Analyzing farmed fish: fast, objective and stress-free

Published on
June 17, 2019

More and more fish is being farmed in controlled conditions. This also increases the need for knowledge about breeding conditions, animal health and quality. The Greenhouse Horticulture Business Unit at Wageningen University & Research is working on methods to select fish automatically, quickly and accurately.

AquaIMPACT is a European project with partners from different countries, to which Wageningen Plant Research and Wageningen Livestock Research participate. Together they investigate the professional breeding of Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, golden bream and sea bass. The Greenhouse Horticulture Business Unit is responsible for developing 'machine vision' and 'machine learning' to analyze the fish.

Machine vision

'Machine vision' is the collective name for techniques for editing and/or analyzing camera images. The use of vision techniques has many advantages. With vision techniques more variables can be measured in a shorter time. In addition, software is more objective than, for example, a human observer.

WUR has a lot of experience with applying vision techniques, such as phenotyping (measuring plant properties with cameras and software). The shape and color characteristics of farmed fish must also be assessed. This allows a breeder to decide which fish will be used for further breeding. This measurement is now done by hand.

WUR is developing a device together with a company for measuring the various variables (such as the shape, color and body parts such as eyes or belly) of the fish. The fish are thereby removed from the breeding tank. An algorithm - developed by the Greenhouse Horticulture Business Unit - compares the characteristics of the fish with genetic information from a database. The device then sorts the fish. The entire operation is completed in approximately 30 seconds. As a result, the fish has as little stress as possible.