The global population is expected to reach 9.6 billion by Yr. 2050 and as the demand for animal protein is increasing year by year it is a challenge to provide quality protein by safeguarding its natural resources for future generations. In this context, aquaculture plays a key role in promoting health by providing animal protein as well as generating employment and economic growth. Biofloc Technology (BFT) is considered as new “blue revolution” since nutrients can be continuously recycled and reused in the culture medium, benefited by the minimum or zero-water exchange. BFT is an environment friendly aquaculture technique based on in-situ microorganism production. Biofloc is the suspended growth in ponds/tanks which is the aggregates of living and dead particulate organic matter, phytoplankton, bacteria and grazers of the bacteria. It is the utilization of microbial processes within the pond/tank itself to provide food resources for cultured organism while at the same time acts as a water treatment remedy. Thus, this system is also called as active suspension ponds or heterotrophic ponds or even green soup ponds.
How BFT works?
- Biofloc system is a wastewater treatment which has gained vital importance as an approach in aquaculture.
- The principle of the technique is to maintain the higher C-N ratio by adding carbohydrate source and the water quality is improved through the production of high quality single cell microbial protein
- In such condition, heterotrophic microbial growth occurs which assimilates the nitrogenous waste that can be exploited by the cultured species as a feed and also works as bioreactor controlling of water quality.
- Immobilization of toxic nitrogen species occurs more rapidly in biofloc because of the growth rate and microbial production per unit substrate of heterotrophs are ten-times greater than that of the autotrophic nitrifying bacteria.
- This technology is based on the principle of flocculation within the system
Composition and Nutritional Value of Biofloc
Biofloc is a heterogeneous aggregate of suspended particles and variety of microorganisms associated with extracellular polymeric substances. It is composed of microorganisms such as bacteria, algae, fungi, invertebrates and detritus, etc.
It is a protein rich live feed formed as a result of conversion of unused feed and excreta into a natural food in a culture system on exposure to sunlight and vigorous aeration. Each floc is held together in a loose matrix of mucus that is secreted by bacteria and bound by filamentous microorganisms or electrostatic attraction. Large flocs can be seen with the naked eye, but most of them are microscopic. Floc size range from 50 – 200 micron.
A good nutritional value is found in Biofloc. The dry weight protein ranges from 25 – 50%, fat ranges 0.5 – 15%. It is a good source of vitamins and minerals, particularly phosphorous. It has an effect similar to probiotics. The dried biofloc is proposed as an ingredient to replace the fishmeal or soybean in the feed.
Advantage of BFT
- Eco-friendly culture system.
- It reduces environmental impact.
- Judicial use of land and water
- Limited or zero water exchange system
- Higher productivity (It enhances survival rate, growth performance, better feed conversion in the culture systems of fish).
- Higher biosecurity.
- Reduces water pollution and mitigate the risk of introduction and spread of pathogens
- It reduces utilization of protein rich feed and cost of standard feed.
- It reduces the pressure on capture fisheries i.e., use of cheaper food fish and trash fish for fish feed formulation.
Species suitable for Biofloc Culture
- Major cultivable fish species in BFT
A basic factor in designing a biofloc system is the species to be cultured. Biofloc system works best with species that are able to derive some nutritional benefits from the direct consumption of floc. Biofloc system is most suitable for species that can tolerate high solids concentration in water and are generally tolerant of poor water quality. Some of the species that are suitable for BFT are:
- Air breathing fish like Singhi (Heteropneustes fossilis), Magur (Clarias batrachus), Pabda (Ompok pabda), Anabas/Koi (Anabas testudineus), Pangasius (Pangasianodan hypophthalmus)
- Non air-breathing fishes like Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio), Rohu (Labeo rohita), Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), Milkfish (Chanos chanos)
- Shellfishes like Vannamei (Litopenaeus vannamei) and Tiger Shrimp (Penaeus monodon)
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Source : National Fisheries Development Board