The sturgeon lifecycle
With a lifecycle of between 80-120 years, sturgeon are authentic living fossils that appeared on the Earth around 250 million years ago. Ancestral and majestic in appearance, these animals are known for their peaceful lifestyles and slow movements.
EXPLANATORY NOTE: fish are cold blooded animals, whose metabolism and speed of growth, among many other things are influenced by the water temperature. This is why when the text mentions time, a reference to the average temperature in which it occurs is added.
Early days (15ºC)
Fertilization. Parent selection, hatching and endogenous feeding. The hatching of the embryos takes place during the seventh day counting from the moment of fertilization. When the embryo hatches, it measures about 8mm and it is characterised by its large head and also a large yoke sac, which is its nutritious reserve, from which it will feed for the next 7 days. Over these 7 days, it grows a lot and the two extremes of the digestive system open, which were closed during hatching.
First few months (15ºC)
During the first three months, the small sturgeon are pelagic predators, that is to say, they are not at the bottom like the adults, but they swim freely in the column of water to capture their prey. This period is characterised by the teeth the small sturgeon have in their mouths, to enhance their predatory activity. After the age of three months, the small sturgeon acquire the shape and typical behaviour of the adults, but the big difference between them is that these small sturgeon are very weak and easy prey for predators, mainly herons, cormorants, otters and other fish.
At Caviar de Riofrío, we always work in natural temperatures, without artifically heating the water. This means that the fish grow slowly, as they would do in nature, but it allows us to obtain the best possible quality product. We therefore put the quality of the product before speedy production.
From birth to the age of 9 our young sturgeon lead an extraordinarily peaceful life, enjoying high quality water, always clean and renewed, in a privileged natural environment with the finest certified organic food.
At the age of 9 approximately, we carry out the first ultrasound on our sturgeon, a harmless and non-invasive process, which allows us to see inside the fish without harming them. With this we can differentiate the males from the females.
The females are marked individually with a tiny microchip, which allows them to be identified individually, so that we can monitor the development of the eggs and ensure we are producing the best possible caviar.
Throughout this long period of time, the sturgeon continue with their natural growth rhythm, slow and calm. We do not to accelerate it in any way because we consider that our animals deserve the utmost respect and care. We are in no hurry: we want the best possible product and for this we respect and care for our animals.
It is when they reach approximately 18 years old that our fish are ready for the harvesting of the caviar. During all this time we have looked after them and given them the best life possible, now it is time for slaughter and as animal welfare is a key priority for us, we have developed an individual slaughtering method that is instantaneous and painless. This whole process is guaranteed by the professional work of our biologists.
To ensure we produce the best possible caviar, it is extremely important for it to be produced at the right moment of maturity. To do so, we perform several ultrasounds on each female. It is not necessary to use an anaesthetic or chemical painkiller to carry out the ultrasound, we just gently pick the female up and using a specific posture induce them into a mild state of narcosis, together with some special caressing techniques of the belly, which makes the fish feel totally relaxed and almost fall asleep; in fact, sometimes, after the ultrasound we have to ‘wake’ them up.
During their approximately 18 years of life, the sturgeon have always been fed exceptionally high quality food, from two different sources. One part is comprised of live food they capture in the pools, and which stimulates them into maintaining their natural behaviour, despite being in captivity. To make this possible, our farms are made into completely natural environments with a natural bed, like that of rivers. This, together with the constant and continuous entrance of abundant amounts of fresh water, means that the sturgeon feel completely free as if in a river, despite being kept in captivity. The other part of their food is made up of organic vegetables and sustainably sourcedfishmeal, which is purchased with organic certification, to guarantee maximum quality.