rakocy biofloc

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Development of a Biofloc System for the Production of TilapiaJames E. Rakocy, Jason J. Danaher, Donald S. Bailey and R. Charlie Shultz University of the Virgin Islands Agricultural Experiment Station RR 1, Box 10,000, Kingshill, VI 00850, U.S. jrakocy@uvi.edu

AbstractA 200-m3 circular tank was stocked with sex-reversed Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and evaluated in four production trials. Water treatment methods consisted of aeration, mixing, solids removal, nitrification and denitrification. The fish were fed ad libitum twice a day with a complete (32% protein), floating pellet. Ammonia and nitrite concentrations were generally acceptable for tilapia growth. During the four trials, there were two non-toxic TAN spikes (~8 mg/L) and three nitrite-nitrogen spikes (14-18 mg/L) that were prevented from being lethal by adding chloride ions (~300 mg/L) at the outset of the trials. The nitratenitrogen concentration increased throughout the first two trials and reached 654 and 707 mg/L in Trials 1 and 2, respectively, which indicated a high rate of nitrification in the water column and the need for a denitrification treatment process. Two external denitrification channels (15.2 m x 1.2 m x 0.6 m) were established and used in Trials 3 and 4, resulting in lower peak nitrate-nitrogen concentrations (341 and 364 mg/L, respectively). Total suspended solids (TSS) increased throughout the first two trials and reached peaks values of 1,300 and 1,960 mg/L in Trials 1 and 2, respectively. Horizontal water velocity was too high for effective sedimentation of suspended solids for removal by a 45 cone situated in the center of the tank bottom. The addition of an external clarifier (1.8 m3, 60 slope) to the system for the last 3 weeks of Trial 2 removed 360 kg of dry weight solids, resulting in the reduction of TSS levels from to 1,700 to 600 mg/L. The reduction of TSS improved other water quality parameters and fish feeding response. The use of the central cone was discontinued, and the external clarifier was used throughout Trials 3 and 4, in which TSS reached peak values of 540 and 550 mg/L and averaged 317 and 368 mg/L, respectively. In Trial 4 the entire tank was covered with bird netting in lieu of less effective bird deterrence methods. As a result, survival increased from a high of 86% in Trial 3 to 99.7% in Trial 4. For optimal performance the UVI biofloc system requires an external clarifier, a denitrification unit and complete enclosure with bird netting.

IntroductionPond culture is the standard method of producing tilapia in the tropics. Pond culture depends on phytoplankton to generate oxygen and absorb dissolved nitrogenous waste. The feeding rate limit for fed ponds is determined by the ability of the ponds microbial community to assimilate fish waste products such as ammonia and solid waste, which undergoes microbial decomposition. The feeding rate limit determines a ponds production capacity. A standard

production level for a fed pond is 5,000 kg/ha. The production level can be increased with aeration and/or water exchange. An intensive biofloc system was developed at the University of the Virgin Islands, which reduces the limitations of pond culture (Rakocy et al. 2000; Rakocy et al. 2002, Rakocy et al. 2004). The biofloc tank was continuously aerated and did not depend on phytoplankton for oxygen production. The primary component of the microbial community was shifted from phytoplankton to chemoautotrophic bacteria, which removed ammonia and nitrite. Settleable solid waste was removed daily through a sedimentation process. The culture water was mixed to suspend the microbial community and maximize contact between bacteria and waste products. The culture water contained high concentrations of phytoplankton, but the phytoplankton community did not play as dominant a role in maintaining water quality as in pond culture. As four production trials were conducted, the system was modified to enhance performance and maximize production.

Materials and MethodsA 200-m3 circular tank (surface area = 200 m2) was constructed outdoors in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands (Figures 1 and 2). The tank was 16 m wide by 1.22 m deep. The walls of the tank were constructed from six tiers of lintel blocks (knock out bond beam blocks), which were reinforced horizontally and vertically with steel reinforcement bar and core filled with concrete. A prefabricated plastic liner (30 mil HDPE) was installed inside the tank wall. The sides of the liner were pulled over the wall to the outside and secured by fastening lumber (5 cm by 20 cm) to the top of the wall. Soil was backfilled around the outside of the tank so that only 0.4 m of the tank wall was above grade.

