The potential of fish production based on periphyton
- Cite this article as:
- van Dam, A.A., Beveridge, M.C., Azim, M.E. et al. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries (2002) 12: 1. doi:10.1023/A:1022639805031
Periphyton is composed of attached plant andanimal organisms embedded in amucopolysaccharide matrix. This reviewsummarizes research on periphyton-based fishproduction and on periphyton productivity andingestion by fish, and explores the potentialof developing periphyton-based aquaculture.Important systems with periphyton arebrush-parks in lagoon areas and freshwaterponds with maximum extrapolated fish productionof 8 t ha−1 y−1 and 7 t ha−1y−1, respectively. Experiments with avariety of substrates and fish species havebeen done, sometimes with supplemental feeding.In most experiments, fish production wasgreater with additional substrates compared tocontrols without substrates. Colonization ofsubstrates starts with the deposition oforganic substances and attraction of bacteria,followed by algae and invertebrates. Afterinitial colonization, biomass density increasesto a maximum when competition for light andnutrients prevents a further increase. Often,more than 50% of the periphyton ash-free drymatter is of non-algal origin. Highest biomass(dm) in natural systems ranges from 0 to 700g m−2 and in aquaculture experiments wasaround 100 g m−2. Highest productivity wasfound on bamboo in brush-parks (7.9 gC m−2 d−1) and on coral reefs (3 gC m−2 d−1). Inorganic and organicnutrients stimulate periphyton production.Grazing is the main factor determiningperiphyton density, while substrate type alsoaffects productivity and biomass. Better growthwas observed on natural (tree branches andbamboo) than on artifical materials (plasticand PVC). Many herbivorous and omnivorous fishcan utilize periphyton. Estimates of periphytoningestion by fish range from 0.24 to 112 mg dm(g fish)−1 d−1. Ingestion rates areinfluenced by temperature, fish size, fishspecies and the nutritional quality of theperiphyton. Periphyton composition is generallysimilar to that of natural feeds in fishponds,with a higher ash content due to the entrapmentof sand particles and formation of carbonates.Protein/Metabolizable Energy (P/ME) ratios ofperiphyton vary from 10 to 40 kJ g−1.Overall assimilation efficiency of fish growingon periphyton was 20–50%. The limited work onfeed conversion ratios resulted in valuesbetween 2 and 3. A simple simulation model ofperiphyton-based fish production estimates fishproduction at approximately 2.8 t ha−1y−1. Together with other food resources infishponds, total fish production with thecurrent technology level is estimated at about5 t ha−1 y−1. Because grazingpressure is determined by fish stocking rates,productivity of periphyton is currently themain factor limiting fish production. Weconclude that periphyton can increase theproductivity and efficiency of aquaculturesystems, but more research is needed foroptimization. Areas for attention include theimplementation and control of periphytonproduction (nutrient levels, substate types andconformations), the ratio of fish to periphytonbiomass, options for utilizing periphyton inintensive aquaculture systems and with marinefish, and possibilities for periphyton-basedshrimp culture.