Aerobic and anaerobic biofiltration in an aquaculture unit-Nitrite accumulation as a result of nitrification and denitrification

Jaap van Rijn*, Guillermo Rivera

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Biological oxidation and reduction of inorganic nitrogen were studied in an aquaculture unit equipped with an aerobic trickling filter and two, anaerobic, fluidized bed columns. The rate of ammonia oxidation in the trickling filter was shown to be dependent on the ambient ammonia concentration in the unit, indicating that ammonia oxidation by the nitrifying bacteria was substrate-limited with respect to ammonia. The maximum removal rate of ammonia was 0·43 g NH4N, m-2 day-1. Nitrite removal by the trickling filter took place when ambient ammonia concentrations were lower than 1 mg liter-1 NH4N, while at higher ambient ammonia concentrations nitrite accumulated. The fluidized bed columns, employed in the system, were fed with endogenous organic material from the pond. Under these conditions high specific nitrate removal rates were obtained at relatively short retention times. Nitrate removal, however, fluctuated sharply over a diurnal cycle and nitrite accumulation took place under all running conditions examined. Explanations for the nitrite accumulation observed in both filtration systems are presented and possible improvement of the treatment system is discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)217-234
Number of pages18
JournalAquacultural Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1990

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the staff at the experimental station Ginosar for their assistance during the field work. In particular, Mr Moshe Lufan's assistance is highly appreciated. We are indebted to Prof. Moshe Shilo and Dr Anton Post for critical reading of the manuscript and to Mrs Shula Nitsan for identification of bacterial isolates. This work was supported by the German Ministry for Research and Technology (BMFT) in the framework of the joint German-Israeli programme on aquaculture (NCRD project AQ 6/533).


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