Use of fluidized bed biofilter and immobilized Rhodopseudomonas palustris for ammonia removal and fish health maintenance in a recirculation aquaculture system


Correspondence: L Wei, Heilongjiang River Fisheries Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Fisheries Sciences, Harbin 150076, China. E-mail:


Intensive recirculating aquaculture relies on biofilters to sustain satisfactory water quality in the system. Fluidized bed and immobilized cell technologies were used to remove ammonia from the water and maintain fish health. A high-rate nitrifying fluidized bed biofilter combined with valveless filter was designed for use in a recirculation aquaculture system (RAS). The suspended solids produced during fish culture could automatically be removed using a valveless filter. Natural porosity with fitting proportion, steady fluidization and expanding rate was chosen as the fluidized carrier. The technology of bacterial separation and cultivation was used. The immobilized Rhodopseudomonas palustris (R. palustris) produced through a biotechnologically embedding medium is suitable for fish and could help prevent diseases. Nitrification was promoted through the selective rearing of nitrobacteria in a fluidized bed biofilter. Water quality was improved using fluidized bed biofilter and immobilized R. palustris in the RAS. In addition, the proposed system was able to reduce costs. Maximum fish load was 45 ± 3 kg m−3 in the closed recirculating water fish culture system, and water use was reduced by 80–90%. The total ammonia nitrogen removal rate of the technology was 80–95%, and nitrite N removal rate was above 80%.