Welcome to the Aquaculture Centre of Excellence (ACE). We’re meeting the demand for quality applied research into aquaculture practices specifically adapted to northern geographical locations. Our greenhouse operations, biosecure isolation facilities, water recirculation technologies, and water quality testing and molecular lab capabilities provide a solid foundation for a variety of aquatic-and aquaponic-based research, particularly in:
- aquatic ecosystem health
- water quality
- water conservation
- waste management
- aerobic bioreactor technology
- novel nano- and micro filtration systems (biochar)
- new greenhouse techniques
- organic aquaculture
- food safety
Our ability to carry out diverse research has allowed us to specialize in aquaponics as an example of an integrated self-sustainable food production system, the culture of both warm- and cool-water fish, and other areas of research, including biofiltration, and off-flavour and organoleptic studies.
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The applied research conducted through ACE accomplishes four major goals that benefit our internal and external stakeholders. The Aquaculture Centre of Excellence:
- serves industry
- develops innovative technologies
- disseminates knowledge
- develops the present and future workforce
- promotes direct application of research results
- creates partnerships with industry to sustain economic development
- increases institutional capacity for contract applied research and other service activities to the community, business and industry
Founded on collaboration and joint ventures, our diverse research continues to facilitate partnerships with many private, government and non-profit organizations. We also maintain close contact with the local rural region, which is the main economic development benefactor of our educational programming and applied research.
A brief history of ACE
Aquaculture research began at Lethbridge College in 1989. Our first studies were on the effectiveness of triploid grass carp in controlling rooted aquatic vegetation in irrigation canals. The success of this early research led to a partnership with the Eastern Irrigation District (EID), in which the college produced certified triploid grass carp fingerlings that were then grown out and sold by EID.
A key outcome of this early partnership was the construction of an aquaculture facility at Lethbridge College in 1997 through funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
In 2003, aquaponics research began at ACE in partnership with Alberta Agriculture. That same year, involvement by EID was replaced by a partnership with the Alberta Aquaculture Association. The grass carp program continued under this new partnership until federal regulatory restrictions resulted in its phase out in June 2015.
In 2013, ACE received its first Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) grant for aquaponics, followed by a five-year, $2.1 million grant in 2015 to make Integrated Fish and Plant Systems (IFPS) a commercially-viable food production solution.
In 2018, ACE initiated study to use biochar as a filtration medium in aquaponics, which was funded by Alberta Innovates Campus Alberta Small Business Engagement Program (CASBE) and NSERC Engage Program. The project resulted in a highly efficient and affordable filtration system, which can potentially revolutionize water management in recirculated aquaculture farms.
Today, through the NSERC project and others, ACE continues its tradition of collaborating with industry and community to solve real-world issues through applied research.