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Title: Aquatic Farm License
Alternate Title:

An aquatic farm is a licensed facility for hatching, raising, rearing, and culturing private aquatic life for sale. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

Subject: Aquaculture
Creation Date: 9/11/2008 2:10:54 PM
Modification Date: 7/17/2019 4:06:36 PM
Agency Name: Natural Resources (DNR), Minnesota Department of
Agency URL:
Agency Description: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages the state's natural resources. Hunting, fishing, state forests and parks, lakes, rivers and streams, boating and water safety, trails, snowmobiling, skiing, education, enforcement, wildlife management, lands and minerals are managed by the DNR.
Agency Phone: 651-296-6157
Agency Fax: Agency URL:
Agency Address: Natural Resources (DNR), Minnesota Dept. of
500 Lafayette Rd.

St. Paul
MN 55155

Division Name: License Center
Division URL:
Division Description:
Division Phone: 651-355-0147
Division Fax: Division URL:
Division Address:
Please complete the following information as a part of your license application request and an application and rules will be mailed:
-Specify what application type being requested | Include your: -Name (First, Middle, Last) -Mailing address -Phone Number

Audience: Application URL:
Renewal URL:
Versa URL:

An aquatic farm is a licensed facility for hatching, raising, rearing, and culturing private aquatic life for sale. An aquatic farm license can include ponds, vats, tanks, raceways, and other indoor or outdoor facilities that an aquatic farmer owns or has the right to use. This license is subject to a pond acreage fee. A five-year license is available. You pay for the entire five-year fee in the first year of the five-year term (you will receive an updated license each year during your five-year term). Six endorsements are available for holders of an aquatic farm license:

  1. License to Take Sucker Egg from Public Waters
  2. Minnow Retailer License
  3. Minnow Dealer License
  4. Exporting Minnow Dealer License
  5. Minnow Dealer, Exporting Minnow Dealer, and Minnow Retailer Vehicle Licenses
  6. Fish Packer License

These endorsements allow the license holder to conduct the same activities as an individual license for that activity would allow. They are simply a way to consolidate all licenses into one for the convenience of the licensee.

Pond/Facility Licensing
All ponds and facilities that you want to use for culturing private aquatic life must be approved and listed on your aquatic farm license. If a pond is dropped from a license and not transferred to another licensee within a year, a new inspection may be required 
to re-license that pond. To license a new pond, submit a Private Fish Hatchery and Aquatic Farm New Pond Application along with required inspection fees to your regional fisheries manager.

Adding a Species to Your Aquatic Farm License
You may request to add a species to your license at any time during the license year by simply drafting a short letter to your regional fisheries manager including: your name, hatchery license number, and the species of aquatic life that you are requesting for approval. Species of aquatic life must be approved and listed on your list of licensed waters, before they are brought into your licensed waters. It is a violation to bring a species of aquatic life into your licensed waters unless those waters are licensed for that species.

All species of aquatic life fall into one of the three following categories:

  • Indigenous Species/Strains 
    Ponds or facilities approved for indigenous (native) species/strains may contain only fish that originated from Minnesota or a contiguous state, and may only contain fish species present in the surrounding watershed. Some exceptions to this are possible; however, these must be specifically noted on your license. For example, we would usually approve licensing for rainbow trout in ponds approved for indigenous species, because rainbow trout are considered a naturalized species and do not present a threat to most fish communities if they escape. Walleye must originate from Minnesota, north of Highway 210, if they are to be reared in ponds or facilities north of Minnesota Highway 210 that are listed and approved for indigenous species.

  • Nonindigenous Species/Strains 
    Ponds must be outside of a 25-year floodplain to be approved for nonindigenous species or strains. Some exceptions to this are possible as noted previously under indigenous species/strains. Maps showing the 25-year flood plains may be available at the regional and area DNR offices from the Division of Ecological and Water Resources. If a nonindigenous species is considered high risk, a closed system may be required. Waters approved for nonindigenous fish species may contain fish species not present in the surrounding watershed or strains of fish originating from outside Minnesota and contiguous states. Waters north of Minnesota Highway 210 approved for nonindigenous species may be used for walleye from south of Highway 210 and non-Minnesota sources.

  • Exotic Species/Strains (Aquatic Life from Outside of the United States 
    Generally, closed systems will be required for private aquatic life not indigenous to the continental United States The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources may not approve the licensing of certain private aquatic life not found in the continental United States.

Fish Health Inspection and Certification

Facilities licensed for salmonids or catfish require an annual fish health inspection if they discharge effluent to public waters. A lot means a group of fish of the same species and age that originated from the same discrete spawning population and that have always shared a common water supply; or various age groups of brood stock of the same species that have shared the same containers for one brood cycle. Even if your facility does not discharge to public waters, you need a fish health certification to transfer salmonids, catfish, or species on the official list of viral hemorrhagic septicemia susceptible species published by the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services to another licensed facility, or to stock salmonids, catfish, or VHS susceptible species into waters of the state. There are two labs in the state of MN that can perform a fish health inspection:

  1. The MN DNR Pathology Laboratory
  2. The University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

You can also choose to use any accredited testing laboratory located out-of-state.

