-60C freezers for keeping sushi grade catch year-round

Dexter Outdoors


tuna wisher
May 16, 2014
Adrian Guthals
I was in the market for a freezer in preparation for my October LR trip. Almost picked up a -20C chest unit off craigslist but I wanted to look into higher end units that could potentially keep fish at sushi grade longer than 1-2 months. Given the investment I already made into vacation from family, 2-speed reels, tackle, 4k boat tickets, and fish processing fees, I figured it might be worth considering an investment into a freezer capable of keeping my catch fresh enough to enjoy some toro in April without going on another trip. Sure I can get rockfish and yellowtail year round but tuna and wahoo are "my precious"

My company develops and manufactures protein-based therapeutics thus we have to run cryogenic -80C freezers units that keep sensitive DNA/protein samples for years (residential freezers usually keep temps at -4 to -20C). Fish fillets are essentially piles of salty water with some added protein, and -20C is not cold enough to solidly freeze an entire fillet and block the molecular movement that causes oxidation within a few months - even if the catch is properly handled, vac sealed, and flash frozen. The colder you go, say -40C, -60C or -80C, the more you slow down this process. This is why high-end sushi restaurants will use -60C freezers to keep fish year round that is not otherwise available - supposedly taste-testers cant tell the difference between fresh and -60C frozen meat, but I have yet to do a taste test and am not familiar with the specifics of such a test. What convinces me is seeing protein samples come out of our -80C units at work after 1-2 years with little-to-no detectable change in oxidation or 3D molecular structure. The freeze/thaw cycle does more damage than time itself.

I spoke with Mark DuFloth at SolidCold Co. out of El Cajon, who maintains our -80C units at work and asked him for some quotes. He sells brand new Arctiko -60C chest units for $5-6k (133L to 368L capacity) with a multi-year warranty, along with -80C and -40C units (the colder, the more expensive). He also sells reconditioned units, and I ended up getting a used Arctiko SF 150 -60C model with a brand new compressor and 2-year warranty for much less. There were no conditions about promoting on BD - just sharing my experience. Mark answered all my questions:

Power Consumption: Going off of the spec sheet my 133L unit should use 100-200 kwH per month depending upon the ambient temperature of the room it is in. We have solar so no worries there

Placement: He recommends keeping the unit in a room where the temperature stays below 80F on a regular basis to keep the compressor from running 24/7. -60C is really cold (cold enough to freeze un-gloved fingers to a fish fillet), and you just can't jam enough insulation into a 2-3 inch space to keep a 80C temp gradient for very long. In a ~75F room, I am seeing the compressor run 16-18 hours per 24hr cycle which is within limits.

Longevity: Mark inspects every unit before delivery and he even modifies them to make the fan (not the compressor) run 24/7 to keep the compressor cooler. Outside of the warranty, the only thing that can really fail is the compressor which costs ~$500 to replace. He normally sees the -40C units run 10-15 years without issues as long as they are not over stressed. The -60C units are new and he has yet to have any major issues.

Use: My unit is not made to flash freeze fish so everything should be previously frozen at -20C before entering the deep freeze.

Cost: -20C units are cheap, so the added cost does not make sense for everyone, especially those with no other place to keep a freezer than a hot garage. The added cost of a -60C unit is due to the specialized gas exchangers and coolants in the compressor. I believe he also sells -40C units brand new for $500-1000 as they are more or less upgraded -20C models.

Here is Mark's website and email if you are interested. He is the president of SolidCold.

markd (at) solidcold.com
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Bill W

  • Jan 12, 2006
    Chino Hills, Ca.
    Bill Walsh
    Red Rooster
    A regular freezer destroys the meat texture in sushi. From 0 to -8 deg. C water crystals form in the meat. Standard sushi quality tuna are stored onboard commercial boats at -35 cent. with some markets requiring -60 C storage.

    Also sushi has parasites that can be killed with the greater cold, where just freezing takes more time to kill.
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    Never Forget 343
    Jun 9, 2010
    Port Aransas, TX, USA
    Wilderness Systems T-160...and just sold the boat!!!
    I'm still eating wahoo and tuna from a fall 10 day...plenty good for me, and we eat all the tuna raw or seared with no complaints. Plus my garage gets over 90 on a routine basis in south Texas summers.
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    Long Range Fanatic
    Jan 14, 2006
    Walnut Creek CA
    Jeff Burroughs
    Long Range and Private
    FYI: I have a - 20 C freezer and it works great! I am considering an - 80 C model, but they are $$! It should also be very effective with other types of meat.

    Decisions, decisions...

    - Jeff Burroughs
    Last edited:
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    Jul 25, 2012
    Pacific Grove, Calif
    Was Cabo35, now GW Gulfstream
    Very informative post Adrian - thank you!

    One question: Why do you need to pre-freeze the fish to -20 before putting them into the deep freeze? That part isn't clear to me.
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    Dec 22, 2015
    San Diego
    Mackerel Magnet (Sailfish 21' CC)
    What does a used -60c run?

    So pre-freezing in a regular freezer at 0'F would be sufficient as the is -18C?
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    Up to no good...
    Feb 16, 2012
    Culver City, CA
    Intrepid, New Del Mar
    Very interesting thread! I've taken to having Five Star freeze my fish for me and then it goes straight into the chest freezer. So far, I haven't had a problem with fish up to a year an a half old, though by then most of it is either eaten or given away.

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    Oct 3, 2016
    Bartlett, IL
    Looking for a new one
    I have a chest freezer and put all of my fish at the bottom. I assume that it's colder at the bottom, but I've never measured the temperature. Regardless, my yellowtail is still grill-worthy after two years (no trips last year) but my YFT seemed to degrade after about six months.
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