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Design, Development and Testing of an Engineered Alligator Culture Facility

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  141911062,  2014 Montreal, Quebec Canada July 13 – July 16, 2014. (doi: 10.13031/aim.20141911062) @2014
Authors:   Charles Malveaux, Steven G Hall, Roger Husser
Keywords:   Alligator culture; reptiles; heat transfer; control system; aquacultural engineering

Abstract. American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) are now a cultured species of significant economic and ecological importance in Louisiana and other southeastern US states. A limited number of locations have studies ecological, biological, economic, disease and processing aspects of alligator culture. However, facilities have been modest and generally have not had significant engineering input.

Current work on an alligator facility funded jointly between the LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana alligator industry has allowed development of what is believed to be the first engineered crocodilian facility in the world. The project includes geothermal water heating, automated water flow control, temperature and air flow control, data acquisition, independent water depth and temperature control on 24 tanks, each 4 feet by 8 feet with maximum depth of 2 feet (1.2 x 2.3 x 0.5m depth) each with independent temperature control. The temperature control is accomplished with the help of two 6000 gallon (24,000l) water holding tanks which acquire and hold water from a geothermal well (30-35C); recycle water to natural gas fired heaters (to raise temperature to within 1 degree of desired final temperature); and 1000W electric insertion heaters for final heating. Campbell Scientific data acquisition and control hardware and software was customized to control heating, flow control and fans.

A separate component of the facility is a quarantine facility with independent water and air flow control for studying diseased or challenged animals. Expected studies include alligator biology, feeding, disease, water quality, waste management and related work which this design now facilitates.

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