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Using the DTG3 ROV - Tips for Aquaculture

Pamela Schneider   |   August 1, 2019

Aquaculture tips for conducting regular and more frequent inspections of nets and stock using a Deep Trekker DTG3 remotely operated vehicle.

Aquaculture tips with the DTG3

Now that you have eyes underwater with the DTG3 ROV for your net inspections and monitoring of fish health, did you know you can do more than just that? We’ve compiled some tips and tricks for using Deep Trekker ROV systems in aquaculture.

Active stabilization for precise control

Underwater conditions are in constant motion which is why the DTG3 ROV has been upgraded with active vehicle stabilization. Powered by BRIDGE technology, an intelligent, technology platform from Deep Trekker, enables the vehicle to adapt to changes in water conditions.

Stable camera control

Since the ROV is providing automated control and stability, operators are able to keep the camera focused on their inspection. Easily perform a full 180-degree verticle inspection of netting while holding the ROV’s position.

Adjusting ROV thruster gain

The gain control can be adjusted on the handheld controller to increase or decrease the speed or steering sensitivity of the ROV. When small precision movements are necessary, reducing the gain can be beneficial. The gain control buttons are the two sets of arrows in the center of the controller. From as low as 1 up to 12, or between 10 -120% power.

Estimating fish sizes

When understanding the size of objects or specimens is critical to your task, the Deep Trekker Laser Scaler is an ideal tool. Used to track fish sizes, the Laser Scaler sends our two laser beams 25 mm apart from above the camera. This allows the user to scale objects within the camera view up to 2 meters away. The lasers track with the camera as it is rotated, allowing for the beams to always be viewed on-screen. With this aimed at a target, the user can simply make a reasonable estimate of the object’s length based on how many times larger it is than the 25mm dot spread.

Sampling

A Deep Trekker ROV can also be used to monitor environmental conditions, which have an immediate effect on health and welfare. Sampling is time-consuming and raises the cortisol level of fish. A Deep Trekker ROV is a useful alternative to help assess fish health and environmental conditions, while not meaningfully affecting cortisol levels. With this convenient and straightforward way to conduct sampling, farms can save money by staying on top of fish health.

“The ROV has worked really well for us,” said Shawn Robinson, Biological Effects Section Officer, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “It’s allowed us to do things we couldn’t do before. The ROV allows us to sample efficiently.”

Robinson also commented on the accessibility robotics provides to scientists. “Small, affordable ROVs make this technology much more accessible to scientists and researchers,” Robinson said. “ROV technology has worked well for us to advance the understanding of underwater ecology.”

Furthermore, the use of the ROV allows for personnel like biologists who need to move from farm to farm to do so safely. Aguilera touched on how the unit can be disinfected with a chlorine solution to ensure that biosecurity remains a top priority should the unit need to move between farms.

“Dissolved oxygen control is critical in aquaculture. The volume of dissolved oxygen contained in water is often a critical parameter in the health and well-being of your livestock. In general, most fish species will grow and thrive within a DO range of 5-12 mg/L (ppm). However, if levels drop below 4 mg/L they may stop feeding, become stressed and possibly lead to catastrophic fatalities. This series of events can start a chain reaction in a pond aquaculture system that could prove detrimental.” (YSI, 2015). With the Deep Trekker DTG3 and the integrated dissolved O2 sensor, you can easily monitor water quality conditions and act accordingly, ultimately providing savings and eliminating fish loss.

Deep Trekker offers many water quality sensors. Have a measurement in mind? Check out our extensive senor options:

  • TEMP/CONDUCTIVITY (SALINITY)
  • RDO
  • PH/ORP
  • CHLOROPHYLL A
  • TURBIDITY
  • AMMONIUM
  • NITRATE
  • CHLORIDE
  • PHYCOCYANIN (BGA-PC)
  • PHYCERYTHRIN (BGA-PE)
  • RHODAMINE WT

Avoid Site Contamination

In this age of increased microbial risk, it’s imperative that tools enter the water clean and sanitized to prevent any contamination. Utilizing an ROV that can be sanitized prevents the introduction of contaminants into the water. Similar to boot dips and other cleaning practices, submersible ROVs should be cleaned as well. Deep Trekker vehicles can be fully sanitized with a variety of solutions, including chlorine solutions, with no negative effects on the ROV.

By using an ROV that can be safely and completely sanitized, users can move from farm to farm without bringing harmful microbes with them. This is especially pertinent when sharing an ROV between sea sites and land-based facilities. Keep water clean and free of contaminants with a Deep Trekker ROV.

