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FAQs about Phytoplankton as Pests, Foods.... 

Related Articles: Keeping Planktivores Fed by Bob Fenner, Phytoplankton, Use in  Marine Aquariums by Sara Mavinkurve, Avoiding Algae Problems in Marine System, Algae Control, Marine Maintenance, Nutrient Control and Export, Marine Scavengers, Snails, Hermit Crabs, Mithrax/Emerald Green Crabs, Sea Urchins, Blennies, Algae Filters, Ctenochaetus/Bristle Mouth Tangs, Zebrasoma/Sailfin Tangs, Skimmers, Skimmer Selection, Marine Algae, Coralline Algae, Green Algae, Brown Algae, Blue-Green "Algae"/(Cyanobacteria)Diatoms, Brown Algae

Related FAQs: Marine PlanktonAlgae as FoodMarine Algae ID 1, Marine Algae ID 2, Marine Algae Control FAQs II, Marine Algaecide Use, Nutrient Limitation, Marine Algae Eaters, Culturing Macro-Algae; Controlling: BGA/Cyano, Red/Encrusting Algae, Green Algae, Brown/Diatom Algae

A microphotograph of a typical Dinoflagellate. This group and the Diatom algae are responsible for most of the oxygen on this planet.

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

I.D. Cells   10/1/17
Looking for some help identifying this brown stuff in my tank. Attached is a short video.
<Look and move like Dinoflagellates... could try starch/iodine staining...
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: I.D. Cells; now RedOx rdgs   10/1/17
Thanks for the quick response.
Dino... that's what I thought it was too...
Do you still recommend ozone at 300 mg/hr for treating?
<... better a meter and 400 microsiemens/cm on the upper end. BobF>
Re: I.D. Cells   10/1/17

Just verifying, microsiemens/cm for ozone?
<Yeah; the Siemens co. so powerful, able to change the standard for ORP, ┬ÁS/cm... Look it up>
I only find microsiemens/cm for EC and TDS.
<What? See WWM Re. B>

A Better Understanding of Phytoplankton. Control 2/24/2017
Hi Bob,
Are all species of tropical marine phytoplankton the same in terms of how one goes about getting rid of them from their display tank?
<Alike in some principal ways...>
Because I'm trying to figure out whether or not a microscope and UV sterilizer is truly necessary to eradicate it?
<There are other approaches than UV...>
So is it true that regardless of the phytoplankton species, the remedy is the same; water changes to reduce nutrients & dissolved organics along with reduced photoperiod/ intensity?
<These help generally>
And Is it possible to have dissolved organics and nutrients (I assume those are what the plankton are at least partially feeding upon) extremely low (no fish in the tank so this isn't a tall order) and yet the plankton continue to thrive solely via photosynthesis via high output LED lighting?
<Can happen; yes>
justifying the purchase of a UV sterilizer? And not needing a microscope to solve this?
<A 'scope is nice for looking/seeing small things... including algae. UVs can help both by zapping DNA of single celled life happening by, as well as by improving DO, RedOx...>
<Again; there are other approaches... Competitors, predators, filtering mechanically, selective poisoning, nutrient limitation by using chemical filtrants. Perhaps a cursory read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm
Bob Fenner>

Sarcophyton coral, closed with brown mucus      3/10/15
Hi there!
We recently noticed our Devil's Hand leather has developed some irritated/pale tips and what appears to be brown slime accumulating on the "fingers" (please see attached photos).
<Looks like the colony is failing; algae growing at the burnt tips>

Water parameters:
180 gallon
pH: 8.2
water temp: 78 degrees F
kH: 7
Ca: 380ppm
Nitrate: ~2ppm
Phosphate: 0.03ppm
Salinity: 1.026
<All above is okay... note that this is not ALL involved. e.g.; what re Potassium?>
This leather has been in the tank for over a year now and we've never seen this brown mucus before or the pale bruised tips.
<Well; I see evidence of similar "burning" on the Sarcophytons shown...>
I've recently changed the GFO/Carbon reactor which caused a drop in phosphate from 0.2ppm to 0.03ppm.
<I'd remove this...>

There are two other leathers in the tank that have full polyp extension  but a couple of the polyps appear to be spitting out some zoox.
<Perhaps the low HPO4, rust burn, low K; a reaction to the reacting Zoanthids...>

Out of curiosity, we suctioned out some of the brown slime and placed it under our scope. Are the brown organisms in the slide Zooxanthellae, diatoms, or something else?
<The former likely; the shape and color is indicative; though I swear I can see two nuclei and cilia in some>

Other reef keepers have suggested dipping the leather, but I don't want to move it in case it gets stressed further.
Thank you for your time,
<I'd ditch the ferric oxide, add iodide-ate and a KCl or other K soln and hope for the best.

Bob Fenner>

Phytoplankton, fdg; use    6/18/14
I hope all is going well. My question is pretty straight forward. How much phytoplankton should I dose in my tank at a time.
<Depends on what the species (mix) is and what you're doing it for... but, I would tell you that most such product additions are of little function... systems make their own micro-life in abundance...>

I have a 110 gallon mixed reef tank. I have it set up with three different types of "habitats". The right side of the tank is all mangrove and sand. The center is LPS and SPS. The left side is all softies. I want
better growth of pods and other small organisms, this is the main reason for the phytoplankton. I cant seem to find an answer. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
<Pour in as much as you'd like. You may want to turn your skimmer off (on a timer) for a few hours.
Bob Fenner>

Re: Dendronephthya coral... Doone! A prank (?) re feeding et al.?    9/14/13
Hi bob,
<... names are capital nouns Lorna>
 just wanting some advice I have a tree coral or Dendronephthya and I bought it a month ago
It is in a cave hanging upside down I feed it phyto
<... of what size... Is it your understanding that any random Nephtheid will eat any phytoplankton? Not so>

