The effect of resource quality on the growth of Holothuria scabra during aquaculture waste bioremediation

Georgina Robinson, Gary S. Caldwell, Clifford L.w. Jones, Selina M. Stead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
69 Downloads (Pure)


Reducing dependency on environmentally unsustainable formulated feeds, most of which include limited reserves of fishmeal as a protein source, is a priority for the aquaculture industry, particularly for intensive culture systems. One approach is to increase nitrogen reuse within the system by feeding nitrogen-rich aquaculture effluent to deposit feeders, thereby closing the aquaculture nitrogen-loop. This study, for the first time and on a laboratory-scale, has reared juveniles of the sea cucumber Holothuria scabra at high densities solely on particulate organic waste from a commercial-scale land-based abalone recirculating aquaculture system. Furthermore, growth rates and biomass yields were increased significantly by adjusting the effluent C:N from 5:1 to 20:1 by adding exogenous organic carbon sources (glucose, starch and cellulose), so fuelling accelerated heterotrophic bacterial production within the redox-stratified tank sediment. Sea cucumber juveniles reared solely on effluent had a biomass density of 711 g m−2 after four months whereas animals reared on starch-amended effluent (the best performing treatment) had a final density of 1011 g m−2. Further optimisation of this approach could increase biomass yields and pave the way for the commercial cultivation of deposit feeding animals on waste streams, thus contributing to more environmentally sustainable aquaculture. Here, the nitrogen that originated from fishmeal is not lost through the discharge of aquaculture effluent; rather, it is immobilised into single cell biomass that is up-cycled into high-value secondary biomass. We demonstrate that sea cucumbers can be produced at high density through the manipulation of the C:N ratio of aquaculture effluent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-108
Number of pages8
Early online date15 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2019


  • C/N ratio
  • Deposit feeder
  • Stoichiometry
  • Sustainable aquaculture
  • Recirculating aquaculture system
  • Sediment
  • sandfish
  • 7ref2021


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