Reduce noise pollution

Did you know that generator noise can be disruptive for some species of fish? Using your DTG3 – a completely battery powered machine – means you do not need a power source to use the ROV.

Maximize Net Health

Deep Trekker submersible ROVs provide operators with a safe, reliable and accurate way to monitor net integrity.

Kana Upton, Fish Farm Biologist/Manager at Aqua-Cage Fisheries shared, “We typically use Deep Trekker ROVs to check out net pens for holes, so we’re checking the physical net structure. This is part of our due diligence and maintenance program but it’s also a requirement for the certification that we hold. We also monitor anchors and make sure that everything is still in check.”

By consistently checking nets, farms are able to ensure that everything is safe and in place. Furthermore, regular inspection means that minor wear and tear is caught early, before a catastrophe such as an escape can take place.

In addition to the inspection of nets, Deep Trekker ROVs provide users with a reliable way to temporarily mend holes until a more permanent repair can be made. Cristian Aguilera of Deep Trekker SpA built on this when he explained, “predators like sea lions cut the nets and our net patching tool allows for quick emergency repairs.”

By staying on top of net, anchors and mooring line integrity, as well as quickly repairing holes, Deep Trekker ROVs allow farms to maximize their budgets.

Reduce Diver Use

ROVs provide a safe alternative to divers, allowing farm operators to optimize their spending. The use of an ROV in lieu of divers provides farms with benefits in terms of finances, time and most importantly human safety. “It’s a safety concern having a diver in the water no matter what they’re doing,” said Upton. It is important to note that the use of ROVs “is not to get rid of the divers, but protect them,” as stated by Aguilera.By using an ROV, teams are able to save significant amounts of time and money while keeping divers safe.

Chilean based Aguilera noted that farms in his area “changed from divers to ROVs about 6 years ago.” Aguilera went on to say that, “most of the things that are done on a fish farm today, whether that be inspections or mort retrieving, are done together with the ROVs.”

Upton echoed this sentiment, “there hasn’t been a diver in the water for about 15 years now. Having a scuba diver check these nets presents an enormous amount of challenges. Bottom time is extremely limited at these depths, meaning that you can’t check as many nets in a day. Our regulations have also made it difficult to scuba dive at all without a special license or extensive training and support teams.”

The quick deployment and easy portability of Deep Trekker ROVs allow farms to use a submersible vehicle for smaller tasks that would otherwise require a dive team to complete. Sverre Føyen, site manager for Erko Seafood, noted that the easy and convenient deployment of the ROV allowed him and his team to save money. “Before we bought the ROV we had to contact divers for every little thing, from losing an item in one of the cages or just a quick check,” said Sverre. “I think that I have saved the price of buying the unit a few times since now I can do all the small things that I before needed divers to fix or check.”

Gerry Burry, Site Manager at MOWI’s Quatsino operating area in British Columbia agreed with Føyen in terms of the convenience of an ROV for getting eyes underwater quickly and safely.

“You can see your fish whenever you want to,” says Burry. “Plus, every time we can prevent a scuba diver from entering the water, we increase safety and save money, it doesn’t take long for one single unit to pay for itself.”

Feed Monitoring

Farms can make use of their ROV to monitor the feeding of their stock and ensure that they are employing the most efficient feeding practices. Upton detailed feed monitoring with the use of robotics. “Feed is by far the most expensive component at the fish farm,” highlighted Upton. Using robotic solutions, Aqua-Cage Fisheries can monitor the feed intake of their stock. “We’ve been working with Deep Trekker to develop a system to observe fish feeding in excessively warm temperatures,” explained Upton. “What happens when our water temperature reaches about 24 or 25 Celcius, which is surprisingly warm for our area, the larger fish who are getting the most feed don’t like to come up to that surface water, where it really piles up and heats up in that top metre or two. Instead they like to hang out at a cooler temperature down deep. This could be 20, 30 feet deep.”

In more typical conditions, personnel are able to observe and monitor feeding behaviours from the feed boat. However in these warmer conditions the fish don’t come up to the surface, making observation from the feed boat impossible. “The problem is the fish are hanging out at depth and we can’t observe their feeding from the surface,” continued Upton. Using the DTPod, Upton and her team can conveniently and accurately observe underwater feeding behaviours. “It allows us to better gauge the feed that we’ve rationed for the cages so that we are not underfeeding and allows us to get the fish up to size efficiently,” explained Upton.

Want to learn more about Deep Trekker for aquaculture? Check out “3 Ways Kana Upton and Aquacage Fisheries Use Their ROV” and “Customer Success Story: MOWI.

Our team of experts is always “available to answer any questions you may have. When you’re ready for an ROV of your own “reach out for your customized quote.

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