regularly, when I bought it it was struggling and had dissolved at The base it is still dissolved and is expanding which it wasn't in the shop, how long will it take to thicken at the base.
All parameters are fine apart from phosphate which is 0.25 and nitrate is 5.
<.... Heeeeee! Are you joking? Read here:
and (all) the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Differences in Micro Algae: A bunch, and use in feeding copepod cultures    4/3/13
Hi again!
I have a copepod culture going with "Tisbe" pods. This was done just to ensure a more than sufficient food source for my Mandarin. I have a question concerning the feeding of the culture. I am currently feeding them
with "Phyco Copepod blend," however this is only available online and can become quite expensive to reorder every month. My question is what is the difference between that and the Micro algae I use to supplement my reef and corals?
<Mmm, well; have looked over AlgaGen's posting re the one product:
but don't know what you mean by: "Micro algae I use to supplement my reef and corals"
But I do know that there are very large differences twixt the make-up of algae species... I encourage you to seek out input on culturing your own algae to feed your copepods if you have a large volume use. Frank Hoff's works are commonly available and useful here>
They both seem to be the brownish type (icciris or something like that).
<Isochrysis likely>
Can I use the cheaper live reef phytoplankton to feed the pods or are the two completely different
<You can try... but I'd run two separate culture lines... see if the proposed one is nutritionally sufficient. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Phytoplankton feeding schedule, use period     2/9/12
Dear WWM Crew,
Hope you are all well (especially whoever is answering this email!).
I have a Phyto question.  I have a 5 month old 120 gallon reef tank  with a rather large collection of LPS corals.  The tank has a 40 gallon  sump with a built in refugium containing a live sand bed, Chaetomorpha,  and live rock.  In the main tank, there is also a great deal of live  rock (+200 lbs), as well as a 1.5" live sand bed.   I have four  fish - a Yellow Tang, a sand sifting Diamond Watchman Goby, a  Candy  Basslet, and a Midas Blenny.  Lots of blue/red dwarf  hermit crabs, Cerith snails, 2 knobby starfish, and a growing  population of stomatellid snails (this was a surprise, as none were  intentionally added to the tank!). 
<Not unusual>
I have done a great deal of research on dosing phytoplankton to my  tank. 
My goal in doing so is to increase the bio diversity of the tank,
<Won't do this... macro is better by far>
 namely the zooplankton that will help to feed my corals and fish.  I am  also hoping that a mandarin dragonet is in my future (plan also to get a tank  raised specimen from ORA as a last and final fish), so a good sized pod/micro  critter population in the tank is especially important to me.  I believe  that for my goals, dosing live phytoplankton responsibly can be a benefit for my reef tank.  My tank is thriving with no detectible phosphate or nitrate,
<Won't live long then...>
calcium is 420, Alk is 8. 
That being said, after carefully researching all the live phytoplankton products out there, I have decided to focus on D.T's Premium Reef Blend Live Phytoplankton.
<I'd go w/ the Reed Mariculture line if using>
  I mentioned above that I wish to "dose responsibly".   The directions on the back of the D.T's. bottle state:  "Feed a minimum of every
other day, 2 TBSP (30 ml) per 100 gallons.  Slowly increase to double  this dosage if you have heavy filter feeders or clams in the tank."  Again,  my tank is heavily stocked with LPS corals, and my goal is to increase diversity  in my tank so that my tank produces as much live food as possible for my animals.  I am aware that phytoplankton will not directly feed my corals, but possibly indirectly, by feeding the other life forms in the  tank.
<Very little... not much to it to start with, and gets readily removed by skimming... Unless there is some capacity for its reproduction, is not of hardly any use>
   I was wondering what your suggested dose for my tank would be  based on the information I have provided.
<See my further comments archived on WWM>
 I should add that I have a good  skimmer on the tank, as well as run ROWA on the tank to minimize phosphate  issues.
<All life needs some HPO4... photosynthates, soluble...>
 In my mind, I was contemplating utilizing the 2 TBSP every  other day dose, conservatively using the 100 gallon model DT provides, even  though mine is a 120 gallon with a 40 gallon sump.  The last thing I want  to do is creating phosphate/nitrate/algae issues in this tank. Thus, I am  seeking your valuable
Thanks in advance,
<Welcome, and keep reading. Bob Fenner>
Re: Phytoplankton feeding schedule
Hi Bob,
Thanks for the advice you have given.  I don't see much point to the  adding the phytoplankton, after reading your comments.  I do also have the  Reed Mariculture Product "Phyto Feas Live", but again, based on your comments  and the reading you suggest I do, it does not seem like the addition of this or  any Phyto product is going to have a major impact on the pod population in my  tank. 
When you state below "won't live long then", I became a bit  confused.  Are you relating to the fact that I stated there are no  detectable nitrates or phosphates in the tank,
or the possible addition of a  mandarin dragonet? 
If the former, I make this statement only because my  testing kits show no levels of nitrate or phosphate when I do perform monthly  tests.
<... see WWM re NO3, HPO4>
 If the latter, again, I was going to secure an ORA tank bred  mandarin in hopes of it taking prepared foods a well as hunting for the  Microcrustaceans available in the tank.  Thus the idea of feeding Phyto to  boost their population.
<See WWM re culture of such>
Thanks for the timely reply!
<Welcome. B>

Phytoplankton - to feed or not to feed?/Copepods/Feeding 11/22/11
Dear WWM,
Hope all is well with you!
<Is fine.>
Here is my question...I have recently set up a 120 gallon reef tank with a tied in refugium and plenty of live rock in the hopes of housing one target spotted mandarin dragonet six months or so down the road. I have seeded the refugium with copepods purchased from Dr. Adelaide Rhodes website. The refugium has live sand, Chaetomorpha, and large pile of live rock. My sump for this tank is 40 gallons, the refugium has a large section of the sump (sump is a Reef Master Filtration System rated for a 200 gallon tank).
Twice per week I throw a few shrimp pellets into the refugium. The system has been set up for six weeks, but is based on my previous 85 gallon tank that I had for over four years and tore down to upgrade into this 120 gallon.
I am seeing lots of critters in the refugium and the tank - copepods, Brittlestars, bristleworms, Mysid shrimp. In an effort to speed up my copepod population for the future mandarin, I am wondering if I should dose the refugium/tank with D.T,'s Phytoplankton. I have a professional servicing this tank weekly. His opinion is that there is plenty of food for the copepods to eat - detritus from my few fish, diatom algae on the glass, Chaetomorpha is the refugium, etc, etc, and the phytoplankton would be little more than a waste of money and an added source of excess nutrients fueling algae blooms in the tank. I am not so sure. I have done extensive reading on your site and others, and feel that dosing D.T.s, conservatively, may have more benefits than drawbacks. I defer to you on this matter and look forward
to your answer.
<I would lean more toward your serviceman as far as fueling algae. You make no mention of any corals or other invertebrates present and am wondering why you are putting shrimp pellets into the system. If I wanted to accelerate my copepod population I would eliminate the pellets and dose phytoplankton very conservatively.
To maintain the copepod population you have, your serviceman is correct in his statement to you.
This is going to be something only you can determine. Detritus and nutrients present in the tank may be
all that you need. Observing in the evening with a flashlight should tell you whether the pod population is increasing or decreasing. May want to do this first before dosing phyto. James (Salty Dog)>
Very best,
Laura G
Re Phytoplankton - to feed or not to feed?/Copepods/Feeding 11/23/11

Hi Salty Dog,
<Hello Laura>
I am sorry for the lack of information provided. I have a very large collection of LPS corals in this tank, some hermit crabs and snails, 1 Yellow Tang, 1 Midas Blenny, and 1 Candy Basslet, and one Harlequin Shrimp.
I was putting a few shrimp pellets in the refugium a couple of times per week based on previous correspondence with WWM regarding my refugium. I was
advised that in addition to feeding my reef tank (Sectrum <Spectrum>
pellets, Spirulina
Flake Food), that it was also desirable to "feed the refugium" in this way to sustain critters and/or possibly accelerate their growth.
I hope this clarifies matters a bit more. I apologize for any confusion.
<In that regard, if you have low nitrate levels and corals are growing good, stick
to your current feeding regime. If you decide to go with DT's, I'd eliminate the shrimp
pellets. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Phytoplankton - to feed or not to feed?/Copepods/Feeding 11/23/11

Hi James (Salty Dog),
<Hello Laura>
When you write "dose phyto conservatively", what, in your opinion, is this dose? 50% of recommended dose recommended on the product, or more or less than this?
<I would start out with one full dose per week and observe the pod population.
Adjust dosing as you see fit. The best way to accelerate a pod population without risking an excessive nutrient build up in your tank is to grow them in a separate container. They can then be removed with a turkey baster and fed to your inhabitants.
You would then add just enough DT's to tint the water green. As the pods consume the phyto the water will clear, indicating it's time for another dose. A ten gallon tank would be a good vessel to do this in.
This method will produce plenty of pods for you. Have you read here?
Googling "growing copepods" will also produce plenty of information for you on the process.
James (Salty Dog)>
Thank you again,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Bioluminescent plankton   8/18/11
Greetings Exalted Beings of Infinite Wisdom and Light!
I once got to do a night dive in the Persian Gulf and was very delightfully treated to such a strong display of bioluminescent plankton that I could see the outline of the dolphins riding the bow of the dive boat in the dark.
Truly amazing and on par with getting to see the best displays of Aurora Borealis when I lived in Iceland.
<Hello Merritt here. I think what you are describing are known as Sea Sparkles or Noctiluca scintillans. They are tiny Dinoflagellates that are bioluminescent when disturbed.>
I was wondering if anyone has ever attempted to seed a tank with it or if it would be possible to keep it alive if tried. If it is available, where could I get some?
<I do not think anyone has tried to keep Sea Sparkles in the aquarium do to the large difficulty it would be to keep them alive since they are a marine plankton, large open ocean waters is what these little guys need. You could try, good luck. Merritt>

