Aquaculture (Fish)

Compiled by:
Eawag, Robert Gensch (Xavier University), Niels Sacher (Xavier University), Dhawal Patil (seecon international gmbh)
Adapted from:
TILLEY, E.; ULRICH, L.; LUETHI, C.; REYMOND, P.; ZURBRUEGG, C. (2014)

Executive Summary

The term aquaculture refers to the controlled cultivation of aquatic plants and animals by making use of various types of wastewater as a source for nutrients and/or warm temperatures for plants and fish to grow. Fish can be grown in ponds that receive effluent or sludge where they can feed on algae and other organisms that grow in the nutrient-rich water. The fish, thereby, remove the nutrients from the wastewater and are eventually harvested for consumption. You can also read the description of plant aquacultures.

In Out

Blackwater, Faecal Sludge, Greywater, Brownwater, Fertigation Water

Food Products

Introduction

Three kinds of aquaculture designs for raising fish exist:

1) fertilization of fish ponds with effluent;

2) fertilization of fish ponds with excreta/sludge; and

3) fish grown directly in aerobic ponds (see also waste stabilisation pond systems or aerated ponds)

A well functioning fish pond requires both, sufficient nutrients for the organisms at all levels and sufficient oxygen for fish to grow. If the ponds are over-fertilized, this increases the growth of phytoplankton and algae and their eventual degradation drastically reduces the levels of oxygen in the water leading to death of fish or other organisms. Fish introduced into aerobic ponds can effectively reduce algae and help control the mosquito population. It is also possible to combine fish and floating plants in one single pond.

 EDWARDS P. (2008)

Wastewater fed aquaculture in Lima, Peru. Source: EDWARDS P. (2008)

A large part of the organic contamination contained in the used water source is consumed by the present organisms of all ranges. The fish themselves do not dramatically improve the water quality, but because of their economic value they can offset the costs of operating a treatment facility. Under ideal operating conditions, up to 10,000 kg/ha of fish can be harvested. Helminth eggs can survive over many months or years in water and some faecal indicator bacteria (e.g. Salmonella and E. coli) have been shown to survive and reproduce in the guts of tilapia and carp grown in waste-fed ponds (WHO 2006). In case bacteria and viruses have been detected in edible fish, the concentrations in waste-fed aquacultures are generally extremely low (WHO 2006). If the fish are not acceptable for human consumption, they can be a valuable source of protein for other high-value carnivores (like shrimp) or converted into fishmeal for pigs and chickens.

Design Considerations

The design should be based on the quantity of nutrients to be removed, the nutrients required by the fish and the water requirements needed to ensure healthy living conditions (e.g., low ammonium levels, required water temperature, etc.). When introducing nutrients in the form of effluent or sludge, it is important to limit the additions so that aerobic conditions are maintained. BOD should not exceed 1 g/m2/d and oxygen should be at least 4 mg/L. Only fish tolerant of low dissolved oxygen levels should be chosen. They should not be carnivores and they should be tolerant to diseases and adverse environmental conditions. Different varieties of carp, milkfish and tilapia have been successfully used, but the specific choice will depend on local preference and suitability.

 TILLEY et al. 2014

Functional design of an aquaculture pond. Source: TILLEY et al. (2014)

Health Aspects/Acceptance

Where there is no other source of readily available protein, this technology may be embraced. The quality and condition of the fish will also influence local acceptance. The microbial flora of a fish reflects the one from the water it was taken, (e.g., in the digestive tract, on the skin or in the fluids of the body cavities). There may be concern about contamination of the fish, especially when they are harvested, cleaned and prepared. If they are cooked well, they should be safe, but it is advisable to move the fish to a clear-water pond for several weeks before they are harvested for consumption. WHO guidelines on wastewater and excreta use in aquaculture should be consulted for detailed information and specific guidance.

Operation & Maintenance

The fish need to be harvested when they reach an appropriate age/size. Sometimes after harvesting, the pond should be drained so that (a) it can be desludged and (b) it can be left to dry in the sun for 1 to 2 weeks to destroy any pathogens living on the bottom or sides of the pond. Workers should wear appropriate protective clothing.

Applicability

A fish pond is only appropriate where there is a sufficient amount of land (or pre-existing pond), a source of fresh water and a suitable climate. The water used to dilute the waste should not be too warm, and the ammonium levels should be kept low or negligible because of its toxicity to fish.

