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By Chia Boon Tat, Angelito O. Abaoag

Bionovar International
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In aquaculture, the success of a prawn farming endeavor is determined by the ability of the farmer to produce on a consistent basis, high tonnage of tasty prawns in the shortest period of time possible and at the lowest costs. To achieve this, the three most important factors that the farmer must consider are:

  • Maintenance of a conducive and sustainable pond environment;

  • Control of pathogens and prevention of disease outbreak;

  • Optimization of growth rates and feed consumption.

Unfortunately, many aqua-farmers including the best of them, are not able to control the 3 above factors, mainly because of the complex dynamics inherent in aquatic pond management and also because of the pollution of water sources and the pond environment. The continuing research on techniques and alternative technologies, such as application of probiotics, to control the factors affecting production,  had been on-going for decades. But like the proverbial cancer that is the scourge of mankind for centuries, the problems of aquaculture can only be solved with a “disruption in the cycle of thoughts”. BioSEA, or Biological Sustainable Enhanced Aquaculture, is one such disruptive technology. It is a robust system which harnesses the efficacy of microbial systems and combines it with best practices in aqua farming, to control the key success factors affecting production and helps the aqua-farmers to overcome the inherent constraints in today's farming systems.



The system for Biological Sustainable Enhanced Aquaculture, or BioSEA for short, is a systematic stimulation of bacterial-algal interaction to sustain an ecosystem balance in an aquatic pond to provide a dynamic environment for the enhanced growth of prawn, and this is achieved through an intermittent introduction of nutrient, aeration and appropriate mixture of microbial formulations.



BioSEA essentially integrates two groups of solutions to control the critical success factors for aqua-farming: the biological and physical solution groups. The following paragraphs will explain how these two solutions groups integrate to provide effective solutions and outcomes. BioSEA requires basic aqua-farming facilities such as earthen ponds and reservoirs. There is no requirement for expensive special infrastructure such as concrete ponds, linings, sludge removal & treatment systems, intensive water circulations systems, and so on. In essence, it deploys a system with very little water exchange and minimal water circulation. The BioSEA system does not deploy chemicals nor antibiotics. For this reason, cultures from the BioSEA system are free of chemical residue.



The pond environment can be characterized by physio-chemcial properties such as pH, temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen level, ammonia compound levels, metal levels and so on.  Different types of cultures require different optimal pond conditions and these conditions are readily documented in literature on aquauculture. The challenge to the aqua-farmer is to be able to maintain the pond conditions within the optimal bounds throughout the growout cycle. The task is challenging because:

  • the water source is often contaminated with pollutants such as detergent, fertilizer, pesticides, chemicals, metals and others. The water source also contains pathogens and carriers of diseases;

  • as the days of culture increase, the amount of organic load increases resulting in pollution of the water; 

  • to overcome the pollution, the farmer is obliged to change water and this in turn may introduce disease and other pollution into the system. without water change, the pond ecology is unsustainable and will eventually crash leading to death of the cultures.

BioSEA overcomes these problems with a combination of biological and physical measures.

Biological measures for maintaining conducive and sustainable pond environment

The efficacy of microbial formulations are harnessed to remove both organic and inorganic pollutants in the water column and pond bottom. When properly applied, the pond environment remains conducive throughout the growout period which can be sustained indefinitely. In particular, there is little or no sludge accummulation in the ponds thus doing away with the need for a sludge removal system. The microbial formulations used and their functions are as follow:  

  • BioGreen. This product contains microorganisms that have the capacity to degrade organic pollutants suspended in the water column. Its functions to degrade nutrients, break down solids and enhance flocculation, out compete other organisms which do not contribute to the well being of the pond and transform dissolved minerals and metals through bio-chemcial processes.

  • BioSoil. This product contains microorganisms that have the capacity to degrade organic pollutants in the sediment at the pond bottom. Its functions are to degrade nutrients, transform ion potentials and oxidize minerals and metals.

  • BioClean. This product contains microorganisms that has the capacity to degrade, neutralize or transform organic and inorganic compounds such as metals, fertilizers, pesticides, hydrocarbons, and so on.

Specific algae species are selected and cultivated for their usefulness. They are then mass produced and introduced into the reservoirs and grow-out ponds on a regular basis. Algae inoculation helps to maintain healthy pond environment and in particular, ensure sufficient oxygen levels in the pond water and provides a constant source of natural food for the prawns. Algal inoculation is particularly important for zero water exchange systems and/or closed water circulation systems to function efficiently.

The combined microbial and algae inoculation is used to stimulate and maintain flocculation (also known as "bio-flocs") in the grow-out ponds. These particles are very important as they are an important protein food source for the prawns. The ability to maintain the bio-flocs throughout the grow-out cycle results in low feed costs and a less polluted pond environment.

