The experimental set-up of this study mimicked recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) where water quality parameters such as dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, and turbidity were controlled and wastes produced by fish and feeding were converted to inorganic forms. A key process in the RAS was the conversion of ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate through nitrification. It was hypothesized that algae inclusion in RAS would improve the ammonia removal from the water; thereby improving RAS water quality and stability. To test this hypothesis, the stability of the microbiota community composition in a freshwater RAS with (RAS+A) or without algae (RAS-A) was challenged by introducing an acute pH drop (from pH 7 to 4 during three hours) to the system. Stigeoclonium nanum, a periphytic freshwater microalga was used in this study. No significant effect of the algae presence was found on the resistance to the acute pH drop on ammonia conversion to nitrite and nitrite conversion to nitrate. Also the resilience of the ammonia conversion to the pH drop disruption was not affected by the addition of algae. This could be due to the low biomass of algae achieved in the RAS. However, with regard to the conversion step of nitrite to nitrate, RAS+A was significantly more resilient than RAS-A. In terms of overall bacterial communities, the composition and predictive function of the bacterial communities was significantly different between RAS+A and RAS-A.
Ramli, N. M., Giatsis, C., Yusoff, F. M., Verreth, J., & Verdegem, M. (2018). Resistance and resilience of small-scale recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) with or without algae to pH perturbation. PLoS ONE, 13(4), [e0195862]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195862