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:
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.
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:
- The MN DNR Pathology Laboratory
- The University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
You can also choose to use any accredited testing laboratory located out-of-state.
Certified fish collectors
|Dr. Glen Zebarth
|Dr. Rachel Bakeberg
|Dr. Jeff Lukken
|Dr. Michael Bjorklund
|Dr. Robert Smith
|Dr. John Howe
|Dr. Kevin Haroldson
|Dr. Kelvin Rudolph
|Dr. Jamie Litke
|Dr. Spencer Wayne
|Dr. Amanda Covington
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 Program. Download 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.
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.