Wood chips could clean aquaculture wastewater

Written by on March 17, 2017 in Fish, Technology

Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing sectors of agriculture in the world. It’s seen as a way to handle the increasing demand for seafood without putting additional pressure on wild fish populations. However, it has its own set of challenges, ranging from the food given to farm-raised fish to wastewater treatment.

View from inside a Hawaii offshore aquaculture cage. Photo credit: NOAA.

View from inside a Hawaii offshore aquaculture cage. Photo credit: NOAA.

A new study from the University of Illinois shows that a simple, organic system may clean aquaculture wastewater effectively and inexpensively.

In this new system, water from a fish tank enters a bioreactor (a long container filled with wood chips) at one end, flows through the wood chips, and exits through a pipe at the other end. While flowing through the container, solids settle and bacteria in the wood chips filter out nitrogen, which is a highly regulated pollutant.

The researchers compared four flow rates (the amount of time water has to flow from one end of the bioreactor to the other) and found that the optimal time was about 24 hours.

“The long and the short of it is that the bioreactors worked great,” Laura Christianson, assistant professor of water quality at the University of Illinois, lead author of the study, and bioreactor expert said. “They worked as a filter for the solids and took nitrates out. But for systems that need to move a lot of water in a short amount of time, we recommend an additional microscreen filter to settle some of the solids out before they enter and clog up the bioreactor.”

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Copyright © 2017 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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