Physical measures for maintaining conducive and sustainable pond environment

Aeration recommendations are 12 to 16 horse power per hectare of grow-out pond for the 1:4 or 1:5 ratio recommendation for the closed water circulation system. In traditional farms, physical aeration is done mainly by surface paddling as most farmers are afraid to disturb the accumulated sludge at the bottom of the pond. In the BioSEA approach, the microbial treatment leaves little sludge or no sludge at the pond bottom. Water agitation is therefore recommended as this significantly increases oxygen diffusion and the overall oxygenation of the water. BioSEA recommends water aeration through a combination of vortex pumps and paddlewheels as this helps to even further reduce the power consumption needed for aeration.




Nutrient management is important to ensure timely and healthy growth of the prawns. The basic principle of nutrient management in BioSEA is to increase nutrient absorption and transformation of feeds by the cultured prawns.

Biological Measures for Nutrient Management

In the BioSEA system, prawn are fed with feeds fortified with specially formulated probiotics and natural boosters.  Two types of feeds are recommended:

  • FefoPro. This product contains feeds fortified with microorganisms that have the capacity to provide enzymes and other compounds to degrade and increase the absorption of nutrients in the body of the prawn.

  • FefoBoost. This product contains feeds fortified with natural boosters and microorganisms that have the capacity to ensure the successful culturing of giant prawns. These natural boosters enable the prawns to obtain the required protein to continue steady growth rates while ensuring high survival rates and economically viable feed conversion ratios.

Physical Measures for Nutrient Management

Feeding protocols are implemented to minimize wastage of feeds.



In the past decade, the aquaculture industry had been adversely affected by viral pandemics such as the White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) and Taura syndrome virus (TSV). In 2000, the aquaculture industry suffered an estimated loss of over $1 billion due to the outbreak of WSSV. WSSV and TSV have been and continue to be significant impediments to the development and sustainability of the aquaculture industry.

It is therefore of utmost importance that a health management and biosecurity strategy be incorporated into BioSEA. Biosecurity is a term used in the animal industry to describe preventive measures taken against any infectious disease outbreaks. measures are important to ensure that the culture stays free of disease outbreaks. In the BioSEA system, the biosecurity measures may be grouped into biological and physical components.

Biological Measures for Health Management and Biosecurity

Using a proprietary microbial formulation called BioCure which contains microorganisms that have the capacity to provide enzymes and other compounds to boost immune response and resistance to environmental stress, pathogens and disease. BioCure has shown efficacy in controlling outbreaks of all the major prawn diseases including the white spot syndrome disease.

Using specific pathogen free (SPF) prawns. The use of SPF prawns is mandatory in order to maintain biosecurity. 

Physical Measures for Health Management and Biosecurity

The water is the source of many pathogens and its vectors. Therefore, the water used for the culturing of prawns must be carefully treated and managed. The various aspects of water management are:

  • Water filtration and disinfection. Filtration and treatment of the water source with microbial formulations drastically reduce the number of pathogens that are carried in the water.

  • Zero water exchange with the outside. Zero water exchange reduces the exposure of the culture to incoming diseases. This is possible in the BioSEA system as the pond and reservoir environment are treated and maintained by microbial formulations (see Maintaining a conducive and sustainable pond environment).

  • Closed water circulation. The concept of closed water circulation or closed re-circulating water system is nothing new but the current industrial practice is inefficient and costly. Most systems today require a one-to-one exchange, that is, in order to have a workable closed water system, there must be one unit of water reservoir for every unit of grow-out pond. This results in  a very costly system with poor return on the invested land. In the BioSEA approach, a ratio of 1:5 or 1:4 is recommended. This means that only one unit of reservoir is needed for every 4 or 5 units of grow-out ponds.

  • Treatment of sediment. Pond bottoms are treated by microbial formulations to prevent formation of sludge which is fertile ground for the proliferation of pathogens and their carriers. 

  • Algae seeding. The above water treatment protocols generally result in the removal of algae from the system. In particular, operating a zero water exchange system greatly reduces the availability of fresh algae seeds from the system. As a result, it is necessary to mass produce specific types of useful algae and introduce them into the grow-out system.

Movement of wild animals, personnel and equipment is restricted and subjected to rigorous protocols and processes. This is to prevent the transfer of pathogens from one area of the farm to another.

Prawns are regularly sampled during the growout period for health and disease monitoring. Health monitoring is carried visually and tested for diseases in cases of doubt. Today, there is available in the market, diagnostic PCR-based test kits which allow for instant, onsite detection of viral infection such as WSSV and TSV. Such kits are an integral part of the biosecurity measure. 


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Revised: 29-07-2008.