Fish farm effluent control and the development of an expert system
In recent years, freshwater fish farmers have come under increasing pressure from the Water Authorities to control the quality of their farm effluents. This project aimed to investigate methods of treating aquacultural effluent in an efficient and cost-effective manner, and to incorporate the knowledge gained into an Expert System which could then be used in an advice service to farmers. From the results of this research it was established that sedimentation and the use of low pollution diets are the only cost effective methods of controlling the quality of fish farm effluents. Settlement has been extensively investigated and it was found that the removal of suspended solids in a settlement pond is only likely to be effective if the inlet solids concentration is in excess of 8 mg/litre. The probability of good settlement can be enhanced by keeping the ratio of length/retention time (a form of mean fluid velocity) below 4.0 metres/minute. The removal of BOD requires inlet solids concentrations in excess of 20 mg/litre to be effective, and this is seldom attained on commercial fish farms. Settlement, generally, does not remove appreciable quantities of ammonia from effluents, but algae can absorb ammonia by nutrient uptake under certain conditions. The use of low pollution, high performance diets gives pollutant yields which are low when compared with published figures obtained by many previous workers. Two Expert Systems were constructed, both of which diagnose possible causes of poor effluent quality on fish farms and suggest solutions. The first system uses knowledge gained from a literature review and the second employs the knowledge obtained from this project's experimental work. Consent details for over 100 fish farms were obtained from the public registers kept by the Water Authorities. Large variations in policy from one Authority to the next were found. These data have been compiled in a computer file for ease of comparison.