The effect of organic loading, season and plant species on the treatment of fish farm effluent was tested using three-year old mesocosm wetland systems. During one year, nine 1 m2 mesocosms (horizontal subsurface flow), located in a controlled greenhouse environment, were fed with a reconstituted fish farm effluent containing a high fraction of soluble components (1,600 μS/cm and in mg/L: 230±80 COD, 179±60 sCOD, 100±40 TSS, 37±7 TKN, 14±2 TP). Combinations of three hydraulic loading rates (30, 60 and 90 L.m−2 d−1) and two plant species (Phragmites australis, Typha angustifolia) and an unplanted control were tested for treatment performance and hydraulic behaviour. Loadings higher than 15 g COD m−2 d−1 resulted in a net decrease of hydraulic performances (generation of short circuiting) coupled with low TKN removal. Maximal TKN removal rates (summer: 1.2, winter: 0.6 g.m−2 d−1) were reached in planted units. In all mesocosms, phosphorus was removed during summer (maximal removal rate: 0.3 g TP m−2 d−1) and was released in winter (release rate= ∼ half of summer removal rate). This study confirmed that constructed wetlands are susceptible to clogging when treating anaerobic storage tank supernatant rich in highly biodegradable compounds. Contributions of plants to hydraulic efficiency were mainly observed in summer, associated with high evapotranspiration rates. Both plant species gave a similar removal efficiency for all pollutants.

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