Source: BIOSONICS, INC. submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Sep 1, 2004
Project End Date
Aug 31, 2006
Grant Year
Project Director
Burczynski, J. B.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Non Technical Summary
Assessment of biomass and fish size in aquaculture is needed for a number of reasons, including: 1. Determining feed rates according to the number and size of fish in each pen. 2. Appraisal of growth rates and food conversion factors. 3. Inventory of fish required by banks and insurance companies. 4. Early detection of fish losses. 5. Determining proper dosages for the treatment of disease. Current methods for the assessment of biomass and size require excessive handling of the fish. This induces mortality, slows growth and causes illness. Results produced by these methods are inaccurate, labor intensive and increase production costs. In Phase I we demonstrated the feasibility of an innovative acoustic system for the estimation of fish size, mapping of fish density and estimation of biomass in an aquaculture net-pen. Phase II of the project will focus on the development of a prototype of the instrument to be deployed on a self-propelled platform, as well as on controlled experiments and testing at a fish farm. The Acoustic Biomass Monitor provides a vital solution for the monitoring fish growth and assessing biomass. The commercialization of the Acoustic Biomass Monitor will modernize and enhance fish farming technology, increasing both the efficiency and profitability of fish farms. A portable, non-intrusive and easy to use instrument should be easily accepted by the fish farming industry in the USA and worldwide. This technology is suitable for application to both conventional net-pen aquaculture and future installations of offshore aquaculture.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
The primary objective of Phase II of the BioSonics SBIR project titled: Phase II: Estimation of Fish Biomass and Size in Aquaculture Pens Using Digital Echosounding, is to develop a field-ready, pre-production prototype Acoustic Biomass Monitor (ABM) for estimating fish biomass and fish size in aquaculture pens. The development of a reliable, non-intrusive system to accurately determine the biomass and the size of fish in a net-pen, will result in better control and management of fish production, optimal use of processing plants, and increased efficiency and productivity in the aquaculture industry. This new technology will be suitable for application in both conventional net-pen aquaculture and future installations of offshore aquaculture farms. The data collection system concept employs: 1. a digital echosounder with DGPS is installed on self-propelled, radio-controlled craft, which is moving in the net-pen according to a pre-planned transect pattern and acquiring backscattering data from individual fish in order to estimate fish size of individuals and backscattering data from fish aggregation, in order to map and estimate fish density and biomass. 2. a standard target in an acoustically transparent enclosure is deployed under the transducer in order to acquire data on sound attenuation by fish. This measurement is done while the craft is in free-drifting mode. Measurement data is pre-processed in real-time by the embedded processor on board the surface craft. The resulting compressed data is written to removable disk storage, also aboard the surface craft. The surface craft is retrieved from the water once it has completed its transects, the data storage device is removed and taken to a processing computer for data upload, comprehensive analysis, visualization and reporting. The foundation of the Phase II Acoustic Biomass Monitor system is the BioSonics DT-X scientific echosounder, but in a smaller unit, with less complexity and with low power consumption. Based on the earlier series of BioSonics digital echosounders, the X-series features enhanced capabilities. These echosounders incorporate an embedded processor, a PC-104 running the LINUX operating system, to accomplish objectives, which include control of echosounder operation, data handling, and communication functions. The system will work over wired or wireless network installations. Associated software for user interface is provided in a familiar graphical user interface (Microsoft Windows), another key objective. A vital objective of the research and development effort is to conduct extensive testing and demonstration at a fish farm, under various and diverse operating conditions. In Phase II, research and development efforts will be driven by the pursuit of commercialization of the Acoustic Biomass Monitor. Our goal is to meet the needs of the aquaculture industry by producing the most reliable, cost effective, easily deployed and maintained system for monitoring fish growth and assessing biomass.
Project Methods
Our approach to research and development in Phase II of the BioSonics SBIR project titled: Phase II: Estimation of Fish Biomass and Size in Aquaculture Pens Using Digital Echosounding is to enter the field-testing stage with a prototype assembled from full-featured, off-the-shelf components. This limits engineering efforts to selection, modification, and integration of subsystems, allowing faster progress to the crucial field experiments. The full-featured approach provides the research team with the system capabilities they need to perform their experiments, while at the same time allowing to determine the minimal capabilities necessary for the final ABM system. Task 1: Assemble, modify and integrate an off-the-shelf ABM prototype system for field testing. The off-the-shelf hardware subsystems to be selected and integrated into the surface craft include: 1. Ruggedized embedded processor and removable data storage device. 2. DGPS receiver and heading, pitch, roll sensor. 3. Lightweight power module and battery packs. 4. Standard calibration targets 5. BioSonics X-Series scientific transducer and echosounder electronics. Task 2: Design, develop and test ABM prototype software modules. The objective of this task is to transfer the algorithms and analytic methods developed in Phase I of the project into software utilities to facilitate data analysis, model validation, and tuning of algorithm parameters during the extensive field experimentation phase. Task 3: Determine optimal acoustic, algorithmic, and operational parameters of the ABM system. Using the data analysis modules designed and developed in Task 2, we will determine optimal algorithmic parameters for fish size and biomass estimation. Task 4: Miniaturize and simplify X-Series echosounder to obtain ABM mini-sounder. The objective of this task is to decrease the cost and complexity of the system by eliminating or scaling down system capabilities determined to be superfluous. Task 5: Enhance the ABM software components and hardware subsystems. In this task, Software development and enhancement will focus principally on the following objectives: 1.Implement corrections and compensation options, based on results obtained from field testing. 2.Improve usability of the software modules for efficiency, reliability, simplicity, and avoidance of operator error. 3.Implement end-user data reporting and data manipulation features, determined to be of high value to the end-user, based on the extensive data analysis and reporting experience gained. Task 6: Field-test and evaluate the performance of the ABM system. The final field-testing task offers the opportunity to involve local fish farm decision-makers and thereby obtain valuable end-user feedback on the appeal of the system, its ease of use, and their confidence in its results. The system will also be tested for robustness and other operational capabilities. Task 7: Document ABM system and produce final report. The research and development effort will result in the following documents: 1. System design and development documentation. 2. Production and maintenance documentation. 3. User documentation 4. Final Project Report

