On the farm of the Obermeier family there is not only a dairy farm and a biogas plant, but also a pikeperch farm.
Rabeneck - Anyone who comes over the ridge near Lappach in the St. Wolfgang hamlet of Rabeneck certainly doesn't think of fish - and certainly not of pikeperch. But in the wasteland there is quite inconspicuously hidden not only a dairy farm on Katharina and Anton Obermeier's farm, but also a zander breeding that is unique in Bavaria. Only stock fish for fishing clubs are currently being raised. However, it is planned to market the pikeperch as edible fish.
Uncertainty and low prices have prompted many milk producers and Obermeiers to think about further economic pillars. The basic idea was, the couple explains: "What can you do with the old stables in the yard and how can synergy effects be achieved with the biogas waste heat?" It was nine years ago that the idea of running a fish farm was there. Advice and planning of such a branch of business initially turned out to be unprofitable. It was only through the possibility of acquiring a used system that economic success became possible.
The parents of two boys then decided to start the Zander Breeding project. The agricultural master and business economist are now enthusiastic fish farmers. They put a lot of passion into their project, which can be clearly felt on a tour of the hall. After the purchase in 2018, Anton Obermeier installed the system in the old calf stable, but also completely rebuilt it and completely redesigned the operating functions.
Completely without medication
In five hot water circuits, the water is constantly in motion through the various pools. "The pikeperch needs that," explain the Obermeiers. A Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) is used, which is optimal for the use of resources and to create optimal conditions for growth, fish health and product quality. Strict attention is paid to cleanliness and water purity, because zander are very sensitive. A problem in the water could quickly lead to total failure of the entire stock. The water is continuously pumped from the breeding tanks through a complex filter system with a drum filter to remove the solids, a biofilter and a UV system. The biofilter naturally cleans the water with bacteria and microorganisms, the UV technology keeps the germ and bacteria content low.
At the moment, the couple is only breeding stock fish for local fishing clubs.
© Hermann Weingartner
The operation is carried out completely without antibiotics and other medicines, the young fish farmers emphasize. Medicines would also not be possible, because the use would fight pathogens on the fish, but also destroy the biology in the biofilter.
There are four small breeding tanks in the plant, in which the pikeperch arrive with a weight of around ten grams. The approximately 5000 pike perch seedlings are put in quarantine there until the plant continues. There are also 16 large circular pools in the hall. In these, the pikeperch is reared for up to a year - from ten grams to a good 1000 grams and about 50 centimeters in length.
Once a month the pikeperch is sorted by size. This is imperative since it is a predatory fish. "This is the only way to avoid cannibalism," tell the Obermeiers. The feeding must also be precisely matched to the amount and weight per tank. The pikeperch feels very comfortable at 23 degrees and dim light, and that's why it gets it.
Marketing planned directly from the farm
So far, no stock fish have been sold, "because we only started in 2019," report the fish breeders. However, the first batch had been taken and there were inquiries from all over Bavaria. The zander usually come from northern Germany. The fish would have a lot of stress during transport. Here you have the great advantage of short distances.
The Obermeiers are currently also marketing the pikeperch as edible fish. In the future, it is to be marketed directly from the farm, because the game fish is now very popular in Germany not only in the star cuisine. But that is not so easy to implement, they say, "because there are only two of us" - and they also have dairy farming and a biogas plant. Therefore, the Obermeiers are looking for someone "who takes a large amount of edible fish or slaughtered for us".
In order to be fit for marketing, Katharina Obermeier sat down on the school desk again and took part in the "Seminar on business development direct marketing". At the end of November she was awarded a certificate by the Bavarian Ministry of Agriculture as a representative of the district of Erding in the area of direct marketing. And so now the Rabeneck has become the Zandereck.