Welcome to the Aquaculture Centre of Excellence (ACE). We’re meeting the demand for quality applied research into aquaculture and aquaponic practices specifically adapted to northern geographical locations.
Our greenhouse operations, biosecure isolation facilities, water recirculation technologies, and water quality testing 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, off-flavour and organoleptic studies.
If you have a challenge that you are looking to solve, we may be able to help.
News & Stories
Meet Our People
Nick Savidov, PHD
SENIOR RESEARCH SCIENTIST – AQUAPONICS
Nick was born and raised in his native Russia, where he received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry in Russian State Agricultural University in Moscow. He conducted his postdoctoral studies in Plant Biochemistry Lab in Ben-Gurion University in Israel and at the University of Alberta.
Dr. Nick Savidov is an internationally recognized expert in aquaponics. He has been involved in aquaponic research for 18 years. His contribution to the field includes development of solid waste processing in Recirculated Aquaculture Systems, which resulted in the first zero-waste, sustainable, food production system in the world.
Dr. Savidov assumed positions at the Research Greenhouse Crops Program Lead at Crop Diversification Centre South with Alberta Agriculture Food and Rural Development in 2001 and continued his research in Bio-Industrial Opportunities Branch as a Senior Research Scientist developing sustainable agricultural systems based on water and nutrient recycling for commercial growers at Crop Diversification Centre North.
Kristine Wilson MSC
Main roles include assistance in writing of research proposals, grants and reporting. Carrying out the requirements of research projects from experimental design, to sample collection, analysis and data handling and management in collaboration with the research scientist and aquaponics coordinator. Provides assistance with ongoing research projects and consults with the senior research scientist to facilitate continued research and development at the Aquaculture Centre of Excellence.
John Derksen MSC, P.BIOL
CHAIR AND INSTRUCTOR (LIMNOLOGY, FISHERIES & AQUAPONICS)
John’s expertise is centered around aquatic ecology and aquaculture. He obtained his degrees in Fisheries and Fish Pathology from the University of Guelph. John has been teaching at Lethbridge College since 1997.
From obtaining a Renewable Resource Management diploma to running his own trout hatchery, Clay joined Lethbridge College in 1997. Clay has a broad and deep understanding and experience with raising a vast variety of fish species and has the mechanical savvy to construct, repair and maintain any number of aquaculture related systems and associated operations.
Penny has a Renewable Resource Management diploma and came on full time at ACE in 2008. She has developed skills in seeding, transplanting, harvesting and preparing plants for sales or research trials in an aquaponic greenhouse setting. Penny trains and coordinates our student labour force and volunteers.
Pratik Patel, M.Sc.
An experienced analytical technician with a broad knowledge of water chemistry and plant tissue analysis and responsible for analytical equipment, developing SOPs, and training students.
Daria Ladighina, B.ASc.
A recent LC grad that has a diverse set of skills including greenhouse crop production, fish rearing, data collection and analysis. Daria has extended knowledge of various analytical methods and analytical equipment.
Commercialization of Organic Nutrient Solution
Working with a private producer the commercialization and marketing of an organic and biologically safe plant fertilizer made entirely from fish effluent from aquaculture operations. This is a project with Granary Road, Calgary AB.
Henderson Lake Water Quality Monitoring
Since 2009, Henderson Lakes water quality and plankton profile has been monitored to gauge the effectiveness and impact of lake management changes and decisions. Lake conditions continue to improve, and positive change has been realized through continued monitoring and assessment of lake conditions between April and September each year. This is an ongoing project in concert with the City of Lethbridge.
Today, sturgeon populations in the South Saskatchewan River are designated as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. They are currently being considered for listing under the Species at Risk Act and are listed as Threatened under the Alberta Wildlife Act. Sturgeon management and recovery plans have identified herpes viruses as a threat to conservation efforts, but the risk is difficult to assess given the lack of information on the types of viruses and their presence in wild populations. It’s that gap that the team from ACE is hoping to fill this summer by catching sturgeon, collecting tissue samples from their fins and sending them to Fisheries and Oceans Canada for testing.