This technology is appropriate for warm or tropical climates with no freezing temperatures, and preferably with high rainfall and minimal evaporation.

Advantages

  • Can provide a cheap, locally available protein source
  • Potential for local job creation and income generation
  • Relatively low capital costs; operating costs should be offset by production revenue
  • Can be built and maintained with locally available materials

Disadvantages

  • Requires abundance of fresh water
  • Requires large land (pond) area
  • May require expert design and installation
  • Fish may pose a health risk if improperly prepared or cooked
  • Social acceptance may be low in some areas

References Library

CROSS, P.; STRAUSS, M. (1985): Health Aspects of Nightsoil and Sludge Use in Agriculture and Aquaculture. Duebendorf: International Reference Centre for Waste Disposal. URL [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

EWARDS, P. (Editor); PULLIN, R. (Editor) (1990): Wastewater-fed aquaculture. . (= Proceedings of the international seminar on wastewater reclamation and reuse for aquaculture. ). Calcutta, India: International seminar on wastewater reclamation and reuse for aquaculture. URL [Accessed: 18.01.2011].

IQBAL, S. (1999): Duckweed Aquaculture. Potentials, Possibilities and Limitations for Combined Wastewater Treatment and Animal Feed Production in Developing Countries. Duebendorf: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). URL [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

JOHNSON COINTREAU, S. (Editor) (1987): Aquaculture with Treated Wastewater. A Status Report on Studies Conducted in Lima, Peru. (= Integrated Resource Recovery Project Technical Note, 3). Washington: The World Bank. URL [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

FAO (Editor); NACA (Editor); WHO (Editor) (1999): Food Safety Issues Associated with Products from Aquaculture. (= WHO Technical Report Series, 883). Washington: World Health Organization (WHO). URL [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

MARA, D. (2003): Domestic Wastewater Treatment in Developing Countries. London: Earthscan. URL [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

ROSE, D.G. (1999): Community-Based Technologies for Domestic Wastewater Treatment and Reuse- options for urban agriculture. (= Cities Feeding People (CFP) Report Series., 27). Ottawa: International Development Research Center Canada (IDRC).

WHO (Editor) (2006): Guidelines for the safe use of wastewater excreta and greywater. Volume III. Wastewater and Excreta Use in Aquaculture. Geneva: World Health Organisation. URL [Accessed: 26.02.2010].

EDWARDS, P. (2008): Volume III: Wastewater and excreta use in aquaculture.. (pdf presentation). Bangkok, Thailand: Asian Institute of Technology.

TILLEY, E.; ULRICH, L.; LUETHI, C.; REYMOND, P.; ZURBRUEGG, C. (2014): Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies. 2nd Revised Edition. Duebendorf, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). URL [Accessed: 28.07.2014].

Further Readings Library

Reference icon

TILLEY, E.; ULRICH, L.; LUETHI, C.; REYMOND, P.; SCHERTENLEIB, R.; ZURBRUEGG, C. (2014): Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies (Arabic). 2nd Revised Edition. Duebendorf, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). PDF

This is the Arabic version of the Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies. The Compendium gives a systematic overview on different sanitation systems and technologies and describes a wide range of available low-cost sanitation technologies.


Reference icon

CROSS, P.; STRAUSS, M. (1985): Health Aspects of Nightsoil and Sludge Use in Agriculture and Aquaculture. Duebendorf: International Reference Centre for Waste Disposal. URL [Accessed: 15.04.2014].


Reference icon

EDWARDS, P. ; Asian Institute of Technology (Editor) (2008): Key Issues in the Safe Use of Wastewater and Excreta in Aquaculture. (pdf presentation). (= Guidelines for the Safe Use of Wastewater, Excreta and Greywater in Agriculture and Aquaculture, 3). Bangkok, Thailand: World Toilet Organisation. URL [Accessed: 19.02.2010].

This document is a guidance note for program managers and engineers that summarises the key issues of the 3. Volume of the WHO Guidelines that focuses on the safe use of wastewater and excreta in aquaculture.


Reference icon

EWARDS, P. (Editor); PULLIN, R. (Editor) (1990): Wastewater-fed aquaculture. . (= Proceedings of the international seminar on wastewater reclamation and reuse for aquaculture. ). Calcutta, India: International seminar on wastewater reclamation and reuse for aquaculture. URL [Accessed: 18.01.2011].