Is phytoplankton good for your mixed reef aquarium? 11/09/2010
Sara from WWW suggests that phytoplankton has it uses - at least indirectly in a home reef / fish aquarium. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/phytoplankton.htm
<Hello Brian, sorry for the delay in responding. I was on maternity leave. ;-) Yes, I do suggest that phytoplankton may have it's uses, if not directly, then probably indirectly.>
The link below disputes any need at all for phytoplankton in a home aquarium. I added the entire article at the end of the email.
<Well, I wouldn't say that a reef aquarium *needs* phytoplankton. But depending on what livestock you have and what you're trying to develop in your system, it could be very helpful. For example, if you're trying to keep a sea apple or other filter feeders...supplementing phytoplankton could be very advantageous.>
The author really doesn't site any scientific research or articles. I'm wondering on this because the aquarium industry is always trying to convince customers they need to buy more and more products to keep their environments healthy. I don't dose with too many things in my tank, but I was told that the copepods, which are a good natural food source, require Phyto dosing.
<Again, I would be wary of using words like "need" or "require." There ARE readily available sources of phytoplankton in your aquarium already. For example, when you clean the glass, you put phytoplankton in the tank. You're going to have some phytoplankton in your system, no doubt (even without any dosing). However, as with any organism population, the more you feed it, the more they will populate. Thus, supposing you have copepods and other things that feed on phytoplankton... it stands to reason that the more phytoplankton is available, the more they will reproduce. So again, it just depends on what you want and what you're trying to do. If you're looking to increase your micro-critter life, yes, I'd suggest dosing phytoplankton (and I would particularly suggest using DTs, which is superbly high quality phytoplankton product)... otherwise, do you *need* phytoplankton supplements? No.>
Does anyone else at WWW have any opinions on why one should use / not use phytoplankton in a home aquarium?
<Maybe... I do invite anyone else to respond. In my personal experience (which is, granted, only anecdotal), the more phytoplankton I supplemented, the greater my benthic and micro life was. Of course, you might fairly ask; how did you measure that? Well, I didn't measure it... I'm judging by what I saw, which would only what was conspicuous, which wouldn't at all tell the whole story I'm sure. But again, logically, it just makes sense that the more food is available to a population of organisms, the more they'll reproduce (assuming food is the limiting factor and not something else, like space).>
Thanks for the opinion in advance. Brian
<De nada, Sara>

Phytoplankton use/dosing. Ventralis Anthias <fdg. mostly... other Anthiine stkg./sel.> / HOB Refugium <stkg.>-- 08/24/10
Hello WWM Crew,
<<Hiya Scott>>
Thanks to James and Eric for my questions a few weeks ago, the info was much appreciated.
<<We are pleased to assist--Eric with you again today>>
After reading all of the Anthias FAQ's and articles on WWM (yep, all of them), I had a few stocking questions involving Anthias.
The second part of my question involves refugiums; I have not done all my research about the myriad of uses of refugiums and the benefits they offer,
<<Can be substantial>>
but I will finish reading those posts later today / tomorrow.
I purchased my 120g reef tank on Craigslist, it was set up at the owner's house for about 10 months, and I have had it in my possession for about 1 month now. There is significant growth and life on the life rock, the water parameters are perfect (~4 ppm nitrates, 0 ppm nitrites, 0 ppm ammonia, 8.3 pH, 140 ppm Alkalinity,
<<On the low side if you have many stony corals--but still within the 'accepted range'>>
450 Calcium, can't remember the exact phosphate or magnesium levels, but nothing alarming).
My plan was to let the tank recuperate for a few weeks before adding any new livestock, the corals and fish all survived the move and are doing great.
<<Wise of you>>
One day I come home from work (about a week after having the tank set up) and there are three new fish in the tank (Yellow Banded Maroon Clownfish, Blue Mandarin Dragonet,
and a Royal Gramma). My girlfriend saw them at the store and "had to have them".
<<I guess you forgot to update her with your plan? [grin]>>
I was worried that the tank would be too "new" to house fresh livestock but all of these fish seemed great and are still actively eating and looking great now (3 weeks later).
My questions are about a few of the more rare Anthias species. Specifically the Borbonius Anthias,
<<Have 'seen' a few of these...stunning fish (but oh what a price tag--$300+ each!!!)>>
and the Ventralis Anthias.
<<Also very attractive>>
I have read that most of these fish do well in groups (1 male and several females).
<<As is the case with most all Anthiines... I don't know much about Odontanthias borbonius though I do believe it to be a deep-water species like Pseudanthias ventralis >>
However, due to their outrageous ticket price (specifically the Borbonius Anthias),
would it be OK if I only introduced one of this species into my tank?
<<I would not recommend this. In my experience, even those so-called 'hardy' Anthiine species like Pseudanthias squamipinnis and Pseudanthias bartlettorum can have problems when mixed with aggressive (as in Damsels, Tangs, Basslets) and/or extremely active (as in most Tang species) tankmates. Even the considerable investment aside, these fish would need/do best in a dimly lit (versus highly phototrophic) reef system, and tankmates chosen with much care>>
I also read that the Ventralis Anthias is a fairly fragile fish.
<<I have heard it can be hardy once acclimated--to the right system>>
In order for me to receive one (or more) I would have to special order them from my LFS (highly trusted) and he would receive them from his supplier. Would it be better to buy this species as well in a group or can it survive solo?
<<In a group, but'¦'¦'¦>>
My worry here is that this fish (or group of fish) would be under too much stress going from supplier to LFS to my tank, with zero acclimation time in the middle grounds (LFS).
<<Unless your LFS is willing to hold these fish to assure they are fit and eating before you pay (not likely, considering), this is your only method of acquisition>>
My LFS will not be getting any of these fish in to sell regularly unless they are special ordered so this would be my only option.
<<Understood--and not unusual considering the price/delicate nature of these fish>>
The second part of my questions involving housing these fish is about feeding.
<<Can be problematic>>
I currently have a 25 gallon sump / refugium (several "hand-fulls" of Chaetomorpha and live rock and I have added 2 bottles of Copepods to the Chaetomorpha which I feed regularly with Phytoplankton).
<<The Phytoplankton should be added sparingly--can be beneficial, but is also easily abused>>
I was wondering if I will need a more established or possibly an in-tank HOB refugium in order to have enough natural life for the Anthias to feed on.
<<You may already have too many 'competitors' for these live foods (the clownfish, mandarin, royal gramma--plus whatever else you may have that isn't listed). But'¦ The best way to seed this refugium is to obtain a cup of substrate and/or small bunch of Chaetomorpha from several other hobbyists' systems and add it to your refugium>>
There seemed to be mixed results regarding the feeding habits with most people's Anthias from what I read on the WWM FAQs. Some people had theirs chomping up Mysis shrimp, others had to go to more exotic routes with Glass Worms, etc.
<<Indeed'¦ You will have to experiment here. And it seems the higher the price-tag the more trouble it is to get them to feed!>>
I have no problem with buying as much prepared food as needed to keep these fish fat and happy but if you think that I need to get a more established natural food colony then I will certainly wait to get these fish.
<<A larger mature refugium will certainly help--but I think not having a species-specific system is your biggest hurdle to keeping either of these two species for the long-term>>
Aside from what I have done already to form my refugium, is there anything more I can do besides just waiting and letting it form naturally?
<<Make it bigger--else, not really>>
Thanks for all of the info;
<<Happy to share my friend>>
I look forward to the advice as always.
<<I think you risk much trying to add either of these fishes to your current system>>
Scott M
<<Eric Russell>>
Re: Ventralis Anthias / HOB Refugium -- 08/25/10

