Cage Aquaculture Monitoring


Cage aquaculture developments have opened up new possibilities for cultivation of various fish and other aquatic species in both freshwater and marine environments. Maximizing production, reducing inputs, and minimizing environmental impact all depend on healthy water quality. Real-time monitoring systems deliver the data needed to optimize cage aquaculture operations.

Cage Aquaculture

Compared to pond aquaculture, cage aquaculture is a more recent development. Its origins date back to the late 1800s in freshwater lakes and rivers of Southeast Asia. Since at least the 1960s, marine cage aquaculture has been practiced and has since spread to many countries. Like any form of aquaculture, water quality is of utmost importance.
Maximizing productivity depends heavily on maintaining optimal water quality conditions for the species being cultivated.
Oxygen stress, one of the most common challenges in cage aquaculture, calls for close monitoring and management of dissolved oxygen (DO) levels.
High turbidity conditions can reduce oxygen-producing photosynthesis and potentially have physical impacts on fish such as clogging of gills.
Optimal temperature conditions facilitate growth of cold-blooded fish species and encourage feed consumption and conversion.
Feed loads must be carefully managed to provide adequate supply but avoid excesses that are both costly and can lead to increased nitrogen levels.
Nitrogen in the form of un-ionized ammonia (NH3) is toxic to fish, while overall high nutrient levels can lead to formation of algal blooms.

Typical Cage Aquaculture Monitoring System

Besides simply maximizing growth, maintaining healthy water quality in cage aquaculture can improve the overall health of fish, thereby increasing the resistance to disease and parasites like sea lice. Furthermore, it can minimize the impact on the surrounding environment. Data is essential to understanding water quality, and automated cage aquaculture monitoring systems can be an invaluable resource in keeping oversight.

A typical system consists of an X3 environmental data logger mounted onto the cage or pen structure. The logger is equipped with wireless communications for transmitting real-time data. An AC power supply drives the system if available. Alternatively, an SP-Series solar power pack allows for a completely self-contained system.

The X3 supports many industry-standard sensor types. Water quality sensors are commonly packaged together in multiparameter water quality sondes such as those from YSI, Hydrolab, Eureka, and In-situ. The YSI EXO3s is an example of such an instrument which delivers most of the important water quality parameters in a relatively cost-effective package.

The WQData LIVE web datacenter receives data in near real-time and is the platform for data management and remote logger controls. The rich feature set of WQData LIVE includes many options for viewing, manipulating, reporting and exporting data, as well as configurable alert and alarm notifications that inform personnel immediately upon recording out of range measurements.

With multiple sensor ports, the X3 supports system expansion with weather stations, current meters and many other sensor types. Profiling strings can be used to deploy many sensors at different depths, while buoy-based deployments facilitate sensor placement at virtually any location inside or outside of cages.

Contact a NexSens Applications Engineer today to discuss your cage aquaculture monitoring application.

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