The successful Aquahive concept borrows from nature in the form of a honeycomb. It is interesting to note that this form has been evolved by bees, which are insects and part of the Phylum Arthropoda – as are Crustacea. It is no accident that a system designed to house and develop large masses of larvae for bees can be effective for their marine ‘relatives'.
The hexagon uses limited material to form a maximum number of spaces and this is the basis of the circular trays. When stacked together, these form vertical tubes in which layers of young lobsters can develop each in its own cell nourished by up-welling seawater in a continuous and dynamic stream. The geometry means that the space within a cylinder 400mm diameter by 520mm can hold 4000 cells. It means the whole footprint of an Aquahive system – including 6 ‘hives’ and its reservoir and sophisticated bio-filtration system - is a mere 4.5 square metres and has a capacity to house 24,000 larvae/juveniles per cycle.
In a traditional single layered tray hatchery this part of the facility would need a footprint of about 630 square metres – taking into account the difference in growth rates between the Aquahive (50% faster) and a tray and raceway system.
(Comparison of footprint)
In an average 20 week ‘season’ the juveniles would need 4 weeks in the Aquahive system to reach the minimum size where they could be safely deployed to sea and expect to reach adulthood. This means that in 5 cycles the unit could house up to 120,000 juveniles and with 70% average survival (efficiency) that means an expected production of up to 84,000 juveniles ready for sea.
The unique feeding system of the Aquahive which delivers the right feed dynamically in the water column means that an operator would typically feed 24,000 juveniles in about 15 minutes plus 30 minutes waiting time – when they can do something else in the hatchery.
This new technology will increase the productive capacity of each worker by a factor of 2-3 and reduce overall running costs by around 40% - while at the same time upping production by a magnitude. Water usage for the system is minimal in that over 98% of the volume is re-cycled at any given time. This gives greater scope for the siting of a hatchery, perhaps, where the seawater supply may be tidal or otherwise limited.
Taking both capital and running cost savings into account the cost per juvenile (ready for sea) can be significantly reduced. An Aquahive system installed in an existing built hatchery would expect to pay for itself in 1 season.
Shellfish Hatchery Systems’ innovation of Hatchery-in-a-Box makes use of the Aquahive together with the company’s powerful bio-fitration technology and a redesign of other systems, to complete the revolution in lobster hatchery design and operation.