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What Makes Us Unique?

5 Unique Approach's of Steelhead Springs Fish Farm

  1. Innovative Farming Practice: Steelhead Springs Fish Farm operates the only indoor, self-sustaining, water-conserving, zero-emission fish farm in the United States, that focusing all its efforts to eco-friendly practices​​. From farm to table!

  2. Freshness Guarantee: Our approach to harvesting fish per order ensures unparalleled freshness, directly from farm to table​​.

  3. State-of-the-Art Facility: Located in Hampshire, Kane County, Illinois, our facility is designed to produce sustainable food grade fish in a cutting-edge environment​​.

  4. Waste-to-Resource Conversion: Instead of wasting unusable fish products, we convert them into nutritious organic emulsion (5-1-1 fertilizer for gardens), demonstrating a commitment to sustainability​​ and environmental protection.

  5. Organic Production: Our products, including fish, fertilizers, and greenery, are produced without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents, ensuring a pure, organic growth. 

Please allow me to explain...

Fresh One Year Old Rainbow Trout

Socrates said:

"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new."

Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

"The first wealth is health."


Gandhi said:

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed."

The vast majority of fish consumed in the United States is imported from developing countries, where economic efficiency often overshadows health management, compromising our well-being. Influenced by powerful lobbyists and a focus on profit over environmental stewardship, we, the consumers, bear the brunt. Notably, organizations like the FAO and Oxfam warn of a global food crisis by year 2050, as the world's population is projected to reach 9.1 billion. To feed everyone, agricultural output must increase by 75%, a daunting task considering the current state of our farming infrastructure.

It's a stark reality: what took over 300 years to build now needs to be revamped in just 25 years. The traditional approach to farming, particularly in aquaculture, is increasingly viewed as archaic and limited. This calls for innovative thinking, akin to the evolution of shelving. Initially developed by the Greeks and Dutch for efficient vertical storage, shelving revolutionized space utilization. Applying this principle to fish farming and farming in general, farming can be transformative. By prioritizing sustainability over greed, and focusing on ethical practices rather than profit maximization, we can revolutionize food production to meet the demands of our growing population. This shift in mindset is not just necessary; it's imperative for the survival and well-being of future generations.

Steelhead Springs answer to solving food shortages Vertical Farming Diagram
Sustainable Food Production Vertical Farming with Aquaponics
Steelhead Springs Broodstock Fish during feeding time

Like the human central nervous system, our global ecosystem is intricately interconnected. Strain on one part impacts the whole, much like a body reacting to stress. Our actions affect this balance, placing on us the responsibility to adopt sustainable practices and restore our environment, ensuring its health for future generations.

Embracing Responsibility: The First Step in Sustainable Aquaculture Solutions

My Steelhead Springs Fish Farm's establishment transcends a mere business initiative, emerging as a profound response to a personal calamity that exposed the peril of dietary toxins such as methylmercury. This noxious substance, frequently present in certain fish due to industrial contamination, poses serious health threats upon consumption. The affliction of my mother, attributable to mercury poisoning, highlighted the critical need for safer alimentary options. Her demise in 2015 marked the impetus for our venture – to deliver mercury-free, sustainable food solutions. Our dedication at Steelhead Springs is centered around mitigating the hazards associated with methylmercury, thereby ensuring our consumers' health and wellbeing. Our endeavor extends beyond merely addressing global hunger; it represents a commitment to fostering a healthier future, converting a personal loss into a legacy of wellness and environmental guardianship.

The foundation of Steelhead Springs LLC was motivated by a deeply personal narrative. Gordie Bates, Daniel's mother, battled a rare form of brain cancer, a condition linked to prolonged exposure to Methylmercury (CH3Hg+), a formidable neurotoxin. The American Cancer Society has underscored the grave risks associated with Methylmercury, notorious for its detrimental effects on the nervous system. Extended exposure to this toxin, as clinical research suggests, can lead to considerable neurological and cognitive detriments, particularly detrimental to developing brains. Methylmercury, prevalent in contaminated fish, poses a significant hazard by potentially impairing motor and sensory functions, and in extreme cases, leading to life-threatening situations.

