Aplysia Resource Growout Facility


The Aplysia Resource Growout Facility is a state of the art laboratory designed specifically for culturing the marine opisthobranch, Aplysia californica. Since this animal is not indigenous to South Florida and is, in fact, native to a temperate climate the laboratory has been designed for extensive temperature manipulation, and 'fail-safe' operation.

Figure 11- An overview of the Aplysia Resource Growout Facility showing the placement of key facilities and the culture racks.

The facility contains fifty-two, 100 gallon fiberglass troughs with interior gel-coating mounted on extruded fiberglass stands. The troughs contain six, 3 gallon polycarbonate cages which can be repeatedly autoclaved or chlorinated to achieve a high level of disinfection.

Figure 12- A double stack culture rack showing two troughs and 12 cages.

The cages have bottom drainage slots and individual top mounted spigots which provide an independent, laminar flow of 1 liter per minute through every one of the 312 units.

Figure 13- A closeup of one trough showing water flow through the cages.

Filtered seawater is supplied to the lab from the facility head tank through two redundant Ingersoll-Rand seawater boost pumps which have been specifically designed with non-corrosive, 'wet-end' parts made from fiberglass resin. The boost pumps provide a single pass flow of 300 liters per minute through the facility.

Figure 14- A diagrammatic overview of the Aplysia Resource water supply system.

Water temperature can be maintained down to 5deg.C. The system has dual, Tranter titanium, counter-current, plate heat exchangers powered by twin 40 ton, reciprocating, water-cooled Trane Cold Generators. The system is also designed to recover cooling capacity from waste water with a heat exchanger that tempers incoming water prior to entering the main chiller units. With duplex chillers and pumps, and an emergency generator, the system provides a high level of security in the event of component failure.

To control this redundant equipment, the lab's water system is equipped with a digital monitoring system which senses temperature, water level, pump function and triggers an alarm which indicates any unsatisfactory condition. The control system automatically switches to backup equipment to maintain preset operating conditions. Seawater temperatures which exceed the set point by 5deg.F cause the control system to bypass the laboratory troughs until chiller operation returns to normal. An Omega chart recorder maintains permanent records of temperature and flow conditions on a 24 hour basis.

The concrete floor is covered with duraquartz for durability, disinfection, and canted for thorough drainage. The laboratory also contains a separate analytical laboratory and shipping area.

Last modified: 10 January 1994