Skip to main content
BlogWater quality and managementWQM

Renting vs. buying water quality measuring systems in RAS Facilities

By 8. May 2024 May 27th, 2024

In the realm of Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS), maintaining optimal water quality is vital for the health and productivity of aquatic organisms. Water quality parameters such as dissolved oxygen, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and temperature needs to be constantly monitored to ensure a good environment for fish farming. One critical decision faced by RAS facility operators is whether to rent or buy water quality measuring systems.

Future of WQM

Pros of renting systems:

  • Flexibility: Renting allows facilities to adapt quickly to changing monitoring requirements without committing to long-term investments. This flexibility is especially valuable during the initial stages of facility setup or when experimenting with new monitoring parameters. It also allows facilities to try out new equipment to ensure it fits their needs before commiting to buy anything.
  • Access to the latest technology: Rental agreements often provide access to state-of-the-art equipment without the significant upfront costs associated with purchasing. This ensures that facilities can leverage the latest advancements in water quality monitoring technology without bearing the full financial burden.
  • Maintenance and support: Rental agreements typically include maintenance and support services, relieving facility staff of the responsibility for equipment upkeep. This ensures that the systems operate at optimal performance levels, minimising downtime and ensuring data accuracy.
  • Cost-effective for short-term projects: For short-term projects or research studies where monitoring needs are temporary, renting is a cost-effective solution. It allows facilities to acquire the necessary equipment for the duration of the project without investing in long-term assets.

Cons of renting systems:

  • Limited control and customisation: When renting equipment, facilities have limited control over customisation and integration with existing systems. Rental agreements often come with predefined configurations, which may not fully align with the facility’s specific monitoring needs. This lack of customisation can impede the facility’s ability to tailor monitoring parameters and data collection methods to their unique requirements.
  • Dependency on rental agreements: Relying on rental agreements means that facilities are subject to the terms and conditions set forth by the rental provider. This dependency can introduce uncertainties, such as changes in rental pricing, availability of equipment, or modifications to service agreements. Facilities may find themselves constrained by the terms of the rental agreement, limiting their flexibility in adjusting monitoring capabilities to evolving needs.
  • Long-term costs: While renting may offer short-term cost advantages, over the long term, recurring rental fees can accumulate, potentially surpassing the upfront cost of purchasing equipment. This can become a significant financial burden, especially for facilities with ongoing monitoring requirements.
  • Risk of equipment availability: Rental agreements are contingent on the availability of equipment from the rental provider. In periods of high demand or unforeseen circumstances, such as equipment shortages or maintenance delays, facilities may face challenges in securing the necessary monitoring systems. This risk of equipment unavailability can disrupt monitoring schedules and impact data collection continuity, potentially compromising the facility’s ability to maintain optimal water quality conditions.
  • Limited ownership benefits: Renting water quality measuring systems means that facilities do not own the equipment outright. As a result, they can miss out on the benefits associated with ownership, such as asset depreciation, tax deductions, and potential resale value. Without ownership, facilities also lack the ability to make modifications or upgrades to the equipment according to their evolving needs, limiting their long-term investment potential.
  • Potential for disrupted services: Rental agreements typically include provisions for equipment maintenance and support services. However, facilities may encounter disruptions in service provision, such as delays in equipment repairs or inadequate technical support response times. These disruptions can impact the reliability and uptime of the monitoring systems, affecting the facility’s ability to maintain consistent water quality monitoring practices.
  • Lack of investment in internal expertise: Relying on rented equipment may discourage facilities from investing in internal expertise and training for water quality monitoring. Without ownership of the equipment, there may be less incentive to develop in-house proficiency in operating and interpreting monitoring data. This reliance on external rental providers for equipment and support services can limit the facility’s capacity for independent decision-making and innovation in water quality management practices.


