Illinois -Indiana Sea Grant ProgramSea Grant # IL-IN-SG-Fs-93-l
Water Quality Water Sources Used in Aquaculture
Sea Grant Program
Purdue UniversityThe source and quantity of water available are the mostimportant factors to consider when choosing a site for anaquaculture facility. Many undesirable chemical and envi-ronmental factors associated with certain fish farms can betraced to a lack of background information on the source of water used. Before final site selection for a new farm ismade a thorough investigation of the quality and quantity of water must be considered by the producer.When choosing a good water source. it will be helpful toknow what charactizes an “ideal” source and how thesource
be affected in the future. First. the source mustbe uncontaminated from excessive nutrients, chemicals.
heavy metals. A source meeting this criteria should befurther investigated to determine the threat of future contami-
The second criteria of an “ideal” source is availability of the large volumes of water necessary for commercial fishfarms. For example. the volume of water available candecrease after extensive timber harvests within the source’swatershed, The water table may be lowered by the presenceof multiple wells within the same aquafier.
There are six categories of water sources being used.
1. Springs2. Wells
3. Rivers. streams or lakes4. Surface runoff
5. Ground water6. Municipal
Each source listed has advantages and disadvantageswhich should be carefully considered before a final selectionis made. Table 1 on page 2 summarizes the advantages anddisadvantages for each source.In general springs and wells are considered to be thebest sources of water to use for aquaculture. These twosources are the most commonly used sources and have fewdisadvantages. One common disadvantage of springs andFact Sheet AS-486
wells is the occasional high concentrations of carbondioxide and nitrogen gas that can result in gas supersaturation. Both gases are easily removed throughintense agitation. Under some circumstances the fiveother sources listed are acceptable.Selecting any source without first determining
its qualitv is very risky. Most water quality tests are
very simple to use and inexpensive. Many privatelaboratories can conduct analyses for routine waterquality parameters.Tests kits may also be purchased to determinethe concentrations of dissolved oxygen, carbondioxide. nitrite. nitrate. ammonia. hardness, andalkalinity. Prices of tests kits may range frominexpensive aquaria kits to more expensive batteryoperated meters. The accuracy of these kits usuallyincreses with price.Determining the presence of pesticides or heavymetals can be very expensive if a comprehensiveanalysis is requested. Instead, laboratory analysesfor three commonly found contaminates: DDT, lead,and mercury are usually sufficient. Concentrationsas low
one part per billion (ppb) are cause for
More specific analysis should be done if there isan indication that other contaminates are present. Anexample would be wells located in sandy soils whereintensive agriculture is practiced. Water fromdrainage may have higher than normal levels of agriculture chemicals. Remember, some chemicalsthat are toxic to kill fish break down
quicklyand their presence may be hard to detect.Table 2 on page 2 provides a list of waterquality parameters and suggested acceptable values.Names of laboratories offering water quality testingservices can be obtained from either your local healthoffice, county Cooperative Extension Service, or auniversity animal disease diagnostic laboratory,