Bacterial community structure and physiochemical parameters were examined in a sedimentation basin of a zero-discharge mariculture system. The system consisted of an intensively stocked fish basin from which water was recirculated through two separate treatment loops. Surface water from the basin was pumped over a trickling filter in one loop while bottom-water was recirculated through a sedimentation basin followed by a fluidized bed reactor in the other. Ammonia oxidation to nitrate in the trickling filter and organic matter digestion together with nitrate reduction in the sedimentation basin and fluidized bed reactor, allowed zero-discharge operation of the system. Relatively high concentrations of oxygen, nitrate, sulphate and organic matter detected simultaneously in the digestion basin suggested the potential for a wide range of microbially-mediated transformation processes. In this study, physiochemical parameters were correlated to bacterial diversity and distribution in horizontal and vertical profiles within this basin in an effort to obtain a basic understanding of the chemical and microbial processes in this system. Chemical activity and microbial diversity, the latter measured by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplified 16S rDNA fragments, were higher in the sludge layer than in the overlying aqueous layer of the basin. Chemical parameters in sludge samples close to the basin inlet suggested enhanced microbial activity relative to other sampling areas with evidence of both nitrate and sulphate reduction. Four of the nine DGGE bands identified in this zone were affiliated with the Bacteroidetes phylum. Detected sequences closely related to sequences of organisms involved in the sulphur cycle included Desulfovibrio, Dethiosulfovibrio and apparent sulphur oxidizers from the gamma-proteobacteria. In addition, a number of sequences from the beta and alpha-proteobacteria were identified.