Daphnia magna as biological harvesters for green microalgae grown on recirculated aquaculture system effluents

Stanley A. Gorzelnik, Xinyu Zhu, Irini Angelidaki, Marja Koski, Borja Valverde-Pérez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The sustainability of recycling aquaculture systems (RAS) is challenged by nutrient discharges, which cause water eutrophication. Efficient treatments for RAS effluents are needed to mitigate its environmental impacts. Microalgae assimilate nutrients and dissolved carbon into microbial biomass with value as feed or food ingredient. However, they are difficult to harvest efficiently. Daphnia magna is an efficient filter feeder that grazes on microalgae at high rates and serves as valuable fish feed. Combining nutrient removal by microalgae and biomass harvesting by D. magna could be a cost-effective solution for wastewater valorization. Nutrient removal from unsterilized aquaculture wastewater was evaluated using the microalgae species Chlorella vulgaris, Scenedesmus dimorphus, and Haematococcus pluvialis. The first two algae were subsequently harvested using D. magna as a grazer, while H. pluvialis failed to grow stably. All phosphorus was removed, while only 50–70 % nitrogen was recovered, indicating phosphorus limitation. Shortening hydraulic retention time (HRT) or phosphorus dosing resulted in increased nitrogen removal. C. vulgaris cultivation was unstable at 3 days HRT or when supplied with extra phosphorus at 5 days HRT. D. magna grew on produced algae accumulating protein at 20–30 % of dry weight, with an amino acid profile favorable for use as high value fish feed. Thus, this study demonstrates the application of a two steps multitrophic process to assimilate residual nutrients into live feeds suitable for fish feeding.
Original languageEnglish
Article number162247
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Microbial feeds
  • Microbial protein
  • Nutrient removal and recovery
  • Ricirculating aquaculture system (RAS)
  • End-of-pipe treatment
  • Circular economy


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