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Biofloc Farming Information Guide

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Biofloc Fish Farming

India is well known for its culture and every culture has different eating habits. The people are very fond of eating and their dietary habits include lots of fibre, proteins, minerals and various nutrient supplements. Fishes are one such source of food that contains the necessary proteins and minerals and the supply of fishes to the vendors is done through Aquaculture and Captured fisheries.

Aquaculture production has a large contribution towards the food sources in India and India is the leading country and the major contributor of Aquaculture to the whole nation. Indian fisheries is the most important food production sector as it not only provides nutrition security but it also contributes to the agricultural export and provides livelihood to almost 15 million people in the country.

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There is a huge consumption of fish products in the country due to which there is a continuous increment in the production of the fishes and this contributes to 1.1 % of the GDP and 5.1 % of the agriculture GDP of our country.

Due to the high consumption of fishes there is a need for high productivity and sustainable fish farming in the fisheries industry but the price and water pollution contributes to certain disease outbreaks becoming a challenge to the industry so the farmers need to develop certain methods which would help them overcome this challenge and could increase their productivity.

Biofloc fish farming is one such available method that is helping the fish farmers to get high production at a low cost with sustainable growth and getting better income opportunities in less area and less maintenance cost.

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Can you produce about 1200 fish in a pond of 0.5 cents area, without changing the water often ? It’s not possible, Right!

But You can do this with Biofloc Technology.

We will learn more about Biofloc Fish Farming in this article. So let’s begin.

What is Biofloc Fish Farming?

Biofloc Technology is a technique of fish farming which is a sustainable and environment friendly process working for the control of water quality and harmful pathogens, providing value added creation of the microbial protein feed for the aquatic animals.

This technique was introduced to promote intensive fish production in a limited area. Biofloc systems recycle the nutrients by converting the unused feed and the waste organic matter of the fishes into food sources using probiotics and carbon sources and works as a substitute to open pond fish farming preventing the diseases into the water.

There is a huge demand for Aquaculture in India and it contributes to over 6% of global fish production mainly from the dependence on fish foods and fish oils. But Aquaculture puts a lot of pressure on the environment by discharging waste materials into the water bodies.

This problem is solved with the help of Biofloc Technology which is an intensive fish farming method as it controls the quality of water producing foods rich in protein and nutrition for the aquatic animals. It is a profitable and wastewater treatment method.

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Need for Biofloc Technology

Fishery is one of the biggest food sources in the world and there is a huge consumption of fish products with a great demand for fish oil. Also, fishery is one of the biggest sources of employment. The demand for fish cannot not be fulfilled by the traditional methods of farming because the fishing industry requires innovative and efficient methods of farming so as to promote a sustainable environment.

Traditional farming is an expensive method which becomes hard for the poor farmers where the farmers need to supply nutrient rich material to the water for enhancing the growth of algae and other organic matter.

Biofloc Technology converts Nitrogen into bacterial biomass which helps in converting the toxic materials into useful products and acts as a retention belt for nutrients in the pond which also helps in the reduction of maintenance cost, thus proving to be a cheap and affordable technology.

Biofloc also reduces water pollution and the risk of diseases and spreading of pathogens. It reduces the utilisation of protein rich feed and cost of standard feed, increasing productivity. This technology maintains the water quality resulting in increased production of fish and it works best with those species that can derive the nutritional advantage by consuming the frock directly and who can tolerate high solute concentration in water and who can tolerate poor water quality as well.

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Composition & Nutritional value of Biofloc

Biofloc is composed of suspended particles and microorganisms that are associated with the extracellular polymeric substances. These microorganisms are bacteria, algae, fungi, invertebrates and detritus which are protein rich live feed that are created as a result of the conversion of unused feed and excreta of the fishes into Natural food in the biofloc culture system when they are exposed to sunlight.

Each floc is jointly held in a loose matrix of mucus that are secreted by bacteria and are bounded by filamentous microorganisms or electrostatic attraction. The size of the floc ranges from 50 to 200 microns.

