Main content area

Viability of a freshwater Mussel (Elliptio complanata) as a biomechanical filter for aquaculure ponds II: Effects on aquaculture pond water quality

McKenzie, Jonathan F., Ozbay, Gulnihal
Journal of applied aquaculture 2010 v.22 no.1 pp. 39-56
Ictalurus punctatus, catfish, fish culture, fish ponds, water quality, mussels, biofiltration
Bivalves have been proven to be an inexpensive method for removing suspended solids, dissolved nutrients, and controlling algal growth through suspension feeding. The freshwater mussel, Elliptio complanata, is one of the most abundant species in Delaware, and it is additionally favorable for this experiment because of its hardiness against environmental stress and its filtration efficiency. This study examines the possibility that biomechanical filters such as E. complanata can supplement existing chemical and mechanical filtration regiments in aquaculture pond management. Twelve earthen aquaculture ponds located at the Delaware State University were stocked at a density of 4,000 catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) per hectare. Four different concentrations (0, 75, 150, and 300) of E. complanata were placed in trays within the ponds with three replicates of each concentration. The trays were suspended 15 cm below the surface of the water for a period of five months. Fish were fed a 32% protein diet twice daily at a rate of 1% of their body weight. Water quality was analyzed weekly while fish and mussel growths were measured biweekly. Results from water quality parameters varied significantly and were not conclusive based on the data obtained in this study. Water quality did not improve within the mussel treatment ponds during the course of this study and was found to be significantly below that of control ponds for all of the water chemistry parameters measured, with the exception of ammonia. Catfish in the 150 mussel treatment ponds grew the fastest; the 75 mussel treatment provided the most growth in mussels; and the 300 mussel group maintained the highest mussel survivorship. Although there were differences between ponds, fish growth and survivorship were not significantly different between treatments. While our mussel densities may have not been sufficient, their placement within the water column may have added additional stress. Being removed from the sediment can result in a decreased clearance rate in a benthic species such as E. complanata. This study may not have been conclusive in proving that mussels can be used to maintain water quality in aquaculture ponds, but we did see positive growth and survivorship of mussels and fish that indicated that the mussels were thriving in the aquaculture pond setting. This study may show that aquaculture ponds provide a suitable habitat in which propagated mussels may be held until their release into native areas.