Notes modified from Dr. Doug Holland, Aquaculture, Brunswick Community College.
Feeds and Feeding
Many companies manufacture high quality trout feeds. Feeds in all particle sizes are available, beginning with crumbles #00, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 which are best suited for fry and small fingerlings. Advanced fingerlings, larger fish and broodstock should be fed floating or sinking pellets 1/16", 1/8", 3/16", etc.
Homemade diets should be avoided, especially unsterilized trash fish. The risk of disease combined with a diet that is usually nutritionally unbalanced, may result in a variety of nutritional disorders.
Feed utilization by the fish is of utmost importance.
Feed should be distributed in a manner that all fish get something to eat. To do so reduces variations in growth rate genetically inherent in fish. Such genetic predisposition are made worse by uneven distribution of feed and aggressive feeding instinct among individual fish.
Feeding can be made less efficient and/or wasted because:
1. Low temperatures
2. Excessive flow-through rates
3. Excessive water turbidity (trout feed by sight)
Automatic feeders may reduce labor costs, but also may result in poor feed conversion and/or uneven feed distribution, which contributes to higher feed cost. The cost of feed is generally higher than labor costs, therefore automatic feeders may represent a "false economy".
The best way to keep track of feed conversion is to keep accurate records of daily consumption rates and frequent sampling of fish for average size and weight. Fish sampling should be done preferably every two weeks but at least once per month.
"The least-cost producer wins"
To develop a production strategy with any culture, available markets should be investigated first, then "working backwards" to determine a workable production strategy. By knowing the particular requirements of any market, the producer can develop methods to produce at the lowest unit cost.
Most consumers want an even supply of food-size fish throughout the year. Fluctuations in demand occur during certain times throughout the year:
- Thanksgiving and Christmas. Less people eat fish and seafood during the Holiday season.
- During Lent many people give up meat for religious reasons. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday the day following "Mardi Gras" and ends at Easter. The demand for fish and seafood increase during this time of year.
Fertilized eggs/embryos of trout, called "eyed trout eggs" are available from various parts of the world during most of the year.
For grow-out to market size fish, differential growth rates in fingerlings make stocking almost any size during most of the year possible. Differential growth rates during grow-out to market size further contributes to overall size variability, making market-size fish available throughout the year.
Growth rates of fish may be controlled by any combination of:
1. Genes. Natural variability exists between different strains and individuals within strains.
2. Feeding rates
3. Temperature which is not under the control of the farmer, but may be anticipated and utilized in overall production strategy.
4. Current/flow rate - swimming against rapid currents requires more energy which reduces growth rate at a constant feeding rate.
5. Grading. While it is best to have every fish growing at an optimum rate, naturally the rate will differ from individual to individual and from strain to strain. This can be used to ensure that market size fish are available at any and all times of the year.
Grading the fish
Grading should be done on a regular basis, but if done too frequently it risks increased stress and reduction in production levels.
A variety of grading methods are available. Producers should choose carefully to ensure the greatest grading efficiency with the least stress on the fish as possible.
Types and amounts of allowable effluents from trout farms are governed by state and federal regulations. The most important of these is the NPDES permit, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. An NPDES permit is required of trout farms that produce more than 30,000 lbs annually.
Trout streams and other coldwater receiving waters are likely to be more profoundly affected by effluents than warmer waters, due to the low natural nutrient levels of most coldwater streams.
Suspended solids are the most serious effluent problem:
1. Contribute to Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD).
2. Can completely cover the bottom of receiving streams.
Settleable Solids = Suspended solids that settle out of standing water in one hour.
0.3 lb. of settleable solids are produced for every lb of feed offered to the fish in trout raceways.
Settleable solids are typically removed from effluents through the use of sedimentation basins.
Total pollutants in trout farm effluents come from many sources, but most originate from feed offered to the fish.
Levels of effluent pollutants due to feed can be calculated using the equation:
Average ppm pollutant = Pollutant Factor x Lbs Feed
Water Flow (gpm)
Pollutant factors for this equation:
Total ammonia 2.67
Settleable solids 25.0
250 lbs of feed are offered each day in a hatchery with 1,000 gpm of water flow. What is the concentration in ppm of settleable solids in the effluent?
25.0 x 250
------------- = 6.25 ppm
An example of a sedimentation basin design from arizona.edu on Filtration and Biofiltration
Sedimentation basin design: Wide inlet (to reduce velocity), a surface area of .7 to 1.4 sq. ft. of basin per gpm flow (for feces with a specific gravity of 1.01 or greater), wide outlet weir (never a stand pipe), no baffles (which increase velocities) and a simple waste drain. A depth of just a few inches is enough for most designs.
Source: University of Arizona
These are usually tanks, ponds, lagoons, etc. which serve the purpose of slowing velocity of the water, and allow suspended solids to settle to the bottom.
Four factors taken into account for design of sedimentation basins:
1. Retention time
2. Density of waste solids
3. Water velocity and flow distribution
4. Water depth
Retention time = average period that a unit of water remains in the basin.
Retention time ranges from 15 minutes to 2 hours. For a given rate of flow, retention time increases with area and depth of the basin.
If not carefully engineered, a sedimentation basin will have an area of rapid flow down the middle, with backwater "dead zones" where water stagnates and is replaced very slowly. A system of baffles should be incorporated into the design to ensure even flow through the basin.
The basin should be about 1.5 feet deep. A shallower basin promotes scouring of the bottom, keeping solids suspended throughout the basin. There may not be enough time for solids to settle out completely in a deeper basin.
There are several types of sedimentation basins:
1. Linear clarifier - a modified concrete raceway.
Water should enter the raceway through a series of screens to distribute flow and reduce turbulence.
2. Lagoons - usually a shallow earthen pond.
The larger the pond, the more effluent it can accommodate.
3. Commercial Settling Systems
There are many types and designs of these systems available. They all generally incorporate baffles and settling tubes. This type requires less space and retention time than linear clarifiers or lagoons. They are expensive, and usually impractical in commercial aquaculture.
Solid Waste Disposal
Over half of all nutrients released by trout farms are in the form of settleable solids. The sludge from sedimentation basins is a high quality organic fertilizer. It may be composted and made available to organic farmers, gardeners, etc. It may be possible to market such material to help offset costs of waste management.