MESA logo
  Aquaculture in Australia    
Home | About MESA | Contact MESA | Seaweek | Site Resources | Marine Links | International News | MESA History

SW14 Home  |    Teaching Ideas  |   Seaweek Events | Seaweek Backgound Information

Mariculture in the Northern Territory

Barramundi Aquaculture

Barramundi are ideal for aquaculture. They are easy to breed, will eat feed pellets, grow quickly and are tolerant to a wide range of broad environmental conditions.

In Australia, over 4,000 tonnes of barramundi are produced by through aquaculture. In Southeast Asia region production is estimated to be greater than 30,000 tonnes. Farmed barramundi will commonly grow from a juvenile from a hatchery, between 50 and 100 mm in length, to a table size of 400-600 grams within 12 months and to 3 kgs within 18–24 months.

Barramundi on ice
ARDA-Tek barramundi farm  

More information at

This barramundi farm is located at Berry Springs on the Blackmore River estuary at the southern end of Darwin Harbour. The farm comprises 5 earthen ponds, each between 500 and 650 meters long and 50 meters wide covering a total of 14 hectares of ponds. Each of the five ponds is built as a “raceway”, with a central earthen baffle that separates the water flow meaning that low water flow-rate areas are minimised. This design helps to keep all parts of the pond well aerated with flowing water and healthy water means healthy fish.

The farm employs three people. The main jobs on the farm are feeding the fish daily, ongoing maintenance of equipment and weekly harvesting. Because the farm is salt water, equipment maintenance is ongoing.

The ARDA-Tek barramundi farm

The barramundi reach harvest size (about 2.6 kg) about 15 months after stocking. The harvest procedure involves crowding the number of fish required for the harvest next to the pond wall with a net and then scooping the fish out with a special scoop net. They are scooped out in 200 kg lots using a hydraulic crane. The fish are weighed using scales on the crane then immediately placed into an ice slurry which stuns them into unconsciousness.

This technique of keeping the fish free of stress and icing the live fish down immediately leads to fish of extremely fine quality. The whole chilled fish are handled only once more when they are packed for final transport to the buyer. Fresh whole and chilled barramundi harvested this way have a long “shelf life” of more than 2 weeks as long as they are kept at 0-4oC.

The farm produces about 30 tonnes of barra per hectare every 18 months or about 5 tonnes per week. The feed accounts for a little over 50 % of the costs of running the farm. Other production costs are labour, electricity, repairs and maintenance, fuel and fingerlings (total about 34%). The remaining costs are insurances, licencing, phone costs etc.

The other side of aquaculture economics is the selling price. Usually the price the farm sells its fish for is less than half the final retail price. Costs incurred off the farm on the way to the fish shop include transport and packing, filleting and final distribution.

Harvesting the barramundi

The Darwin Aquaculture Centre rears baby barramundi and mudcrabs from YouTube

   Next: Sea Cucumbers  


Mud Crabs


Search site





   Contact Web Manager © MESA 1999 - 2014
0.00000 secs   
  BriTer Solutions   SpiderByte Web Design Top