What’s biofloc fish farming?
Biofloc technology (BT), is defined as “the use of aggregates from bacteria, algae, and protozoa held together in a matrix along with particulate organ matter for the purpose improving water quality, treatment of waste, and prevention of disease in intensive aquaculture systems”. Biofloc, in other words, is a symbiotic process which includes confined aquatic animals and heterotrophic bacteria as well as other microbial species. Bioflocs can also be consumed to provide nutritional value for aquaculture species. This means that BT is an excellent option for aquaculture that is sustainable and ecologically friendly.
BT can be used in tilapia farming. It can be used in both semi-intensive and intensive pond systems, as well as intensive tank and RAS cultures systems. Numerous studies have been conducted under commercial and experimental conditions to study the effects of tilapia cultivation in biofloc systems. The results were encouraging. Tilapia is one of the most popular species that are farmed in bioflocs. They can take up bioflocs to increase their protein intake, which results in a significant reduction in production inputs.
Is biofloc fish farming profitable?
Biofloc technology can be used to improve aquaculture water quality by balancing nitrogen and carbon. This technology is a sustainable way to maintain water quality and has the added benefit of being able to produce proteinaceous feed on-site.
Biofloc is a profitable method of fish farming. Biofloc is a method that cleans the culture water and provides additional feed. It is sustainable and environmentally friendly. High-density fish farming requires a waste management system. Biofloc is the core of a waste management system.
The production cost of biofloc technology was 20%-30% more than traditional freshwater method. However, the total profit made using biofloc technology was 23% more than that generated by fresh water methods.
Biofloc is a very profitable business. Biofloc fish production costs around 1.5$. The same fish would cost approximately 4$ on the market. This is the profit per fish of 2.5$. Market demand and fish breed can affect this figure.
The advantages and disadvantages to biofloc
The pros of biofloc
The flocs are rich in protein and provide shrimp and fish with good sources of vitamins and nutrients. According to the authors, allowing the microbial flucs to grow can improve water quality and help immobilise harmful nitrogen. The system has also been reported to have higher productivity indicators than conventional aquaculture methods. Biofloc production has the potential to decrease mortality rates, increase larval and enhance growth rates of cultured species.
Biofloc technology also has a key advantage in terms of its higher water and land use rates. The system is able to produce a very low environmental impact because it relies on limited water exchange. Reduced water inputs reduce pollution and increase biosecurity during production.
The cons of the system
Biofloc is more than meets the eyes. Biofloc requires a startup period. Seasonal yields may not be consistent. Energy costs can be higher because producers have to constantly mix and aerate the culture water.
Producers must also actively manage biofloc lakes to avoid nitrite accumulation, and keep alkalinity levels within a healthy range. It is important to monitor fish welfare and health. Bioflocs can raise levels of suspended solids, making shrimp and fish more susceptible to environmental stress.
Although some evidence suggests that microbial flocs may have a probiotic effect in the culture environment and regulate vibrio activity through this, it has not been confirmed in all studies. Researchers note that some microbial flocs may have had elevated vibrio counts in trials. This could put fish at risk for disease. Researchers don’t know enough about how microbial flocs work or how to make them multiply in predictable ways. This puts producers in an awkward position.
6 Steps for Starting a Biofloc Fish Farming
1. Setting up the pond/tank
First, find the perfect spot for the tank or pond where the cultivation will take place. It can be difficult to remember the subtle factors that influence the growth of plants, such as the location of sunlight, temperature, ventilation, and other environmental conditions. It comes with experience and mastery.
The above-mentioned factors have an impact on water quality, either insignificantly or truly. The soil in a pond’s bed is where the majority of contaminants are found. It is high in heavy metals such as Arsenic and Methyl Mercury and Selenium. Sometimes, soil even contains remnants from fertilizers.
This is why a tank is better than a pond. If a pond is your only choice, you can line it with concrete.
