The Project


The natural defense in salmon aquaculture


A global & increasing challenge


Fish demand is estimated to increase 30% by 2030. Aquaculture production will need to grow by 50% from its present level to meet such demand. At the same time, the area available for aquaculture is facing competing uses, thus employing higher stocking densities (intensification of aquaculture practices) has become the only meaningful solution.

However, aquaculture intensification is being challenged by the availability of fish feeding sources, which for the vast majority of farmed carnivore fish species is based on fishmeal and fish oil obtained from wild captured fish at the bottom of the food chain. Since production from wild fisheries is stagnating and competition for fishmeal and fish oil by other sectors is increasing, the marine-derived fish feed is only available in limited quantities, and this represents a long-term concern for aquaculture sustainability. For aquaculture to be sustainable in 2050, it is estimated that the amount of fish used in feed has to be reduced by at least 50% from current levels.


A partial solution not empty of challenges


In trying to overcome this problem, there has been a significant effort to find plant-derived fish feeding alternatives. The alternative of land-based crops has been favoured due to their relatively low costs and sustainability, proved to be successful for some applications when they were used as substitutes for a portion of the fishmeal and fish oil. However, even when these plant-based substitutes have demonstrated capacity to support fish growth, they compromise fish meat nutritional quality and increase the use of hazardous medications to compensate for the higher disease susceptibility of fish fed with plant-based diets.  

The main problem associated with plant-based fish feed is that it does not contain sufficient levels of essential fatty acids and protein sources digestible by the species for which the feed is formulated. There are several studies proving that substitution of dietary fish oil with plant oils is associated with shortened mid intestinal folds, linked to reduced intestinal surface, impaired nutrient absorption, and fish growth.  

The main consequences arising from the reduction of immunological tolerance and the associated inflammatory response are:

  • Unhealthy fishes require more feed quantity to grow as higher energy inputs are required for basal metabolism inputs.
  • If reactive oxygen species are not removed in a timely manner by the antioxidant system, animals show alteration of physiology affecting fish meat nutritional quality.  
  • Increased usage of amicrobial chemicals like disinfectants, antibiotics, and anti-parasitic agents.
The problem

All these issues result in productivity and profitability loss for fish farmers such as:


Costs of fish feeding are increased


Extra costs resulting from the use of additional medication


Growth rate of farmed fish is compromised


Fish meat quality is reduced which lag market prices for farmed fish

aquaculture production
AQUolive as solution

Aquolive: a feed additive to solve issues associated to plant-derived meals


AQUOLIVE, is a product obtained from olive trees, boosts health in salmons that are farmed in aquaculture facilities. This improvement in fish health translates into increased production enhanced animal welfare, and improved salmon meat quality for human consumption.

A high added-value feed additive to be included in fish feeding products (fish-based, plant-based or mixtures of both). The product combines active phytochemicals from olive oil (Full Plant Profile concept ) with proven activity for aquaculture, as a productivity-boosting input.

AQUOLIVE presents a potent anti-inflammatory action that protects fish against episodes of inflammation resulting from multiple challenges encountered during the growth cycle (e.g., suboptimal diet composition, high water temperature, high pathogen load, and similar).

product obtained from olive trees

Moreover, AQUOLIVE also works as antioxidant, thereby contributing to prevent or attenuate oxidative stress. By counteracting inflammation and oxidation in key organs or tissues at critical times, AQUOLIVE helps to preserve the integrity of the gut, and improve lipid metabolism (energy accumulation in the filet) in farmed fishes.    

Due to this mode of action, our product can address the problems mentioned earlier of reduced immunological tolerance, which are associated with increased inflammation and oxidative stress. Therefore, the beneficial effects of AQUOLIVE are directly linked to a significant improvement of the fish immune system.

AQUOLIVE will also contribute to reducing the use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial hazardous compounds with detrimental effects on the environment and human health, and high costs that AQUOLIVE helps to reduce.

the benefits

The benefits of AQUOLIVE have been proved in Chile in a commercial fish farming setting. The results showed a 9% improvement in FCR, and an 8% increase in percentage of premium pieces. Additional improvements associated with the fillet quality (higher fat content and better ω6:ω3 ratio, in line with EU salmon quality needs) were also observed. If we translate these benefits into profitability for farmers, we might be talking of ~15% increase in farming profitability each year.

olive oil



The primary objective of the AQUOLIVE project is to develop and launch an innovative additive from a natural source that the salmon aquaculture industry will use to increase fish resilience and quality in a cost-effective way.

How we will achieve this?


Bringing our patented manufacturing process to a pre-industrial scale in our own factories.


Validating AQUOLIVE efficacy (growth performance parameters) in a large-scale demonstration sea cage trial with European Atlantic salmon.


Performing several trials to acquire a solid scientific evidence of mode of action and molecular mechanisms, to position AQUOLIVE as an additive for different purposes, by changing the mode of usage either as a growth or health booster.

About Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.

SME Instrument

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises that are EU-based or established in a country associated to Horizon 2020 can now get EU funding and support for innovation projects that will help them grow and expand their activities into other countries – in Europe and beyond. Horizon 2020 funds high-potential innovation through a dedicated SME instrument, which offers seamless business innovation support under the section Societal Challenges and the specific part Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEITs).