Aquaculture Magazine

February / March 2014

Aquaculture Engineering

By Dallas Weaver

I would like to introduce myself and some of my approaches to the problems of aquaculture, and also address what I hope to cover in this column in the future. 

I came to aquaculture with a background in Applied Science/Engineering. From my Ph.D. studies in Applied Science (physics, chemistry and thermodynamics), I evolved into an environmental scientist working with gas, liquid, solid and hazardous wastes. In the early 70’s, little was known about recycled aquaculture, and my background as someone who knew a little about a lot of areas enabled me to contribute to the foundations of the field. I designed, built and operated a recycle hatchery, which produced high value product for the ornamental fish and research animal markets at a rate of about 20+ million fish/yr. Building on my initial hatchery; I redesigned and built a new hatchery in 1992 incorporating a highly automated computer control system to produce fresh, brackish and marine animals. Since 2005, I have been a semi-retired consultant working on aquaculture and industrial water pollution problems that I find interesting.
One overall theme of this column will be how all parts of a physical aquaculture system are fully interrelated in determining the overall performance and the risk of failure, including the biological components, modes of operation and biosecurity practices. I view successful aquaculture not as having any critical “proprietary” component, but rather a thousand insignificant things that must be executed flawlessly. Aquaculture, unlike many other businesses, has no recall; when what is produced dies, it is dead.
My primary focus is on closed and semi-closed water system aquaculture, leaving the low density flow-through raceways and open ocean net pen systems to experts in those fields. The concept of closed and semi-closed water systems includes recycle systems and pond type system and all the variations in between. The performance of ponds and recycle systems are greatly determined by what is happening with the microbiological ecology of the systems, so this will be a recurring theme.
Aquaculture engineering is not a single subject field. It combines civil, structural, geological, sanitary, electrical/electronic, and chemical engineering knowledge along with biological knowledge, including microbiology. Consequently, this column will cover a wide variety of areas tied to aquaculture directly and indirectly. Future columns will follow from particular research papers, and others will tie together interrelated concepts.

Dallas  Weaver

Dallas Weaver

Dallas E. Weaver has a Ph.D. in Applied Science from the University of California at Davis. He also has a Professional Engineer Licence.

After graduation, Dr. Weaver began working for several engineering/consulting companies in the fields of air pollution, liquid wastes, and solid wastes until 1980, when aquaculture became his main interest. Since 1973, Dr. Weaver began designing and building closed aquaculture systems with the intent of creating the technology necessary to build a business that could compete with existing Asian tropical fish producers. As part of this business plan, he began conducting research on water treatment systems for aquaculture and was able to explore a number of different possible approaches, thus creating several innovations such as fine media fluidized bed biofilters for both waste treatment and aquaculture, the application of packed column re-aeration, the use of pure oxygen systems with feedback control, the design, development and use of automated feeding systems and the use of low cost lime-based pH feedback control systems, among many others. Today Dallas is semi-retired; he’s the Owner/President of Scientific Hatcheries. He works as an aquaculture consultant, especially in the aquatic environments, aquatic chemistry, water treatment, hazardous waste biological destruction systems and similar topics. He is part of many organizations such as the Marine Conservation Research Institute (Board), the Aquaculture Engineering Society, the Editorial Board for Aquaculture Engineering Journal, and the World Aquaculture Society through the American Fisheries Society.

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