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Redox stratification drives enhanced growth in a commercially important deposit-feeding invertebrate: implications for aquaculture bioremediation technologies

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Georgi Robinson, Dr Gary Caldwell, Dr Matthew Slater, Professor Selina Stead



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Effective and affordable treatment of waste solids is a key sustainability challenge for the aquaculture industry. Here, we investigated the potential for a deposit feeding sea cucumber, Holothuria scabra, to provide a remediation service whilst concurrently yielding a high value secondary product in a land-based recirculating aquaculture system (RAS). The effect of sediment depth, particle size and redox regime were examined in relation to changes in the behaviour, growth and biochemical composition of juvenile sea cucumbers cultured for eighty-one days in manipulated sediment systems, describing either fully oxic or stratified (oxic-anoxic) redox regimes. The redox regime was the principal factor affecting growth, biochemical composition and behaviour while substrate depth and particle size did not significantly affect growth rate or biomass production. Animals cultured under fully oxic conditions exhibited negative growth and had higher lipid and carbohydrate contents indicating sub-optimal feeding conditions. In contrast, animals in the stratified treatments spent more time feeding, generated faster growth and produced significantly higher biomass yields (626.89 ± 35.44 g/m2 versus 449.22 ± 14.24 g/m2.) Further, unlike in oxic treatments, growth in the stratified treatments did not reach maximum biomass carrying capacity, indicating that stratified sediment is more suitable for culturing sea cucumbers. However, the stratified sediments may exhibit reduced bioremediation ability relative to the oxic sediment signifying a trade-off between remediation efficiency and exploitable biomass yield.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Robinson G, Caldwell GS, Jones CLW, Slater MJ, Stead SM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Aquaculture Environment Interactions

Year: 2015

Volume: 8

Pages: 1-13

Online publication date: 14/12/2015

Acceptance date: 26/10/2015

Date deposited: 30/10/2015

ISSN (print): 1869-215X

ISSN (electronic): 1869-7534

Publisher: Inter-Research


DOI: 10.3354/aei00158


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Funder referenceFunder name
BB/J01141X/1Bio technology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Industrial CASE Studentship
TP2011070800007THRIP program of the National Research Foundation, South Africa