16 m 1.2 m 1.8 m 3 % slope

10 cm PVC drain line

Figure 1. A 200-m3 rearing tank with center cone and external drain line. The bottom of the tank sloped 3% to a central, 1-m3, fiberglass cone with a 45 slope. The liner was attached to a wide flange around the top of the cone with double-sided tape. A 10cm, PVC drainpipe extended from the apex of the cone to a 1-m3 fiberglass tank located outside the rearing tank. By opening a gate valve in the drainpipe once a day, solid waste from the cone flowed into the small tank through an internal standpipe, and its volume was measured.

This system of solids removal was modified during the last 3 weeks of Trial 2. A 1.9-m3 cylindro-conical clarifier was installed outside the rearing tank (Figure 3). The clarifier was constructed with fiberglass-reinforced rigid plastic sheeting (1 mm thick). The cylindrical portion of the clarifier was situated above ground and contained a central baffle that was perpendicular to the incoming water flow. The lower conical portion, with a 60o slope, was buried under ground. A 3-cm, PVC drainpipe extended from the apex of the cone to the top of the 1-m3 sludge tank. Rearing tank effluent was drawn from a depth of 0.8 m along the

Figure 2. View of rearing tank with three vertical lift aerators.

Figure 3. External clarifier.

Figure 4. Denitrifying tanks.

side of the rearing tank through a 3.8-cm pipe and pumped, with a 0.25-hp centrifugal pump, into the clarifier just below the water surface at a rate of 38 L/minute to create a 50-minute retention time. The incoming water was deflected upward by a 45o PVC elbow to dissipate the current. As water flowed under the baffle, turbulence diminished and solids settled to the bottom of the cone. A ball valve was opened to drain solids from the cone into the sludge tank for measurement. The clarifier was operated during the last 21 days of the trial. Solids

were removed from the cone an average of eight times daily for the first 6 days. During days 7-21, solids were removed once in the morning. During this 21-day period, solids were also removed from the cone in the center of the rearing tank once per day during late afternoon. The sludge was sampled several times to measure total suspended solids and determine the dry weight of solids removed. The central cone was filled with sand and covered with a sealed liner for Trials 3 and 4, and only the external clarifier was used for solids removal. Two denitrification troughs (15 m x 1.2 m x 0.5 m each, water volume = 9.0 m3) were constructed adjacent to the rearing tank (Figure 4) and used in Trial 3 and 4. Water pumped from the rearing tank was diverted to these tanks at two flow rates, 6.0 and 3.1 L/min to create a retention time of approximately 1 and 2 days, respectively. Solids settled in the troughs throughout the production period and developed anaerobic zones where denitrification could occur. At the end of Trial 1 a high voltage electrical line was installed around the perimeter of the tank by mounting it loosely about 4 cm above the board covering the side wall. A copper wire was affixed to the top board. When a bird perched on the electric wire, it sagged and touched the copper wire, giving the bird an electric shock to scare it away. This system was used through Trial 2. In Trial 3, 75-cm sections of concrete reinforcing rods were mounted vertically along the inside edge of the top board. Orchard netting (1.9-cm mesh) was fastened to the rods along the entire perimeter of the tank to remove space for birds to perch on the tank edge. In Trial 4, the entire tank was covered with 5-cm mesh, bird netting to prevent any possibility that birds could access the tank. The top of netting was suspended about 2.4 m and supported by infrastructure consisting of galvanized poles anchored into the ground and metal guywires fastened between the tops of the poles. The bottom edge of the netting was buried in the ground. The rearing tank was aerated with three -hp vertical lift pumps (Figure 2). A single aerator was used for the first two months. Two aerators were employed during months 3-4, and three aerators were used during months 5-6. In the Trial 4 the use of two and three aerators was initiated earlier. Another vertical lift pump was positioned horizontally to provide horizontal water circulation (mixing). The amount of electricity used was recorded. The biofloc tank was stocked with sex-reversed Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) fingerlings at a rate of 20 fish/m3 in Trial 1 and 25 fish/m3 in Trials 2-4. A nutritionally complete, floating pellet (32% protein) was offered twice daily ad libitum to satiation for 175, 201, 182 and 183 days in Trials 1 through 4, respectively. An initial 30-minute feeding period was eventually extended to 1 hour in Trial 1 and reduced to 30-40 minutes in Trials 24. Feed was restricted slightly during the first 4-6 weeks of the trials until populations of nitrifying bacteria in the water column were adequate to maintain low levels of ammonia and nitrite. Water quality parameters were measured biweekly (DO, water temperature, NH3-N, NO2-N, NO3-N, pH, total alkalinity, chlorophyll a, COD,