Of all the animal-related agricultural industries, timing and handling are probably most pertinent to the seafood business. When asking for a steak, we do not ask for something right out of the barn. Even poultry, which carries its own bacteria-related concerns is not asked for “fresh” and called “chickeny” if it has been frozen for some days. Seafood alone is demanded fresh every time. How can a brine tank help you keep that fresh quality in your catch?
Why use a brine tank?
Like all living organisms, fish bodies are created to keep harmful bacteria outside and protect their internal organs. Damaging their bodies speeds up the normal deterioration of the fish, reducing its quality, and making it eventually taste more “fishy.” However, the proper use of a good brine tank can help you make 10-20% more money on your catch.
First, you need to recognize that a brine tank cannot fix damaged fish. You will vastly improve the quality of your catch if the fish are not thrown or stepped on before going into the brine tank. Secondly, undamaged fish are less likely to contaminate the brine as fast as fish with open wounds or patches of missing scales. Third, it is not advised to keep multiple species of fish in the same tank for any length of time. Even if you are using it to rinse them for a few minutes, their bacteria can become cross-contaminated and accelerate deterioration. It is best to use separate brine tanks for separate species of fish. Finally, when the brine becomes discolored, it is crucial to replace the water quickly.
What does a brine tank do?
When kept at a cold temperature (32-38 degrees Fahrenheit), the brine water will keep your fish fresh by washing the bacteria from them and removing the heat from their bodies, which would otherwise allow the bacteria to grow and reproduce. Chlorine bleach or iodine cleaner agents. can also help kill that bacteria before it gets a chance to grow on them and can be useful, but be sure you are using FDA approved amounts, so your catch is not disqualified at the market for being tainted by these chemicals. (½ ounce of bleach per gallon of water.)
What size brine tank do you need?
The answer to this depends entirely upon how many fish you need to transport at a time. You definitely want enough water to submerge all of your fish completely. Remember, heat rises, so if you are keeping the temperature closer to the 38 degrees Fahrenheit mark, it may be more difficult to keep fish cool near the surface.
Another thing to keep in mind is the danger of packing too many fish into one tank. If they rub against one another too much, they may damage one another, ruining their quality and counteracting much of the work you have done with the brine tank to improve their condition at the market. You need a tank big enough to hold enough water that will allow the fish to settle in with space for the brine to run between them. The bigger the fish, the more space they will need to keep from damaging each other, due to the greater surface area.
In order to find the best brine tank to fit your needs, you will need to balance the size of the space you have to store the tank in with the size of the hauls you hope to accomplish. You may also need to consider using several smaller tanks instead of one large one if you’ll be bringing in multiple species.
If used correctly, a properly sized brine tank can help you safely transport seafood and significantly improve the quality of fish you present at the market. Finding the right tank is the first step in increasing your earnings on your catch.