Progress 09/01/04 to 08/31/06

The primary technical objective of this Phase II project, was to develop a system for the assessment of fish biomass and fish size in an aquaculture pen using digital sonar technology. The pre-production prototype developed under this Phase II project is herein referred to as the BioSonics Acoustic Biomass Monitor (ABM), and is based on BioSonics DT-X Digital Echosounder technology. The ABM as proposed is to be small, lightweight and easy to deploy and operate, with low power consumption. The resulting hardware platform for the ABM system is referred to herein as the BioSonics MiniSounder. The MiniSounder can be controlled by and transmit data remotely to fish farm operators and managers by either wired or wireless communication. The software developed for the ABM system provides a Density Index (DI). Three levels of density will be relayed and displayed to the fish farm operator: (a) normal fish density indicating proper operational conditions; (b) low fish density indicating an "alert", and (c) very low fish density indicating an "alarm / possible fish escapement". Since the instrument is very small, it can be easily towed and re-positioned to multiple areas of the net pen. It can be easily deployed from one net pen to the another. Data were acquired continuously during 40 days and transferred remotely from the test aquaculture facility to BioSonics office. Acoustic data was acquired continuously using a the remotely controlled BioSonics 200 kHz DT-X Digital Echosounder System from July 14, 2006 through September 19, 2006 (40 days in 0.5-hour data file segments). Data was transferred remotely to BioSonics using a wireless LAN and DSL Internet connection. Various processing algorithms were tested in controlled experiments. After analyzing large quantities of data during Phase II, we concluded that the Phase I ABM concept of deploying the MiniSounder on a remotely controlled surface mobile platform (ROV) to provide the fish biomass and size of individuals in the net pen was not feasible, as the biomass and fish sizing results fell below the level of accuracy required by fish farm management. We redefined the ABM concept to deploying the MiniSounder to non-remotely controlled, surface floating platform, which acquires and transmits data on fish density (Density Index), and displays an echogram which provides information on fish behavior in terms of density, and on the status of the net pen. Specifically three lines are displayed on the echogram: (a) a bottom of the sea (reference line), (b) the predator net and (c) the net pen. A simple display triggers an alarm if fish density is to low (possibility of escapement) or elements of the net pen are below or above normal limits. Data can be transmitted remotely to an operator and a fish farm office computer. The Density Index is defined as the ratio of the acoustically measured fish density to the fish density according to fish farm records. If the Density Index falls below the established threshold, an alarm indicating possible fish escapement is triggered.

Due to population growth, food/protein production requirements have increased worldwide. Domestic aquaculture can be an effective option to reduce dependence on seafood imports, provide jobs for economically depressed coastal communities, and increase regional food supply and security. Current methods used by the fish farming industry to assess the density of salmon and similar species involve excessive handling of the fish. This operation results in fish stress, reduced appetite, impairment of their immunological system, growth rate reduction, and may induce mortality. This process is also labor intensive and increases the cost of production. Density and estimated biomass estimates are critical to the efficient operation of fish farms for the following reasons: (a) estimation of required food dosage, (b) estimation of drug dosage, (c) early detection of fish escape or loss, (d) growth rates and food conversion factor appraisal, (e) financial transactions requiring estimate of "inventory" or biomass. The development of a reliable and non-intrusive system that provides accurate assessment of fish density in net pens will result in better control and management of fish production, optimal use of processing plants, and an increase in the efficiency and productivity of the aquaculture industry.


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