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Flow-Through and Recirculating Systems

1. Fish tanks

 Should be non-toxic and durable.

 Materials fiberglass, concrete, plastic, acrylic, glass, others; may be with impervious liner, for
example if made of wood.
 Various shapes circular, oval, square, rectangular, hexagonal, octagonal; vertical or sloping sides,
hemispherical; flat or sloping bottom; drains of various design and location (in tank bottom or
lower tank wall).

Advantages of circular tanks

 provide a uniform environment

 tank hydraulics distribute feed and fish.
 produce optimum velocity - rotational to concentrate and flush solids (self-cleaning); swimming
motion of fish (velocities in a doughnut-shaped region around the tank center are reduced (fish
prefer 0.5-2.0 x body length/sec)

Raceways long and narrow rectangular tanks (or ponds); common length:width ratio of 10:1; depths 0f
0.75 1.25 m; aids in water flow; easier management - (simplifies crowding, harvesting, grading, keeping
separate groups); has water quality gradient along length.

 Serial raceways maximize water use; high water velocity for flushing wastes
 Parallel raceways - tanks can be built side by side to share common walls, reduce floor space,
and reduce construction cost
 Combination serial and parallel
 Management considerations - low dissolved oxygen (may aerate individual raceways); buildup of
nitrogenous wastes; accumulation of settleable solids; discharge of effluents (need treatment,
for example by treating all discharges in a settling pond with 1-2 day retention; passing effluent
through a microscreen, ; dual drainage system; provide settling area in raceway)

2. Impact of fish - Waste excretion rates vary with fish size or weight but remain fairly constant per kg
feed, producing approximately:

 30 g Total Ammonia Nitrogen (TAN)

 300 - 500 g dry Fecal Solids
 8gP
 340 g CO2, and requiring
 250 g O2

3. Flow-through systems single-pass systems in tanks/raceways and ponds where water is continuously
supplied and discharged, or makes one pass through the system.
 Stocking densities can be high but if no aeration is provided, the influent water must supply the
oxygen requirements of the fish and prevent the buildup of toxic metabolites.
 Water quality may be subject to water quality fluctuations in the source.
 The carrying capacity of 1.0 liter/min (1.0 Lpm) of good quality water is approximately 1.0 kg of
fish (i.e., a continuous 50 gpm (189 Lpm) good water supply can support approximately 190 kg

4. Recirculating systems - designed to approximate the fundamental aspects of natural systems in order
to support aquatic life.

 Recirculating systems may involve tank, pond, and other culture systems where water is
reconditioned and reused.
 Among the critical processes are gas exchange (aeration and degasification), solids removal, and
biological filtration or biofiltration.
 Other treatment processes include denitrification (nitrate removal, which also augments
alkalinity), ozonation (to remove or reduce color, organics, nitrite, and biochemical oxygen
demand (BOD); also disinfects and sterilizes), ultraviolet (UV) sterilization (for disease/pathogen
control; to eliminate bacteria, viruses, algae, and fungi), and foam fractionation (to remove
dissolved organics and surfactants).
 Heaters and/or chillers may be provided for temperature control.
 While the processes and equipment are provided for specific purposes, they are complementary,
and a complex interrelationship exists in recirculating systems.
 There are many alternative technologies that have been shown to work effectively for each
process and operation. The choice of a particular technology depends on many factors including
the species being reared, site infrastructure, personnel knowledge and expertise, cost
considerations and others.
 Prospective users of recirculating aquaculture production systems need to know about the
required water treatment processes, the components available for each process, and the
technology behind each component.
 At present, recirculating systems are often limited to the culture of high-value species unless
outweighed by concerns other than economics, good examples of which are research systems,
wild stock replenishment systems, ornamental systems and aquarium systems. In fish
hatcheries, recirculating systems are useful for safe holding, nurturing, and management of
broodstock, egg hatching, and for larval/fry rearing.
 Maintaining good water quality is of primary importance. System design, components, and
sizing criteria vary widely, and are mainly provided to comply with specific production needs.
 Recirculating systems for fish production are generally intended to be intensive. The paramount
objective is to design reliable and cost-effective systems.
 Solids Removal
1. Solid wastes in recirculating aquaculture systems are characterized by a broad size spectrum,
high organic content, and low density.
2. The two fractions are dissolved solids and suspended solids, which may be settleable or non-
3. Removal is a solid-liquid separation process, and may involve gravity separation (settling in tanks
with or without settling media like plates, tubes, etc.), swirl separation, filtration (screen,
granular media, porous media), and flotation (foam fractionation, protein skimming, froth
flotation, and air stripping are other terms used) for fine organics and other solids.
 Biological Filtration or Biofiltration
1. Biofiltration connotes the use of living organisms to treat the water. In pond systems and
integrated systems, biofiltration also includes the utilization of aquatic plants and animals other
than the culture species. The objective is to have an ecological system of species occupying
different niches, enhancing areal utilization and production, while providing for water quality
control. Hence, wastewater is reduced, and environmental impact is mitigated.
2. In recirculating tank systems, it refers primarily to nitrification, which is the conversion toxic
ammonia and intermediate form nitrite to relatively harmless nitrate.
3. Common equipment include submerged filters, trickling filters, sand filters and other granular
media filters (fixed bed, expandable, moving bed or fluidized),
4. Any biofilter needs to be acclimated to become functional. Generally, acclimation takes about
30 days or more when allowed to proceed naturally through the introduction of culture animals.
The animals should be added in gradually increasing numbers (or the feeding load should be
increased gradually) until the filter is ready.