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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING PRODUCTION EFFICIENCY IN WARM WATER AQUACULTURE THROUGH WATER QUALITY MANAGEMENT

Location: Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit

Title: Partitioned pond aquaculture systems

Authors
item Tucker, Craig
item Brune, David -
item Torrans, Eugene

Submitted to: World Aquaculture Magazine
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: April 17, 2014
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Repository URL: http://www.was.org.magazine
Citation: Tucker, C.S., Brune, D.E., Torrans, E.L. 2014. Partitioned pond aquaculture systems. World Aquaculture Magazine. 45(2):9-17.

Interpretive Summary: Most aquaculture production is derived from simple earthen ponds. Ponds have limitations, however, and aquaculturist have sought ways to improve production efficiency in outdoor systems. This paper describes the authors’ involvement in developing alternative culture systems that are physically divided into areas that allow better control of fish production, oxygen production, and wastes treatment. These systems are called “partitioned ponds.” Partitioned ponds were first developed in Arkansas in the early 1980s to overcome difficulties encountered when growing the primary fish crop of channel catfish with one or more other fish species (polyculture). Arkansas farmers later attempted to address management inefficiencies inherent in large earthen ponds by confining fish in raceways and recycling water through a series of linked ponds. The overall driver of partitioned pond development in Arkansas was to manage fish production more efficiently. The partitioned aquaculture system (PAS) developed at Clemson University in 1989 consisted of separating, or partitioning, raceway fish culture (requiring only 5% of water surface area) from the algal-driven water-treatment process. The goal was reducing or eliminating pond discharge to public water by optimizing in-pond waste treatment processes. Optimization of waste treatment also allowed the PAS to achieve much greater fish production than traditional ponds. Split-ponds were developed in Mississippi in the early 2000s to take advantage of certain features of the PAS but to make the system more easily managed by catfish farmers. Fish production is lower in split-ponds than in the PAS, but the simpler design has stimulated rapid commercial adoption, with more than 600-ha of split-ponds in use by farmers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and California. Partitioned ponds are a significant development in pond aquaculture, with the potential to increase aquaculture production several-fold over that achieved in traditional ponds and little or no discharge of water or wastes into public waters. As economic conditions change in the future, “designed ecosystems” such as partitioned ponds may become increasingly attractive alternatives to traditional aquaculture ponds.

Technical Abstract: World aquaculture is dominated by the use of simple earthen ponds in which suitable water quality is maintained by photosynthetic processes. Relying upon sunlight to maintain water quality offers the lowest cost and most sustainable approach to fish or shellfish production, which explains the popularity of ponds as aquatic animal production systems. However, utilization of solar energy limits pond aquaculture production. This paper describes the authors’ involvement in developing alternative outdoor culture systems that address the limitations and inefficiencies of traditional aquaculture ponds. The systems described have are physically divided into areas that allow better control of certain processes, such as confining fish, producing oxygen, treating wastes, or culturing secondary species. They are called “partitioned ponds.” Partitioned ponds were first developed in Arkansas in the early 1980s to overcome difficulties encountered when growing the primary fish crop of channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus with one or more other fish species (polyculture). Two Arkansas farmers later attempted to address management inefficiencies inherent in large earthen ponds by confining fish in raceways and recycling water through a series of linked ponds. The overall driver of partitioned pond development in Arkansas was to manage fish production more efficiently. The partitioned aquaculture system (PAS) developed at Clemson University in 1989 consisted of separating, or partitioning, raceway fish culture (requiring only 5% of water surface area) from the algal-driven water-treatment process. The goal was reducing or eliminating pond discharge to public water by optimizing in-pond waste treatment processes. Optimization of waste treatment also allowed the PAS to achieve much greater fish production than traditional ponds. Split-ponds were developed in Mississippi in the early 2000s. They are simpler than the PAS, make use of existing catfish ponds, confine fish at lower densities than in the PAS raceways, and do not incorporate tilapia or other algal-cropping processes in the design. Fish production is lower than in the PAS, but the simpler design has stimulated rapid commercial adoption, with more than 1500 acres of split-ponds in use by farmers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and California. Partitioned ponds are a significant development in pond aquaculture, with the potential to increase aquaculture production several-fold over that achieved in traditional ponds and little or no discharge of water or wastes into public waters. As economic conditions change in the future, “designed ecosystems” such as partitioned ponds may become increasingly attractive alternatives to traditional aquaculture ponds.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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