Pros of buying systems:

  • Long-term cost savings: While the initial investment may be higher when purchasing equipment outright, over time, owning the systems can result in significant cost savings compared to renting. Facilities can avoid ongoing rental fees and potentially benefit from lower per-unit costs.
  • Customisation and integration: Owning water quality measuring systems provides greater control over customisation and integration with existing infrastructure. Facilities can tailor the equipment to their specific monitoring needs and seamlessly integrate it into their data analysis workflows.
  • Ownership and control: Purchasing equipment gives RAS facilities ownership and control over their monitoring assets. This eliminates dependence on rental agreements and provides autonomy in decision-making regarding equipment usage and maintenance.
  • Consistency and reliability: By owning water quality measuring systems, facilities can ensure consistency and reliability in monitoring protocols. They can standardise equipment across multiple sites, facilitating uniform data collection and analysis practices.

Cons of buying systems:

  • High initial investment: One of the primary challenges of purchasing water quality measuring systems is the significant upfront cost. Buying the necessary equipment outright requires a substantial initial investment, which can put a strain on the financial resources of RAS facilities, particularly those with limited capital or operating budgets. This upfront expense may necessitate financing arrangements or re-allocation of funds from other critical areas of facility development or maintenance.
  • Technological obsolescence: The rapid pace of technological advancement means that purchased equipment may become obsolete or outdated over time. Newer, more advanced monitoring technologies and features may emerge shortly after acquiring the equipment, rendering the purchased systems less competitive or less capable of meeting evolving monitoring needs. Facilities that own equipment may face challenges in keeping pace with technological advancements without incurring additional costs for upgrades or replacements.
  • Maintenance and repair costs: While ownership provides facilities with autonomy and control over their monitoring assets, it also entails responsibility for maintenance and repair costs. Over the equipment’s lifecycle, facilities may encounter expenses associated with routine maintenance, calibration, and unexpected repairs. Without adequate budgeting and planning for these ongoing maintenance costs, facilities risk disruptions in monitoring operations and compromised data quality.
  • Depreciation and resale value: Purchased equipment depreciates in value over time, particularly as newer models enter the market and technology advances. Facilities that own water quality measuring systems may experience diminishing asset value, which can impact their overall financial outlook. Additionally, when it comes time to upgrade or replace the equipment, facilities may face challenges in recouping a significant portion of their initial investment through resale, further exacerbating the financial burden.
  • Flexibility constraints: Unlike renting, where facilities have the flexibility to adjust monitoring capabilities and equipment configurations according to changing needs, ownership of equipment may limit flexibility. Purchased systems are often tailored to specific monitoring parameters and may lack the scalability or adaptability to accommodate evolving monitoring requirements or expansion plans. Facilities may find themselves constrained by the limitations of their purchased equipment, hindering their ability to respond agilely to dynamic operational environments.
  • Technological risk: Investing in water quality measuring systems carries inherent technological risk, particularly regarding equipment reliability and performance. Despite thorough research and due diligence, facilities may encounter unforeseen technical issues or compatibility challenges that affect the usability and effectiveness of the purchased equipment. In the absence of rental agreements with built-in service and support provisions, facilities bear sole responsibility for addressing and resolving such technological risks, which can impact operational continuity and data integrity.
  • Training and expertise requirements: Ownership of monitoring equipment necessitates investment in staff training and expertise to operate and maintain the systems effectively. Facilities must allocate resources for training personnel in equipment operation, data interpretation, troubleshooting, and routine maintenance procedures. Without adequate training and ongoing professional development initiatives, facilities risk suboptimal utilization of the purchased equipment and may struggle to leverage its full potential for water quality management and analysis.


Regardless of whether RAS facilities choose to rent or buy water quality measuring systems, a strategic approach to data analysis is essential for maximizing the value of collected data

In conclusion, the decision to rent or buy water quality measuring systems in RAS facilities depends on various factors, including budget constraints, operational requirements, and long-term monitoring needs. While renting offers flexibility and cost savings in the short term, ownership provides autonomy, long-term cost savings, and customisation options. By leveraging real-time monitoring, data integration, statistical analysis, predictive modelling, and data visualisation techniques, RAS facilities can make informed decisions and ensure optimal water quality for aquatic organisms.Future of water quality management - big