Now, let’s move on to the most important and crucial step. Installation of aerators. The components responsible for maintaining the equilibrium of suspended particles of bacteria, algae, and protozoa within the system are called aerators. It provides fish food and maintains optimal oxygen distribution in the tank/pond to prevent anaerobic zones, which encourage the formation methane or ammonia.
The mixture can become stale, which can lead to a decrease in quality. Aerators placed in an orderly manner can help in quiet flow and energy savings. This directly impacts the quality of the produce.
3. Selection of species and related stuff
Okay, you’re done with the previous step. If you answered yes, then we will move on to the next step which is the “selection of species”. Biofloc can grow almost all species of fish, due to its improved culture water quality. However, there are some species such as Barbs and catfish that have difficulties growing in Biofloc because of the high level of suspended particles in the water. What’s the solution? It’s quite simple!
We want to find the species that is most efficient in biological terms for each culture, water and environment. How do we achieve this? The internet is your best friend! The internet has data that can be based on these parameters. It takes only a few clicks for you to find the perfect match. Now that you have selected the best species for your farm it is our responsibility to be mindful of what our guests eat. However, this should not be done in a scientific way.
4. Optimization Carbon and Nitrogen
We won’t get into the technical details, so let us skip the optimization. If something goes wrong, such as for e.g. One of the aerators has stopped working. These kinds of situations can lead to ammonia formation due to the high nitrogen content. If this happens for a prolonged period of time, it could become a problem for your fish and flocs. These carbohydrates allow heterotrophic bacteria to multiply and synthesize ammonia. This helps maintain water quality.
Optimization of carbon is another important issue to address. Let’s look at what experts have to offer on the subject. We recommend that you only use carbon sources and feed mixes with a C/N ratio of at least 10 because this promotes the growth heterotrophic bacteria. Additional inputs are required to increase the C/N ratio to 12:1 or 15:1.
Anything that is simple sugary and can be quickly broken down can be used. This can be done by reducing the protein content of the feeds. This will prevent ammonia peaking at later stages in the production process. This is the most difficult step in successfully implementing Biofloc principles.
5. Biofloc Growth
Now that you have mastered the steps above, let’s dive into Biofloc growth. We’ve done everything right up to this point. It’s now time to get started with cultivation. To increase the yield of the different bacteria and protozoa species, we will be planting the seeds in the culture water. Within a few weeks, the number of flocs will go from negligible to between four and five flocs per liter.
You might think, “What’s the big deal? This is very doable”, right? You are absolutely correct until you find out what the next few weeks hold. This is the power exponents. In a matter days, the floc number could cause havoc and grow as fast as if it had been triggered by a nuclear fission reaction. You now have approximately 10 billion bacteria per cubic cm of culture water.
This is amazing! You can monitor the growth of these flocs by using a cone-shaped flask or beaker to collect water samples from a depth of between 15 and 25 cm, preferably in late morning. Allow the solid particles to settle for at least 20 minutes. The solid particles will stick to the sides and bottom of the cone-shaped beaker making it easy for you to count them.
6. Monitoring, Harvesting, and Cleanup
Regular water samples should be taken to monitor the pond and determine the activity of both Biofloc types as well as their densities. As the stock grows and the feeding volume increases, the water will turn brown. To maintain a high rate of respiration, the Biofloc system must be significantly aerated after it turns brown. It is important to monitor and maintain the aerators, as well as the power system that generates the energy.
Regular monitoring of water quality parameters (especially dissolved oxygen, ammonia, and pH) will help determine if the system works well or needs to be increased. Monitoring the farm stock’s performance is essential. This includes recording and calculating growth rate, overall appearance and FCR as well as stock survival. When comparing farm records from the past, non-Biofloc farms, you will notice a significant jump.
A farmer will notice a difference in profitability and cost after following these steps. After harvest, it is crucial to clean and prepare the raceway pond. The culture water can become contaminated with heavy metals over time. This can lead to the stock answer table being unsuitable for consumption. It is important to clean up after each batch before you start the next one.
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