Dynamic Fish Pond Cleaning System

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Fins for Filtration Team
Team Name Fins for Filtration
Duration Fall - Spring 2013/2014
Faculty Advisors
  • Jeremy Cuddihy
Team Members
  • Jeremy Schroeder
  • Matt Francis
  • Kate Wicher
  • Levi Dawes

Cleaning fish and food waste from fish hatchery raceways is a problem that has yet to be completely solved. The accumulation of waste is a problem because it can lead to disease and cause other fish health related problems. Fish waste and food particles can accumulate at the bottom of raceways and are easily re-suspended in water by turbulent flow or fish movement. The current method of cleaning fish raceways is a very tedious and slow task that does not clean the raceway 100%. The goal for our project is to successfully create an automatic cleaning system for the raceways that would significantly decrease the human component of cleaning, as well as increase the efficiency of the process and quality of the cleaning.

Design Goals

  1. Design an automated cleaning system with little maintenance.
  2. Reduces fine particulate in raceways from accumulating downstream to increase fish health.
  3. Maintains Current Phosphorous levels and Healthy Dissolved Oxygen levels.
  4. Analyses of flow using computational and experimental fluid dynamics.

Design Specifications

Our design must accomplish the following
  • Fit within the existing specifications of the raceways (only minor raceway modifications)
  • Be more effective than the current system.
  • Reduce downstream flow of particulates
    • While continuing to produce 5 to 7 cfs of flow in the raceway
  • Stay within EPA regulations of flow and waste

Project Learning

Background Research

Current Methods

  • A push screen that re-suspends particulate from the bottom and sides of the raceway
Push Screen Method
  • A vacuum that cleans waste once it has reached the quiescent zone
Vacuum System

Baffle Methods

  • Increases the flow at the bottom of the raceway to move waste
  • Has been implemented before but due to problems it is not currently in place

Brine Methods

  • Injects a solution with a density higher than water and the particulate to float the waste along the bottom to the quiescent zone
  • Has been tested in a controlled environment but never in an actual fish raceway


Scott Williams, Aquaculture Center

  • Scott has previously worked for Clear Springs Inc. and had a vast knowledge of their operations
  • Suggested the baffle idea be our main focus due to simplicity and amount of previously tested ideas with same basic design

Ken Cain, Fisheries Immunologist

  • Ken has also previously worked for Clear Springs Inc.
  • Suggested we move away from baffle idea because it has been tried many times and has never been successfully implemented
  • Confirmed that the introduction of a brine solution will not harm fish, but will actually help to kill bacteria in fish gills and scales. We will however have to test the brine method with fish in order to determine the effect fish movement has on brine solution at the bottom of the raceway.

Jim Liou, Hydraulic Engineer

  • Provided brine solution research and method
  • Has previously used the brine solution method in a controlled environment (without fish)to test how it works as a waste removal system

Visit to Clear Springs

On November 23rd our design team visited the Clear Springs facility in Buhl, ID. They gave us a tour while we asked questions and discussed design parameters and options. They're facility is primarily a food stock farm (producing fish primarily for food purposes) but it also has a few brude stock (spawning) operations.
  • Important design restraints gathered from the trip:
    • The flow in each raceway is roughly 7 cfs, it cannot drop to below than 5 cfs or fish in the downstream raceways will start to die
    • Current QZ zones are cleaned 1/3 at a time and the water from the cleaning goes into an 8 in. pipe and is transported to a settling lagoon from there
    • The furthest upstream raceway is the most sensitive to flow change because it has the youngest fish
    • Automated cleaning design would be most effective if it were portable from raceway to raceway, rather than a model being built for each individual raceway
    • Cost is the number 1 deciding factor
  • They seemed most interested in our baffle idea because:
    • Ease of use
    • Low cost
    • No modifications to the raceway required
    • Possibility for adjustments and easy maintenance
  • Their thoughts on the movable pump design:
    • More effective at cleaning than the baffle
    • Would require installation of equipment inside of the raceway
    • Outflow would have to be carefully monitored to maintain adequate flow in the raceway
    • Could tie into the 8 inch drainage pipe already in place
    • Potentially more costly but could clean more effectively and require less man hours than baffle

