The sturgeon lifecycle
With a lifecycle of between 80-120 years, sturgeon are authentic living fossils which appeared on the Earth 250 million years ago, during the dinosaur era. 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.
Day zero (15ºC)
Fertilization. Parent selection
Day 7-15 (15ºC)
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 (comes out of the egg), it measures about 8mm and has a 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 enormously and the two extremes of the digestive system open, which were closed during hatching.
First 3 months post feeding (15ºC)
During the first three months, the small sturgeon are pelagic predators, that is, they are not at the bottom like the adults, but they swim freely in the column of water to capture their prey, which are mainly small animals such as rotifers, young daphnias, etc.
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 acquires the shape and typical behaviour of the adults, but the big difference between them is that these small sturgeon are very weak and easy victims to predators, mainly herons, cormorants, otters, other fish, etc.
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.
9 years old
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 and with the best 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 gives them an individual identification, so that we can monitor the development of the eggs and ensure we are producing the best possible caviar.
Growth without accelerators
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.
18 years old
Caviar production (and meat)
Painless slaughter. It is when they reach approximately 18 years old that our fish will give us the caviar. During this time we have looked after them and given them the best life possible, now it is time for slaughter and because for us the welfare of the animal is a priority, we have developed an individual slaughtering method which is instantaneous and painless This whole process is guaranteed by the professional work of our biologists: Dr. Domezain and three Russian experts.
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 ultrasounds on each female, sometimes a few over a period of time.
To be able to do the ultrasound, it is not necessary to use an anaesthetic or chemical painkiller, we take the female gently and with a specific posture, induce them into a mild state of narcosis, together with some special caressing techniques to the belly, which makes the fish feel totally relaxed, almost completely 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, proceeding from two parts. One part made up of live food they capture in the farms, and which stimulates them into maintaining their natural behaviour, despite being in captivity. For this to be possible, our farms are totally naturalised and have a natural bed, imitating that of rivers. This, together with the constant and continuous entrance of abundant amounts of new water, means that the sturgeon feels completely free in the river, despite being kept in captivity. The other part of the food comes from organic vegetables and fish flour from sustainable fishing, which we buy already with an organic certification, to guarantee maximum quality.
The production of caviar
Riofrío has the perfect conditions for the breeding of sturgeon.
On the one hand, it is located in the same river basin as the original habitat of theAcipenser naccarii, one of the most appreciated sturgeon varieties. On the other, the fish farm with its water purity and temperature conditions, allows us to accurately reproduce its natural habitat.
Sturgeon are practically extinct in the wild, but there is hope of recovering them thanks to sustainable aquaculture, as developed in Caviar de Riofrío Also, we have our four expert biologists; Dr. Domezain and three Russian professionals, who oversee the whole process.
All our caviar is elaborated in our own facilities, by highly specialised staff. We are not re-packagers, we are producers who make our own products!
One of the things we value at Caviar de Riofrío is loyalty. For this reason, our staff, aside from exceptions or unforeseen circumstances are permanent staff, who are specialised and responsible with many years experience and who respond to the company with the same loyalty they are shown.
Natural environment and development of Gastro-tourism in the area
Caviar de Riofrio is located in the village of the same name, in the foothills of the rugged Sierra de Loja, which collects natural water, stores it in the depths of the mountain and flows through the source of the Riofrío.
The source of the water is only 300 metres away from the outskirts of the facilities. The water comes directly from the inside of the mountain, always pure and abundant and always at the same temperature.
In 2019 For the quality of the environment it was declared a Natural Monument by the Andalusian Government. Giving it a figure of protection for the future.
Riofrio trout in its first years – from the foundation of the fish farm in 1963 – and afterwards Caviar de Riofrío, have encouraged the proliferation of a large amount of restaurants in Riofrío which have contributed to local development. This means that tourists who are lovers of fine food can come to taste our products made in Riofrío, and enjoy eating them in their favourite restaurant. The large influx of tourists at the weekend is proof of this.
We use the water, we do not waste it nor pollute it In aquaculture.
Water is used but not wasted. Everything that is taken is returned to the river after it is used.
If as well as that, it is Organic aquaculture, as in our case, it is not only not wasted, but special attention is paid to its purification, to be able to return it to the environment in a similar condition to how it was in when it was taken.
To do this, we have what is known as a Mature Wetland Mesocosm. These are naturalised artificial lakes, full of the natural vegetation of the area.
As we are dedicated to organic production, we do not use chemicals and our only pollutants, are the phosphorous and nitrogen in the animal feed and fish debris.
The submerged part of the plants, stems and radicular systems, as well as the algae that are part of the mesocosm, are colonised by the beneficial bacteria which make the natural cycle of phosphorous and nitrogen, converting them into phosphates and nitrates which are absorbed by the plants or weathered materials, therefore eliminating them from the water.
Another important contribution of the Mesocosm is that it provides a home to varied native wildlife which would not be present in the area if it did not exist. A large amount of birds, especially insectivore birds are present, ducks, ichthyophagous birds, aquatic reptiles, etc. This acquires a positive impact which helps to compensate for possible negative impacts which may occur.
Both the Mesocosms as well as the abundant amount of vegetation on the riverbanks that we maintain means there is a very good absorption gradient of CO2 on site, reducing our carbon footprint or even placing us as net consumers of CO2.
Como ejercicio de transparencia, difusión de la producción ecológica y divulgación de la acuicultura, posible gracias a la labor de seguimiento de nuestros 4 biólogos expertos; el Dr. Domezain y tres profesionales rusos, ofrecemos diversos tipos de visitas guiadas, acompañadas o no de degustaciones de caviar, catas técnicas, etc.
To reserve your visit or for any other query, please fill in the following form and we will contact you as soon as possible. Remember that your reservation will not be finalised until you receive a confirmation e-mail from us.
Our R+D laboratory, has also continued to do research to offer new gastronomic experiences, which is how we have created variations of caviar:
Their square shape is ideal to add to cocktails, shots, snacks or recipes.
Pure, dehydrated and ground caviar, created to powder fish dishes, pasta, eggs, salads…
Caviar and salt, to use as a seasoner in different recipes.