A privately funded one to two-year contract to establish and improve on existing practices of culturing walleye in recirculating aquaculture systems for the food market such that it can become economically viable. If successful, this project could result in a commercial walleye rearing facility being established in Alberta. Company – Western Walleye Inc.
Zignar Technologies and the Aquaculture Centre of Excellence (ACE) (part of the Integrated Agriculture Technology Centre of Lethbridge College) are currently working together to develop a monitoring system for industry, educational, and research applications for water quality.
As part of the agreement, ACE will purchase the equipment and materials with joint funding from Grande Prairie Regional Innovation Network (GPRIN); Zignar Technologies will provide an in kind contribution of 200 hours of software development and engineering services to design, implement, and test a versatile, and cost-effective water quality monitoring system for industry, educational, and research applications.
Together with an established composting company (Ecodrum), the Aquaculture Centre of Excellence and Lethbridge College are partnering to commercialize the bioreactor technology that is currently being used at the ACE facility, to convert all fish waste from its operations into a natural, balanced and stable fertilizer. This project is estimated to be introduced into the aquaculture industry over the next two years.
Storm Water Quality Monitoring
The biological, chemical (pesticides) and nutrient monitoring of a number of Lethbridge stormwater discharges to the Oldman River were studied between 2012 to 2014. This was a joint project between Oldman Watershed Council, City of Lethbridge, Agriculture Canada and Lethbridge College.
Numerous wildfish species were cleaned of parasites and disease, migrated to a domestic diet in preparation for introduction into the public display aquaria at the Bow Habitat Station in Calgary, AB. Quarantine facilities were also utilized for secure holding of fish from other countries prior to disease clearance and release to respective culture facilities (i.e. barramundi, trout, salmon).
Development of highly productive zero-waste food production platform based on microfiltration and nutrient recycling
High quality bamboo biochar source was identified, and the material received in December 2017. Forty-one aquaponics modules have been designed and constructed as planned. The units were modified during the course of the experiments to make them more robust and easier to manage. The experiments on testing flow rates and varying thickness biochar microfiltration units were conducted as planned. The rate of 3.3 µL cm-1 sec-1 and 8 cm thick biochar were optimal for maximum capture of micro- and nano-particles. Beckman Coulter LS Laser Diffraction Particle Analyzer was used to collect data on particles spectrum analysis. Data on nutrient composition of aquaponic water demonstrated that biochar had to be conditioned in order to remove excess of alkalinity in order to make it appropriate for aquaponic plant production.
Pilot-scale biochar filter based on 8’ tank was designed and constructed in April 2018. The filter was modified using “sandwich” design to improve oxygen supply with three layers of biochar with 17 ppm DO level in the filtrate. The filter resulted in a dramatic decrease of TSS from 20 ppm to below 5 ppm. Experiments with 16 vertical production towers supplied with aquaponics water were conducted and demonstrated the effect that biochar considerably decreased accumulation of organic sludge in the tower pockets leading to 10% higher yields.
The results of the project were disseminated to NSERC and CASBE agencies and the industry partner on April 26, 2018. NSERC/CASBE biochar workshop including student presentations was held on August 22, 2018. The workshop was attended by the industry, faculty, staff and students of the college and University of Lethbridge. Two TV interviews were given to capture wider audience including CTV and Global TV interviews broadcasted locally and nationally.
The project resulted in faster commercialization of the technology. Two pilot-scale biochar filters were built and tested by the commercial companies Deep Water Aquaponics and Current Prairie Fisherman Corp, which lead to the shipment of 28 tons of bamboo biochar to Alberta by Pure Life Global. The material was shipped from China through Sungro Bioresource & Bioenergy Technologies Corporation, Edmonton, AB, in September 2018. Pure Life Global developed marketing materials based on the results of the project. More shipments are expected based on the market demand. There were enquiries by other companies involved in greenhouse and fish production in Alberta and BC in regard to utilization of biochar as a filtration and growing medium.
