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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Thin-film fixed-bed reactor for solar photocatalytic inactivation of Aeromonas hydrophila: influence of water quality

Sadia J Khan, Robert H Reed* and Mohammad G Rasul

Author Affiliations

Centre for Plant and Water Sciences, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, QLD, 4701, Australia

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BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:285  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-285

Published: 29 November 2012



Controlling fish disease is one of the major concerns in contemporary aquaculture. The use of antibiotics or chemical disinfection cannot provide a healthy aquaculture system without residual effects. Water quality is also important in determining the success or failure of fish production. Several solar photocatalytic reactors have been used to treat drinking water or waste water without leaving chemical residues. This study has investigated the impact of several key aspects of water quality on the inactivation of the pathogenic bacterium Aeromonas hydrophila using a pilot-scale thin-film fixed-bed reactor (TFFBR) system.


The level of inactivation of Aeromonas hydrophila ATCC 35654 was determined using a TFFBR with a photocatalytic area of 0.47 m2 under the influence of various water quality variables (pH, conductivity, turbidity and colour) under high solar irradiance conditions (980–1100 W m-2), at a flow rate of 4.8 L h-1 through the reactor. Bacterial enumeration were obtained through conventional plate count using trypticase soy agar media, cultured in conventional aerobic conditions to detect healthy cells and under ROS-neutralised conditions to detect both healthy and sub-lethally injured (oxygen-sensitive) cells. The results showed that turbidity has a major influence on solar photocatalytic inactivation of A. hydrophila. Humic acids appear to decrease TiO2 effectiveness under full sunlight and reduce microbial inactivation. pH in the range 7–9 and salinity both have no major effect on the extent of photoinactivation or sub-lethal injury.


This study demonstrates the effectiveness of the TFFBR in the inactivation of Aeromonas hydrophila under the influence of several water quality variables at high solar irradiance, providing an opportunity for the application of solar photocatalysis in aquaculture systems, as long as turbidity remains low.