Gordie's health odyssey, initially diagnosed as Rheumatoid Arthritis, prompted her to consume fish rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Tragically, her intake of fish contaminated with Methylmercury culminated in the grievous diagnosis of a meningioma brain tumor in 2011. In reaction to this adversity, Daniel Bates founded Steelhead Springs LLC, with a mission to supply safe, mercury-free fish. Our objective is to provide a source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids devoid of the heavy metal contamination that afflicts conventional sources. Our commitment lies in sustainable, health-conscious aquaculture, ensuring our products are devoid of Methylmercury risks. At Steelhead Springs LLC, our unwavering dedication is to cultivate fish in environments completely free from Methylmercury exposure. This initiative, endorsed by Dr. Mehmet Cengiz (Dr. Oz) and Beth Lowell of Oceana, was reinforced through our exhaustive analysis of local grocery retailer fish samples. These investigations, undertaken at the University of Rochester Medical Center, detected Methylmercury levels ranging from 1.70 to 4.26 µg/g, significantly surpassing the safe limit of 0.1 µg/g and the high-risk threshold of 1.0 µg/g. Our discoveries precipitated a notable legislative change, in collaboration with former Illinois State Senator Mark Kirk and with the endorsement of former Governor Bruce Rauner. A bill mandating explicit origin labeling of fish in grocery stores and retailers was enacted, serving as a testament to our research and advocacy efforts. This law empowers consumers with essential information regarding their fish purchases.

Gordie Bates the inspiration to Steelhead Springs Fish Farm

She would always tell me that nothing is impossible, "I gave birth to you, didn't I?".

Fish Import Map of the World

Before 2014, access to maps like these was restricted from the public domain. The United States predominantly imports fish from developing nations, a strategy largely driven by economic considerations. The U.S. contributes merely 1% to global fish production and depends on approximately 97% of international fisheries to meet its supply demands. Historically, the United States once held the position as the world's foremost food producer. Regrettably, a shift occurred where many entities prioritized financial gain by diminishing production costs through the outsourcing of production and manufacturing processes. I refer to this period as the 'Outsourcing Era', during which the U.S. consciously and strategically delegated a substantial portion of its food production to developing countries. Over the past three decades, only a select few food manufacturers have maintained operations within the United States, exerting complete control over the entire production process, from inception to distribution.


In the current landscape, we are engulfed by a culture of greed, a scenario where intentional deception and misinformation are orchestrated by corporate entities. This unsettling reality has come to my attention over my years of diligent research and investigation. During this time, I have gathered an extensive array of documents, each shedding light on these calculated and unscrupulous practices. It's disheartening to acknowledge, but this problem is not confined to a specific locale. It represents a pervasive crisis affecting our nation at large, one that originates fundamentally in the methods and ethics of fish farming. These practices set off a chain reaction, influencing various aspects of our food industry and, by extension, impacting the health and well-being of consumers. My findings underscore the urgent need for a comprehensive reassessment and reform of these practices to safeguard public health and ensure ethical standards in our food production systems.
We have a challenge for you!

The Steelhead Challenge: Try to Distinguishing Wild from Farm-Raised


In the spirit of engaging discovery, I invite you to partake in a captivating and educational contest: discerning between "Wild Caught" and "Farm Raised" Steelhead sourced from a local grocery store. Below is an image featuring two fillets, each exhibiting a distinct orangish hue. Based solely on your observation of this image, can you identify which fillet is wild-caught and which is farm-raised? Focus your attention and try to determine the farm-raised fillet. Is it positioned on the left or the right? This exercise not only tests your perceptual skills but also aims to enlighten you about the subtle differences in appearance between wild and farm-raised fish.

Rainbow Trout Challenge, guess which is the farm raised fish

Do you have your selection? 


Are you sure?

Is this your final answer?

Steelhead Springs Challenge, which is the farm raised fish

Organic/Wild Caught is priced at $14.00 per pound, while its farm raised competitor is priced at $10.00 per pound.

