Limited water exchange, high stocking density, and high protein feed to maximize growth rates; modern intensive aquaculture ponds often have problems with ammonia, nitrite, and other pollutants that stress the animals and open the door to disease. With several requests for an immediate ammonia response in problem ponds, I wanted to detail how to prevent the problem by good maintenance and how "nitrifiers" or AOB with their short shelf life and refrigeration requirements are not a good thing to add in almost all ponds.
First, ammonia in aquaculture comes from problems in the pond nitrogen cycle. As in nature, decaying animal wastes and excess feed (found in the pond bottom sludge) convert from organic nitrogen into ammonia. Ammonia can kill an aquaculture pond outright while still at less than 10 mg/L. Even at "manageable" levels, ammonia stresses the organisms which lowers feed conversion rates and weight gain.
Ammonia can be removed from water in several ways from greatest to least important
Key point is to monitor the pond for pH, Dissolved Oxygen, Sludge Layer frequently. If stocking at high density, adding microbes early on in the grow out season will prevent pollution problems later in the season.
Erik Rumbaugh has been involved in biological waste treatment for over 20 years. He has worked with industrial and municipal wastewater facilities to ensure optimal performance of their treatment systems. He is a founder of Aster Bio (www.asterbio.com) specializing in biological waste treatment.
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