Springhills Fish
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recirculation RAS aquaculture fish farmers

How do fish farms re-use water?

Water is one of our most precious resources as farmers.

We only have so much, and we take great care to keep it clean and oxygenated so our fish can grow happily. (And trout, salmon and char are picky creatures who demand it!)

At Springhills we use a lot of cool technologies to get the most out of our water supply.

In the picture is a recirculation system at one of our farms that gets very little water in the summer. Here’s how it works:

  • 💩 Water flows into a drum filter that catches any stray solids that didn’t settle out in the fish tanks
  • 🔺 Then it hits a table with many holes that disperse water through cones to off-gas carbon dioxide
  • 🦠 From there, it lands in a bed of plastic beads that grow beneficial healthy bacteria that break down and remove ammonia
  • 🕺 Then it gets pumped back and forth turbulently to break down any harmful nitrites and remove nitrogen.
  • 💨 Every step of the process also adds oxygen back into the water for the fish to breathe, including a fancy oxygenator that aerates through a tower

Then voila, the water flows back into the fish tanks!

Even with all this technology, we do still need to keep adding new water into the system. No farmer has yet cracked how to use the water indefinitely. There is some experimental tech, but many more failures than successes.

We can re-use it a few times on the farm, but the fish still need new water to thrive.

All these machines can add thousands to our hydro bill every month, so we use them only when we have to. And it can be scary trusting the lives of so many fish to such an intricate system that relies on each part working perfectly. So we build a lot of redundancies and back-ups, and maintenance is never-ending.

(And we’re alert during every thunder storm, as even the most advanced water pumps can reverse direction after a power surge!)

Once we’re done with the water, it returns to the local stream. We do lots of testing every month and year to make sure we’re treating the ecosystem right!

Water has also given our family it’s livelihood for two generations, which is why we protect it so we can keep farming long into the future.