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Development of a portable miniature mass spectrometer to monitor important, but technically difficult parameters in aquaculture

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Rapid, reliable monitor for water quality

EU researchers have developed a monitoring device that remotely tests water quality at aquaculture farms. The device sends instant alerts to farmers, allowing them to take immediate action to prevent the negative impacts of poor water quality.

Food and Natural Resources

Aquaculture farms in Europe and worldwide are increasingly using recirculation systems, which reuse a large percentage of a farm’s water. Recirculation systems reduce water use, limit effluents and minimise environmental pollution, while maintaining high fish yields. However, farms using recirculation systems can suddenly develop unexpected water quality problems. These include declining pH; rising carbon dioxide concentrations; and increasing levels of phosphate, nitrate or toxic metals. The EU-funded AQUAMMS (Development of a portable miniature mass spectrometer to monitor important, but technically difficult parameters in aquaculture) initiative developed an innovative monitoring system that can rapidly analyse water quality on fish farms. The device uses mass spectrometry and other optical technologies to measure water quality, particularly in recirculation systems, and it can be used by non-specialists. AQUAMMS’ new technology provides immediate warning of increases in potential harmful substances. This allows farmers to take immediate, appropriate action to rectify the problem, such as increasing oxygen flow or treating the water. The researchers developed the system in a way that allows it to run on a single computer, with the possibility for remote monitoring. System status and alert reports can be generated against specific thresholds and sent by email to farm managers. By providing advanced warning of pollutants that cause stress to farmed fish, disease outbreaks and poor product quality, the device will improve production and profits. The system will also contribute to organic production since actions influencing growth conditions can be taken before need arises for any pharmaceuticals or other chemical treatment. The AQUAMMS device can support or replace equipment currently on the market for land-based aquaculture farms, particularly those using recirculation systems. The technology could also potentially be applied in other industries, such as municipal water treatment, environmental regulation, and food and beverage processing.

Keywords

Water quality, monitoring, aquaculture, recirculation systems, fish, AQUAMMS

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