Multi-Species Marine Traps
Used Aquaculture & Processing Machinery
Fukui's Monthly News Letter
Commercial FLUPSY - it works
In my article,
What's up? FLUPSYs,
I explained the methods of welling and generally
how they are effective as a shellfish nursery technique.
I have stated many times that there are three basic rules of
aquaculture gear. There is not a better example of how those rules
should be applied that with a floating upweller system (FLUPSY) and
making the shift from R&D projects to commercial production.
Keith Reid of Odyssey Shellfish on Vancouver Island, British Columbia
has been a pioneer of FLUPSY design and experimentation. He has
been producing and working with the crassostrea gigas, the
Japanese oyster or giant Pacific oyster as it is known to some,
for a number of years.
Keith's work has produced one of the most advanced "Commercial"
FLUPSYs that I have seen to date. This is his third and largest
full-scale unit. The mistakes are cheaper with smaller models,
according to Keith, who used those earlier systems as learning tools.
The following is a look at Keith Reid's system and how it meets the
three-rule criteria for a commercial operation.
1. Invest in gear (equipment) that will last as long as possible.
Go for quality.
Keith's system was not cheap to build, costing close to CA$200,000.
As you can see in the photos, the FLUPSY actually looks like a
floating warehouse in the harbor. The 72' x 30' structure, which
weighs more than 27 tons, is framed with steel I-beams that are
covered with steel sheeting. Styrofoam billets provide floatation,
and the total draft of the unit doesn't exceed 4'.
Given the design and the building materials, the expected useful
life of the FLUPSY is such that the amortized cost is well into the
future (15-20 years). The actual payback time, however is much,
much less than that and, in fact, a positive cash flow is possible
in the initial years of operation. Cooperatives or larger companies
could take advantage of the output of the Flupsy and the quick
2. Focus on ways to reduce labour costs.
Keith claims that he can process a phenomenal 10 million seed per
year-using only one full-time and one part-time worker. Labour cost
per seed is incredibly low and efficient in comparison to any other
system I have come across.
By having the system completely shielded from the elements,
operational tasks are generally un-effected by heat, cold, rain etc.
The over head internal crane system allows for fiberglass seed
bins to be accessed mechanically for stocking, harvest and
The crane delivers upweller bins, which can weigh
up to 800 pounds when loaded, to the hydraulically powered bin
tipper. It dumps the seed onto the mechanical sorting table.
Effort involved - the push of several buttons.
Once sorted, the seed is then bagged for distribution, and the
bags are moved by crane to a boat for transport to shore. The tracks
of the overhead crane allow it to extend out over the loading dock
area accessible through double doors at one end of the FLUPSY unit.
There, the bags are loaded into an outboard boat specially built
with an open bow for easy access.
There is almost no physical labour involved in handling the seed
during the whole nursery period. Seed, which is placed in the bins
at the 2-3 mm size, is removed six months later at 17- 20 mm size.
3. Find ways to increase yield
The purpose of a nursery (the FLUPSY) is not only to produce seed
as efficiently as possible, but also to condition the animals to
eat constantly during grow-out.
Keith's FLUPSY is designed so that there is always a supply of
nutrient rich water being run though each bin. The giant paddlewheel
at the end of the structure's center sluice way keeps the water
moving constantly. The paddlewheel, which is moving water out of
the FLUPSY, is estimated to be able to pump 6,000 gallons per minute.
With 12 upwheller bins located along each side of the sluice way,
there's a potential of running 250 gallons of water per minute
though each upwheller.
Of course, the smaller seed would become fluidized at that volume.
So, to control flow rates at each upwheller, there are adjustable
flow gates between the sluice way and each bin.
The paddle wheel is run by an electric motor with both phase and
gearbox speed control that allows pumping levels in the entire
unit to be adjusted. The FLUPSY is supplied electricity by shore
power, though Keith also has a back-up generator that is mainly
used at times of the year when the unit is towed to areas that
have richer waters but no shore power.
When the 17-20 mm juveniles leave the nursery, they have been
subjected to 6 months of constant 24 hour per day, high volume
and quality feeding.
Use of the FLUPSY has not only provided rapid early growth of the
seed, but it has also conditioned the oysters to be in an
That, combined with mid water column grow-out, allows for market
ready oysters in the fall from 17-20 mm animals that are placed in
the FLUPSY at springtime. Keith knows that to be true since, in
addition to selling his juvenile oyster, he also has rafts where
he grows them to market size.
Compare the time frame to the two full seasons typical of grow-out
on the bottom or beach and you can see the financial benefits of
That time advantage also helps to illustrate the fundamental
difference between farming and ranching. Keith Reid knows this
distinction, and it is slowly being recognized elsewhere. Even
if you have a very good bottom / beach grow out site, your net
earning will be less.
For example, seed costs can almost double with ranching, since
there is about a 40% loss of the seed planted when there's an average
By farming - mid water grow-out with suspended trays/cages
hung from rafts - there's no seed loss, less labour needed, and
better access to quality food supply to satisfy the appetite of
the conditioned-to-eat animals.
If you are inclined to be skeptical, take note: "This is not theory
but actual fact"
Keith's focus is on labour reduction and yield improvement. The
interior of the FLUPSY unit is well organized and clean; work
place safety is important, as well as the ease with which tasks
can be done. All these contribute to reduced labour cost.
Unfortunately many growers, individuals or experimental groups,
seem to focus on only how cheaply they can acquire equipment,
and forget labour or yield until there investments and cash
flows have dried up from lack of production capabilities.
In the case of Odyssey Shellfish, the return on what some may
class as a huge investment, is so far ahead of the industry and
many other types of business operations, that most individuals
just can't believe it.
Even though some may claim it's impossible, good thing Keith didn't
In summary, commercial-class FLUPSYs work, they are badly needed to
advance the industry in many sections of the world, and this will,
over time, happen.
If you are interested
in using this system to increase the efficiency of your operation,
We sell both a
small-scale, ready-to-purchase dock/raft FLUPSY.
For more information about FLUPSYs, please read this other article
by Don Bishop:
"What's up? FLUPSYs"
Contact Don Bishop at:
Fukui North America
110-B Bonnechere St.W.
Eganville, Ontario K0J 1T0
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 613-639-3474
Copyright © 1999-2004 Fukui North America. All rights reserved.