Experimental Uses of Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture

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Project Type: 

Students Involved:

T. Hayden Cronin University of New Hampshire
Tara Fraprie University of New Hampshire
Ian Stelzner University of New Hampshire
Kelsi O'Neil University of New Hampshire

Faculty Advisors:

Larry Harris UNH - Department of Biological Sciences

Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) systems are very important for researchers to expand the large-scale aquaculture industry because it provides valuable biomass and services for waste reduction. These systems show a tremendous increase in sustainability of aquaculture, and can show benefits economically, environmentally and societally. However, aquaculture can cause pollution and disease for single species systems. The idea of IMTA is to eliminate the environmental impacts by integrating several species, each of which can benefit from wastes of others and also be value added for a more diverse group of species so if one crashes, you still have the others to provide a buffer and add more potential for making a profit. The four marine species integrated into the system were Gracilaria spp, Ostrea edulis, Nereis virens, and Centropristis striata. The objectives for this experiment were to maintain a closed re-circulating system with the four marine species, track the growth of Gracilaria spp and N. virens, and to track ammonia uploading versus ammonia uptake. Three re-circulating systems were set up with Tank A in each system containing Gracilaria spp, Tank B contained N. virens and three O. edulis. To maintain a sustainable environment the N. virens were fed every third day, and ammonia, salinity and pH levels were tested daily. To determine growth, weekly weigh-ins were successfully monitored to determine that there was indeed growth in the species. In conclusion, the closed re-circulating system was successful to allow these species to maintain a sustainable life in optimal water quality conditions. Further research can be done to ensure that N. virens will consume C. striata fecal matter, to eliminate the use of TetraMin (the food used to feed N. virens). The Gracilaria spp can take in the ammonia produced by N. virens to allow for a sustainable system. IMTA is beneficial for producers because it adds value to each of the products in the system.


Available from the National Sea Grant Library (use NHU number to search) or NH Sea Grant


  • Experimental uses of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (2013). T. Hayden Cronin, Tara Fraprie, Ian Stelzner and Kelsi O'Neil. Advisor: Larry Harris.