Thanks for the response Eric,
<<You are quite welcome>>
I will definitely spend my next paycheck elsewhere rather than on a Borbonius.
<<All things considered--a good idea>>
My final question is that you said to use the Phytoplankton sparingly, why is this?
<<To minimize abuse/pollution. There's likely little in your system that will consume this (some notable exceptions would be Gorgonians, Tridacnids) other than the tiny target critters you listed. 'Feeding' your refugium is recommended for reasons of increasing population densities of the beneficial biota therein beyond what it might sustain otherwise (some of these little critters become 'cannibalistic' in the absence of adequate foodstuffs--a situation that obviously defeats the purpose of fostering these critter populations in the first place), indeed adding some 'live' Phytoplankton to your system as a whole can prove beneficial to many of the same organisms there. But, this is all too easily 'overdone' if one is not judicious with such liquid food supplements. I merely urge you to be mindful not to overdo. Cheers mate'¦ EricR>> 

Caridina japonica larvae, & SW phytoplankton culture   4/2/10
Hello folks,
Two of my Amano shrimp are currently releasing their eggs. I believe this started last evening. They are in a 5 gallon hatching tank. I have done my homework and am prepared to do the introduction of salt water, etc, when the time is right.
My question has to do with my phytoplankton culture. I just started this culture at 5:30 pm last night (3/31).
<Started? What species...?>
I anticipated that hatching of the larvae would start sometime within the next week. This is my first time working with the Amano larvae and this is also my first time doing a phytoplankton culture. I understand that the phyto culture is most potent at around 10 days.
<Depends on species, temperature, water quality, lighting... but about this time frame, yes>
Here's the question: When it's time to feed the larvae - in about 3 or 4 days - can I add the culture even though it's only going to be a few days old?
Is there enough nutritional value in this or should I plan on trying another type of food? What might you recommend?
<Boosting the phytoplankton growth rate by raising temp., increasing light intensity and duration. I would look into, buy a concentrated live culture for back up... A multiple species mix... there are quite a few nowadays.
DT's is a good line>
Thank you so much for your advice. All of you inspire me to keep learning.
<Please do keep good notes and relate your experience back to us. Bob Fenner>

LPS ID and phytoplankton product use  -- 10/26/09
Hi Grew,
I'm one more person, who would like to say how great and informative your site.
<We share!>
I'm new in the hobby. My tank is 6 mo, however thanks to all your advices, everything is doing well. I read your articles almost every day.
I have a question regarding LPS ID. I found it in one local fish store under name Neon Green. A salesman could not give me any additional info. It covers a life rock, polyps a small about 3 mm in diameter and 2-3 mm tall. They retract when disturbed. Is it kind of Turbinaria?
<Mmm, need either better vision (no doubt actually) or a bit larger, more-resolved image here, but I am pretty sure this is a Goniopora (commonly called "Flowerpot") coral. Please see here: http://wetwebmedia.com/gonioporapix.htm
and the linked files above re this genus' care>
And one more question. In most of your articles you mentioned that corals eat zoo-plankton.
<Most all do to extents... along with no to some variable amount of photosynthesis>
What kind of coral eat phytoplankton?
<... actually very few of what passes as "corals", definitely not Scleractinians/Stonies consume much of any phyto>
An instruction on bottles with phytoplankton says, that it is food for filter feeders and corals.
<... A good point, statement... Most all such material is of limited (to the extreme) use in hobbyist systems. The bulk is taken out via skimming... Some soft coral groups (Alcyonaceans) consume "some" species, sizes of phytoplankton... and adding such products can lead indirectly to "better conditions" in captive systems... but most of it is a placebo>
Thank you for you time.
<And you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Phytoplankton feeding   4/8/09
Crew, again thank you for all your past info, my tank is looking GREAT!
I am starting to culture my own phytoplankton for rotifer growth/feeding and SPS coral feeding. I know I might be taking this thought too far but I am mixing my knowledge of plants with my reef knowledge and was wondering about the N-P-K ratio of the fertilizer giving to my phytoplankton. I have read various articles talking about not wanting to use Miracle grow fertilizer because of the metals and what not that would be introduced to the tank and also was thinking about the needs of phytoplankton to grow.
It seems to me that a higher N rating of a fertilizer would help a Non-rooting organism grow faster/healthier? I also thought going more organic might help with the introduction of un-natural elements into my tank.
In my Googling I noticed that some studies have shown phytoplankton blooms in coastal areas where there was a large seagull population and thought maybe I could use my Seagull guano fertilizer that is High in N and lower in P and K. Being all natural and organic should help. Any advice?
<I've never used Seagull guano, but your reasoning makes sense. Also, have you tried (thought about) just using skimmate from your aquarium?>
Thanks for the input,
Sara M.>

Re: Tridacnid byssal gland trauma 10/31/08 Sara- The phytoplankton I bought isn't DT's; it's Reef Nutrition Phyto Feast. Have any experience with it? <Well, not to get into the phyto-war (a bit like the cola war of the 80s), IMO, I do think DT's is a better product for clams (there is some research to show this). But the Phyto Feast won't hurt anything and might be good for other critters in your tanks.> Going back to the clam, I forgot to ask, is it ok for the maxima to be left in the sand? That is where he anchored down, so he's on the bottom of a 16 inch tank (w/ a 3-4 inch DSB), leaving him about 13 inches from the water surface, and the 250 watt MH <DE? HQI? If so it should be fine.> is 11 inches above water, for 24" light travel to the clam. I've read that generally they like to be up close to the surface on the rockwork. <Usually this is better yes, but if it was under less intense light when you bought it (like is likely) then leaving it at the bottom for awhile might be a good way to acclimate it to your lighting.> Also, I was wondering what you're recommendation is for phosphates. <Honestly? ...a remote refugium with lots of macroalgae growth.> I have been using a 'Pura' pad, its a mixed media activated carbon/resin/phosphate remover, and my phosphates have been reading 0, not even .03 ppm. Should I switch over to purigen or the like that won't strip all the phosphate? <As we like to say in the aquarium hobby, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." People make this mistake a lot... they always want to change (with a mind towards improving) their systems when they don't really need to. If things are going well and everything is healthy, best to just leave it alone.> Thanks again! Chad S <De nada, Sara M.>

Phytoplankton, culture  9/24/08 Hey Guys, hope all are well. Several weeks ago I noticed that my mandarins in my 250G were getting a bit skinny (I have a 100G refugium). The fuge had only been setup for about 2 months ( I know, way too short. I had some new fish coming in and was going to use the tank that the mandarins were in to quarantine the new fish). So I decided to start culturing copepods to supplement both directly to the main tank and to the fuge. <A neat project, experience> I read and read and read some more on culturing copepods and phyto. Ultimately I decided to get the tiger pods and culture isochrysis to feed to them. I ordered the pods and some mixed live phyto from Read <Reed> mariculture (very helpful bunch of people). These little buggers are thriving and my mandarins are plumping up, the female looks like she is ready to spawn!! <Might well be> However, to keep the flow of phyto I ordered a couple of plates of isochrysis from Florida aqua farms, and a phytoreactor. I cleaned the phyto reactor with bleach and neutralized it with sodium thiosulphate. <Ah, yes... the old "DeChlor"> Left it bubbling for a couple of days to make sure all the bleach had gone. I followed the direction from FAF and waited. After two weeks nothing. <Mmm, what did you use for the water, chemical feeder stock?> So I cleaned the reactor again with bleach and started the second culture. 2 weeks later nothing. Contacted FAF (they are not the friendliest of people!) and added some more micro algae grow, <Oh> 2 weeks later still nothing. However last week it miraculously turned green and so after a week of that I added some more water and micro algae grow. It seems to be growing very well now. But its GREEN! I was under the impression that Isochrysis was a golden brown algae. <Mmm... well...> I have attached a picture of the culture. My questions are this. How can you tell if a culture is contaminated ? <Microscopic examination, perhaps culture. The differentiation of Divisions (equivalent categories, ranks as zoological phyla) of Thallophytes are able to be discerned grossly> (with bacteria?) <Mmm, doubtful... there are bacteria, but would be another algae, perhaps more than one if contaminated here> How do you know that what you are culturing is what you expect it to be? <See above... Bergey's Manual or such ref. works> Thanks. BTW I have never cultured any other green algae strain to account for possible contamination. All my water is 0.22um sterile filtered . Cheers Olly <Could be that this is (still) a single species culture of Isochrysis... Due to "growing conditions", can appear green though belonging to the Golden Browns... At any length, if the "size" and palatability of this algal material is suitable, I would not be overly concerned here... I would encourage you to run more than one culture and engage in culture practices that include periodically re-starting from scratch... Bob Fenner>

