitable as ingredients in formulated feed. Calanus SeaFrozen® contains whole, unprocessed copepods that can be fed directly to farmed shrimp and ornamental fish. Calanus-based starter feeds are sustainable and highly nutritious, helping to increase the efficiency of the aquaculture industry while reducing its environmental footprint.

Concrete benefits

Customer experiences thus far show that Calanus-based starter feed improves survival, growth rates and pigmentation in early-stage shrimp and marine fish. The company is now setting up controlled feeding trials to map the specific effects of feeds with Calanus® Hydrolysate and Calanus® Powder inclusions, along with research into their bioactive components .

Calanus® SeaFrozen offers a nutritious alternative to brine shrimp (Artemia), which are the most commonly used starter feed for marine fish and shrimp larvae. Although accessible and affordable, brine shrimp must be enriched with essential fatty acids and vitamins for nutritional value. Meanwhile, Calanus® SeaFrozen is ready to use with an optimal composition of oil, proteins, antioxidants and chitin.

Calanus® Hydrolysate and Calanus® Powder are also suitable as palatability enhancers in pet food to provide an attractive flavour and thus increase food intake.

Market potential

The aquaculture industry is expected to grow significantly over the coming decades, as the world population continues to grow while capture fisheries are approaching their production limit.

The main markets for Calanus® Hydrolysate and Calanus® Powder are feed producers worldwide. Calanus® SeaFrozen is currently marketed to shrimp farms in South America with intent to expand to the South Asian market. To meet the projected increase in demand, Calanus is building a new production facility, which will come online in 2021.

Zero hunger

2. Zero hunger

About the goal

High-quality starter feed can increase aquaculture yields, providing the world with nutritious protein and helping to ensure food security.

Responsible consumption and production

12. Responsible consumption and production

About the goal

Calanus makes efficient use of an abundant, highly renewable resource.

Industry, innovation and infrastructure

9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure

About the goal

Using Calanus finmarchicus as starter feed can maximise resource use, while minimising the environmental impact of aquaculture production.

Life below water

14. Life below water

About the goal

Harvesting quotas for Calanus finmarchicus are set using a precautionary approach, ensuring that the species remains biologically sustainable.

Contact company

Hogne Abrahamsen

Head of Sales and Marketing Animal Nutrition

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