|The basics of bio-flocs technology: the added value for aquaculture|In: Aquaculture. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISSN 0044-8486, more
Marine; Brackish water; Fresh water
aquaculture; bio-flocs technology; bacterial aggregates; fish feed; C; N-ratio
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The expansion of the aquaculture production is restricted due to the pressure it causes on the environment by the discharge of waste products in the water bodies and by its dependence on fish oil and fishmeal. Aquaculture using bio-flocs technology (BFT) offers a solution to both problems. It combines the removal of nutrients from the water with the production of microbial biomass, which can in situ be used by the culture species as additional food source. Understanding the basics of bio-flocculation is essential for optimal practice. Cells in the flocs can profit from advective flow and as a result, exhibit faster substrate uptake than the planktonic cells. The latter mechanisms appear to be valid for low to moderate mixing intensities as those occurring in most aquaculture systems (0.1–10 W m-3). Yet, other factors such as dissolved oxygen concentration, choice of organic carbon source and organic loading rate also influence the floc growth. These are all strongly interrelated. It is generally assumed that both ionic binding in accordance with the DLVO theory and Velcro-like molecular binding by means of cellular produced extracellular extensions are playing a role in the aggregation process. Other aggregation factors, such as changing the cell surface charge by extracellular polymers or quorum sensing are also at hand. Physicochemical measurements such as the level of protein, poly-ß-hydroxybutyrate and fatty acids can be used to characterize microbial flocs. Molecular methods such as FISH, (real-time) PCR and DGGE allow detecting specific species, evaluating the maturity and stability of the cooperative microbial community and quantifying specific functional genes. Finally, from the practical point of view for aquaculture, it is of interest to have microbial bio-flocs that have a high added value and thus are rich in nutrients. In this respect, the strategy to have a predominance of bacteria which can easily be digested by the aquaculture animals or which contain energy rich storage products such as the poly-ß-hydroxybutyrate, appears to be of particular interest.