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Iron River National Fish Hatchery (NFH) Acquires Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) to Aid in Production of Great Lakes Species.
Midwest Region, March 22, 2016
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NCTC's Recirculating Aquaculture System, prior to deconstruction by Iron River NFH staff.
NCTC's Recirculating Aquaculture System, prior to deconstruction by Iron River NFH staff. - Photo Credit: Credit: US Fish and Wildlife
Brandon Keesler poses with the loaded rental truck which transported the RAS from Shepherdstown WV to Iron River, WI.
Brandon Keesler poses with the loaded rental truck which transported the RAS from Shepherdstown WV to Iron River, WI. - Photo Credit: Credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a training facility in West Virginia, called the National Conservation Training Center. Many employees and other agency personnel are trained in all types of classes from leadership training to fish culture; the classes are very diverse to meet our workforce needs.

 
To meet the needs of trainers, a Rotating Aquaculture System had been constructed and used by National Conservation Training Center; however, it was no longer in operation. National Conservation Training Center offered the system to a facility if they were willing to dis-assemble, remove and up-cycle the system as whole. So, a couple of weeks ago, Nick Starzl, Project Leader, and Brandon Keesler, fish bio-tech, embarked on the journey to bring back this behemoth. Consisting of about 10 different tanks and filter tanks, along with plumbing, pumps, refrigeration units, and ultraviolet lamps for water treatment, the system was taken apart, loaded, and transported back to Iron River. 


Once at the facility, the system was dis-infected (to prevent spread of fish disease), and brought into the main hatchery. Currently, the design and re-assembly is being completed by the staff at Iron River. The goal is to create a system, to reduce water use, allow for control of fish growth and egg incubation, and save money related to the electrical costs of pumping groundwater. 


A special Thanks goes out to all the National Conservation Training Center staff and the many people who helped Nick and Brandon with this obtaining and transporting the Recirculating Aquaculture Systems.

What is a Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS)?

Recirculating Aquaculture Systems are defined as intensive and extensive. Intensive are often: compact (total area where the fish live), high-density (number of fish per area), high water flow or use, more prone to mechanical issues, and often expensive to build. Extensive is usually defined as ponds or pond culture of fish, which is conversely: larger areas often measured in acres, lower densities, low or no fresh flow of water, no mechanical parts to break, with cost based mostly on land value(s).


Intensive systems are either flow-through or recirculating. These descriptors are how the water is used within a tank or raceway. So, flow-through is water passing over fish and going out of the system, whereas, recirculating uses the same water many times and is defined by how much make-up (water needed to keep system full) water is used per day. 


The first benefit of recirculating systems is the use of water, particularly if groundwater is pumped for fish culture; secondarily the control of temperature is one of the main benefits of these systems, along with reducing the needs for water treatment on effluent.

The three main parts of a Recirculating Aquaculture Systems are:

1.) The culture unit (tank)

2.) Sediment filtration

3.) Bio-filter, so water flows from the culture tanks to a sediment filter or tank and finally to a bio-filter which converts aqueous ammonia to less harmful (to fish) nitrates.

 

 


Contact Info: Shawn Sanders, (715)372-8510, Shawn_Sanders@fws.gov
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