Preserving the Natural Flavor of Catfish Challenge Winners Announced

Once again, a team of Alden experts has landed in the winners circle for a HeroX prize challenge. securing a second place prize valued at $10,000. 

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) used the HeroX platform to identify methods or technologies capable of reducing or eliminating instances of off-flavor in farmed catfish raised in ponds, a problem that costs farmers millions of dollars each year. 

Alden's team, headed up by Principal Engineer, Kimbal Hall, Fisheries Biologist, Jenna Rackovan, and Intern Sophie Waterhouse, answered the question of how to help the USDA-ARS eliminate off-flavors by suggesting the use of nanobubbles to inhibit the growth of cyanobacteria, a culprit of off-flavoring in farm raised catfish. This pre-harvest management strategy would be more environmentally friendly, replacing chemicals that are currently used to treat off-flavoring.  Additionally, nanobubbles would offer the benefit of increased oxygenation in the ponds. 

Proposed approaches needed to reduce off-flavors in catfish to a level that is undetectable to professional flavor testers. More details about this persistent problem, as well as the judging criteria can be found here. Prizes totaling $60,000 were awarded and the USDA-ARS hopes to work with the winners to further develop their technologies for the benefit of the industry.

A Winners Webinar was hosted by HeroX and the USDA-ARS team on March 18.  Attendees were able to learn more about the challenge, as well as the goals of the of the crowd-sourced competition to address off-flavoring in farm raised catfish. The winners also presented their winning ideas. 

Below you can watch Alden's team as they introduce their idea.

The webinar runs just over an hour in length; Alden's team introduction happens at 29:18, which is where this video picks up.


Do you think you have an idea that our team can help to develop? Let's Talk!

This story originally appeared on March 4, 2021, and was updated with the Winners Webinar information.