Phosphorous recovery from a novel recirculating aquaculture system followed by its sustainable reuse as a fertilizer

Uri Yogev, Maximilian Vogler, Oded Nir, Jörg Londong, Amit Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Phosphorus (P) is an essential element for life that is introduced through feed in modern aquaculture—the fastest growing food production sector. P can also be a source of environmental contamination and eutrophication if mistreated. Fish assimilate only 20–40% of the applied P; the rest is released into the water. The goals of this research were to study the fate of P in a novel intensive near-zero discharge (<1%) recirculating aquaculture system (RAS). We also tested means to recover and reuse the removed P. Water, sludge and the microbial communities in the different treatment units of the system were analyzed. The treated sludge was tested as a potential substitute for P fertilization in a planter experiment. Of the applied P, 29.5% was recovered by fish, 69.8% was found in the fish sludge and 3.8% was released into the water as soluble reactive P. The P concentration in the fish tank remained stable, likely due to its uptake by denitrifying polyphosphate-accumulating organisms and its precipitation in the RAS's anaerobic reactor. Thus, only 1.5% of the applied P was discharged as effluent, and 69% recovered. The dominant minerals were from the apatite group, followed by the struvite family. Differences in mineral abundance between thermodynamic prediction and actual findings were most probably due to biomineralization by bacteria. Similar plant biomass was recorded for the commercial and digested-sludge fertilization treatments. Biological P removal and recovery from RAS was successfully studied and demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number137949
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 20 Jun 2020


  • Biomineralization
  • Denitrification
  • Phosphorus recovery
  • Polyphosphate-accumulating organisms
  • Recirculating aquaculture systems
  • Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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