Sustainable food production is more accessible than ever in Lethbridge, as aquaponics grows in popularity. The expert scientists in Lethbridge College’s Aquaculture Centre of Excellence (ACE) have launched a new series of courses that will provide training in the area to everyone from high school students to interested amateurs to experienced greenhouse technicians.
Reports and Publications
- Khiari, Z., Alka, K., Kelloway, S., Mason, B., & Savidov, N. (2020). Integration of Biochar Filtration into Aquaponics: Effects on Particle Size Distribution and Turbidity Removal. Agricultural Water Management, 229, N.PAG-N.PAG. doi:10.1016/j.agwat.2019.105874
- Khiari, Z., Kaluthota, S., & Savidov, N. (2020). Phosphorus delays the onset of nitrification during aerobic digestion of aquaculture/aquaponic solid waste. Biochemical Engineering Journal, 155, N.PAG-N.PAG. doi:10.1016/j.bej.2020.107493
- Khiari, Z., Kaluthota, S., & Savidov, N. (2019). Aerobic bioconversion of aquaculture solid waste into liquid fertilizer: Effects of bioprocess parameters on kinetics of nitrogen mineralization. Aquaculture, 500, 492-499. doi:10.1016/j.aquaculture.2018.10.059
- Derksen, J. (2019) Henderson Lake Water Quality Report.
- Savidov, N. (2018). Development of highly productive zero-waste food production platform based on microfiltration and nutrient recycling. Report for CASBE/NSERC. August 31, 2018.
- Vil, V. A., Terent’ev, A. O., Quntar, A., Gloriozova, T. A., Savidov, N., & Dembitsky, V. M. (2019). Oxetane-containing metabolites: origin, structures, and biological activities. Applied microbiology and biotechnology, 103(6), 2449-2467. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00253-018-09576-z
- Vil, V. A., Terent’ev, A. O., Savidov, N., Gloriozova, T. A., & Dembitsky, V. M. (2019). Hydroperoxides derived from marine sources: origin and biological activities. Applied microbiology and biotechnology, 103(4), 1627-1642. doi:https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00253-018-9560-x
- Vil, V. A., Terent'ev, A. O., Savidov, N., Gloriozova, T. A., Poroikov, V. V., Pounina, T. A., & Dembitsky, V. M. (2019). Hydroperoxy steroids and triterpenoids derived from plant and fungi: Origin, structures and biological activities. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, 190, 76-87. doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2019.03.020
- Vil, V., Gloriozova, T. A., Poroikov, V. V., Terent'ev, A. O., Savidov, N., & Dembitsky, V. M. (2019). Naturally occurring of α,β-diepoxy-containing compounds: origin, structures, and biological activities. Applied Microbiology & Biotechnology, 103(8), 3249-3264. doi:10.1007/s00253-019-09711-4
- Dembitsky, V. M., Savidov, N., Poroikov, V. V., Gloriozova, T. A., & Imbs, A. B. (2018). Naturally occurring aromatic steroids and their biological activities. Applied Microbiology & Biotechnology, 102(11), 4663-4674. doi:10.1007/s00253-018-8968-7
- Savidov, N., Gloriozova, T. A., Poroikov, V. V., & Dembitsky, V. M. (2018). Highly oxygenated isoprenoid lipids derived from fungi and fungal endophytes: Origin and biological activities. Steroids, 140, 114-124. doi:10.1016/j.steroids.2018.10.006
- Dembitsky, V. M., Savidov, N., & Gloriozova, T. A. (2018). Steroid phosphate esters and phosphonosteroids and their biological activities. Applied microbiology and biotechnology, 102(18), 7679-7692. doi:https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00253-018-9206-z
- Vil, V. A., Terent’ev, A. O., Savidov, N., Gloriozova, T. A., Dembitsky, V. M., & Poroikov, V. V. (2018). Peroxy steroids derived from plant and fungi and their biological activities. Applied microbiology and biotechnology, 102(18), 7657-7667. doi:https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00253-018-9211-2
- Savidov, N., Gloriozova, T. A., & Dembitsky, V. M. (2018). Pharmacological activities of sulphated steroids derived from marine sources. Life Science Press, 2(1), 48-58. doi:10.28964/LifesciPress-2-107
- Dembitsky, V. M., Savidov, N., & A., G. T. (2018). Sulphur containing steroids: Structures and biological activities. . Vietnam Journal of Chemistry, 56(5), 582-540. doi:10.1002/vjch.201800044
- Dembitsky, V. M., Savidov, N., & A., G. T. (2018). Natural Sulphur‐containing Steroids: Origin and biological activities. The Vietnam Journal of Chemistry, 56(5), 76-87.