Reference icon

IQBAL, S. (1999): Duckweed Aquaculture. Potentials, Possibilities and Limitations for Combined Wastewater Treatment and Animal Feed Production in Developing Countries. Duebendorf: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). URL [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

This literature review provides a first overview of the possibilities, potentials and limits of duckweed aquaculture and its combined use in wastewater treatment and animal feed production in low and middle-income countries. It is somewhat limited as critical literature on duckweed field use is scarce and difficult to obtain (e.g. unpublished internal documents).


Reference icon

JOHNSON COINTREAU, S. (Editor) (1987): Aquaculture with Treated Wastewater. A Status Report on Studies Conducted in Lima, Peru. (= Integrated Resource Recovery Project Technical Note, 3). Washington: The World Bank. URL [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

This study has shown that significant quantities of protein for either human consumption or livestock feed could be produced from wastewater—based aquaculture, which could be integrated with sewage stabilization lagoon systems. Reuse of treated sewage to fertilize the microbial food chain for aquaculture presents one of the most economic resource recovery options for cities in developing countries.


Reference icon

FAO (Editor); NACA (Editor); WHO (Editor) (1999): Food Safety Issues Associated with Products from Aquaculture. (= WHO Technical Report Series, 883). Washington: World Health Organization (WHO). URL [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

This is the report of a Study Group that considered food safety issues associated with farmed finfish and crustaceans. The principal conclusion was that an integrated approach — involving close collaboration between the aquaculture, agriculture, food safety, health and education sectors — is needed to identify and control hazards associated with products from aquaculture.


Reference icon

JUNGE-BERBEROVIC, R.; University of Applied Sciences Waedenswil. (Editor) (2001): Possibilities and Limits of Wastewater-fed Aquaculture. Waedenswil: University of Applied Sciences Waedenswil. URL [Accessed: 19.02.2010].

At the University of Applied Sciences Waedenswil, Switzerland, wastewater-fed aquaculture is a research focus since 1993. This paper summarises some of the results and insights gained since then.


Reference icon

MARA, D. (2003): Domestic Wastewater Treatment in Developing Countries. London: Earthscan. URL [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

The primary emphasis of the book is on low-cost, high-performance, sustainable domestic wastewater treatment systems. Most of the systems described are ‘natural’ systems – so called because they do not require any electromechanical power input. The secondary emphasis is on wastewater re-use in agriculture and aquaculture.


Reference icon

MARA, D.D. (2004): Wastewater Re-use in Aquaculture. In: Domestic Wastewater Treatment in Developing Countries, 252-261. URL [Accessed: 17.02.2011].

This chapter gives a comprehensive overview on what is aquaculture, including some examples and elements useful for dimensioning.


Reference icon

PESCOD, M.B. (1992): Wastewater Treatment and Use in Agriculture. (= FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper , 47). Rome: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). URL [Accessed: 25.10.2011].

This Irrigation and Drainage Paper is intended to provide guidance to national planners and decision-makers, agricultural and municipal managers, field engineers and scientists, health and agricultural field workers, wastewater treatment plant operators and farmers. Consequently, it covers a broad range of relevant material, some in considerable depth but some more superficially. It is meant to encourage the collection, treatment and use of wastewater in agriculture in a safe manner, with maximum advantage taken of this resource. Informal, unplanned and unorganized wastewater use is not recommended, nor is it considered adviseable from the health or agricultural points of view.


Reference icon

ROSE, D.G. (1999): Community-Based Technologies for Domestic Wastewater Treatment and Reuse- options for urban agriculture. (= Cities Feeding People (CFP) Report Series., 27). Ottawa: International Development Research Center Canada (IDRC).

The report suggests that emerging trends in low-cost, decentralised naturally-based infrastructure and urban wastewater management which promote the recovery and reuse of wastewater resources are increasingly relevant. Technologies for these sanitation options are presented. The concept of managing urban wastewater flows at a decentralised or "intermediate" level, based on micro watersheds, is explored. Effluent treatment standards that are currently accepted in order to protect public health and safety are reviewed.


Reference icon

STRAUSS, M. (n.y.): Health (Pathogen) Considerations Regarding the Use of Human Waste in Aquaculture. (pdf presentation). Switzerland: Department of Water and Sanitation in Developing Countries at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology.

This study reviews the potential health risks and current epidemiological evidence for actual risks from pathogen transmission through wastewater aquaculture.