Certified fish collectors

Name Phone City
Kaitlin Costello 320-762-1575 Alexandria
Dr. Glen Zebarth 320-762-1575 Alexandria
Dr. Rachel Bakeberg 320-289-2484 Appleton
Dr. Jeff Lukken 218-864-5695 Battle Lake
Dr. Michael Bjorklund 507-256-7237 Clarks Grove
Dr. Robert Smith 715-948-2971 Clayton, WI
Dr. John Howe 218-326-9668 Grand Rapids
Dr. Kevin Haroldson 218-732-9866 Park Rapids
Dr. Kelvin Rudolph 218-346-2120 Perham
Dr. Jamie Litke 320-630-0151 Pierz
Dr. Spencer Wayne 507-215-1604 Pipestone
Dr. Amanda Covington 320-458-3311 Winsted

Aeration Permits Aeration of licensed waters (ponds) may be permitted under an aquatic farm license if one of the following conditions is met:

  • A pond is less than 10 acres or 2.5 acres in an incorporated area. (It is recommended that you post "Thin Ice" signs.
  • A pond is greater than 10 acres, and you have exclusive control of all riparian lands by ownership, possessory rights, or lease. (You will be required to post "Thin Ice" signs.)
  • Aeration will take place only during open water.

The DNR will provide "Thin Ice" signs for licensed waters that require a DNR aeration permit issued by the Division of Ecological and Water Resources. The licensee is required to obtain and post "Thin Ice" signs on ponds approved for aeration under that aquatic farm license but do not need an aeration permit. Proof of financial responsibility (insurance) is waived if you meet any of the above conditions. If you wish to aerate pond(s) that do not meet one of the above conditions, a separate aeration permit is required. Please apply for an aeration permit through your local area fisheries office, regional fisheries office or Amanda Yourd .

Requests for Game Fish Eggs, Fry, or Brood Stock

Cool/Warm Water Species: (contact Sean Sisler with questions or to request an application) Requests are due by March 1 of the year you wish to receive fish. Walleye eggs can be requested at a rate of one half quart of eggs, or 5,000 fry, per each acre of licensed surface water (ponds). There may be an exception for intensive culture facilities that raise walleye or muskellunge.

Cold Water Species: (contact Neil Vanderbosch with questions or to request an application)

  • Spring spawning species: Requests are due by March 1 of the year you wish to receive fish.
  • Fall spawning species: Requests are due by June 30 of the year you wish to receive fish.
  • Brood stock: Requests are due by March 1 of the year you wish to receive fish. Private hatcheries may purchase up to 20 pairs of adult brood stock, once every three years, if brood stock can be supplied through normal state operations.

Water Appropriation Permits
A permit from the DNR Division of Ecological and Water Resources is required for water appropriations that exceed 10,000 gallons per day or one million gallons per year. Appropriation is defined as the withdrawal, removal, or transfer of water from its source regardless of how the water is used. Therefore, any withdrawals from groundwater, springs, or water basins that exceed the above volume thresholds require a water appropriation permit. Additional information about the water appropriation program is available at Water Appropriations Permit ProgramDownload an application PDF

All water appropriation permits require an annual water use report along with a processing fee. All aquatic farm licenses may be reviewed to determine compliance with water appropriation permit requirements.
If you have questions, contact the area hydrologist PDF for the county in which the operation is located.

Report Forms
As part of your aquatic farm license renewal, you must complete and return an Aquatic Farm/Private Fish Hatchery Report. This report must be submitted even if no production or sales occurred during the licensing period.

License Renewal Information 
License renewal packets will be mailed out to all current aquatic farm licensees in January. You can renew your license by completing and returning the enclosed license application.

Contact Sean Sisler, fisheries program consultant with questions.

Statutes: 17.49


Pond Acreage Fees
Aquatic farm licensees are subject to a pond acreage fee. This fee is charged at a rate of $15 per 10 acres of licensed waters. This includes all waters listed as a part of your operation, both artificial (including excavated ponds, raceways, and tanks) and natural waters of the state. Your total acreage will be rounded up to the nearest 10 acre increment, and you will be charged accordingly.


  • $210/yr: Aquatic Farm license
  • $300: Initial inspection for all licensed facilities
  • $300: Initial inspection of each public wetland (rearing pond) to be added to your license
  • $15/10 acres: Pond Acreage fee
  • $150: Water Appropriation Permit (when applicable)
  • Variable: Fish Health Inspections (when applicable)

Period of Issuance:

Various depending on activities.

Length of Determination: Up to four weeks.
Other Info:
Activity: Aquaculture
Aquatic Farms
License Detail URL:

Aquatic Farm License

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

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