- Savidov, N.A. (2020) Aquaponics research at Lethbridge College, Alberta. Paper presented at 2020 Aquaponics Conference Cultivating the Future. Oct 16-18, 2020.
- Stout, M., Shultz, R. C., Savidov, N. A., & Filipowich, B. (2020). Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) for Aquaponic Produce and Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Certification, 2020 Update. Paper presented at the Aquaculture America 2020, Honolulu, HI. Feb 10-13, 2020.
- Shultz, R. C., & Savidov, N. A. (2020). Recent Advances in Aquaponics in Canada. Paper presented at the Aquaculture America 2020, Honolulu, HI. Feb 10-13, 2020.
- Savidov, N. A. (2019). Research and Community Outreach Development at Lethbridge College, Alberta. Paper presented at the Aquaponics Association Putting Out Fruits, Frankfort, KY. Sep 20-22, 2019
- Savidov, N. A. (2019). Use of Aerobic Bioreactors to Utilize Solid Fish Waste in Aquaculture. Paper presented at the 2nd International Congress and Expo on Agriculture & Horticulture, Prague, Czech Republic. August 12, 2019
- Savidov, N. A. (2019). Aerobic Bioreactors in Aquaculture. Paper presented at the Invited Lecture at the University of South Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic. August 7, 2019
- Savidov, N. A. (2018). The Development of the First, Zero-Waste Food Production System based on Aquaponics. Paper presented at the Aquaponics Association Putting Up Shoots Hartford, CT. September 21-23, 2018
- Savidov, N. A. (2017). Further Development of Aquaponics Technology in Canada. Paper presented at the Aquaponics Association Putting Down Roots. , Portland, OR. November 3-5, 2017
- Savidov, N. A., & Shultz, R. C. (2015). Aquaponics in Alberta: A New Sustainable Method to Produce Safe Food. Paper presented at The Conference of The Canadian Society for Bioengineering: “Innovation in Water, Energy, and Biosystems” (iWEB) – Positioning the Globe for 2050, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. July 5-8, 2015
- Savidov, N. A. (2015). New Developments in Sustainable Agriculture: Aquaponics and Beyond. . Paper presented at the Economic Impacts: Perspectives on Trends in Agriculture, the Environment and Society, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. April 30-May 2, 2015
- Savidov, N. A. (2015). From Aquaponics to Livestock Integrated Farm: Nursery Crop Prospective. Paper presented at The LANTA Annual Conference, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. January 16, 2015
- Shultz, R. C., Derksen, J., & Savidov, N. A. (2014). Development of a Zero-Discharge Aquaponics System Optimized for Greenhouse Production in Canada. Paper presented at the Aquaculture Europe 2014, Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain. October 14-17, 2014
- Shultz, R. C., & Savidov, N. A. (2014). Evolution of aquaponics in Alberta, Canada. Paper presented at the Aquaculture America, Seattle, WA. Feb 10, 2014
- Shultz, R. C., Derksen, J., & Savidov, N. A. (2014). Evolution of aquaponics in Alberta. Paper presented at the Aquaculture Canada 2014, St. Andrews, New Brunswick. June 3, 2014
- Savidov, N. A. (2014). Evolution of Aquaponics Design: from UVI to Zero-Waste Commercial Operation. Paper presented at the Aquaponics Association Conference 2014, San Jose, CA. September 12-14, 2014
- Savidov, N. A. (2014). Using Biochar as a Soilless Growing Medium. Paper presented at the Aquaponics Association Conference 2014, San Jose, CA. September 12-14, 2014