Freshwater fish farm effluents have low nutrient concentrations but high flow rates, resulting in a pollutant load, especially phosphorus (P), causing eutrophication. The feasibility was tested of a treatment combining, within a single constructed wetland, the contribution of macrophytes for reducing organic matter and nitrogen (N), with the high efficiency of steel slag and limestone for P removal. Twenty subsurface flow (SSF) basins of 280 L with different combinations of plants (Phragmites communis or Typha latifolia) and substrates (steel slag, limestone, gravel, peat) were fed with a reconstituted fish farm effluent in a greenhouse experiment. Pollutant removal was generally very good under all treatments. N and organic matter removal were correlated with plant biomass while P removal was better in substrates with steel slag and limestone. However, the high pH of the P-adsorbing substrate was detrimental to plant growth so that no combination of plants and substrates could maximise in one step the simultaneous removal of all evaluated pollutants. Therefore, the use of two sequential units is recommended, a first one consisting of a macrophyte planted basin using a neutral substrate to remove organic matter and N, followed by a second unplanted basin containing only a P-adsorbing substrate.

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