ACOUSTICS IN AQUARIUMS
Do acoustics change in a contained environment such as aquaculture systems? Aquarium acoustics is dedicated to researching this question. Pumps and blowers in an aquarium can produce frequencies and sound levels within the perceptible range of most underwater animals, including fish. The effects of underwater noise on marine life are still under investigation; however, the research that does exist suggests that negative outcomes may include lower growth rates, damage to the auditory system, and higher rates of stress.
Keeping Sound Pressure Low in an Artificial Environment
The aquaculture industry has a vested interest in reducing sound levels in contained tanks. The results could lead to higher production and lower costs. One study in particular was effective at demonstrating the benefits of reducing aquatic acoustics levels. After retrofitting underwater tanks, the researchers recorded lower levels of sound. Combining a variety of retrofits resulted in a reduction in aquatic sound pressure of up to four times more than without the modifications.
The tank retrofits were inexpensive, straightforward, and applicable to many existing aquaculture systems. Moreover, the designs were easily incorporated into new aquaculture tanks.
The researchers used a variety of structural alterations: insulated effluent, disconnected effluent, and suspended inlet. These tanks showed the greatest sound reductions in underwater sound. The alterations impacted the sound transmission pathways, thus leading to lower levels of underwater noise.
Positive Results from Small Modifications
The study showed that noise levels in contained aquacultures could clearly be significantly lowered through structural alterations when those modifications targeted the sound transmission pathways. Specifically, the study eliminated the contact between effluent piping and PVC inlet with the tank itself, which provided the major reason for lower noise levels. The researchers concluded that PVC piping conducts underwater sound efficiently, thus modifying the design produced positive results.
Additional Studies Show Promise for Minimizing Underwater Sound
Some studies have used a variety of sound control methods to minimize conduction of sound via PVC piping. Some innovative techniques included using rubber couplings and fittings on PVC piping to diminish aquatic acoustics levels. In addition, noise suppressors may be fitted to pump outlets or within pipe runs to act as sound dampers.
Other underwater sound transmission pathways may cause higher levels of underwater noise as well. Any equipment in direct contact with an aquaculture facility could produce more noise, including walkways, stairways, and steel supports.
Acoustically tracking the behavior of animals – such as shrimp with the AQ1 SF200 sound feeding system – helps to automate farming procedures.
Aquaculture Feed Management With Acoustics
Monitoring the sounds of underwater animals can give us insights into their behavior and optimize farming techniques. AQ1 Systems has developed an automatic shrimp feeding system that utilizes underwater acoustic monitoring to identify their feeding activity, taking that information and using it to temporally control feed delivery through a proprietary algorithm.
Underwater acoustics applied to aquariums seeks to streamline fishery alterations with simple, effective solutions. These solutions can work for existing aquaculture systems or new designs. The benefits of implementing such modifications and instruments can be significant for organizations in the aquaculture industry.
From fish farms to university research aquariums, lowering the underwater noise can improve growth rates, reduce stress levels, and positively impact the survival rates of some marine life. For industry, this can mean higher profitability; for research, this could mean keeping costs within budget while still gathering the desired data.