Stony Brook phytoplankton study, and Clam nutr. f'  07/20/2008 Hello crew, Bob et al, Dennis Tagrin sent me this link to a study done on phytoplankton. I do think it's worth reading, adding to the FAQs/other info on phytoplankton feeding. http://somas.stonybrook.edu/~MADL/pubspdf/Emma-clamgrowth.pdf Best, Sara M. <Real good. Will post/share. BobF>

DT's Phytoplankton and Purple Coralline growth (revised)!   2/17/08 Hello everyone! Thanks to all for everything you do for us :) I have a quick question. I'm sorry if it has been answered already, but I cannot seem to find anything that relates to my specific question. I started my tank 2 months ago. I have a 65 gallon with wet/dry filter, protein skimmer, UV sterilizer, and total 288 watts of lighting. A combination of 1/2 blue actinic and 1/2 10000k daylight. 75 lbs of live rock. I also have (2) 300 gph circulation pumps along with my return pump for circulation. Fully cycled with 0 readings on ammonia and nitrites. 5-10 ppm on nitrates. My tank is currently housing: (1) Dwarf Coral Beauty (1) Six Line Wrasse (1) Lawnmower Blenny (3) Green Chromis (1) Red algae eating starfish They told me a Red thoned Starfish <Do you have a scientific name for this asteroid?> (1) Green Serpent Starfish <Mmm, Ophiarachna? Watch out with this predator> (1) Skunk Cleaner Shrimp about (10) zoanthid polyps (1) green feather duster (3) green mushroom polyps (1) Rose Coral attached to a Turkey Wing Oyster? That what the LFS told me it was . It is alive, I know that! <Not uncommon attachments...> I feed Spectrum granules in the a.m. and frozen cube mixes at night. I only shave of about and 1/8 to 1/4 of the cube and thaw it it tank water. I hand feed my Green Serpent in the evening with a few small pinches of scallops or shrimp. I also purchased some DT's. My questions are, how much DT's should I feed to the small amount of corals and Feather duster I have? <Mmm, not really a source of nutrition here, for this life, but of value nonetheless...> I was told to draw up 1cc in a syringe and add 2cc of tank water to that and target feed about every third day. Is that right? <Okay> Should I turn off all of my pumps, skimmer, and UV? Also, how much should I feed my fish and others during the day? Is this too much food or not enough??? <What you list is fine. I would leave your gear on... more likely more trouble that you'll forget to turn it back on... though timers can be a real asset here> Oh one more quick question! I have a small amount of purple coralline on some of my live rock. I want to have it spread. I was told not to use Purple Up because it will raise my alkalinity and calcium too high. What can I do to encourage more purple coralline?? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/corallinealg.htm and the linked files above> Thank you in advance for your help!! <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Walnes or Guillard fertilizer (Phytoplankton)  8/4/07 Hi Cam here. Which phytoplankton fertilizer would you recommend for culturing Nanochloropsis: Walnes or Guillard F/2 fertilizer, for a reef aquarium. <Mmm, both would/will work... if using much and having concerns re nutrient transfer, a filtering of the culture media can/could be done> I would like to add the phytoplankton once a week and I am a bit worried as to what effect the different fertilizers will have, when some of the fertilizer ends up in the tank and accumulates over the course of a couple of weeks (If I only do water changes once a month). How does the culture maturation period the time that it takes so that the culture reaches maximum density ) differ between the addition of the two fertilizers. I am currently doing water changes once or twice a week. I have read that the Walne's solution is a much more "potent" form than the Guillards F/2 fertilizer. For what species of phytoplankton is each fertilizer normally used for (Nanochloropsis, Tetraselmis, Isochrysis)? <Most culturists use Guillard's...> Is it possible to dilute the Walne's solution to that of the same strength of the Guillards F/2 fertilizer? <Yes...> Lighting: Normal fluorescent tubes Container: 1,25L to 2L (Glass or Plastic bottles). (1ml of fertilizer added per 2L?) PS: How long can the phytoplankton stay alive for in darkness, no aeration and if shaken once a day to keep the phytoplankton from settling/smothering each other on the bottom)? Thank you. <Depending on temperature mostly, a few days to weeks if refrigerated. Bob Fenner>

Long email... Algal culture   7/7/07 Dear WWM Crew, <Dear Andy> Thanks for running such a great resource for (almost) all questions aquatic. I've spent quite a bit of time reading through your site, and have found a wealth of information. <Thank you, indeed a great resource> I have "designed" a continuous phyto / zooplankton culturing system where the phytoplankton - multiple cultures of Tetraselmis, Nanochloropsis, and Isochloropsis- gets dosed into 2 rotifer cultures, which is then dosed into the sump right into the return pump chamber. I was wondering if you would be willing to give any thought's / suggestions regarding the design. <Sure you didn't want to just show off that very impressive blueprint *smiles*> The picture attached is a rough design of what I would like to eventually build and use for a reef system. <I'll take a look> 1) The base media would be kept in two 15-gallon containers above the actual culturing vessels. The reason I have this as two separate ones is so that while one is being used, I can shut off the other and mix the next batch of SW without having to swap out water storage tanks. <I would also include a bulkhead and tap to your sump so this can be isolated as a water-mixing tank for water changes> 2) The Water then passes through a UV filter (and this water will be moving through the UV very slowly, as it is only being drip fed into the Phyto cultures - maximizing contact time and "hopefully" keeping contamination issues to an absolute minimum) <I would be slightly concerned about overheating the UV units with such a small amount of water passing through them, they should be run fully wet for the best results> 3) The only 3 pieces of equipment I will need power for will be the UV filter, the bank of lights on a 16/8 timer, and the air pump. I have built air pump filter out of furnace filters pieces before, and they actually do a really good job of keep just about everything out of the incoming air. Again, trying to keep contamination issues to an absolute minimum here. 4) The actual Phytoplankton culture vessels would be 8 in total, 4 Nanochloropsis, 2 Tetraselmis, and 2 Isochloropsis. Each would be drip fed, with an internal surge set up (simple upside-down U on the drain pipe going to the Rotifer culture) that would periodically dose the rotifer culture with fresh phyto. Each would also have an air outlet (with filter material on the end - I'm pretty sure there will be some back draft when the vessels drain for each surge - and again - minimize contamination) <Correct> Each phyto vessel will also have a drain valve on the bottom for periodic draining of any detritus accumulations on the bottom of the vessel. These vessels will be completely sealed other then incoming and outgoing water, incoming and exhaust air, and a normally closed drain valve. <I would make them screw or bayonet topped if possible as cultures are know to fail periodically and a percentage change of the culture with fresh phyto would be beneficial I feel if you could ensure you are receiving pure Nano/Tetra/Iso> 5) The rotifer culture's will each be dosed with 2 N, 1 T and 1 I phyto culture, and they too will set up much the same as the phyto vessels, with surge pieces that I am planning on feeding directly into the sump right at the intake for the return pump. <This all sounds fine. I would look into utilising peristaltic pumps wherever practical as in the long run this will benefit. Also on your quest for contaminant free cultures reef safe pipe work will help i.e. food grade including the acrylic for the culture vessels> Does this design look "feasible"? Thanks, <Thanks for a great design and keep us posted how it goes. All looks very well planned. May I also suggest Google Sketchup for continuing your design work, a very worthwhile piece of freeware> Andy

