Investigating the suitability of constructed wetlands for the treatment of water for fish farms

Fish farms in Egypt produce over 500,000 tons of fish annually and contribute over 50% of the fish consumed by the Egyptian population. Egyptian laws prohibit the use of (relatively clean) irrigation water by fish farms, causing the majority to rely on water from drainage canals.

This creates a risk of contamination of the produced fish with pollutants (agrochemicals and heavy metals). Constructed wetlands (CWs) - basically sand filters planted with reeds and other swamp plants - may be able to filter out (part of) the hazardous chemicals. They can also help treat pond waste water and make it suitable for re-use.

The project investigates the suitability of Constructed Wetlands to remove hazardous compounds from the drainage canal water. The most suitable type of CW for Egyptian fish farm conditions will be selected, and a pilot wetland will be constructed on a fish farm.


January - May 2012: Inventory of experiences with constructed wetlands in Egypt, Holland and elsewhere.

May - June 2012: Verification workshop with fish farmer representatives, Egyptian and foreign constructed wetland experts and officials of the MWRI and Ministry of Environment to present the results of the feasibility study.

After the workshop: decision moment.  Should the technique be assessed as suitable and feasible, a farm that is willing to invest and test the technique is selected.

July – September 2012: Designing pilot CW for specific pilot farm, including costs and operating budget.

September – November  2012: construction of pilot CW on fish farm. On-site training of fish farm personnel.


Based on experiences with CWs in the Netherlands, Egypt and elsewhere the suitability of this technology to treat fish farm water will be assessed, described and spread by means of a seminar among Egyptian fish farmers. The most suitable type of CW for Egyptian fish farm conditions will be selected and a pilot CW will be constructed.

The effectiveness of the CW will be tested by means of analysis of water and fish samples, comparing contaminant levels in water and fish from a farm with CW with a farm nearby that relies on the same water source but does not have a CW. The pilot project CW will also serve as a demonstration site for other farmers.