A novel computer simulation model for design and management of re-circulating aquaculture systems

Ilan Halachmi, Yitzchak Simon, Rami Guetta, Eric M. Hallerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to develop a simulation model for finding the optimal layout and management regime for a re-circulating aquaculture system (RAS). The work plan involved: (1) quantifying the effects of fish growth and management practices on production; (2) developing a mathematical simulation model for the RAS, taking into account all factors that directly influence system profitability; and (3) estimating the production costs and, hence, the profitability of an RAS. The resulting model is process-oriented, following the flow of fish through the RAS facility, and generates an animated graphic representation of the processes through which the fish passes as it progress through the system. The simulation assesses the performance in terms of yearly turnover, stocking density, tank utilization and biomass in process, and uses statistics to track the state of the RAS and record changes that affect efficiency. The economic impact of system design and operation was modeled to enable a user to anticipate how changes in design or operating practices, costs of inputs, or price of products affect system profitability. The proposed approach overcomes difficulties in characterizing RAS design and operation. The simulation approach allows all of the RAS's components such as equipment, biological processes (e.g., fish growth), and management practices to be evaluated jointly, so that an initial design can be fine-tuned to produce an optimized system and management regime suited to a specific fish farm within a reasonable time. The methodology was executed step-by-step to design an optimal RAS that meets both economic and stocking-density limits. Optimal design specifications were presented for several case studies based on data from Kibbutz Sde Eliahu's RAS, in which Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) are raised in 20 concrete raceways. Further research should include more extensive testing and validation of the integrated model, which then should be disseminated to the aquaculture community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-464
Number of pages22
JournalAquacultural Engineering
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Computer simulation
  • Intensive aquaculture
  • Operations research
  • Re-circulating aquaculture systems (RAS)
  • Tilapia


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