University of Florida lab leads the way in commercial fish farming

Fish could be Florida's next big industry and researchers at the University of Florida are helping farmers with the latest technology.

The University of Florida has a tropical aquaculture lab in Ruskin, where they have a farm-to-fish tank operation. UF Assistant Professor Matthew DiMaggio said that they have cultured 50 to 100 different species at the lab, including some fish that have never been cultured before.

The work at the lab is funded by the Rising Tide Conservation Fund, involving SeaWorld and Busch Gardens. 

DiMaggio also told Fox 35 that the lab has about 100 producers in the state, concentrated in Hillsborough and Polk County. They supply a large number of ornamental fish that you find local retail stores.

The lab also creates food for the fish, as they aim to create a well mixed diet.

The efforts that the lab undergoes could really benefit local fish farmers. DiMaggio said that "there's a lot of competition with imports coming from other countries and we're trying to innovate here and give the Florida farmer the advantage of producing, for example, products like a blue tang that may not be available from another supplier or from an import."

Innovation in farm raised tropicals also has advantages for consumers, as the various species seem to thrive in fish tanks.

The lab creates a sustainable colorful crop while aiming to lead the world in commercial tropical fish farming.