July | August 2012 Enzymes to improve water and soil quality in aquaculture ponds

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The International magazine for the aquaculture feed industry


Enzymes to improve water and soil quality in aquaculture ponds
by Elisabeth Mayer MSc, BIOMIN, Austria


n aquaculture, environmental impacts such as deteriorated water quality and poor pond bottoms are becoming challenging and omnipresent problems. This article highlights measures which can be taken to improve the quality of water and soil in aquaculture ponds, and therefore the immediate environment of fish and shrimp. Better rearing conditions will improve the overall performance of your fish and shrimp.

Picture 1: Samples of the pond bottom soil of the AquaStar® groups

When added to the culture water or spread on top of the pond bottom soil, enzymes are able to degrade the major organic constituents normally found in shrimp and fish ponds. Each enzyme has its mode of action and is very specific in the chemical reaction it catalyses. For example, protease hydrolyzes insoluble proteins and amylase polysaccharides such as starch; cellulase catalyses the breakdown of cellulose (the major cell wall material in plants); ß-Glucosidase is involved in catalysing the hydrolysis and biodegradation of various ß-glucosides present in plant debris; and lipase works on lipids or fats (Table 1). Direct enzyme application Enzymes are also naturally produced One way of improving water and soil and excreted by some quality in aquaculture microbes. These extrais the direct application table 1: a diverse range of enzymes used as bioremediation cellular enzymes, such as of enzymes and bencellulase, protease and eficial micro-organisms agents in aquaculture Substrate amylase, are produced to ponds. This type of enzyme during the aerobic ferbiotechnology applicamentation of organic mattion is often referred to amylase Starch ter by micro-organisms, as ‘bioremediation’, an ß-Glucosidase ß-Glucoside for example by some environmentally friendly Cellulose Bacillus species. Bacilli are approach which involves Cellulase lipids and fat commonly found in pond the manipulation of lipase sediments and can also be micro-organisms in ponds Protease Protein added to the pond water to reduce pathogenic Xylan, for bioremediation purbacteria, enhancing the Xylanase Hemicellulose poses. Some Bacillus sp. mineralization of organic Pectinase Pectin are also able to degrade matter and removing nitrogenous compounds undesirable waste comand their large variety of excreted (extracelpounds through specific enzymes. In the bioremediation process, enzymes lular) enzymes additionally helps to speed up play the role of catalysts that accelerate the degradation of organic matter and toxic biochemical reactions in pond soil and water. compounds such as ammonia.
36 | InternAtIonAl AquAFeed | July-August 2012

As the aquaculture industry expands and develops, several challenges have arisen. A key problem caused by aquaculture operations is its environmental impact. Intensive aquaculture pond systems result in high organic loadings that cause deteriorated water quality and pond bottom and the accumulation of toxic compounds such as ammonia, nitrites and hydrogen sulfides. This changes the bacterial composition in the water and soil of ponds by increasing the presence of pathogenic bacteria, thus contributing greatly to the occurrence of diseases in fish and shrimp farming.

Picture 2: Samples of the pond bottom soil of the control groups

Some specific enzymes can be active in a very wide range of environmental conditions. While some micro-organisms have a narrow range of environmental conditions where they are able to proliferate (pH, oxygen, availability, etc.), certain enzymes are able to act in multiple environments. They remain active even when environmental conditions change drastically, especially if they are immobilised on a carrier. For example, protease is able to work effectively in pHs between four and 11 and with temperatures less than 20 °C and greater than 70 °C (Whiteley et al., 2002). Furthermore, another advantage of this immobilisation is that the enzyme activity is preserved and can thus be reused (Karam and Nicell, 1997). There is currently a lot of interest in manufacturing such enzyme preparations despite the high costs of isolation, purification and production. Nevertheless, some of these products are already being used as bioremediation agents in aquaculture.

Proven benefits of bioremediation
Enzymes have the capacity to stabilize the soil organic matter and can be used effectively to manage soil quality and rearing conditions for aquatic species. There is not one specific enzyme that works best in all cases (Ruggaber and Talley, 2006). A blend containing a variety of enzymes may be the most effective means for bioremediation in aquaculture. The efficacy and mode of action of enzymes require that they: • Catalyse the degradation of organic matter (such as feces, undigested feed and dead algae) • Break apart large sludge particles (deflocculation) and reduce sludge accumulation • Reduce solids content • Decompose plant debris • Reduce anaerobic conditions in the pond bottom • Promote the degradation of certain complex nutrients • Facilitate the release of highly digestible nutrients

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Innovations for a better world.

