Facilities & Equipment

Acuff Center for Aquaculture


Completed in 2022, the Acuff Center for Aquaculture (ACA) is a 22,000-square-foot shellfish hatchery that supports collaborative research, education, and advisory teams within VIMS’ Shellfish Aquaculture Program. The building has a capacity for shellfish spawning, larval culture and setting, as well as a specialized algae and broodstock rooms. There is ample space to accommodate hundreds of distinct shellfish cultures in their early life stages, from spawning through settlement. State-of-the-art seawater filtration and climate-control systems maintain optimal conditions for ripening broodstock, culturing shellfish larvae, and growing microalgae for feeding animals throughout the facility.

ABC will be the primary occupants of the ACA, where the hatchery will house the program’s diploid and polyploid breeding work and research, their outdoor nursery system, and a variety of experimental cultures and sampling activities. It is one of the most visited facilities on the VIMS campus.

Learn more about the Acuff Center for Aquaculture, its other users, and discover how you can visit.

Field Operations

Field Operations.ABC’s field capabilities consist of oyster grow-out at 4 main farm sites using a variety of methods: rack-and-bag, bottom cages, and longline basket systems. A central field lab on the VIMS main campus is where the majority of our sampling, deployment, and distribution activities take place.

The farm sites, located on the York, Rappahannock, Coan, and Choptank rivers, are each staged in intertidal to subtidal zones. The field sites on the Coan and Rappahannock are on private oyster ground; industry partners have granted ABC access for holding broodstock and conducting experiments.

Learn more about ABC’s field operations and farm sites.

Learn about ABC’s broodstock offerings.

Andrews Hall.Flow Cytometry

ABC scientists use flow cytometry to detect the ploidy, or chromosomal complement, of an oyster. This is important for verification of polyploid oysters produced for research or for commercial use. ABC provides ploidy testing for both needs. Contact [[v|ritter,Kate Ritter Sage]] for more information on ABC's flow cytometry services

Disease Assessment

ABC's histological capabilities are used to assess disease pressure on our selectively bred lines and families. We use standard methods of assessing Dermo disease using Rays's Fluid Thioglycollate Medium and standard paraffin histology. These capabilities are for internal ABC use only. For other pathology services available for shellfish health, see VIMS' Shellfish Pathology Program.