Remodel Operating Cold Water Trout Farm into Combination Cold Water/Cool Water Fish Farm, While Diversifying Production and Maintaining a Reduced Ecological and Energy Footprint

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2016: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 01/30/2018
Grant Recipient: Wilderness Springs Inc. / The Trout Farm LLC
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Michael Foster
Wilderness Springs

Annual Reports


  • Animals: fish


  • Animal Production: aquaculture
  • Crop Production: water management
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Energy: anaerobic digestion
  • Farm Business Management: feasibility study
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement
  • Pest Management: biological control
  • Production Systems: Aquaculture fish management
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal summary:


    Having reduced our historical water flow by 50%, we encounter summertime water temperature swings too warm in our lower gravity fed ponds to hold trout. We propose a few problems to overcome:

    a. Improve the cold water culture in the upper ponds by improving dissolved oxygen levels, reducing ammonia levels.

    b. Remodel downstream gravity fed ponds to raise cool water fish (perch, walleyes, bluegills, baitfish) increasing our production and diversifying our products to increase income.

    Solving these problems improves water quality and relieves stress levels on all fish in production; making the system more sustainable, productive and profitable.

    Aquaculture is typically either cold water (trout) or cool/warm water (perch, walleyes, bluegills, baitfish etc.) due to water sources on the farms. We feel that by changing configurations of our lower gravity fed ponds, we will be able to produce both cold water and cool/warm water fish. If this is accomplished, it will be a great resource to other fish farmers to possibly diversify their production of food fish.


    Our solution is to improve water quality by increasing dissolved oxygen and de-gas ammonia and nitrites with improved natural aeration.

    a.This will be accomplished by installing a RAS (Recirculating Aquaculture System) type bio filter to create a bacteria bed to digest the ammonia and increase the dissolved oxygen.

    b. With concrete raceways we install suspended solids waste drains to remove such waste from systems on demand.

    c. Installing new pond flow control structures to split the water splash/flow to increase the dissolved oxygen at each spillway.

    d. By increasing the size of a few existing downstream ponds to approximately 80’ long x 100’ wide x 12’ deep; for converting to cool water fish production.

    e. The constant flow-through of the larger ponds will provide a longer grow season for cool water fish by 2-3 months, later fall freeze and earlier spring thaw.

    Each item above represents a quantitative level of water quality improvement. Before and after monitoring results can be used to chart and verify water quality improvements.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Remodel operating cold water trout farm into combination cold water/cool water fish farm.
    2. Improve and maintain and system with good water quality, positively impacting the environment.
    3. Create a system that will maximize profits by reducing water usage lowering energy costs.
    4. Provide high quality, healthy, uncontaminated fish to local consumers.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.