How did you do?

Did you guess correctly? Did you come out on top?

I must extend my apologies if you indeed exerted your utmost effort in our previous exercise. In retrospect, the task posed was somewhat of a riddle, as both fillets displayed – the one on the far left and the one on the far right – are in fact the same farm-raised fish. These particular fillets were transported to the United States from Chile, South America, several weeks prior. During a conversation with a store employee, it was revealed that it typically takes this retailer approximately 3-5 weeks to receive the fish after the corporate warehouse has accepted delivery from Chile.

An observation I made during this interaction was that the employee had neglected to update the product label. Consequently, subsequent customers purchasing what they believed to be "Organic" Steelhead were misled, in this instance by a young 18-year-old employee who was momentarily distracted by a customer requiring assistance. Incidents such as these, often dismissed as inadvertent errors, go unnoticed until long after the product has been sold and consumed, usually rendering any official intervention or investigation moot. This scenario exemplifies one of the many challenges and pitfalls within the retail and distribution chain of our food supply system.

Labeling Responsibilities and Challenges

The task of labeling falls upon the shoulders of employees who often find themselves in a challenging work environment, characterized by long hours, insufficient recognition, and inadequate compensation. These dedicated individuals, frequently fatigued from their demanding schedules, are responsible for managing the labeling process. All necessary labels are consolidated into a single drawer, and the employees rely on their knowledge and discretion to correctly label various fish products.

Given these circumstances, one might ponder the frequency of inadvertent errors in labeling. Additionally, it's worth considering the instances where these employees might be compelled, under certain pressures, to intentionally mislabel items. It has been documented that many grocery store retailer have intentionally mislead the consumers with questionable tactics to hide the quality, freshness, or true meat type. The intricacy of this process highlights the need for a more robust and supportive system to ensure accuracy and integrity in product labeling, which is crucial for consumer trust and safety.


Owing to our prominent social media presence and our commitment to fostering public consciousness about industry practices, we have drawn direct engagement from local retailers. These entities have endeavored to persuade us to align with their perspectives, employing tactics aimed at eliciting sympathy for their challenges. They have communicated that numerous inquiries and concerns raised by their staff regarding fish quality and sourcing are, in their view, attributable to errors that occurred prior to their acquisition of the products.

In what they describe as an effort to address these issues, these retailers have now implemented disclaimers regarding their fish products. This move appears to be a response to the heightened scrutiny and questions they are facing in the wake of our social awareness campaigns. Such developments underscore the complexity of the dialogue between consumers, advocates, and retailers in the realm of food quality and transparency.

Grocery Store Disclaimer about their fish

A closer examination of the seafood industry reveals a stark reality: the vast majority of fish consumed is farm-raised. Corporations allocate millions and billions of dollars annually in efforts to mislead the public, crafting narratives to present their products in a certain light. One such narrative revolves around the term "Wild Caught." Conventionally, this term implies fish that has been captured by individuals in the wild bodies of water. However, this description is somewhat misleading. In truth, most of these fish are caught from floating pens situated in large bodies of water, a fact often conveniently obscured from the consumer.

Furthermore, marketing language such as "FRESH," "Wild Caught," "NEW," and "Special" has been prevalent in the industry. Recently, the term "Product of the USA" has gained popularity. It's important to understand that "Product of the USA" does not necessarily denote that the product originated from the United States. This label, however, is often used to suggest just that. The criteria for something being labeled as "Product of the USA" are stringent; it implies that all significant components and processing of the product must originate in the United States. This becomes particularly misleading in cases where fish, imported in the whole form from countries like Afghanistan, China, India, Malaysian, Pakistan, etc. undergoes processing from whole fish to fillets once it arrives in the United States. Such processing allows these fillets to be marketed under the "FRESH" as well as "Products of the USA," despite their international origins. This practice highlights a critical gap in labeling standards and consumer awareness, calling for more transparent and truthful marketing in the seafood industry.

