A novel three-stage seaweed (Ulva lactuca) biofilter design for integrated mariculture

Amir Neori, Flower E. Msuya, Lilach Shauli, Andreas Schuenhoff, Fidi Kopel, Muki Shpigel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Seaweed biofilters have proven their usefulness in the treatment of fishpond effluents. However, their performance poses a dilemma: TAN (Total Ammonia N) uptake rate - and with it seaweed yield and protein content - is inversely proportional to TAN uptake efficiency. The ideal for a seaweed biofilter performance would be a high uptake rate together with high uptake efficiency. The novel three-stage seaweed biofilter design described here has solved this dilemma. The design used the finding that the performance of seaweed ponds depended on the flux of TAN through them, and that therefore effluents with reduced TAN concentration could provide the seaweed with a high TAN flux if the water flow increased proportionally. Effluents from a seabream fishpond were passed through a series of three successively smaller (25, 12.5 and 6.25 m2, respectively) air-agitated Ulva lactuca ponds. The diminished inflow TAN concentrations to the second and third ponds of the biofilter system were compensated for by the increased water exchange rates, inversely proportional to their sizes. The biofilter performance was evaluated under several TAN loads. TAN was efficiently removed (85-90%), at a high areal rate (up to 2.9 g N m-2 d-1) while producing high protein U. lactuca (up to 44% dw) in all three stages, although with mediocre yields (up to 189 g fresh m-2 d-1). Performance of each seaweed biofilter pond correlated not with TAN concentration, but with areal TAN loads. The novel three-stage design provides significant functional and economic improvements in seaweed biofiltration of intensive fishpond water.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-553
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Phycology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by EC grant IN 206421 (A.N. and M.S.), and by the Israeli Ministry for National Infrastructures. FE Msuya was supported by Tel Aviv University and by a stipend from the World Wildlife Fund for Nature programme. Thanks to S Beer for encouragement, support and advice, to A Zalmanzon and E Chernova for chemical analyses, I Lupatsch for advice, S Amsalem, E Nadler and D Ben Ezra for technical help, M Ben-Shaprut for editing, A Israel for comments on the original manuscript, and finally, two diligent anonymous reviewers and the Editor of the Journal for substantial improvements to the MS.


  • Aquacultural engineering
  • Biofiltration
  • Mariculture
  • Nutrient uptake
  • Protein content
  • Seabream
  • Seaweed
  • Ulva lactuca

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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