Phytoplankton questions/care  6/3/07 Cam speaking. Hello, <Howdy> I am interested in culturing phytoplankton (e.g., Nanochloropsis (EPA), Isochrysis (DHA)), because I want to culture/keep featherduster, rotifers and mysids. The reason why I chose this combination of phytoplankton is because of the balance of EFA (EPA and DHA) in the micro-algae. I have read that culturing Isochrysis can be quite difficult, because it needs a relatively constant temperature. <Mmm, not a difficult genus to produce, and/but most all single celled cultures require this et al. stability> I thought that I could try to keep the phytoplankton in 2 liter bottles (Rounded bottom) and store it in a filled tank with a heater. The tank must be stored in a cool room, so that the culture does not overheat. My only concern with this idea is that the saltwater/water in the tank could be filled with phytoplankton predators. <Is a good idea to occasionally "filter"/screen the culture to re-make... through material (a filter sock of determinate porosity... a few tens of microns...) to remove ciliates... Again, there are other means of providing steady-enough temperature... I don't like the floated culture vessel in that this retards the amount of light getting into/through the culture vessel (the plastic jug...) I am more a fan of glass jars... like the one gallon "pickle" ones... from Costco, Wal-Mart... and fluorescent lighting...> Maybe I could make a hypersaline, acid or alkaline solution that would not harbor these predators. What are the most common reason for the culture crashing? <Nutrient deprivation, metabolism accumulation, over-driven photosynthetic effects, predation...> Will the Guillard F/2 Fertilizer be sufficient for both these species of phytoplankton i.e. 1 ml per 2 liter of culture medium? <Yes> Is it true that if the culture is kept for a week to mature/multiply that almost all of the Guillard Fertilizer will be utilized? <Often the case... depending on light quantity/quality, the starting culture density...> Will it be possible to separate the phytoplankton from the Guillard's fertilizer? <Mmm, yes... concentrating, rinsing the culture... through filters...> I would also like to know what sort of lights will be needed for both species of phytoplankton (Watt, Kelvin, lumen/lux), because I will be culturing them both in the same culturing station. <Please see Frank Hoff's works re...> I have thought of a few ways to separate the phytoplankton from the fertilizer I do not no how practical they are though?): Nanochloropsis (non-motile green algae) 1) Turn the aeration off, allow the phytoplankton to settle (not for long, else they will die) and siphon the phytoplankton out. Isochrysis (motile brown algae) 1) Will this algae swim towards a light source? <They are slightly positively phototropic, yes... but it is better to avail oneself of a filtration rig here, or alternatively test the water for nutrient value and not worry re the introduction of such...> If so, you can turn all the lights off and lure them into a corner with a flashlight and siphon them out. <Not practically> 2) Use centrifugal forces to force the phytoplankton to the rim, stop machine and siphon them out. Extreme forces will kill the plankton or stop them from reproducing (I believe this info is from reedmariculture.com). <Again... not practical... Oh, and was just chatting with Randy (Reed) yesterday out here at the present IMAC> I could also feed the phytoplankton to, for example, rotifers. The are plankton collectors available that can catch the rotifers (approx. 60 micrometers). One could use this to do water changes. This way you minimize Guillard's fertilizer exposure in the main tank. High concentrations of this fertilizer may contribute to a algae bloom. I do not think that is likely to occur, but I would like to not add the formula to my display tank. <Okay...> I wish to use the phytoplankton as a feed for Mysid/Mysis/copepods (fish food) and rotifers(coral food) and featherduster worms/ soft corals, tridacnid clams. Thank you. <Worth experimenting... you may find it is easier/simpler to just purchase this quantity of culture/food pre-made by others. Bob Fenner>

Guillard's F/2 Phytoplankton Fertilizer  2/19/07 Hello Cam here. I would like to know if the Guillard's F/2 Formula is toxic for Marine Fish/ Invertebrates. In case I accidentally add Guillard's F/2 Formula to my main tank. <Mmm, not likely so... is used extensively in aquaculture: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&rlz=1I7PCTA&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=Guillard%27s+F/2+Phytoplankton+Fertilizer&spell=1> I have read that this fertilizer contains many different types of molecules like, for example,   FeCl3 ? 6H2 O, CuSO4 ? 5H2O ect. <No such word as ect... It's etc... an abbreviation for et cetera res... Lingua Latina for "and other things"... learn it, love it, live it> This worries me because it contains Iron (Fe) and (Cu) <As do a number of other pet-fish products, even human foods... in small quantities... BTW, these are essential (micro) nutrients> that can be very detrimental to all invertebrate life. <You could choke on white bread...> Is there a way that I can filter the fertilizer from the solution? <Mmm... yes... could seek out other formulations, utilize a bit of inorganic chemistry... but I wouldn't> If this fertilizer is indeed harmful to corals, shrimp and other invertebrates what do you propose that I do, because I want to feed the phytoplankton to rotifers and then feed my rotifers to my Hards (SPS) corals? Thank you for your time and patience. <I would not be concerned here... is my/a real answer... If the amount of any of the constituents, their mix, were toxic, the phytoplankton would be poisoned... first. Not to worry. Bob Fenner>

Amphipods, Copepods, and  Zooplankton oh my! - 8/19/03 I have had my marine tank up and running for about 2 months now. It is a Juwel Vision 180 bow front running the standard internal filter, a BakPak 2 skimmer <Underskimmed me thinks, but I noticed your from Scotland, and you might be talking about litres in which case you are skimming nicely. =)> and filter, and a Fluval 3 that is packed with Rowaphos. There is also a Microjet in there to create flow in the lower levels of the tank. Lighting is one Marine glow and 2 PowerGlos.  Stock is very low just now, consisting of 4 Green Chromis (which have spawned!), <Awesome!> 6 turbo snails and a few lumps of live rock with lovely Coralline algae on it and some macro algae. <Very nice!> The rest of the tank is made up of live sand (not critters, but bacteria) and Ocean Rock. <Cool> I had the normal Diatom problem, and now have nice green algae growing, hence the snails. My problem is this... Last night I was looking at the tank when I realized that the "bubbles" on the front glass were not in fact bubbles, but 1-2mm round "things" with what looks like 8 feather like legs that wave about a bit. I can't find any reference to these in any books. They seem to have appeared over night and are concentrated in the heavier flow. The fish are "possibly" taking the odd one or two, but I don't know if I should be worried or not! <No worries mate. These are likely a type of juvenile copepod or amphipod. Very beneficial creatures to have. Likely breeding in your crop of green alga. Consider yourself lucky. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pods.htm and utilize your favorite search engine for copepods or amphipods for morphological ID> Any help would be greatly appreciated <Thanks for your inquiry. -Paul out!> Rob - Aberdeen, Scotland

