Neumeier U., Friend P.L., Gangelhof U., Lunding J., Lundkvist M., Bergamasco A., Amos C.L. & Flindt M. (in press) The influence of fish feed pellets on the stability of seabed sediment, a laboratory flume investigation. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science.


Superfluous fish food settling below fish farms can have an negative impact on the seabed. To aid in the assessment of this impact a series of flume experiments, designed to mimic seabed conditions below a fish farm, was conducted with the aim of examining the effects of fish pellets on the stability of fine sediments. Artificial beds, with varying quantities of fish pellets incorporated both within the sediment matrix and lying on the sediment surface, were allowed to consolidate for different periods of time ranging from 1 to 10 days, and then subjected to erosion experiments. In flume experiments containing fish pellets, a bacterial biofilm developed at the sediment-water interface after a few days. In the control experiments (no fish pellets), a diatom biofilm caused extensive stabilisation of the surface sediment. The erosion experiments showed that the addition of fish pellets reduced the surface erosion threshold by more than 50%. The stability decrease was more pronounced in the experiments with greater amounts of pellets. Evidence of drag reduction due to high suspended sediment concentration was also observed. This phenomenon is discussed and a correction formula is proposed for the effective shear stress experienced by the bed.

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