Dec 11

Freestate Province Community Catfish Farm

We have had a busy year up in the Freestate doing some upgrading of catfish facilities built for the Department of Agriculture some years back. There are six different projects situated in an arc that runs from Pertrusburg through Koffiefontein, Fauresmith, Springfontein, Bethuli and Zastron. We started with our work about a year ago. Its been an interesting an fulfilling project.

Three weeks ago we handed over two of the six projects. Take a look at the video clips below of the Zastron site.


Oct 21

Operation Phakisa – What are the prospects?

A month or two ago I was invited to attend an address on Operation Phakisa given by the President. I attended on behalf of AASA, the Aquaculture Association of South Africa. I have to say that I was a little sceptical, and took a bet with one of my staff against Mr Zuma being there to give the address.

Well, he was there. I ended up in the second row in a room of around 150 delegates in attendance – sadly it looks like I was the only person from aquaculture (Operation Phakisa covers the Oceans Economy so is a little broader than just aquaculture).

He spoke from a sheet for a good 45 mins or so and then on being told that we had finished early he got back up to the podium and ad libitum for another 20 minutes.

I have to say that I was reasonably impressed. Perhaps a little bowled over by the mere fact that the President was sufficiently interested in the prospects of our humble aquaculture industry to spend a good few minutes speaking about it, what he expects and what is being done. Well done Mr President – I am pleased to see Government focusing some attention on our industry.

Subsequent to that I attended the Aquaculture Association of South Africa’s conference held in Polokwane in late September. I listened to more talk on Phakisa. The gist of it all is that Government is on a strong drive to develop the industry.

Its early days but it looks like some positive things are happening – the prospects are good….

Dec 12

St Joseph’s Marist Brothers School gets swimming pool filtration upgrade

You may think you have problems with old equipment. St Joseph’s Marist Brothers had really old filters cleaning their school pool. Difficult to tell when it was installed but the word from one of their longest serving employees was that it was installed before he joined the staff – and that was 42 years ago!

The old steel sand filter was removed and replaced with two sparkling new 2.3m high spiral wound fibreglass vessels. Pipe manifolds were replaced as well as additional puddle flanges and pool entry points installed.

The pool is running well, looking a lot cleaner and more able to handle the load of a bunch of highly excited school kids.

Old steel sand filter at St Joseph's School

Old steel sand filter at St Joseph’s School


New filters running at St Joseph's school.

Grant Brooker and one of the schools technicians view the new filters running at St Joseph’s school.


Dec 12

Lamberts Bay penguin facility gets revamped

We have had a busy last quarter to the 2014 year with a bunch of good projects on the go. One of those that was slightly different was the revamping of the penguin facility on Bird Island in Lamberts Bay.

Bird Island is a small nature reserve operated by Cape Nature up the West Coast of South Africa. It is one of 6 Cape Gannet breeding sites in the world. The nature reserve includes a new exhibition building with revamped penguin pool. We had the opportunity to revise and rebuild the filtration and pumping systems at the facility which had deteriorated over the years.

The project also included the installation of a new acrylic viewing panel in the penguin pool.

The systems were commissioned in October and should be receiving penguins soon.

Aquarium acrylic panel on the penguin holding facility at the Cape Nature Bird Island Facility.

Aquarium acrylic panel on the penguin holding facility at the Cape Nature Bird Island Facility.

The newly resurfaced penguin pool at the Cape Nature Bird Island Facility

The newly resurfaced penguin pool at the Cape Nature Bird Island Facility


Nov 06

Remote solar powered water quality monitoring system


Remote solar power monitoring system

Remote solar power monitoring system

The Deep Blue Aqua Wireless Monitoring Unit makes it easy to measure dissolved oxygen (DO), temperature & pH in remote areas where there isn’t any power.

The Unit is very easy to operate – just place it and start logging. The unit comes standard with its own solar power supply and hence can be placed at any remote location where the sun shines – for example mounted on a fish cage! The logging of parameters is set to 5 min increments (changeable) and can be adjusted to suit your needs by the handy “Logger Link App”. Stored readings are sent to your computer daily through the GPRS modem, at any set time. A data file is sent to a drop-box folder and can be viewed in excel for your convenience.

The Unit can be expanded on at anytime to allow for more parameters to be added.

Call or email us for a quote.