Bottled Phytoplankton - 8/17/03 > How about feeding it with commercial products such as: PhytoPlex, ZooPlex etc. by Kent Marine? <<A complete waste of money in my opinion. The particle size is too big for most phytoplankton feeders. DTs is a better choice if you must use a bottled supplement>> What is DT?:-) Luke <DT's is a brand of bottled phytoplankton... one of the very few that is actually remotely worthy of living up to the claims and marketing for such products (small particle size, shipped and sold refrigerated, etc). Still... even DT's is not going to keep this gorgonian alive as a staple. If you had a mature refugium, it would assist as fodder for increasing bacteria, copepods and perhaps colloidal matter in decay. Also... when the name or address of a product you are looking for is not handy (as DT's isn't coming to me at present <G>), do be sure to be resourceful with a keyword search on a good search engine like google.com   Simply type in variations of what info you do know (name combinations) and then navigate the results. You will find many references to this product on our website and abroad. We have a google search tool at the bottom of our index page at www.wetwebmedia.com Best regards, Anthony>

Phyto Reactors - 8/13/03 Where can I find some decent plans for a phyto reactor? <have seen some great pics and plans on the big message boards like reefcentral.com also try ozreef.org (click DIY link) and find like DIY aquarium project lists. Ciao, bub. Anthony>

-Murdering phytoplankton- If a person had a UV sterilizer AND protein skimmer running 24/7, would attempting phytoplankton additions for corals, zoanthids, bivalves. etc. be a big waste of time? <Running a UV sterilizer 24/7 is much more of a big waste of time.> Seems like what the UV sterilizer doesn't zap, the skimmer is removing. And if so, is it necessary for both pieces of equipment to be running? <I'd kill the UV for now unless problems develop. Only very powerful protein skimmers will remove phyto, and if you notice it foaming excessively after dosing, simply shut it off for an hour or two.> The reason I ask is because I was considering getting some Butterflies, maybe a Copperband or something similar. I've been told by many reef keepers that butterflies are difficult to keep without extremely excellent water quality. <Some butterflies are bulletproof, while others (like Copperbands) are difficult to feed or are obligate corallivores. If you can find a Copperband that is eating frozen foods, I'd go for it. -Kevin> What do you think? Jason

Bioluminescent dinoflagellates & free indiglo! I recently had the thought that while many find dinoflagellates and diatoms a visual irritant in their tank, why not culture a bioluminescent species? I've only made a cursory pass at reading the related materials, but the particular species 'Pyrocystis fusiformis' seems to be beneficial in its contribution to a marine tank. <A neat idea> I've exhausted most web materials on the subject, and while they confirm that Pyrocystis fusiformis is a non-toxic species (to humans at least), it leaves me wondering if there might be any adverse effects in a reef (or FOWLR) tank? <Might be... I would actually not "trust" the scientific literature here, but culture, try to toxify some test settings> Would love to see what these little guys would do at night in a fairly brisk moving tank. <Me too, Bob Fenner> Much thanks as always,  - Chris

Greenwater- phytoplankton I would like to culture my own Phytoplex.  How do I do it? Alex Reynaud <do an Internet search for Florida Aqua Farms... they sell complete kits and individual starter components and cultures for Nanochloropsis and Isochrysis to get you on your way. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: phyto bloom problems Hi there.  I was wondering if you had any suggestions on how I could improve the setup of my tank?  I have had this tank running for 8 months.  I have a 35 gallon tank.  I had just started using a small protein skimmer 2 months ago and at Christmas I just set up a trickle system.  There is a sponge that catches debris as the water leaves the overflow to the small sump tank below and a sponge to catch any debris before the water gets pumped back into the tank.  With this system, does my tank require an air stone or will oxygen build up in the sump from the water flowing down on the bio balls and aerate my tank when the water gets pumped back into it? <No, but a larger, more efficient protein skimmer would be a good addition. Cleaning these sponges weekly would also be advised as they produce nitrates, food for algae.> I have one yellow tang, a false clown, 2 red hermits, 1 hermit, 5 snails, and 1 fire scallop.  I also have silicon sand on the bottom, 1 green star polyps which seams to be dying.  I noticed I have accumulated live brine shrimp and tiny little white specks that swim and attach themselves to the glass of the tank.  Do you know what those little white specks would be? <I would advise testing pH, alkalinity, calcium, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, phosphates to see what ails the star polyps. Perhaps light or current? The "live brine shrimp" are not brine shrimp at all, but amphipods which come in with live rock and the rock some corals are mounted to, live sand in some cases. The tiny white specks are one variety or another of tube worm, barnacle, encrusting critter that also comes with the live rock, etc. They will limit themselves over time. Don't worry, it's all good.> For the last 3 months I have been getting phyto blooms.  The water in my tank becomes green.  You can't see the other side and it will last until I constantly do water changes.   I have been putting a few drops of phytoplankton drops into the tank to feed my coral, but I was told this product was tested and will not cause phyto blooms (says on bottle).  I believe my problem happened before this.  I have even added phosphate tablets that go into a mesh stocking to soak up phosphate, but it doesn't work fantastic.  Do you know why this problem keeps occurring? <Overfeeding, inadequate nutrient export (too small/inefficient skimmer/filtration) inadequate filter maintenance/improper water chemistry/pH, alkalinity.  While it is unlikely the phyto product caused this, it could contribute or actually be the seed (if alive) to start this reproduction where the conditions favor it. The nutrients below (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) would feed the bloom, the visible indication of your nutrient problem.>   One last question, I test for Ammonia and Nitrate in my tank.  I have to do a water change every 2 weeks.  This was the weekend to change the water and when I tested for Ammonia my Ammonia was close to .10 or a light green. Isn't my trickle system suppose to cut my Nitrate and Ammonia down with the live bacteria that builds up over the bio balls?  Does the water have to be flowing over the bio balls a certain way? <No. It should process ammonia unless it is coming in with your source water unbeknownst to you, you are overfeeding, have something decaying in your system/filter, filter hasn't cycled or are being killed by improper maintenance or the bio-balls are submerged or getting inadequate oxygenation. It will process nitrite to nitrate, but will not process nitrate, and in fact will contribute to it's production. Live rock and deep sand beds (best if of aragonite) do this quite well.> I'm sorry for all the questions.  I have trying to research my tank problems, but I'm not getting far with the fish stores back home and having a hard time find answers on the internet. Thank you. Cindy <Not a problem Cindy, I would test all water parameters, including source water, maintain proper water parameters, get a better/bigger skimmer if possible, feed sparingly a low ash/phosphate diet, clean sponges/filters at least weekly rinsing them carefully with de-chlorinator or aging them if your water is chlorinated (this could wash through and kill your bio-balls). I like to use Kalkwasser to replenish calcium, support alkalinity, buffer pH in the early AM, and for it's ability to precipitate phosphates. You can find more on it's use at WetWebMedia.com. I would stop the phyto until the bloom/nutrient is under control. I think this a combination of things, not just the phyto.  Let us know if you need more assistance!  Craig>

