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Canadian Farmed Arctic Char

Species farmed…

Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) is a member of the Salmonid family – and resembles a salmon in appearance. Arctic char have a coral colored flesh with a taste somewhat milder than Atlantic salmon.

Where they’re farmed…

Canadian Arctic char are farmed in the Yukon Territory, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, Quebec and Manitoba.

How they’re farmed…

Arctic char are raised in land-based systems. Arctic char eggs are hatched within specialized hatchery facilities. The young fish remain in the hatchery until they reach ~100 grams; the fish are then transferred to tanks at the grow-out facilities. Each of these tanks is capable of holding 5000 fish. While they take almost a year to reach 100 grams, Arctic char exhibit a rapid growth spurt during the grow-out phase – reaching market weight (1-2.5kg) within the next 12 months. 

What they eat…

Arctic char are fed nutrient-dense, dry pellets. Using ingredients that are tested for quality and purity, feed manufacturers tailor make feeds to suit the exact dietary requirements of the fish at each stage of their life cycle. Currently, the main ingredients are fish meal and fish oil. The fish meal and oil are primarily made from forage fish that are too small and bony to be used for human consumption. Feed manufacturers are developing new feeds that will replace some of the fish-based ingredients with sustainable ingredients from other sources such as vegetables – yet still provide high quality, nutritious farmed Arctic char.

Feed manufacturers also add essential vitamins, minerals and carotenoids to Arctic char feed.  Carotenoids are important antioxidants that help to ensure the optimal health of the fish. Carotenoids also give Arctic char its characteristic coral coloration.

Why they’re environmentally sustainable…

The land-based Arctic char rearing systems are considered to be among the most environmentally responsible fish farming designs. Features of the most systems include removal of particulate matter and effluent prior to releasing water from the fish tanks into the environment. Waste sludge removed from the water is then provided to terrestrial farmers for use on crops - while leftovers from fish processing may be incorporated into dog food or delivered to local compost facilities. 

Arctic Char is highlighted as a “Best” choice by the Monterey Aquarium Seafood Watch Guide for Healthy Oceans.

Did you know…

In winter, wild Arctic char gather close together in small pockets of unfrozen fresh water – they are therefore accustomed to living in very close quarters with one another. As a result, farmed Arctic char must also be stocked at high densities in the rearing tanks; when stocked at low densities, the char grow poorly and have a higher incidence of illness.


Icy Waters Ltd: www.icywaters.com
Aquaculture Association of Canada: www.aquacultureassociation.ca


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