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Effects of Selected Chemotherapeutants on Nitrification in Fluidized-Sand Biofilters for Coldwater Fish Production

M.F. Schwartz, G.L. Bullock, J.A. Hankins, S.T. Summerfelt, and J.A. Mathias
Volume 1, June 2000


Four fish chemotherapeutants, formalin, benzalkonium chloride, chloramine-T, and hydrogen peroxide were evaluated for their effect on the nitrification efficiency of fluidized-sand biofilters. The chemotherapeutants were added at conventional concentrations to two small-scale (2,200 L) coldwater recirculating rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) culture systems each containing six fluidized-sand biofilters operating in parallel. Nitrification efficiency of biofilters was calculated before and after chemotherapeutant treatments by determining ammonia removal efficiency at ambient conditions, and also when challenged with a sudden increase of ammonium chloride at a concentration four times that of the ambient total ammonia-nitrogen (TAN). Two formalin treatments in recycle bath mode at 167 and 300 ppm were conducted with only the 300 ppm treatment having a significant negative effect on biofilter nitrification efficiency to be significantly impaired. Two multiple treatments with benzalkonium chloride were conducted: one static bath treatment and one recycle bath treatment. These treatments caused ammonia removal efficiency to decrease by 18% in the static bath treatment and by 63% in the recycle bath treatment. Of these two tests, only the recycle bath treatment caused a significant impairment of nitrification. Single static bath and recycle bath treatments with 9 ppm of chloramines-T both resulted in significant impairment of nitrification, as did a 12 ppm multiple static bath treatment. A single static bath treatment with 100 ppm of hydrogen peroxide caused almost total failure of nitrification within 24 h of treatment but biofilters were able to remove 23% of TAN within 48 h of treatment.

The Conservation Fund's Freshwater Institute, P.O. Box 1889, Shepherdstown, WV 25443