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Using Golf Balls in Aquaculture

January 29, 2013

Introducing a new take on the meaning of 'Ball Washer'! An article in the October 2012 issue of the North American Journal of Aquaculture (NAJA), published by the American Fisheries Society, describes an offbeat and interesting use of golf balls in aquaculture.

Circular rearing tanks are widely used in aquaculture to hold and raise fish. These tanks are made to allow water to enter in a circular flow pattern, which then exits out through fine-meshed bottom screens that allows waste to exit with the water, while at the same time keep fish from escaping. The maximum velocity used to clean the tank sufficiently, can be too strong for fish to grow and survive. Plus, screens need to be cleaned daily with a brush, which disturbs the waste, causing it to rise, releasing compounds in the water that are harmful to fish. And if a lab has multiple tanks, the process is time-consuming! What to do?

A rather fortuitous incident at an aquaculture facility resulted in several golf balls being chipped into one of these tanks. The scientists decided to leave the balls in, and began to notice that they rolled around on the top of the screens in a perpetual motion, crushing entrained feces and waste food, which then exited the tanks. To their surprise, this tank required much less cleaning than nearby tanks without golf balls. Golf balls typically require replacement after 6 months – leaving the time that used to be preserved for daily cleaning, for, perhaps, more chipping!

• James R. Irvine & Harley Gaetz (2012): Using Golf Balls to Keep Screens Clean in Circular Rearing Tanks, North American Journal of Aquaculture, 74:4, 584-585

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