Fish farmer Nolan Hoffart sits along a cement purge tank inside the facility at Bar None Ranch. PHOTO BY: Ethan Seaborn.

With acres of land south of Calgary and the beautiful backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, Bar None Ranch offers riders the scenic space to train and board their horses. However, it’s what lies behind closed doors that makes this particular ranch stand out. 

Asian sea bass, also known as barramundi, are white-fleshed fish native to the Indo-West pacific region, but Bar None Ranch raises them for provincial markets here in Canada. Nolan Hoffart, a fish farmer from the ranch said most are shipped to markets in Vancouver.

Both a fresh and saltwater fish, barramundi are found along the coasts of countries such as China, Japan, and Australia, according to a report from the government of Western Australia.

With Alberta being a landlocked province, Bar None Ranch provides a unique alternative from their competitors.

“We’re the only barramundi farm in Canada at the moment,” said Hoffart. “The way that we import and grow our fish is quite unique compared to other operations.”

Barramundi are shipped to Bar None Ranch from Australia. Upon arrival, the fish are roughly two weeks old and are very small starting out.

“They’re about the size of a grain of rice,” said Hoffart. “They weigh about 0.2 grams.”

Barramundi, or Asian sea bass, like other white-fleshed fish are typically pan-fried, grilled or roasted. PHOTO BY: Pexels

Because of the rate at which barramundi grow and their cannibalistic tendencies, Bar None Ranch uses a grading system to help in the process of raising them.

“We have little graders that they go in. The small guys go through, the big guys stay on top, and we can separate them into groups,” said Hoffart. “That prevents them from eating each other.”

Moving through the stages of growth, the barramundi start out in a pre-nursery for roughly two weeks. After that, they move to the nursery stage where they remain for an additional six weeks.

“Then we end up in our grow out system,” said Noffart. “They’re moved down through our growth system until they’re ready to go to the market,” said Noffart.

Once the barramundi are ready for transport, they are loaded into semi-trucks and shipped off for consumers to enjoy.

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