FEATURE quality of the pond, and the performance of the cultured fish and shrimp. Studies have confirmed that ponds using bacterial strains and enzymes showed better soil conditions (yellow soil) Figure 1: Avergae growth rate of shrimp during Figure 2: Feed conversion ratio of control and enhanced the production period and probiotic test groups shrimp performance, while the soil (FCR) was improved by nine percent in of ponds without the treatment showed an Enzymes strongly reduce sludge accumulation and anaerobic conditions in pond the treatment compared with the control. accumulation of dead organic matter (black soil). The addition of specific enzymes (proThe soil of the treatment ponds in bottoms. They promote a faster degradation of the organic matter that accumu- Picture 1 was yellow, which is regarded as teases, amylases, cellulases, xylanases) and/ lates in ponds, especially under intensive the best bottom type, while the soil of the or enzyme-producing bacteria, such as production conditions. This organic matter control ponds in Picture 2 exhibited a dark Bacillus sp., promotes the pre-digestion of comprises uneaten feed, dead plankton, black color, an indication of the accumula- cer tain complex nutrients and facilitates the release of highly digestible nutrients. mineral soils, feces and pathogenic micro- tion of dead organic matter. Results suggested that with the com- This helps to reduce sludge and organorganisms in the soil where the conditions are often anaerobic. However, for all bined use of beneficial bacteria and ic matter accumulation, as well as the these bioremediation processes catalysed enzymes, pond soils containing black and anaerobic conditions in pond bottoms, by enzymes, the presence of beneficial glutinous organic sludge turned into a thus improving the rearing conditions for ■ bacteria is important as well (Boyd and more yellow soil. For the animals, enzymes shrimp and fish. Gross, 1998). Enzymes accelerate microbi- improve the growth and performance of al processes by breaking apart large sludge shrimp by balancing their ambient environ- More InforMatIon: particles, thus creating more surface areas ment. BIOMIN The improvements of enzyme appli- www.biomin.net which can then be attacked and fermented by microbes. This reduction of sludge and cation may be dead organic matter can be seen visually greater in ponds not only through better water quality, but with even higher stocking densities also through better soil quality. and feeding rates where the water Combining bacteria and soil quality and enzymes To test the effects of a combination deteriorate greatly of beneficial microbes and enzymes on during the prosoil quality under practical pond condi- duction period. tions, a field study was conducted using a commercial probiotic product (2 x 10 9 Promising CFU/g, AquaStar ® PondZyme, BIOMIN results GmbH, Austria) containing an enzyme For the amelblend (amylases, xylanases, cellulases, pro- ioration of aquatic teases) under intensive farming conditions environmental for white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) in conditions under Zhuhai, China. intensive farming Four earth shrimp ponds (0.7 – 0.8 ha/ operations, the pond) with a depth of 1 – 1.2 m were combined applicastocked with juvenile shrimp (approxi- tion of enzymes mately 1.4 g/shrimp) with a density of 50 and beneficial shrimp/m². The trial was carried out for a bacteria as an period of 57 days with a dosage of 500 g/ effective manageha of product applied once a month to the ment tool seems treatment group (two ponds). The control very promising. ponds consisted of two ponds with normal Enzymes play production operations. The shrimp in both important roles as treatments received the same diets. biological control Figure 1 shows that the average daily agents in pond growth of shrimp in the treatment group culture, particuincreased by 36 percent. It can be seen larly with respect from Figure 2 that feed conversion ratio to water and soil
July-August 2012 | InternAtIonAl AquAFeed | 37

Aqua News

IFFO Backs Marine Mammal and Turtle Conservation in South America
FFO (the International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation) is backing an initiative by one of its members, the Compañía Pesquera Camanchaca (Camanchaca), which aims to teach fishermen the art of environmental stewardship, better protecting marine animals including dolphins, sea turtles and sharks. The initiative provides training for the senior crew who work aboard Camanchaca’s vessels that land in the northern Chilean port of Iquique. The scheme will contribute towards the gathering of vital research information that will be used to help in the conservation of protected marine species. The first seminar took place during April 2012. IFFO has developed a Global Standard for Responsible Supply (IFFO RS) for Fishmeal and Fish Oil. Its overarching programme includes the goal to reduce any potential environmental impact arising from fishing catches made within its responsibly managed fisheries. Camanchaca was one of the first companies in Chile to have its factories certified under the IFFO RS standard earlier this year. It has now formed a partnership with the Department of Marine Sciences of the Arturo Prat University and its Technical Training Centre, to offer specialised training seminars to the fishermen. Large marine animals are sometimes captured in the fishing nets designed to catch small oily fish such as anchovy and sardine, ingredients used in the production of fishmeal for animal feed and fish oil for human consumption. IFFO is keen to ensure that its members are aware of the importance of conserving marine creatures as part of the marine ecosystem. Topics covered at the seminars include the ability to identify and correctly record data on protected marine mammals found off the coast of northern Chile, as well as learning how to safely return these creatures to the sea with the minimum risk of damage. Mr Adolfo Carvajal, Camanchaca’s Manager for the Northern Fishing Area, said, “Sustainable development requires us to take action in order to control the impact of our activities on the marine environment and without a doubt we have now undertaken actions in this respect. These training seminars for our senior crew members will allow them to demonstrate Camanchaca’s commitment to the responsible sourcing of fish”. Andrew Jackson, Technical Director at


IFFO, said, “IFFO is delighted to see this excellent initiative from Camanchaca in Chile and indeed other recent developments in South America regarding the quantification and avoidance of the incidental catches of marine mammals and sea tur tles. In creating the IFFO RS standard we were hopeful that this type of conser vation programme would be developed by our members and we look forward to hearing more good news in the future.” The Chile based project follows one taken last year in Peru, in which a number of fishing companies working with environmental NGOs such as the Marine Conser vation Society (MCS) and ProDelphinus distributed a series of turtle identification and resuscitation guides and held a series of training courses. Dawn Purchase, Senior Aquaculture Officer at MCS, said, “I am delighted with the success of this project and the spin-off conservation courses being run for fishermen. The IFFO RS standard provides a real opportunity to promote change on the water, which is what MCS strives to achieve. Increasing the identification skills and conservation knowledge of these fishermen in both Peru and Chile is a great way of achieving environmental stewardship”.

More InforMatIon:
Website: www.iffo.net

The International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation represents the fishmeal and fish oil industry worldwide. IFFO’s members reside in more than 30 countries, account for two-thirds of world production and 80 percent of fishmeal and fish oil traded worldwide. Approximately 5 million tonnes of fishmeal are produced each year globally, together with 1 million tonnes of fish oil. IFFO’s headquarters are located in St Albans in the United Kingdom and it also has offices in Lima, Peru, and in Beijing, China.

July-August 2012 | InternAtIonAl AquAFeed | 7

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