Concept Development

Baffle Method

  • Have tested a simple baffle design in our small flume
  • Exploring several new designs
    • Multiple baffles
    • Baffle with diffuser
    • Movable baffle
  • This option is our first priority because of its ease of use, cost effectiveness and overall portability
Baffle Systems
Type Parameters Test Results
Straight Baffle
  • Straight baffle spanning entire width of raceway
  • Model Statistics:6" wide X 12" deep
  • 1" gap between baffle and flume floor
  • Successful in moving solid particulates to end of raceway
  • Particle resuspension could differ in a wider raceway
  • CFD confirmed our results
Multiple Baffles
  • Includes multiple horizontal baffles
  • Not tested
Baffle with Diffuser
  • Would include a diffuser off the back of the horizontal baffle
  • Integrated to fit the current fish herding equipment
  • Not Tested
Moving Baffle
  • Would include a baffle on a cart/pulley system to allow downstream movement
  • Would be more costly and difficult to move from raceway to raceway
  • Not Tested

Moving Vacuum Method

Movable Pump
  • We have tested two similar methods for this method
  • Both were constructed from pvc and used siphon methods to create a suction along the bottom of the raceway
    • First method had small holes along the bottom of our vacuum piece
    • Second method had a small slit along the bottom of the vacuum piece
    • There was no noticeable difference between the two in terms of suction
  • This method is second in priority after the baffle because it is slightly more complex and has the potential to be more costly
Vacuum Systems
Type Description Effectiveness Discharge
Vacuum 1
  • Made from 1/2" PVC
  • Vacuum opening was 1/16" slit across the bottom facing side of PVC
  • Controlled by syphoning a 1/4" tube and hand dragging across flume floor
  • Successfully cleaned flume floor of all particulate
  • To be determined
Vacuum 2
  • Made from 1/2" PVC
  • Vacuum opening consisted of 14 staggered 1/8" drilled holes
  • Controlled by syphoning a 1/4" tube and hand dragging across flume floor
  • Successfully cleaned flume floor of all particulate (no different than vacuum 1)
  • To be determined

Final Design Development

Movable Baffle

Our final design was a movable baffle, designed specifically for our small scale flume, that was pushed by the force of the moving water along the length of the raceway. We found this to be the most effective and cost conscious method available. The final design was also retrofitted with a removable horizontal baffle that extended the distance between the baffle and the cleaning front of the fish bio-solids. This design was displayed at the Engineering Expo by our team on May 2nd. Our team won best technical presentation and judges choice best booth presentation for the work completed.

Movable Baffle and Cart Specifications
Part Description
  • Full Cart Assembly
  • Gusset used to support baffle connection
  • Channel used to hold and adjust baffle
  • Machined aluminum frame for attaching wheels and baffle
  • Trial 1 with the movable baffle design, tested with a 0.25" baffle gap

  • Trial 2 with the movable baffle design, tested with a 0.5" baffle gap

  • Trial 3 with the movable baffle design, tested with 0" baffle gap

  • Trial 4 with the movable baffle design, tested with 0" baffle gap and 9" horizontal baffle

  • Trial 5 with the movable baffle design, tested with 0.25" baffle gap and 9" horizontal baffle

Design Documents

Meeting Log

File:2014 Fins Meeting Log.pdf

Technical Presentation

File:2014 Fins Technical Presentation.pdf

Final Design Report

File:2014 Fins Final Report.pdf

Team Members

2014 Fins Jeremy.jpg

Jeremy Schroeder

Mechanical Engineer

Hometown: Aberdeen, ID

School Status: Senior Graduating in May, 2014

Hobbies: RC airplanes, wood-working, rock climbing

Technical Interests:Fluid mechanics and CFD's

2014 Fins Kate.jpg

Kate Wicher

Environmental Engineer

Hometown: Boise, Id

School Status: Senior Graduating in May, 2014

Hobbies: Running, yoga, language learning, and hiking

Technical Interests:Environmental Chemistry

2014 Fins Matt.jpg

Matt Francis

Environmental Engineer

Hometown: Idaho Falls, Id

School Status: Senior Graduating in July, 2014

Hobbies: Skiing, fly fishing, and whitewater rafting

Technical Interests:Wastewater and enviromental protection

2014 Fins Levi.jpg

Levi Dawes

Eco-Hydrological Engineer

Hometown: Princeton, Id

School Status: Senior Graduating in December, 2014

Hobbies: Hunting, fishing, and snowboarding

Technical Interests:Hydraulics and hydrology