Submitted by Burcu Basse on behalf of BioMar

BioMar contributes to the research project “RASbiome: Microbial management  in RAS for sustainable aquaculture production”. Through new biological water  treatment strategies, this project targets key challenges to overcome in RAS  farming. 

A RASbiome project is underway to improve the sustainability of fish production in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) by introducing new and innovative approaches for microbiological water treatment. The project, titled “RASbiome: Microbial management in RAS for sustainable aquaculture production”, is funded by BlueBio through their ERA-NET COFUND program. BlueBio is a European organization committed to funding innovative, novel, and sustainable projects related to aquaculture production systems so that their blue bioeconomy can be strengthened.

The RASbiome project meets these needs by focusing on two fundamentally distinct biological water treatment strategies that are new to RAS. The first strategy involves anaerobic ammonia-oxidizing (anammox) bacteria, resulting in almost complete removal of nitrogen from the water. This strategy excludes the need for external organic carbon, reduces energy consumption, and reduces CO2 production. The second strategy takes advantage of bioflocs formed by heterotrophic bacteria assimilating nitrogen. This approach allows sludge with a nutrient rich microbial biomass to be harvested and is compatible with the recovery and recycling of nitrogen from RAS water.

The project is highly multidisciplinary, involving experts from Belgium, Denmark, and Norway in fields of environmental engineering, biotechnology, microbiology, microbial ecology, and aquaculture. Industry partners, including two large commercial producers of salmon smolt and rainbow trout, play a crucial role in the project. BioMar’s participation is to provide feeds for biological trials with rainbow trout juveniles. These trials are run by DTU Aqua (Department for Aquatic Resources at the Danish Technical University in Hirtshals). Diets in the trials will have varying carbon-to-nitrogen (C/N) ratios, an essential parameter for microorganism performance. Pedro Gómez Requeni, Senior Scientist at the Nutrition Formulation Department of BioMar Global R&D, and the BioMar team will work closely with DTU Aqua to formulate and produce the necessary diets.

According to Pedro Gómez, the RASbiome project contributes to developing European aquaculture in a direction characterized by the 3R’s principle in waste management: reduce, reuse and recycle. Moreover, innovative outcomes will lead to new measures that can be applied in microbial water treatment, especially in the management of nitrogen compounds. In this project, the sustainability benefits for aquaculture production will come by three factors: by improving fish welfare and productivity due to stable and optimized chemical and microbiological water quality, reducing environmental impact through nitrogen removal from discharged water, and reducing operational costs.