Chile farming floating cages
Masive Chile Floating farms with complete disregard for nature
Chinese Salmon floating cages
Dead fish spred disease
Canadian Floating farms that are destroying local eco systems
Indias floating fish farming cages
Trailnad Catfish farm
Using chemicals to kill fish before harvesting to maintain control of fish is wrong

A Decade of Research Reveals Critical Insights on Farm-Raised Fish


Based on a decade of extensive research and development, my professional assessment is that farm-raised fish have garnered an undeservedly negative reputation primarily due to substandard farming practices. Many of these farms are designed with a singular focus on minimizing operational costs, often at the expense of water quality and environmental purity. Consequently, when diseases emerge, the prevalent solution is the incorporation of antibiotics into fish feed, rather than addressing the root causes of such outbreaks.

This approach leads to fish being raised in polluted and contaminated conditions, necessitating a relentless cycle of chemical intervention to maintain their viability. The routine administration of antibiotics is not just a prophylactic measure against disease but also a desperate attempt to prevent the fish from succumbing to the adverse effects of their own living conditions. The disturbing reality is that these toxins eventually find their way into our bodies, where they pose significant challenges to our metabolic processes, ultimately leading to various health complications. This is the grim consequence of ingesting substances that essentially qualify as poisons.

By the time we recognize the problem, it is often too late for remedial action, leaving us with the sole option of striving for an improved quality of life in the time that remains. This was the heartbreaking lesson I learned through my mother's experience. When her illness was diagnosed, it seemed too late for any meaningful intervention. However, through the provision of clean, high-quality fish, wholesome produce, and an optimized vitamin regimen, we were able to extend her life significantly. What was initially a prognosis of one year of vegetative existence post-surgery, turned into five years of valuable, memorable life. These years, immeasurably precious, have left an indelible mark on my heart and underscore the profound impact of dietary choices on our health and wellbeing.

Just imagine, what if...

Our chart for US fish consumption statistic

The chart above simplifies the data related to fish consumption in the U.S., particularly focusing on Rainbow Trout.


Here's a breakdown to aid in understanding:

  1. Total Fish Demand: The total yearly demand for fish in the U.S. is approximately 5.2 billion pounds.

  2. Rainbow Trout Demand: Out of this, Rainbow Trout accounts for about 624 million pounds.

  3. Farm-Raised Trout: The majority of Rainbow Trout, around 374.4 million pounds, comes from farm-raised sources.

  4. Wild-Caught Trout: The remaining, approximately 249.6 million pounds, is categorized as wild-caught.


This visualization makes it evident that a significant portion of the Rainbow Trout sold is farm-raised, raising questions about the feasibility of the "Wild Caught" label, especially considering the massive volume of fish consumed daily.


Given the immense scale of consumption, one must ask a critical question: Where on Earth is it actually feasible to catch 700,000 pounds of Wild Rainbow Trout on a daily basis? This staggering figure challenges the plausibility of the 'Wild Caught' label and invites scrutiny into the realities of our seafood sourcing practices.


Addressing Legal Ambiguities: A Consumer Perspective

The reality that confronts us is this: existing laws encompass considerable ambiguities, which are often exploited by profit-driven institutions and individuals. This exploitation, though technically within legal boundaries, effectively circumvents the spirit of the law, thereby misleading us, the consumers.

A Commitment to Ethical Practices in Aquaculture


In light of these challenges, I firmly believe that responsible and ethical aquaculture is achievable.


Over the past five years, I have devoted myself entirely to this project. My focus has been on developing, engineering, and assembling a state-of-the-art production facility, utilizing the latest advancements in technology. This endeavor represents not just a professional commitment, but a personal mission to transform the industry for the better.

Steelhead Springs LLC Logo
2 year old rainbow trout

Harnessing Technology and Engineering for Sustainable Aquaculture


By leveraging cutting-edge technology and innovative engineering, coupled with my unwavering commitment to the betterment of our community, I'm constructing a fish farm that operates on principles akin to organic farming. This approach ensures a sustainable and ethical method of aquaculture, aligning with our goal of positively impacting both the industry and the community.

Let me show you the future!

Steelhead Springs Fish Farm

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