Frequently Asked Questions
Where are Springhills fish from?
Springhills Fish is a second-generation family business run by siblings Arlen and RJ Taylor. Our parents Jim and Lynette Taylor opened our first fish farm in 1995, and over the years we've expanded to five farm sites and a processing facility in Grey County. We raise most of the fish ourselves, and also work with other local businesses to share even more tasty and sustainable fish!
Rainbow Trout (also called steelhead trout) — All Springhills trout are ethically raised on our small-scale farms near Hanover and Chatsworth. Their fresh taste comes from plenty of fresh water, low densities and other humane growing methods.
Arctic char — We raise the mjaority of our Arctic char on our own farms. During Covid, we partnered with a likeminded fish farm in the Yukon called Icy Waters so that we could keep up with the demand! All our char is certified sustainable and fully traceable from fark to fork!
Pickerel (also called walleye) — All Springhills pickerel is wild-caught by independently owned fishermen and women in Lake Erie. It comes from a fishery that is internationally recognized as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.
Barramundi (also called Australian sea bass) — Springhills barramundi is raised at an indoor tropical farm near London, Ontario called Sandplains Aquaculture. We like visiting them in the winter because the entire farm is 29 degrees Celsius!
Coho Salmon — Wait, you can get salmon from us? We have several batches of Coho salmon swimming at the farms that are destined for your dinner plates in late 2021!
How fresh is Springhills fish?
The only way it could be fresher is if you fished it out of the tanks yourself! Because we’re a smaller operation, we are able to bring the fish live to the plant and humanely harvest, fillet and freeze in the same day — often within 6 hours! This ensures you’re getting the freshest product possible, and it’s why we say it has been ‘frozen at peak freshness’.
What does raising fish ethically and humanely mean?
At Springhills, we try our hardest to make sure our fish are happy and healthy every day of their lives.
We keep them at low densities, so they have lots of room. They get plenty of fresh water, and we obsess about water quality throughout the farms. We use special diets so they have the protein, vitamins and minerals to thrive. And we even use extras like water sprayers that act as enrichment actvities and break the water surface so they aren't stressed (you'll see them hanging out there on hot summer days!)
Fish may not show emotions like your dog does, but they're always communicating how they're feeling by how they swim, how they school, how they eat, and how they treat each other in the tank. Every member of the extended Springhills family are always watching them and adjusting things so they're as happy as can be before they're ready for your dinner plate!
How are Springhills fish good for the environment?
All Springhills fish are recommended by Ocean Wise for sustainability. We follow strict guidelines on how humanely we care for our fish, how clean their water is, and the quality and ingredients in their food.
Springhills trout and char are raised at hatcheries that are eco-certified by Best Aquaculture Practices, which involves regular on-site audits to ensure we're acting in the best interest of our fish, the environment, our staff and our community.
Springhills pickerel comes from a wild fishery that's internationally recognized for sustainability and food safety by the Marine Stewardship Council.
What do Springhills fish eat?
We're pretty obsessed with what we feed our fish at Springhills so that they're happy, grow well and taste so good! Before our father started our first farm, we worked with fish farmers across Ontario to formulate and sell innovative fish feeds!
We feed a diet heavy on protein, which mostly comes from fish meal and fish oil. Then we round it out with a finely tuned blend of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. We hold an international sustainability certification called Best Aquaculture Practices that gives us rules on where the feed ingredients come from and their sustainability.
Do you use antibiotics or hormones?
Our first priority is keeping our fish happy and healthy. We do not use antibiotics during the majority of our fish's lives, but occasionally we do when fish are very young and it's absolutely necessary for their welfare.
Not unlike your toddler on their first visits to daycare, our little fish can sometimes get sick when they graduate to bigger tanks. We give them their vitamins and have plenty of other tricks, but occasionally their immune systems are not strong enough and they need a little help.
We never medicate any fish over 4 months old (25 grams). By the time you're eating that fish, it is over 2 years old and 50x bigger at 1,500 grams! We do regular testing for antibiotic residue just to make sure, and we've never had any issues!
Even if a fish is labelled "organic", it may very well have had the same medical treatments when it was young. The organic standard focuses on the last 90% of the fish's growth because (i) sometimes using antibiotics on younger fish is a welfare issue, as in you wouldn't want to leave them sick if they needed help, and (ii) any bit of antibiotics is out of the fish for the two years before you enjoy in on your dinner plate!
We do not use any hormones on Springhills fish, including our breeding stock and those heading to your door-step!
What does being eco-certified mean?
One of the things we're most proud of at Springhills is that our sites are certified sustainable by the Best Aquaculture Practices program, or what we call BAP!
BAP is one of the international gold standards for environmentalism on fish farms. It means YOU can have confidence that we're farming in the best interest of the planet, our fish, our staff and our community.
Every December, a BAP auditor spends three days at our farms. First they check all of our records, including water sampling, fish health, feeding and treatments, tank cleaning, staff training, you name it!
Then they go inspect every site and take their own samples. They end by interviewing and quizzing our staff!
The auditor then gives us "non-conformances" if we don't meet requirements — but we've gotten none in the last two years!
It took us four years to prepare for our first BAP audit two years ago. The program is voluntary and much stricter than our government requirements, but we do it to show you that we hold ourselves to the highest international standard for sustainability!
Part of being BAP certified also means that we can only use special fish feed from BAP-certified mills, which is just another reason Springhills fish are good for you, and good for the planet!
How should I cook these fish?
Fish is the perfect “weeknight fancy” meal, because it can be ready in less than 20 minutes and it’s super easy to dress up. We'll send you some cooking suggestions in the box, but you can find some tips, inspiration and recipes on our Cooking page.
How long will these fish last in the freezer?
All Springhills fish have been vacuum-sealed. They'll last 4 - 6 months in a deep freezer for optimal freshness. After that, their flavour and nutritional value may start to deteriorate.
How do I thaw? Can I cook from frozen?
We recommend thawing the fish in the fridge overnight, or if you’re in a rush, you can thaw in cold water in the sink. If you thaw it too quickly or cook it from frozen, it can often give the fish a rubbery texture.
How do I know the fish is done cooking?
You'll know the fish is done if you stick in a fork and it just starts pulling apart at the seams (we call that "flaking"). You still want the middle to be a bit translucent in the middle. If it's opaque all the way through, it might be overcooked!