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The “blue revolution” often refers to the surge of cheap, frozen seafood like shrimp, salmon, and tilapia thanks to industrial fish farming, also known as aquaculture. While fish farming is not a new technique, having been around since the start of written history, the practice is a source of intense modern innovation as demand for sustainable protein increases. Newcomers in aquaculture are ready to trigger the next blue revolution (1).
This article will discuss the pros and cons of land-based aquaculture (see our earlier article on sea-based aquaculture), how unique solutions derived from thermoplastics can help address those drawbacks, and how AGRU delivers the best aquaculture solutions.
The pros and cons of land-based aquaculture
Fish farming is conceptually a perfect solution for meeting the protein requirements of the future. But in practice, there are a plethora of challenges for both sea- and land-based aquaculture. Those who ascribe to land-based aquaculture look to avoid the common pitfalls of ocean farming.
On the surface, land-based aquaculture may seem nothing more than fish farming in a concrete tank. But the reality is far more complex. The most significant advantage of creating a land-based fish farm is controlling the environment for the fish. Using temperature controls, biofilters, and careful monitoring enable handlers to prevent the spread of disease and parasites. These controls also help support productivity year-round and through variable climate patterns. Equally as important is ensuring that toxins such as mercury (one factor attributed to decreased fish consumption in the United States over the last decade) do not build up in the fish.
There are also strong economic reasons for choosing land-based fish farming. Businesses can create farms on cheap or underutilized land and bring fish sources to underserved areas. Fish farming also helps stabilize the fish market, reducing the cost of fish and promoting an increase in long-term fish consumption.
Drawbacks to fish farming in concrete tanks include the difficulty in creating a controlled environment. The techniques to control the fish farm environment are still experimental and often costly to implement. Creating a controlled environment also means increased complexity. Engineers must protect concrete tanks against long-term corrosion, seal pipes and joints to avoid leakage, and develop landfills to hold biowaste. On top of ongoing energy costs, these setup costs have historically weighed down the financial viability of land-based aquaculture. Fortunately, innovations in waste management, pipes and fittings, and concrete protection have helped solve those challenges.
Unique solutions to promote land-based aquaculture
Land-based aquaculture designs are constantly changing. One of the most important developments has been water recirculation technology. Recirculation technology enhances fish farming by reusing the water in production, which can decrease costs and improve the overall quality of the tank. Even a low-intensity recirculation system can reduce the use of water by about 90%. High-intensity recirculation systems can reuse more than 99% of the water every year (1). New recirculation systems also filter out biowaste.
Creating a modern and efficient land-based aquaculture operation is more involved than fish farming in a concrete tank. Requirements include a proper tank design, suitable tank material, and an efficient piping system. Using a circular concrete tank offers self-cleaning properties and long-term durability. To further enhance the tank, use a concrete protective liner (CPL) to reduce the buildup of material on the tank’s inner walls and keep concrete from direct contact with the water. CPL can help improve the tank’s service life and help reduce the need for frequent maintenance. Furthermore, the smooth surfaces will help promote fish health by preventing injuries.
An efficient piping network helps improve the performance of a recirculation system. One of the most significant sources of waste in any piping system is leaks. Using a piping material that can be fusion welded at connection points can create joints that do not leak. One such material is high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which also brings a host of other benefits such as long-term durability, corrosion resistance, and resistance to ambient temperature fluctuations.
Build better fish farms with AGRU
AGRU America offers unique land-based aquaculture solutions. The latest offering combines Ultra Grip concrete protective liner with the AGRULINE piping system to help engineers create durable, long-lasting, and efficient containment tanks for fish farming. AGRU also manufactures a range of semi-finished products for custom fabrication to help businesses pioneer new aquaculture techniques.
- 1. “How to Farm a Better Fish.” National Geographic. Accessed online 25 October 2021 at https://www.nationalgeographic.com/foodfeatures/aquaculture/.
- 2. Bregnballe, “A Guide to Recirculation Aquaculture.” UN FAO and EUROFISH. (2015). Accessed online 25 October 2021 at http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4626e.pdf.