Combined production of fish and plants in recirculating water

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A pilot plant of ca 2000 l of recirculating fresh water for intensive fish production was constructed in a controlled-environment greenhouse. The feasibility was examined of using nutrients from fish waste-water, mainly oxidized nitrogenous compounds, for plant production, combined with an activated sludge system for water purification. The reduction of nitrates, formed during the extended aeration process by nitrifying bacteria, was not sufficient by higher plants and unicellular algae alone to reduce the nitrate concentration in our system significantly. An additional microbial denitrification step had to be included to effect maximal decrease in nitrogenous compounds. For fish culture in the pilot plant Tilapia mossambica and Cyprinus carpio were chosen as experimental fishes. Both fish species showed significant weight increases during the course of the experiment. Ice-lettuce and tomatoes were tested both in recirculating water and in batch culture. The unicellular algae Scenedesmus spp. were grown in a non-sterile batch culture. All plants grew well in the waste-water without additional nutrients. Determination of the physical and chemical parameters for optimum water purification, the most suitable ratio of denitrification by plants and by microorganisms, and the most favourable fish and plant species for combined culture in recirculating water are important and of current interest in view of the increasing demand for clean, fresh water, and the pressing need to find new ways of producing protein for human nutrition under prevailing conditions of an exponentially expanding world population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1977
Externally publishedYes


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