Mostly, they are microscopic and the large flocks can be seen with the naked eye. Biofloc is composed of good nutritional value where the dry weight protein ranges from 25 to 50% and fat ranges from 0.5 to 15 %. It has a good source of vitamins and minerals, mainly Phosphorus which has a similar effect to probiotics. The dried biofloc is an ingredient for replacing the fish meal or soybean in the feed.

Feeding of Fishes

Feeding is an essential part of fish farming and the regular amount of feed is very important for the growth and development of the fishes. Food for the fishes are expensive and wastage of foods becomes a loss for farmers.

Traditional fish farming methods have a lot of wastage as the fishes consume little amount of feed supplied to them in the water and the wasted feed degrades and turns into toxic materials which pollutes the water and affects the surrounding environment as well.

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But in the Biofloc fish farming system, the feed that gets wasted or the fish excreta in the water is converted into useful feed that is again consumed by the fish itself. Microorganisms, fungi, algae etc. combine to form a biofloc which absorbs inorganic waste that enhances the quality of water and this also solves the problem of water pollution. Moreover, the farmers save money by this method.

Diseases in Fishes

There are a lot of disease outbreaks due to the exposure of pathogens and toxic organics produced by the food wastes and water pollution which kills the fishes there that costs a lot to the fish farmers leading them a huge financial loss.

Also, the farmers need to replace the polluted water with fresh water very often. But with the biofloc system the probiotics or microbes promote specific immunity in the species like the shrimps which reduces the pathogenic bacteria.

The water exchange system and the related operational costs that is required in Open pond fish farming method is also avoided here, so we can say that biofloc fish farming is a sustainable and cost effective method for farming and it also provides maximum productivity leading to the growth of the fisheries industry.

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Working of Biofloc System

Biofloc system works in the following steps:

Step 1: Setting up of the biofloc pond

The first step for cultivation is setting up of a perfect location where the farming could be done, so for fish farming a perfect place is chosen for setting the tank or pond where the cultivation would take place and it requires many factors like position of the sunlight, temperature of the place, proper ventilation etc.

So that proper growth could take place. Always remember to line up with some protective layer such as concrete if you are working with pond rather than a tank because there is an influence of soil on the water content and the soil is rich in heavy metals such as Arsenic, Methyl mercury, Selenium and Cadmium, and sometimes there are residues of fertilisers as well, which could harm the fishes so it is better to go with the tank rather than a pond.

Step 2: Aeration

The second important step of biofloc is installing the aerators that are the components of the system are responsible for maintaining the entropy of the suspended particles such as algae, bacteria, protozoa which are the foods for the fishes and it also helps in maintaining the optimal oxygen distribution throughout the tank or pond so as to prevent the formation of anaerobic zones which would promote the formation of Methane and Ammonium.

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Step 3: Selection of species

The other major step of this process is the selection of species. In a biofloc system almost every species of fishes can be cultivated due to the improved culture water quality but some species like catfish and barbs faces difficulty in culture water because of the higher solid suspended particle which makes the water too murky for them to effectively grow but this could be solved by understanding different parameters such as the species and their requirement, the location, equipments etc. and then accordingly select the best possible species for your farm.

Step 4: Optimization of Carbon & Nitrogen

The major component of a Biofloc is Heterotrophic bacteria who consumes the Ammonia produced in the system and converts it into protein which are again consumed back by the fishes. The Nitrogen content in the system increases in case of any damage or system malfunction and in that case it starts to form Ammonia or Nitrogen compounds which could become very toxic for the flocs there.

The carbon in the carbohydrates allows the autotrophic bacteria to multiply which synthesises Ammonia, maintaining the quality of water so optimisation of carbon is a significant step and it is advised to select only carbon sources and feed the mixture with Carbon to Nitrogen ratio above 10 as it would favour the growth of the heterotrophic bacteria.

