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Boris Delaide, Hendrik Monsees, Amit Gross, and Simon Goddek

Abstract Recirculating aquaculture systems, as part of aquaponic units, are effective in producing aquatic animals with a minimal water consumption through effective treatment stages. Nevertheless, the concentrated sludge produced after the solid filtration stage, comprising organic matter and valuable nutrients, is most often discarded. One of the latest developments in aquaponic technology aims to reduce this potential negative environmental impact and to increase the nutrient recycling by treating the sludge on-site. For this purpose, microbial aerobic and anaerobic treatments, dealt with either individually or in a combined approach, provide very promising opportunities to simultaneously reduce the organic waste as well as to recover valuable nutrients such as phosphorus. Anaerobic sludge treatments additionally offer the possibility of energy production since a by-product of this process is biogas, i.e. mainly methane. By applying these additional treatment steps in aquaponic units, the water and nutrient recycling efficiency is improved and the dependency on external fertiliser can be reduced, thereby enhancing the sustainability of the system in terms of resource utilisation. Overall, this can pave the way for the economic improvement of aquaponic systems because costs for waste disposal and fertiliser acquisition are decreased.

Keywords Sludge recycling · Phosphorus · Microbial sludge conversion · Mass balance · Nutrient recycling


B. Delaide

Developonics asbl, Brussels, Belgium

H. Monsees

Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Berlin, Germany

A. Gross

Department of Environmental Hydrology and Microbiology, Zuckerberg Institute for Water

Research, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, Israel

S. Goddek

Mathematical and Statistical Methods (Biometris), Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands

© The Author(s) 2019 247

S. Goddek et al. (eds.), Aquaponics Food Production Systems,


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