Reference icon

TILLEY, E.; ULRICH, L.; LUETHI, C.; REYMOND, P.; ZURBRUEGG, C. (2014): Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies. 2nd Revised Edition. Duebendorf, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). URL [Accessed: 28.07.2014].

This compendium gives a systematic overview on different sanitation systems and technologies and describes a wide range of available low-cost sanitation technologies.


Reference icon

VARON, M. P.; MARA, D. D. (2004): Waste Stabilisation Ponds. Delft: International Water and Sanitation Centre . URL [Accessed: 17.05.2012].

This document provides information and instructions on waste stabilisation ponds. Various case studies are mentioned, e.g. the wastewater-fed fishponds in Calcutta in India.


Reference icon

WHO (Editor) (2006): Guidelines for the safe use of wastewater excreta and greywater. Volume III. Wastewater and Excreta Use in Aquaculture. Geneva: World Health Organisation. URL [Accessed: 26.02.2010].

Volume III of the Guidelines for the Safe Use of Wastewater, Excreta and Greywater deals with wastewater and excreta use in aquaculture and describes the present state of knowledge regarding the impact of wastewater-fed aquaculture on the health of producers, product consumers and local communities. It assesses the associated health risks and provides an integrated preventive management framework.


Case Studies Library

Reference icon

DALSGAARD, A. (1996): Wastewater-fed Aquaculture in Viet Nam.. (pdf presentation). (= Newsletter, 4/1). Viet Nam : Mekong Fisheries Network Newsletter.

Case study on wastewater-fed aquaculture in Vietnam.


Reference icon

NANDEESHA, M.C. (2002): Sewage Fed Aquaculture Systems of Kolkata. A Century-old Innovation of Farmers. In: Aquaculture Asia 7, 28-32. URL [Accessed: 19.04.2010].

Case Study on the fishponds in sewage-fed lagoons in Kolkata.


Reference icon

RAYCHAUDHURI, S.; MISHRA, M.; SALODKAR, S.; SUDARSHAN, M.; THAKUR, A. R. (2008): Traditional Aquaculture Practice at East Calcutta Wetland. The Safety Assessment.. (pdf presentation). (= American Journal of Environmental Sciences, 2/4). Calcutta: American Journal of Environmental Sciences. URL [Accessed: 22.02.2010].

Case study on the traditional aquaculture practise at the East Kolkata Wetlands, India with special focus on the risk assessment in fish cultivation and subsequent consumption in terms of metal accumulation in the fish.


Reference icon

MUKHERJEE, M. (2003): Waste-Fed Fisheries in Periurban Kolkata.. (pdf presentation). (= UA-Magazine, 36/10). Kolkata: Dept. of Fisheries. URL [Accessed: 22.02.2010].

Case study of the perhaps largest wastewater fed aquaculture system in the world in the periurban area of Kolkata.


Training Material Library

Reference icon

EDWARDS, P. (2008): Volume III: Wastewater and excreta use in aquaculture.. (pdf presentation). Bangkok, Thailand: Asian Institute of Technology.

This presentation gives a detailed overview on the 3. volume of the WHO guidelines on the safe use of wastewater and excreta in aquaculture including many pictures of existing wastewater-fed aquaculture and fish pond technologies all over the world. Apart from the health risk and appropriate health protection measures, a lot of information on socio-cultural, environmental and economic aspects is given as well as supporting information on planning and implementation of sewage-fed fish ponds.


Important Weblinks

http://www.enaca.org/ [Accessed: 09.02.2010]

The official homepage of Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific provides up to date information on ecological, economic and technological aspects of aquaculture. Many open source documents (manuals, reports, case studies etc.) are available here.

http://www.unep.or.jp/ [Accessed: 09.02.2010]

The UNEP homepage provides an international source book on environmentally sound technologies for wastewater and storm water management including a chapter on aquaculture.

http://www.fao.org/docrep/t0551e/t0551e09.htm [Accessed: 09.02.2010]

The FAO homepage provides an online document on wastewater treatment and use in agriculture with an extra chapter on wastewater use in aquaculture. Various economical, ecological, technical and biological aspects are explained.

http://www.ruaf.org/ [Accessed: 09.02.2010]

Website of the Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture & Food Society, including many articles on urban and peri-urban agriculture and aquaculture. The Urban Agriculture Magazine, which can be accessed from the same site, is available in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, and Turkish.