Following biological and mechanical filtering and removing suspended debris and metabolites, water is recycled and reused in a Recirculatory Aquaculture System (RAS). This technology is used to cultivate diverse fish species in high-density environments with the least amount of land and water. Unlike the other aquaculture production techniques, this is a high-density intense fish culture. let’s check out a way of earning 1 lakh per month from RAS fish farming
In this approach, fish are often raised in indoor/outdoor tanks in a controlled setting rather than the conventional method of rearing fish outside in open ponds and raceways by returning water into fish culture tanks, recirculation systems filter, and cleaning it. The approach can be applied to any aquaculture species and focuses on using mechanical and biological filters.
Only enough water is given to the tanks to compensate for splash out, evaporation, and waste material flushing. The reconditioned water flows throughout the system, with no more than 10% of the total water volume changed daily. To compete economically and to make the most of the significant capital investment in the recirculating system, the fish farmer must produce as many fish as possible within the built-in capacity.
Recirculating systems utilize a variety of filter types. Still, the primary purpose of all filtering is to eliminate metabolic wastes, excess nutrients, and particles from the water while maintaining high water quality for aquatic life. Therefore, it is crucial to consider all elements while building and engaging in aquaculture systems. However, it is suggested to support Backyard Recirculation Aquaculture Systems to stimulate small-scale fish farmers and entrepreneurs and promote fish production in urban and semi-urban regions where land and water are rare.
How does the RAS system work?
Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) purify the water in fish or shrimp tanks before reusing it. This significantly reduces the water and land required to produce seafood on a big scale. Solid removal, ammonia removal, CO2 removal, and oxygenation are all processes in RAS.
Advantages of RAS system
- Tanks and equipment have a longer lifespan.
- Reduced reliance on antibiotics and therapeutics, resulting in higher-quality fish.
- Feed, predator control and parasites are all direct operating costs that may be reduced.
- Eliminate the possibility of parasites being released into recipient waterways.
- Climate change, illness, and parasite effects all reduce risk.
- RAS production allows for greater flexibility in terms of agricultural site and proximity to market.
- Allow for the generation of a diverse range of species regardless of temperature needs.
- When feeding can be closely monitored for 24 hours, RAS feed control improves significantly.
- Some variables, including as severe weather, unfavourable temperature conditions, external pollutants, and predation, might limit stock exposure to RAS stress.
- Enable the production of non-endemic species securely.
- Utilizing land and water in a good manner.
Disadvantages of RAS system
- High running expenses are mostly due to the use of power and the need for system maintenance.
- There is a requirement for highly qualified personnel to monitor and run the system.
- Recirculating aquaculture emits more greenhouse gases than non-recirculating aquaculture.
What are the species suitable for the RAS method?
- Pearl Spot/Karimeen
- Baramundi/ Asian Seabass/Bhetki
- Silver/Indian Pompano
- Rainbow Trout
Earning 1 lakh per month from ras Fish farming
The success story of Mr. Yeshu
Three years ago, Mr. Yeshu of Hyderabad, Telangana, started fish culture by RAS technique. However, considering the growing demand for fish among the people and the less yielding conventional methods, he wanted to cultivate fish using advanced methods. So, he met his university professor and started investigating various forms such as biofloc and RAS methods. Eventually, after a proper analysis, he concluded that he wanted to rear fish by the RAS method since he really liked the recycling system used in this method and also it needs fewer workers.
Also, in this system, you can produce a large yield of healthy fish. In other words, he chose a system that is easy to manage, requires less investment than others, is organic, and produces high quality and high quantity yield. Moreover, as he belongs to a farmer family, he knew the growing demand for fish in the market.
He says that the system involved in this method is advanced, so for research, he took three years investigating and learning about various techniques. Finally, he knew how to market, care for, and maintain them while cultivating them. Even though the initial investment needed for the RAS system is high, he never took a back step, and now he is earning high profits by fish culture through the RAS method and says such methods are the future of fish farming.
Construction of tanks in Mr. Yeshu’s farm
For cultivating fish through the RAS method, you need tanks. For this purpose, Mr. Yeshu constructed five tanks in 1800 square feet of land. In these five tanks, 2 are nursery tanks of diameter 5 meters. The other three tanks are nursery tanks which are 7 meters in diameter. There are two types of tanks that are built in the RAS system. One is nursery tanks, and the other is culture tanks. In nursery tanks, freshly bought fish seeds are cultivated until they attain a certain weight.
When they gain a certain weight, these fish are transferred to culture tanks that aid in the quick and proper growth of the fish. You can build these tanks in many ways. For example, you can use cement, stainless steel, or tarpaulined tanks. Mr. Yeshu says that stainless steel tanks are beneficial since they cannot get exposed to rust. On the other hand, it is hard to control cement tanks’ pH and liming effect. However, tarpaulin tanks are cost-effective and can be considered an alternate way to rear fish in the RAS method.
Fish culture by RAS method according to Mr. Yeshu
Mr. Yeshu chose pangasius species of fish to cultivate in his tanks. These fish can be grown abundantly by this process and are suitable for all the processes and parameters involved in this RAS system. This species of fish also can grow quickly when supplied with proper nutrition. The main idea involved in the RAS system is reusing the water in which the fish is cultivated by removing the excess Ammonia, CO2, and fish excreta.
For handling this process successfully, he uses a bioreactor in his RAS fish farm, which can filter nitrates and solid waste from the water in which fish has been cultivated. Before sending the water to the bioreactor, we send it into a drum filter, which reduces solid waste to the most extent. Then, the extra waste is removed in the bioreactor. Finally, the filtered water is used to cultivate pangasius fish on his farm. The bioreactor is run by electricity, and pipes are joined to it.
