Nitrogen Dynamics and Removal by Algal Turf Scrubber under High Ammonia and Organic Matter Loading in a Recirculating Aquaculture System

A study was undertaken to assess the potential of an Algal Turf Scrubber to remove nitrogen from aquaculture effluent to reduce environmental pollution. High total ammonia nitrogen concentrations were introduced to an Algal Turf Scrubber developed under varying hydraulic surface loading rates of African catfish (Clarius gariepinus) effluent in a recirculating aquaculture system. Nutrient removal rates were not affected at total suspended solids concentration of up to 0.04g TSS/l (P > 0.05). Nitrogen removal rates 0.93-0.99g TAN/m²/d were recorded at very high loading rates 3.76-3.81 g TAN/m²/d. Total ammonia removal showed ½ order kinetics between 1.6 to 2.3mg/l Total Ammonia Nitrogen concentrations. Nitrogen removal increased with its loading, which increased with hydraulic surface loading rate. Total Ammonia Nitrogen removal by Algal turf scrubber was higher than reported values for fluidized bed filters and trickling filters. The algal turf scrubber also effectively removed nitrate thereby reducing the need for water exchange.