First Friday Tours: Ohio State Aquaculture Research Program

Participants take part in an aquaculture boot camp at the Ohio Center for Aquaculture Research and Development at Ohio State University South Centers. The boot camp is just one program that the center offers for fish farmers.

PIKETON, Ohio – An innovative fish farming program offered by the Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences is offering monthly tours of its facilities, including its fish hatchery.

The Ohio Center for Aquaculture Research and Development at Ohio State University South Centers is offering new and beginning fish farmers and anyone else interested in aquaculture an opportunity to tour fish farming operations at the Piketon facility.

The free tours are designed to be a mini-workshop to provide information on getting started and what resources are available, said Laura Tiu, OSU Extension aquaculture specialist.

OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the college. The OSU South Centers also are part of the college.

“We were constantly getting calls from people interested in aquaculture but who had never been to a fish farm,” Tiu said. “We worked with people individually to set up tours, but the volume of calls from interested people continued to grow, so we came up with the monthly tour idea as a way to serve our clients and help people learn more about the program.

“This way people on the tour can take an up-close look at fish farming and ask us questions. It’s free and fun.”

Aquaculture -- which includes the breeding, rearing and harvesting of plants and animals in ponds, rivers, lakes and the ocean for food, sport, bait, ornamental fish, sea vegetables, fish eggs and algae -- is a strong and growing industry globally thanks to increasing demand from consumers looking for healthy food options.

In Ohio, there are about 200 fish farmers registered statewide, according to a 2010 survey by Tiu. And many of them say they’d like to gain additional training in new and innovative production techniques, according to the survey.

“Of the hundreds of people who have taken the tour of our facilities, we have a couple of producers who’ve gone on to start their own fish farming enterprises,” Tiu said.

The tours are from 10 a.m. to noon on first Fridays of the month, although July’s tour will be on the first Thursday due to the July 4 holiday. They will include an overview of the research conducted at the center and a tour of the facilities, including research laboratories and the working fish hatchery.

Other highlights include discussion on Ohio’s aquaculture industry, various production methods, and the popular Ohio species of fish, their management and nutrition, Tiu said.

“A large part of the tour is outside, so dress appropriately,” she said. “Picture taking is encouraged.”

Interested parties can call Tiu at 740-289-2071, ext. 121, or email her at to sign up for the tour. Tours are planned for May 2, June 6, July 3, Aug. 1, Sept. 5 and Oct. 3.

Tracy Turner
For more information, contact: 

Laura Tiu
740-289-2071, ext. 21