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Water Quality in Aquaculture

Water Quality in Aquaculture



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Published by: farena_19614373 on Aug 03, 2009
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Illinois -Indiana Sea Grant ProgramSea Grant # IL-IN-SG-Fs-93-l
Water Quality Water Sources Used in Aquaculture
LaDon Swann
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.
Water Sources
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,
Table 1. Comparisons of the advantages and disadvantages of commonlv used water sources. Sources arelisted by overall rank according to the most desirable characteristics.Reference to contaminates mayinclude pesticides, organic matter, sediments, metals, wild fish, or insects.Reference to dissolved gassesinclude carbon dioxide, nitrogen, methane, and hydrogen sulfide.
Constant temperature
May require pumping
• May
not require pumps
May contain dissolved gasses
Few contaminates
Constant temperature
Requires pumping unless artesian wells
Few contaminates
May contain dissolved gasses
Rivers, streams
May be readily available
May contain contaminates
or lakes
Excessive nutrients possible
Surface or runoff 
May contain contaminates
Susceptible to draughts or floods
Requires 5-7 acre watershedper surface acre of water
Ground water
Ponds hard to drain
If wetland will require permit
High quality
May contain toxic chlorine or
Table 2. Suggested chemical values for water sources.Concentrations are in parts per million except forpH. Source for of information in this table is from
 Fish Hatchery Management. 1982.
U.S. Department of Interior.
Dissolved oxygen5-saturationCarbon dioxideo-1o
Total Alkalinity (as CaC0
% as carbonate
% as bicarbonate
6.5-8.0 (cold water species)6.5-9.0 (warm water species)
Iron (total)
0-0.15 (cold water species)0-0.5 (warm water species)
0-3.0Nitrite0-0.5Un-ionized ammonia0.-0.05Zinc0-0.05Hydrogen sulfide0.00Mercury0.000Lead0.000
From Table 2, it should be mentioned that param-eters such as dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide, chlorine,and chloramines will vary widely among water sources.Initial examinations for oxygen and carbon dioxide arenormally meaningless because each can be easilymanipulated through mechanical means. Nitrate levelsare a combination of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.Chlorine and chloramines are used in municipal watersupplies as disinfectants and are very toxic to fish. Eachcan be eliminated through additions of sodium thiosulfate( lppm sodium thiosulphate per ppm of chlorine) forchlorine or sodium thiosulfate and biological filtration forchloramines. Heavy metals, such as mercury and lead,and pesticides are two other groups of contaminates inwater sources. If present, the source should not be used.The quantity of water needed for a commercialaquaculture facility varies with the production methodused, type of aquaculture chosen, scale of operation, andspecies being produced. For example, the water require-ment for a trout farm using raceways will be differentthan the water required to produce yellow perch in ponds.In general, most prospective producers grosslyunderestimate the quantities of water needed for acommercial operation. As a rule, the minimum recom-mended quantity for a commercial operation using ponds
is 25 gals. /min./acre.
For raceways the minimumquantity recommended for a commercial operation is 500gals./min. Even production systems that recycle wateruse large volumes of water. For example, a commercialoperation with tanks totaling 500,000 gals. and exchanges
10% per day requires 5,000 gals. /day.
In conclusion, selecting a good source of water thatwill provide large quantities of high-quality water is oneof the first steps to a successful aquaculture enterprise.Fish require large quantities of unpolluted water to growrapidly and maintain their state of well-being.

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