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Floating Wetlands & Reedbeds
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Aqua Biofilter™

The Aqua Biofilter™ is a unique biofiltration product and service that treats waste water, stormwater and aquaculture water. Our proprietary Aqua Biofilter™ ecosystem service and product is integrated into our range of Floating Wetlands, Floating Reedbeds, Floating Habitat Islands and Aquaponics Gardens. Biomimicy of natural systems allows nature to be restored to a state of balance, benefiting human health and wellbeing by purifying water that we enjoy for drinking, bathing, showering, irrigation, recreation, and also the treatment of waste water that is to be released into the environment.

The Aqua Biofilter™ functions by removing nutrients and pollutants from waste water, stormwater and aquaculture water, through biofilm contact with our unique Aqua Biofilter™ technology and the plant growth that our products support. Wetlands are the kidneys of the landscape, purifying and cleansing waterway pollutants, heavy metals, and excessive nutrients. Often wetlands and ponds accumulate excessive sediment, nutrients and pollutants whilst water quality declines, algal blooms and aquatic weeds proliferate reducing biodiversity. Restoring ecological function and bio-signal activity requires natural systems that mimic peak ecosystems - which led us to design and development the Aqua Biofilter™ in 2004, to improve water quality beyond existing methods for ponds, wetlands and waterways. Typical treatment performance is reduction for TN 40-80%, TP 50-80%, TSS 50-80%, Clarity 50%-252%, Metals 50-95% and Pathogens 50-90%.

Aqua Biofilter Floating Reedbeds Floating Wetlands Floating Islands

Aqua Biofilter Floating Reedbeds Floating Wetlands Floating Islands

Aqua Biofilter™ inventor Tom Duncan is an environmental scientist, engineer and planner, with a background in permaculture and sustainable agriculture. Since 2000 Tom has been building aquaponics systems in largescale and small scale aquaculture systems across Australia and China. His projects include the world’s largest aquaponics project, in China’s third largest aquaculture lake covering over 4 acres on Lake Taihu aquaculture lake. Projects have been carried out growing rice, wheat, sedge and flower products including canna lily. Tom's creativity in deveoping large scale aquaponics system upcycling nutrients for ecological, social and economic benefits, led him to further refine aquaponics garden designs that incorporates a miniture Aqua Biofilter™ with all the accumulated knowledge and design smarts, into small scale aquaponics kitchen garden for the home and classrooms that utilise fish waste and produce food at a micro-scale.

Aqua Biofilter Floating Reedbeds Floating Wetlands Floating Islands

Aquaponics Floating Wetlands

Aquaponic floating wetlands pictured above was installed over severa lhectares of aquaculture zone in Lake Taihu, China. The aquaculture was being impacted by stormwater and cross contamination with effluent, whilst fish waste led to ammonia build up and exacerbated algal blooms. Canna lily feature an edible rhizome with carbohydrates, whilst in the project below, wheat is grown in urban waterways and canals in a new residential area of Nanjing. Experimenting with food crops, wetland species, native sedges have led to in depth knowledge of plant - fish interactions, growth cycles and smart design principles to accelerate plant growth and purify water quickly. It should be noted that food suitable for human consumption must be grown in water that is pure, hygenic and with appropriate levels of nutrients. Experimental approaches to large scale aquaponics has yielded design insights that have been incorporated into a unique aquaponics kitchen garden that grow food safely in your home, by recycling fish nutrients to grow your herbs, salad greens, wheat grass year round.

Floating Wetlands

Above project, growing wheat in the Nanjing eco-city development.

Rice Aquaponics Tom Duncan

Above project rice aquaponics growing on fish ponds to remove excess nutrients and provide and economic return for farmers. Social benefits include reducing nutrients and pollutants impacting receiving waters, lakes the marine environment, and enhancing humanand fish health outcomes.

Rice wheat aquaponics

Above project growing over a hectare of rice on fish ponds aquaponically to reduce ammonia and nitrogen, producing 20% more rice 15% faster than conventional rice paddy.

Floating Treatment Wetlands

Root Development


TN 40-80%
TP 50-80%
TSS 50-80%
Clarity 50%-252%
Metals 50-95%
Pathogens 50-90%

Advanced Biofiltration Research and Technology development has been an emerging science for the last 30 years. Installations in Australia, Malaysia and China and USA have demonstrated the feasibility of the technology, and its applications in aquaculture, stormwater treatment, sewerage and on-site sewage treatment, industrial effluent treatment, often for water re-use.

The Aqua Biofilter™ floating wetland treatment technology that can be utilised within a wetland treatment train either retro-fitting or designed into future wetlands. Detention basins can be designed larger & deeper, effectively providing more storage and HRT. Wetlands can also be sized smaller as a result, bringing down costs, achieving best practice and effectively treating TN, TP, TSS and reducing heavy metals. Ecological and human health can benefit from floating wetlands, and biomimicy of natural systems restores natural balance.



Sydney Olympic Park Authority floating islands habitat for migratory birds
World first marine specie saltmarsh floating islands for migratory water bird habitat. Tidal estuary height differential of 1m. Installed 2 islands at 60m2, total of 120m2 June 2012. Black swiftlets, black swans and migratory birds will use the floating islands for habitat.

WME Environment Management Magazine Article on Aqua Biofilter™
Floating wetlands and reedbeds installed in China, covering acres of lake and fish ponds with rice, canna lily, sedges. Lake Taihu lake water improved from Class 5 dirty water, up to Class 1 Freshwater Lake class in 3 months.

YouTube clip explains floating reedbeds activity during rainfall events in Gold Coast sediment ponds

Bega Urban Wetlands
Results indicate strong root and shoot growth of Carex, doubling in size over 3 months, from 30cm at plant out to 2.2 metres length in 14 months.

Wagga Wagga Wetlands and Aquaculture Wastewater
Bolboschoenus & Vetiver excellent performers with root growth down to 50cm in just 3 months. Wastewater column high nutrient loads, large volume of salts uptake

Sewerage pond trial
Aqua Biofilter™ plants developed early with root and shoot growth, effectively reduced nutrient levels to prevent algal blooms

Salinity trial
Aqua Biofilter™ trial to extract salt with a Halophyte forage crop, indicates brackish water can be treated.


Case Studies Research Document - Data
Aqua Biofilter™ founder Tom Duncan involved in trials in China and Australia published results at the National Stormwater Conference Australia, 2009. Download here

WME Environment Management Magazine Article on Aqua Biofilter™
Download article

 email: info@aquabiofilter.com


Copyright 2004 - 2014 Tom Duncan. All rights reserved.