- Disposing of nitrate-containing effluents from seawater-fed intensive aquacultural applications is a major environmental problem. A possible solution is to mix nitrate-rich effluents from marine recirculating aquaculture systems (RASs) with citrate-rich liquid wastes (CLW), a common by-product of the food industry. Where possible, such strategy can alleviate two environmental problems simultaneously, in a cost-effective fashion. However, concerns are often raised regarding secondary pollution stemming from the use of CLW, particularly related to phosphorus and heavy metals. This work showed that both phosphorus and heavy metal were completely absorbed by the bacterial sludge generated in the process, indicating low environmental risk associated with the disposal of the treated effluent to the environment. Operation of continuous stirred-tank reactor (CSTR) single-sludge denitrification reactor with CLW as electron and carbon donor resulted in high nitrate removal efficiency (>95 %) and denitrification rate of up to 1.6 g NO3-N L−1 reactor day−1 along with low bacterial biomass yield [0.23 g chemical oxygen demand (COD) new cells g−1 COD citrate]. Moreover, the use of CLW was found to be environmentally safe and equally efficient to the use of traditional, costly carbon sources such as methanol and acetic acid, rendering this alternative attractive for treatment of nitrate-rich saline effluents.