Water Quality Dynamics and Shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) Production in Intensive, Mesohaline Culture Systems With Two Levels of Biofloc Management

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


A dense microbial community develops in the water column of intensive, minimal-exchange production systems and is responsible for nutrient cycling. A portion of the microbial community is associated with biofloc particles, and some control over the concentration of these particles has been shown to provide production benefits. To help refine the required degree of control, this study evaluated the effects of two levels of biofloc management on water quality and shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) production in commercial-scale culture systems. Eight, 50 m3 raceways were randomly assigned to one of two treatments: T-LS (treatment-low solids) and T-HS (treatment-high solids), each with four replicate raceways. Settling chambers adjacent to the T-LS raceways had a volume of 1700 L with a flow rate of 20 L min−1. The T-HS raceways had 760 L settling chambers with a flow rate of 10 L min−1. Raceways were stocked with 250 shrimp m−3, with a mean individual weight of 0.72 g, and shrimp were grown for thirteen weeks. Raceways in the T-LS treatment had significantly reduced total suspended solids, volatile suspended solids, and turbidity compared to the T-HS treatment (P ≤ 0.003). The T-LS raceways also had significantly lower nitrite and nitrate concentrations, and the T-HS raceways had significantly lower ammonia and phosphate concentrations (P ≤ 0.021). With the exception of nitrate, there were no significant differences between the change in concentration of water quality parameters entering and exiting the settling chambers in the T-LS versus the T-HS treatment. Nitrate never accumulated appreciably in the T-LS raceways, possibly due to denitrification in the settling chambers, bacterial substrate limitations in the raceways, or algal nitrate assimilation. However, in the T-HS raceways nitrate did accumulate. The T-HS settling chambers returned a significantly lower nitrate concentration and significantly greater alkalinity concentration than what entered them (P ≤ 0.005), indicating that denitrification may have occurred in those chambers. There were no significant differences in shrimp survival, feed conversion ratio, or final biomass between the two treatments. However, shrimp in the T-LS treatment grew at a significantly greater rate (1.7 g wk−1 vs. 1.3 g wk−1) and reached a significantly greater final weight (22.1 g vs. 17.8 g) than shrimp in the T-HS treatment (P ≤ 0.020). The results of this study demonstrate engineering and management decisions that can have important implications for both water quality and shrimp production in intensive, minimal-exchange culture systems.

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Aquacultural Engineering





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