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Kibbutz Samar

Crystal Vision – Development of a fish sorting machine


Ornamental fish are a growing industry in the Arava valley. Fish are hatched in the nurseries and grown to full size in almost sterile conditions. All through this process the fish are sorted. Male fish are the mainstay and are separated from the females in the first stage to allow for faster growth. The fish are then sorted for color and quality before the sale. Approximately 5 million fish are sold monthly, all sorted by hand. Sorting involves catching each fish in a small net and moving it to a separate container. Sorting constitutes 30% of the work requirements at a fish farm. This labor intensive procedure is the only way today to ensure a healthy and beautiful fish.

10 years ago a similar project, supported by JCA (with a $9,000 advance payment) was started at Kibbutz Samar, but it was abandoned due to the closing of the fish farm. Advances in technology and a better understanding of fish behavior, as well as the growth of the industry throughout the Arava, have convinced the project management to restart it with a better chance of bringing it to a fruitful end.

Today, the project R&D will be implemented with the following partners:

  • Crystal Vision – Kibbutz Samar:
        * Ofer Ben Tovim – Image processing, design and algorithms
        * Yoram Sadan – Mechanical design and building
  • Colors Fish Farm – Moshav Ein Yahav:
        *Ran Espstein – fish cultures and fish behavior


In this project it is expected to develop and build a fish sorting machine to replace or decrease the hand labor associated with sorting ornamental fish. The machine should sort more than one category into multiple bins and work at the minimum rate of 3600 fish per hour, with as little damage to the fish as possible. The machine will consist of a "singulator" to separate the fish and show each individually to an image processing camera. The fish will then be brought to its designated tank and dropped or flushed into it. Two major ways to separate fish will be tested: gravitational (where the fish will be forced to fall through a pipe one by one) and counter flow (where the tendency of the fish to swim against the flow is used).

Ofer Ben-Tovim