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Effects of aerated and non-aerated biofilters on effluent water treatment from a small-scale recirculating aquaculture system for Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus L.)

Gichana, Zipporah, Liti, David, Drexler, Silke-Silvia, Zollitsch, Werner, Meulenbroek, Paul, Wakibia, Joseph, Ogello, Erick, Akoll, Peter, Waidbacher, Herwig
Bodenkultur 2020 v.70 no.4 pp. 209-219
Oreochromis niloticus, aeration, ammonia, ammonium nitrogen, aquaculture tanks, biofilters, biofiltration, fish, fish production, nitrates, phosphorus, recirculating aquaculture systems, wastes, water quality, water treatment, water utilization
Most recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS) use aerated biofilters to maintain suitable water quality for fish production. However, application of non-aerated biofilters may provide opportunities to lower aeration costs, water usage and concentration of all nitrogenous wastes in the effluent water. Our study aimed at comparing the biofiltration performance characteristics of two biofilters: a conventional aerated biofilter and a non-aerated biofilter receiving the same effluent water from a small-scale RAS. The two biofilters were evaluated in triplicate and tested concurrently for seven months. Water quality parameters were monitored at the biofilter inlets and outlets and in the fish tanks. At the beginning of the experiment, the concentration of ammonia at the two biofilter outlets were not significantly different. However, the concentrations decreased with time reaching mean values of 1.33 ± 0.02 mg L⁻¹ and 1.23 ± 0.21 mg L⁻¹ N-NH₄ in the aerated and non-aerated biofilters, respectively. Whereas phosphorus and nitrate levels were significantly high in the aerated biofilter. There was no significant difference in the growth of fish between the aerated and non-aerated biofilters. The results suggest that non-aerated biofilters can be as effective as aerated biofilters in maintaining suitable water quality for O. niloticus production.