The Environmentalist

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 287–302

Nitrogen recovery in an integrated system for wastewater treatment and tilapia production

  • Saber A. El-Shafai
  • Fatma A. El-Gohary
  • Fayza A. Naser
  • P. van der Steen
  • Huub J. Gijzen
Nitrogen recovery in an integrated system for wastewater treatment and tilapia production


An integrated system, consisting of Up-flow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB)-duckweed-tilapia ponds was used for recovery of sewage nutrients and water recycling. A UASB reactor with 40 liter working volume was used as pre-treatment unit followed by a series of three duckweed ponds for nitrogen recovery. The treated effluent and duckweed biomass was used to feed fishponds stocked with Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). The UASB reactor was fed with raw, domestic sewage at 6 h hydraulic retention time. The three duckweed ponds were stocked with Lemna gibba and fed with UASB effluent at 15 days hydraulic retention time. Nitrogen recovery from UASB effluent via duckweed biomass represented 81% of total nitrogen removal and 46.5% from the total nitrogen input to the system. In subsequent fishponds the nitrogen recovery from duckweed as fish feed was in the range of 13.4–20%. This nitrogen in fish biomass represented 10.6–11.5 g N from the total nitrogen in the raw sewage fed to the UASB reactor. The growth performance of tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) showed specific growth rates (SGR) in the range of 0.53–0.97. The range of feed conversion ratio (FCR) and protein efficiency ratio (PER) were 1.2–2.2 and 2.1–2.28, respectively. The results of the experiments showed total fish yield and net fish yield in the range of 17–22.8 ton/ha/y and 11.8–15.7 ton/ha/y respectively. In conclusion UASB-duckweed-tilapia ponds provide marketable by-products in the form of duckweed and fish protein, which represent a cost recovery for sewage treatment.


Domestic wastewater Nutrients recovery UASB-duckweed ponds Tilapia aquaculture Treatment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Saber A. El-Shafai
    • 1
  • Fatma A. El-Gohary
    • 1
  • Fayza A. Naser
    • 1
  • P. van der Steen
    • 2
  • Huub J. Gijzen
    • 2
  1. 1.Water Pollution Control DepartmentNational Research CentreDokkiEgypt
  2. 2.Environmental Resources DepartmentUNESCO-IHE Institute for Water EducationDelftThe Netherlands

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