Experimental stations for live organisms

Experimental stations for fish

IFREMER has several experimentation stations for marine fish on the French seaboard, dedicated to the study of populations, their life cycles, the influence of environmental conditions, etc. Two sites harbour the main equipment of the Institute: Brest-Plouzané and Palavas.


The aquaculture facility at Palavas stretches over 3 ha of which 4000 m² of covered facilities and 2000 m² outdoor facilities.  In 2015, it underwent major renovation as part of the MeDITERA project (Creation of shared regional aquaculture facilities; Mutualisation des infrastructures aquacoles régionales), led by IFREMER with endorsement from CIRAD; this project contributes to the enhancement of cooperation between the economic, education and research sectors.

The facilities include:

  • an analysis laboratory,
  • 16 experimentation rooms with more than 300 m3 for fish production and 400 tanks ranging from 5 m3 to 10 L in size,
  • An area dedicated to ecotoxicology,
  • A room dedicated to experimental populations of live or cryoconserved fish (broodstock of 500 live breeder fish and 50,000 straws of sea bass and catfish sperm that provide novel material for research on animal productivity),
  • A room for tilapias and other species of interest for fish farming in developing countries.


The experimentation facilities in Plouzané stretch over 800 m² and include two buildings: one is for the early life stages of fish (three independent experiment units of 40 m² each), and the other is dedicated to experimentation on juveniles and adults. The second building holds fish for periods of several months and offers wide flexibility in terms of temperature, tank size, pH, and oxygenation. The main study species is sea bass. Work on coastal flat fish, such as flounder and sole, is also carried out. A swim tunnel — the only such tunnel in France — was recently installed to carry out performance testing on these different species of marine fish.

Experimental facilities for molluscs

Facility activities

The experimental facilities at Bouin, La Tremblade, Argenton and Plouzané handle five major types of activity:

  • Production of characterised families or batches intended for various types of experiments (genetics, physiology, pathology, ecotoxicology, etc.);
  • Genetic and physiological characterisation and the infection status of populations produced outside of these facilities;
  • Physiology studies in response to environmental stress;
  • Studies on reproduction and early development of molluscs;
  • Production of polyploid or selected individuals for the professional shellfish industry.

Five bivalve species of commercial and ecological interest are particularly studied: Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas), Atlantic oyster (Ostrea edulis), mussels(Mytilus edulis/galloprovinciallis), king scallops (Pecten maximus) andclams (Ruditapes decussatus/phillippinarum).

Description of facilities


This site harbours a nursery with 10 raceways with large-scale production of the unicellular alga Skeletonema costatum along with several laboratory rooms and algal cultivation rooms in controlled conditions for a wet lab surface area of approximately 700 m². All the facilities are supplied with seawater from sedimentation ponds. Different water treatment systems control the quality of the water that supplies the laboratories. Wastewater can be stored in a watertight tank, or sent to a water treatment station for purification by oxidation or UV irradiation.

La Tremblade

This site houses an experimental hatchery (with the production of unicellular algae, maturation tanks, crosses, larval production, micro-hatchery), several wet labs, including one dedicated in particular to experimental infection trials in controlled conditions, for a total of 700 m². The wastes from these facilities are treated in accordance with the identified environmental risks In addition, there are several outdoor experimental areas: basins, ponds, or on the shore.


The facilities at this site are characterised by a seawater supply pumped from the Bay of Brest, two experiment rooms involving pathogens and contamination with toxic algae or pollutants, a holding tank, tanks of various volumes for bivalve juveniles or adults: oysters, scallops, clams, etc. An automated wastewater treatment system makes it possible to test the effect of pathogens, toxic algae or xenobiotics on bivalve physiology.


The site has a surface area of 800 m² and features production facilities of various shapes and sizes adapted to the specific life stage studies, controlled environmental conditions and a large seawater pumping capacity (10 000 m3 reservoir) to ensure a continuous supply for 10 experimentation rooms. The site also has automated measuring devices to record the physiological records of studied animals, individuals or population during experiments.

Microalgae production facilities

In Palavas, experimental marine microalgae cultures, outdoors and/or indoors are carried out.

The outdoor facilities include nine tanks of 20 m² and two tanks of 200 m² as well as vertical columns for water circulation, CO2 dissolution and O2 degassing in a closed circuit. The site aims to

  • sequester and recycle gas effluents such as industrial CO2 or dissolved liquid nutrients,
  • sequester toxic molecules;
  • study the interaction between culture media and the physiological response of algae;
  • study the influence of seasons of algal cultures in open environments.

The facilities at Palavas are in particular used as part of the VASCO 2 project whose objective is to recycle part of industrial CO2 emitted by the Fos-sur-Mer area via microalgae cultures.

In addition, the Argenton, Plouzané, Bouin and La Tremblade sites all have indoor and outdoor microalgae production rooms to feed the bivalves raised there.