The wastewater or water high in solid and ammonia waste is supplied to the bioreactor through these pipes. The bioreactor filters this water, and the filtered water is provided from the bottom of the bioreactor into the tanks through pipes. A switch can monitor the bioreactor, and you can also choose the rate at which it filters the water. However, keep the bioreactor running at a medium speed since it aids in an effective filtration process. You should not mix this water with the wastewater in the tanks.
Keep the tank empty and transfer the fish once it is filled with filtered water, says Mr. Yeshu. Also, he used a centrifugal system in the tanks to remove solid waste in tanks with ease. The pipes from which the water enters the tank are oriented adjacent to the tank, not directly into the tank. This makes the water circulate in the tank creating centrifugal force. As a result, the solid waste can be settled in the middle of the tank. The center of the tank is built in a concave shape providing for the debris to settle.
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There is a pipe attached to the tank under the concave-shaped frame. This pipe, when released, the majority of the solid waste can be extracted at once. The water is made to pass biochips and bio balls to filter ammonia present in the liquid form. Bio balls and biochips contain the bacteria that feed on ammonia. These bacteria can help us remove ammonia from the filtered water.
Eliminating ammonia is the main idea of the RAS system, so while you go through the step, make sure you’re committing no mistakes. Doing something wrong in this step can lead you to heavy losses in the RAS system. To kill the bacteria left after the ammonia filtration process, you have to use the Ultraviolet filtration process (UV filtration). When exposed to intense UV light, the microbes will be killed by the heat, and we get water that is safe to use for the fish.
If you skip this step, it can result in the fish getting exposed to diseases, says Mr. Yeshu. These filtration processes should be running daily to provide fish with clean water. Also, in this system, aerators play an essential role. As the pangasius species are air breathers, installing aerators in the water tanks requires a need. The aerators are supported by the blowers, which are run by electricity. Mr. Yeshu uses two blowers to help the aeration process on his farm. These blowers are connected through pipes into the tanks.
At the end of these pipes, AirOxy tubes are used. These are circular tubes with nozzles on them from which the air gets released. Per tank, 4 AirOxy tubes are used. The air bubbles released by these tubes flow from bottom to top in the tank. When needed, the fish consumes it for the respiration process. These blowers, as mentioned, are run by electricity and can be controlled by switches for each tank separately.
There is also a pressure indication scale on these blowers, and you have to set the pressure on this scale based on the aeration required for the species you want to grow. Both the bioreactor and the air blowers are supported by a generator in case there is a sudden power cut. For freshly bought fish seeds, protein-rich feed is given until they reach a certain weight, and these are grown in nursery tanks till then.
Nursey tanks are of less size than culture tanks. Shifting from nursery tanks to culture tanks can aid the growth of fish, and we can reduce the harvesting time. So the process of nursery and culture tanks play an essential role in decreasing the harvesting period. Also, the fish will like the sudden change of new environment and more prominent space for them to swim, which help them in providing a stress-free environment. Per every 1000 liters, if you grow 50 kg of fish, you can obtain nearly 5 to 6 tons of fish at the end of the batch.
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And if you grow them in a high-density method in this system, you can obtain nearly 7 to 8 tons of fish at the end of the batch, says Mr. Yeshu. Mr. Yeshu says that the fish produced by the RAS method is nutritious and can grow more weight in less time. These are tasty because they are cultivated in controlled environments and grown totally by the organic method. There is no usage of chemicals in the whole system. This method can also aid in recycling the used water saving high amounts of water for the cultivation of fish.
As the fish are grown in controlled environments, there is no chance of getting exposed to diseases, says Mr. Yeshu. However, if your fish develops diseases while growing, you probably commit some mistakes while filtering the water or not maintaining a proper feed schedule. Furthermore, this method takes only 1.2 kg of feed to attain 1 kg fish, unlike in pond culture, where it takes nearly 1.8 to 2 kg of feed to attain 1 kg fish. Therefore, we can conclude that we can save a high feed cost by developing this method.
Also, the workforce required for the RAS system is very low. You need only three people to harvest a ton of fish in the RAS method, whereas in pond culture, you’ll need nearly 15 people to catch one ton of fish. Furthermore, in the RAS system, you’ll need only 6 or 7 months to harvest a batch, whereas, in pond culture, you’ll need a year to harvest a batch. Therefore, there is no need to fear exposure to losses in this business if everything is properly taken care of. Even if there is something wrong you did while cultivating the fish, you will probably earn back the amount you invested in your farm in no time, says Mr. Yeshu, from his experience.
Marketing and profit analysis of Mr. Yeshu’s farm
There is a common misconception that it takes a lot of investment to cultivate fish by the RAS method. This doesn’t seem right. Only the one-time investment is high in this system, and running cost is very low compared to other fish farming methods, says Mr. Yeshu. When reared by the RAS method, the pangasius fish can be harvested in six months, significantly less time. He invests nearly 4 lakh rupees as the total running cost assuming the high maintenance conditions and sells his pangasius fish at 170 rupees per kg wholesale assuming the low pricing conditions.
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He gets a yield of nearly 6 tons assuming the low yield conditions. When calculated, he is earning an income of almost 10,20,000 rupees per batch. When we eliminate the investment from this income, he gets a profit of nearly 6,20,000 per batch. One batch lasts six months. Hence, when calculated per month, he earns almost 1 lakh rupees per month as a very high-income profit.
In this way, by taking the help of advanced technology, Mr. Yeshu is earning nearly 1 lakh rupees per month as a profit. He suggests that young farmers get into this business as there is more scope for this method in the coming future. He also expresses that the government provides bank loans and special subsidies to help farmers financially enter this advanced venture. So you can take the help of the subsidies to get financial support and gain high profits from RAS fish farming, says Mr. Yeshu.
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