Included in the unit are:

  • 1 x DO/Temp Probe
  • 1 x pH Probe
  • 1 x Solar Panel with Bracket
  • 1 x Board with Bracket
  • 1 x 12V Battery
  • 1 x GPRS modem with antenna
  • 1 x Logger CR800
  • Calibration Fluid for Probes
  • Operating Manuel


Parameters:                                Dissolved Oxygen, Temperature, pH Probe

Type:                                          OxyGuard & Campbell Scientific

Cable Length:                             4 meter per probe

Operating Conditions:                Probe: -5 to +45°C, Meter: -20 to +60°C

Accuracy:                                   Depends on calibration accuracy.

Accuracy Temp:                         +/- 0.2°C Data-log

Capacity:                                   Depends on logging interval

Dimensions box:                        300mm x 400mm x 250mm

Standard accessories:               Membranes with O rings electrolyte, buffers

Expandable Probes:                  Yes – Please Consult Deep Blue Aqua

Remote Viewing:                       Yes – Available app from I-store and Android

Oct 21

Operation Phakisa to get Aquaculture Growth Going

Recently Government held an extended workshop in Durban to grind through the stumbling blocks in the development of a number of key Ocean related industries. Aquaculture is one of those.

From what I have heard there was a lot of positive stuff that came out of the Aquaculture workshop. We look forward to positive things (Big Fast Results!).

I have included a couple of links below for those interested in further info on Operation Phakisa.

Operation Phakisa Report – full 314 pg pdf report

SA Government News Agency

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The excerpt below is from a speech given by President Zuma at the Operation Phiksa: Unlocking the economic Potential of the Ocean Economy Open Day, International Convention Centre, Durban. [click the link to go to the full speech].

Start excerpt
The Aquaculture workstream has underlined the high growth potential of South Africa’s aquaculture sector due to increasing demand for fish.
While aquaculture contributes to almost half of the global fish supply, it contributes less than one percent of South Africa’s fish supply. 
The sector offers significant potential for rural development, especially for marginalised coastal communities.
This workstream has identified eight initiatives to spur the growth of the sector.  
One initiative will address the selection and implementation of twenty four (24) projects across South Africa by 2019. 
Together, these projects are expected to grow the aquaculture sector’s revenue from about half a billion rand today, to almost one point four billion rand (R1.4billion) in 2019. 
Three further aquaculture initiatives relate to the creation of an enabling regulatory environment, including the establishment of an Inter-Departmental Authorisations Committee. 
The committee will co-ordinate aquaculture applications and approvals. The intention is to reduce processing time from the current periods of about 890 days to 240 days in future.  
Other initiatives focus on funding support, increasing the skills pool and awareness and improving access to markets.
The stream has identified some initial targets as well.
They recommend implementing nine projects in the Eastern Cape, North West, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape provinces.
The work stream also proposes the establishment of the Aquaculture Development Fund, consolidating approximately five hundred million rand  of Government funds from five departments into one pot.
The teams also propose the creation of a South African industry body that will establish seventy to eighty buyer relationships such as local retailers and food service companies. 
This will create a comprehensive market database covering one hundred percent of South African aquaculture production.

End excerpt.



Jun 10

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture

world aquacultureI was sent this by one of my colleagues who found it on the SARNISSA Facebook page.

World fisheries produced 158 million tonnes of fish in 2012.

Capture fisheries have increase 2,7 times between 1960 and 2012 while aquaculture (excluding plants) has increased over 40 times in the same period of time.

Thats phenomenal!

Apr 16

GSM Control Systems for Aquaculture

We do a range of control systems for aquaculture, but here is something simple that can be used for basic control of your pumps on an aquaculture system, a bore hole pump or even a koi pond filter system. On these systems we

GSM diagram

make use of a GSM Commander unit (we are an authorised, trained supplier and installer of these systems). These
The GSM Commanders can be configured to monitor and control a variety of different systems.

Here are some examples of the functions:

  • systems can also be used for basic recording of data such as temperature and can also log “episodes” on your system.
  • • GSM Commander sends sms to you if there is a power failure & power restore
  • • GSM Commander sends sms to you when borehole pump doesn’t want to start
  • • GSM Commander sends sms to you if float switches do not register a rising water level
  • • GSM Commander sends sms to you if the borehole pump has not worked for some time
  • • GSM Commander sends sms to you with pump running hours for maintenance purposes (daily, monthly or even when it reaches a certain total)
  • • start and stop the borehole pump manually from your cell phone
  • • add flow meter to send water volume statistics as required
  • • add flow sensor to prevent dry-run and get notification when activation occurs
  • • request tank level by sending an sms to the GSM Controller (float switches required).

