, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 1159-1170
Date: 18 Oct 2011

Evaluation of the giant reed (Arundo donax) in horizontal subsurface flow wetlands for the treatment of recirculating aquaculture system effluent

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access



Two emergent macrophytes, Arundo donax and Phragmites australis, were established in experimental subsurface flow, gravel-based constructed wetlands (CWs) receiving untreated recirculating aquaculture system wastewater.

Materials and methods

The hydraulic loading rate was 3.75 cm day−1. Many of the monitored water quality parameters (biological oxygen demand [BOD], total suspended solids [TSS], total phosphorus [TP], total nitrogen [TN], total ammoniacal nitrogen [TAN], nitrate nitrogen [NO3], and Escherichia coli) were removed efficiently by the CWs, to the extent that the CW effluent was suitable for use on human food crops grown for raw produce consumption under Victorian state regulations and also suitable for reuse within aquaculture systems.

Results and discussion

The BOD, TSS, TP, TN, TAN, and E. coli removal in the A. donax and P. australis beds was 94%, 67%, 96%, 97%, 99.6%, and effectively 100% and 95%, 87%, 95%, 98%, 99.7%, and effectively 100%, respectively, with no significant difference (p > 0.007) in performance between the A. donax and P. australis CWs. In this study, as expected, the aboveground yield of A. donax top growth (stems + leaves) (15.0 ± 3.4 kg wet weight) was considerably more than the P. australis beds (7.4 ± 2.8 kg wet weight). The standing crop produced in this short (14-week) trial equates to an estimated 125 and 77 t  ha−1 year−1 biomass (dry weight) for A. donax and P. australis, respectively (assuming that plant growth is similar across a 250-day (September–April) growing season and a single-cut, annual harvest).


The similarity of the performance of the A. donax- and P. australis-planted beds indicates that either may be used in horizontal subsurface flow wetlands treating aquaculture wastewater, although the planting of A. donax provides additional opportunities for secondary income streams through utilization of the energy-rich biomass produced.

Responsible editor: Elena Maestri