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How do you raise sturgeon? At Caviar Perle Noire we buy our sturgeon baerii fry from the Sturgeon nursery in Teich, created in 2008: Nurseteich. They fully master the reproduction cycle, and their sturgeon fry have a 100% French origin, with detailed and rigorous traceability.
Joakim, our Operations Manager, is on site with our truck equipped with tanks filled with water and oxygen. The fry are transferred to the truck by the breeders of the nursery and our colleague leaves for 2h30 drive to our fish farm in Campagne (24260). Upon arrival it rinses our small residents (10 to 15cm), for those accustomed to spring water and its temperature. Our sturgeon fry are then unloaded in the tanks, protected from the birds by nets, in which they will spend 2 to 3 years
After this time Axel and William go down equipped in the tanks and, with the help of a net, gather the fish of this age have a size of about 45cm and weigh between 2 and 3 kg. They catch them one by one and place them in a gully where Maxime, our ultrasound manager gives them an ultrasound to determine their sex. Of the tens of thousands of fry that we buy every year, half are males. They will be sold alive to a German company. Caviar Black Pearl keeps only the females that are transferred to our fish farm in La Roquette (24330), also fed by a source. They will stay there 4 years and at the age of 6/7 years, after a second ultrasound, our aquaculture technicians transfer the females whose gonads begin to produce small eggs on our fish farm at Eyzies de Tayac (24620) in the heart of the Black Périgord.
The fish farming ponds are fed in an open circuit by the “la Beune” stream. This means that each basin has an inlet through which the stream flows and an outlet to the opposite through which it exits. The combined benefits of fish farming in the Natura 2000 Zone and the water of the Beune stream (classified as category 1 for aquaculture) guarantee us optimal and natural breeding conditions. These advantages combined with running water allow us to have no parasitic taste, bacteria or diseases. We do not need to carry out phytosanitary treatments. The pure calcareous waters of the Périgord allow to obtain an incomparable taste and quality of the flesh and eggs of our fish, perfect for the ripening and maturation of the caviar.
In this spirit, driven by the vision of Frédéric Vidal (former agri-food engineer specializing in fisheries and ichthyology) for whom the well-being of our residents is at the heart of the project, we raise them as naturally and healthily as possible.
Concretely this means:
Our sturgeon numbers are 4/m² for a national average of 10. Thus they have all the necessary space for optimal growth
We feed them with a specific fish meal food, produced by the French producer Le Gouessant whose vision joins ours. They are constantly improving their GMO-free food, for an eco-responsible manufacturing in respect of the preservation of natural resources including marine (FSC flours)
In summer when the water temperature warms up we bring them a little more oxygen, naturally, beating the water with the help of small mechanical mills
We naturally clean the water out of the farm before it goes back into the creek. All the water outlets of the basins meet in our canal which flows into our settling pond. In this one, the bacteria will naturally transform the feces of our sturgeon into nitrate, which the plants feed on, especially the beautiful nebuli we have. Being in a protected environment we regularly have tests done by an independent laboratory to check the water quality at the exit of the fish farm
Joakim, calculates according to the temperature the amount of water and the number of sturgeon per tank the amount of food to give them. Axel, William and Maxime then spend every day feeding them by hand. They take the opportunity to watch our residents because you know the sturgeon is a “living fossil” fish that does not know how to reverse. So it can easily get stuck. This explains why man managed in a very short time to make it almost disappear from the natural environment with his nets across rivers.
Then every year with filled tanks they carefully catch our sturgeon and change them from one pond to another. Indeed, in each basin you will have sturgeon of the same generation; so we can say that each pond corresponds to a vintage 2013, 2014 …..
We place the well-being of our sturgeon and the respect of nature that surrounds us at the center of our breeding. At Caviar Perle Noire our sturgeon mature (caviar production) on average after about ten years. This is a cost for society, especially since with closed-circuit tanks with heated water the maturation time can be reduced to 5/6 years. But we fully assume this additional burden and we are proud of it. Because in the wild the sturgeon baerii (native to Siberia) mature between 10 and 15 years. This means that with artificial conditions (breeding) associated with eco-responsible work every day we managed to be as close as possible to their natural biology.