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The materials which contain simple sugars or which could break down quickly can be used like molasses, cassava, hay, sugarcane or starch, as the feed. This step should be repeated if the ammonia peaks at later stages of the production process and controlling the formation of ammonia is considered to be one of the hardest steps so as to successfully implement the biofloc principles.

Step 5: Biofloc Growth

After all the above steps, this step is the beginning of the cultivation process where the seeds are planted for different algae, bacteria, protozoa into the culture water with a few probiotics which enhances the process of cultivation and in a few weeks the number of flocs in the system increases to four to five per millilitre.

Step 6: Monitoring, Harvest, and Clean-up

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The pond water should be monitored regularly by regularly collecting the water sample. As the stock and the feeding values increases, the water becomes brown and once it has turned brown in colour, aerators should be significantly increased so as to sustain the respiration rate. The aerators and the power system require good maintenance and monitoring.

The performance of the farm stock, the growth rate, overall appearance, FCR and stock survival should be essentially monitored. Also, the cleanup and pond setup after harvest is very important because it can build up heavy metals in the culture water which can be harmful for the stock.

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Growth Performance in Biofloc Fishes

The performance of fishes i.e their length and weight are measured at an interval of 15 days by weighing 10 fishes at a time. They are starved for an overnight before the sampling and then the total body length of the fishes were measured using a measurement scale and electronic weighing balance to measure the body weight of the fishes.

Different types of growth parameters like specific growth rate (SGR), percentage weight gain (PWG), feed conversion ratio (FCR), protein efficiency ratio (PER), Biomass and survival are then measured.

SGR% = [(loge Final weight – loge Initial weight)/Number of days] × 100

PWG% = [(Final weight – Initial weight)/Initial weight] × 100

FCR = Feed given (dry weight)/ Body weight gain (wet weight)

PER = Body weight gain (wet weight)/crude protein fed

Survival% = (Total No. of Harvested animal/Total No. of stocked animal) × 100

Benefits of Biofloc System

The various benefits of installing a biofloc system are:

  • It is an eco-friendly culture system that reduces environmental impact on aquatic culture.
  • It helps in improving land and water use efficiency.
  • It has a limited or zero water exchange.
  • It has a high productivity by enhancing the survival rate, growth performance and feed conversion.
  • It has a higher biosecurity and enhances health rates.
  • It reduces water pollution by reducing the risk of introducing or spreading of pathogens.
  • It is a cost effective system.
  • It reduces the use of protein rich feed and the related costs.
  • It reduces the pressure on capture fisheries.
  • It uses cheaper food fish and trash fish feed formulation.

Limitations of a Biofloc System

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Apart from its benefits, it has certain limitations as well. They are:

  • It reduces the response time due to elevated water respiration rates.
  • It has seasonal and inconsistent performance for sunlight exposed systems.
  • It requires alkaline supplements.
  • It increases the energy requirement for mixing and variation.
  • It requires a startup period.
  • It increases pollution potential due to nitrate accumulation.
  • It increases the instability of nitrification.


Biofloc is a budget friendly and an innovative technology where the toxic materials are converted into proteinaceous food and it offers good benefits improving the aquaculture production that contributes to the achievement of sustainable development goals.

Biofloc is focused as a very useful alternative protein for fish meal which is mainly produced in the form of microbial meal and at the forefront many people have invested in this method and have earned heavily from it as it has improved rate of production and profit.

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It also takes less time and effort to raise the fishes which means that more fishes can be raised multiple times in a limited time so we can say that biofloc technique is beneficial in rearing and raising fish. According to Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO), they have predicted that the current level of a precipitate consumption of Aquatic food is necessary to uphold the increase in global population and due to this the world would need an additional 23 million tonnes of seafood by 2020 and it is expected that this demand could be met by aquaculture and is estimated to contribute around 93.2 million metric tonnes by 2030 and to increase aquaculture yields, the country needs additional resources.


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