GSM unit

The GSM Commander monitoring systems employ PC or SMS-based systems for keeping the user continuously informed of the conditions inside the greenhouse or building.

The GSM Commander can be used to automate data capture, for example the environmental temperatures or water temperatures in an aquaculture facility. Set your temperature limits and receive sms notification to your cell phone when the limits are exceeded, or just log on over the internet and take a look at the present and past readings. Use the GSM Commander to continually monitor and control the environment in which you are working.

Apr 11


I used to play underwater hockey (crazy sport – Google it) for the University of Stellenbosch under a coach by the name of Jimmy Herbert. Jimmy was a great guy with a wealth of experience in life. He had a catch phrase used on us on a regular basis. You would hear him shout it from the side of the pool when the team missed an opportunity to score a goal or in team talks later when the missed opportunities were being analysed. “Wasted!” was the word, said or shouted with some emphasis.

So here’s the story! Some years back we installed a tilapia pilot aquaculture system in a rural area somewhere in South Africa. It wasn’t a big job, but it was a nice contract to get anyway. A tender complete with designs had been advertised, by the local Municipality for a community project. We had tendered and won the contract. I might add that the project went out on tender two or three times (each time the designs changed slightly), so it was a relief when we finally got it – it takes a lot of effort preparing for a tender and its disappointing when you lose one but really frustrating when it gets recalled and then re advertised for tender some months later.

So we built the system complete with agricultural tunnel, tanks, filtration, switchgear, gsm module etc etc. A nice little facility. We made the obvious quite clear to our client (the Municipality) – that we would need power and water at the end of the installation if we were to commission the facility, train the staff and leave it to run.

Well what do you know! When we finished off there was neither power nor water available. So we did what we normally do; we made a plan. We trucked in water to fill the systems and commissioned and handed over on generator power.

The details of why there was no water or power are not important. Its the fact that the client hadn’t actually thought about it that makes it such a ridiculous mistake. Its the flawed process that allowed the facility to get to a point where money was provided for the construction of the facility but nothing was available for the peripherals such as power.

In addition to that there were some major community related issues. The fish farm was built 20km away from the community that was responsible for it – i.e. in another communities area. Within a few months of having been built the local kids had put a 1000 holes through the tunnel plastic, broken the pipes, removed the PVC valves and generally messed the system up to a point where it would not be possible to rectify without major investment. Why should the community look after something that wasn’t actually theirs?(!!!!)

As it turned out major investment was not available and the consensus must have been that the whole process and project were flawed. I heard recently that the facility was dismantled and auctioned off!

As my coach would say “Wasted!”.



Apr 07

Temple of Ancient Aquariums Looking Crystal Clear

Front view of the Temple of Ancients Exhibit at the Johannesburg Zoo

Front view of the Temple of Ancients Exhibit at the Johannesburg Zoo

Some time back we installed filtration equipment for a variety of life-support systems at the Johannesburg Zoo’s new “Temple of Ancients” exhibit.

The exhibit is designed to look like an Inca or Aztec temple. There are a variety of exhibits inside; the building has a central entrance area and two wings, one of which houses the reptiles and amphibians while the other houses the fish.

Most of the “Temple” revolves around water with acrylic tanks that house fish and a number of exhibits that house snakes such as pythons and anacondas. A couple of the snakes naturally habituate rivers and swamp areas so they needed water features in their enclosures.

There are a variety of fish exhibits from small tanks holding smaller fish such as tetras to the two large exhibits which steal the show! There is a six meter diameter tank housing a school of large South American cichlids in crystal clear water. The diamond in the crown is definitely the main exhibit, a large 3.5m deep tank with a 14m long tunnel running through the middle of the tank. So far there is a small school of large pacu, some arowanas and some catfish in the aquarium. More fish will be added soon.

The exhibit hasn’t opened yet, but is expected to in the next few months after the tanks have established themselves properly.

South American cichlids in 6 m diameter display tank at Temple of Ancients exhibit at Johannesburg Zoo.

South American cichlids in 6 m diameter display tank at Temple of Ancients exhibit at Johannesburg Zoo.



The main tank with its full length tunnel.

The main tank with its full length tunnel.

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