Phytoplankton feeding - Perspectives on Rob Toonen's articles <Henry... thank you kindly for you efforts and research shared. We will post this promptly (below) for  daily FAQ readers. I must add though that Dr Toonen hasn't actually been misquoted. Part of the incongruity is that Dr Toonen's work has evolved in the many(!) months (more than a year) since writing the article and presenting the work 18 months ago at MACNA Baltimore 2001. My shared opinion/advice was not only from communication with Rob, but actually more from from several other researchers and biologists that have spent years culturing phytoplankton in various applications. The bottom line is that no dead, semi-live or bottled live product can come close to the useful longevity of fresh refrigerated live cultures (regarding particle size in particular)... and since fresh live cultures kept refrigerated degrade markedly on a daily basis (clumping/clotting) until around 6 months (at best), we cannot expect these older, less fresh, commercially processed products to fair much better no matter how much money in marketing the manufacturers spend. And for the sake of the argument, even if I/we admit that any real or wishful claims on viability are correct about bottled phyto... it doesn't change the fact that it has a very limited application in aquariums. Very few corals do or can eat phyto (Gorgonids and some Nephtheids... extremely limited on Alcyoniids). It honestly does more harm than good in my opinion for many tanks. Healthy tanks usually just sustain the hit on nutrients from added liquid phyto and skim it out. Most of our corals are overwhelmingly zooplankton feeders! The argument by phyto mfgs that the dissolved dead phyto is still useful is about as accurate as a dissolved hamburger is useful (both actually are in some ways... increasing microbial populations/nanoplankton... but at what cost?). And the additional proposal that supplemental phyto is needed for copepods is bunk IMO... there is more than enough epiphytic matter shed from the shear surface are of the aquarium interior (scraped and shed algae from glass and rocks, refugium with macros/plants, etc). Experienced and responsible aquarists may very well benefit from it (I suspect that you fall into that category)... but most of the folks we have are new and in need of more fundamental information. And it would be irresponsible for us to agree with anyone that tells a novice to pour liquid phyto in by the gallon when they do not even have a mature established aquarium and protocol yet. Whew! That said... I truly appreciate your input. Quite grateful and non-combative at all. I just witness so many people getting misguided by advertising claims and most liquid supplements which are mostly high-profit "pollution in a bottle". Let as all keep learning, challenging and growing. For every day, a better way... Kind regards, Anthony> >I once asked about DT's Phytoplankton and even a couple of days ago I saw >another question concerning the use of live phytoplankton. The response was >something about having to liquefy the solution before feeding and too large >particle sizes. Anthony Calfo mentions Rob Toonen for his work in this area. >This is actually a misquote and after looking around the net for a while I >finally found Rob Toonen's article where he talks about this. Finding it >wasn't as easy as I thought and I actually ran across it looking for other >things. It would have been helpful to me to read the actual article directly >so perhaps you could add a link to it in your standard answers and FAQ's and >let people know when they ask about phytoplankton. The link is: > http://www.reefs.org/library/talklog/r_toonen_102500.html. >The article is very informative, and provides an overview of the various >products on the market, along with their benefits and drawbacks. It also >briefly discusses if phytoplankton is good or not: "But, is phytoplankton >feeding right for your aquarium? If your answer to my question about your >goals in keeping a reef aquarium was along the lines of maximizing diversity >or recreating a particular reef habitat type, then there are volumes of >research showing that phytoplankton plays an important role in supporting >natural reef ecosystems. If your answer was more along the lines of >minimizing potential problems with nutrient export and maximizing growth of >Acropora, however, you're unlikely to see much visible benefit (and >potentially cause yourself more problems) by adding phytoplankton to your >aquarium." >The concern about particle sizes is NOT for all phytoplankton products. >Actually most products, in particular DT's and other live phytoplankton, >are OK. To quote the article: "Live phytoplankton is obviously the best >option in terms of nutritional value and low risk of over-feeding. Live >cultures are the standard by which all other products are judged, and the >others can be "as good as live" but no one has ever discovered a >phytoplankton supplement that performs better than live." However, live >phytoplankton is perhaps the most expensive option to provide phytoplankton >to a tank and "Storage in the refrigerator may or may not lead to problems >in the home (such as the complaining spouse syndrome, or house-guests >thinking it's Wheat grass or some other nasty 'health food' concoction and >guzzling some )... "  :) >Dr. Toonen only mentions the inappropriate particle size with respect to >spray dried marine phytoplankton (SDMP) with ESV as the primary choice. >There he does say: "the major drawbacks with this product are that it does >not generally provide particles of the size range of the majority of >phytoplankton, and that it requires mixing in a blender prior to feeding in >order to get any particles of the correct size range. ", even though the >nutrition profile of the product is actually very good. >I recommend the article to anyone interested in feeding phytoplankton to >their marine tank. I thought your readers might benefit from this >information as much as I did. >Henry Muyshondt

Flower Pot Coral II Dear Crew, As you remember, I wrote concerning my G. Stokesi (thanks for the correction). I wrote Kent and awaited a response. The response is in and I value your opinion as much and possibly more (your helping the amateurs, he is selling a product). Please do not take offense to my quotation of expert as I am unfamiliar with your staffs qualifications. <No problem. If you are interested, there is a page on the crew, who we are, what we look like, what we do, etc. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/wwmcrew.htm> I simply didn't want some smug response from them saying "who this guy, we are the pro's" <No, I am the Pro, Steven Pro to be exact. :)> You seem to overqualified to say the least and I am interested in your response. By the way, they asked If I am skimming. I said yes 4 hours per day venturi style. Effective today I have 3 inches of aragonite live sand and the stokesii are on the bottom. Thanks Steve- HERE IS THE OFFICIAL RESPONSE FROM KENT Hello, Thanks very much for your inquiry; I'll do my best to try and clear up some confusion. Goniopora, in general, has a poor track record for survival in captivity, and the reasons for this aren't very clear to even the most experienced hobbyists and professionals in the industry. There are many factors, however, that are often observed and/or theorized to have an influence on the survival rate. Certainly, water temperature, nitrogenous waste concentrations, light characteristics, water flow, dissolved oxygen concentration, nutrient input, and presence of toxins excreted by nearby corals and other cnidarians play roles in the relative survival rate of Goniopora. I will, at this point, say that I am not aware that any specific studies have been performed on "bottled phytoplankton" and the size of the species included as they pertain to the feeding habits of Goniopora. Our product, Phytoplex, contains three species of phytoplankton in a size range of 2-15 microns, and our ChromaPlex contains two species with a size range of 5-25 microns. The recognized lower limit on size of phytoplankton as noted by Marine Biologists and Oceanographers is 2 microns; therefore I find it difficult to believe that Goniopora, which feed not only on phytoplankton (all 2 microns and larger), but also on zooplankton (also 2 microns and larger) are not able to feed on organisms present in our products. In other words, the insinuation or claim that the phytoplankton in Phytoplex are too large for Goniopora doesn't hold water. Corals and other organisms that feed on the smallest classes of plankton, femto- and picoplankton, at 0.02-0.2 microns and 0.2-2.0 microns, respectively, often use a visible mucous to aid in the capture of such small particles; Goniopora do not display that characteristic. Note that the femtoplankton class is composed wholly of virioplankton (virus'), and picoplankton is composed of bacterioplankton. Again, I believe that an individual would be hard-pressed to locate a study performed on Goniopora citing their feeding schemes, but perhaps I'm just not reading enough these days. Now, allow me to say that if the coral isn't getting the amount of nutrients it needs (i.e. the coral is simply not capturing enough of the plankton to meet its nutritional requirements) in order to survive and thrive, that's another matter, more easily solved. You didn't mention that you have a protein skimmer on this aquarium, did you omit that information or is the tank skimmer-less? Kindest regards, Cris Brightwell Marine Scientist Kent Marine, Inc. www.kentmarine.com <While I know of no studies involving Phytoplankton and Goniopora, Dr. Rob Toonen did perform a study on bottled Phytoplankton products. You should be able to easily find this on the net. The basics are what Anthony gave you in the last email. To be useful, it must be fresh, refrigerated, and whisked to ensure proper particle size. While their live Phytoplankton is probably of the sizes he quoted, Dr. Toonen's study showed that all of these products have a tendency to clump, making them worthless. They must be used up in less than six months, refrigerated the entire time (wholesale, retail, and your home), and need to be blended for a few minutes to minimize clumping. Do read the article for yourself, though. -Steven Pro>

Phytoplankton... Not a food for everyone Hi Steven Pro, Just for your information, I do feed my corals phytoplankton. That includes my sponge, sea squirt, clam, and of course I use syringe squirt some at the elegance too,. I don't know if it need/eat it or not. <Please search www.WetWebMedia.com for phytoplankton. Anthony has detailed its benefits and drawbacks (namely in dosing procedures) many times. Your clam, sea squirt, and sponge maybe able to eat phytoplankton, but it must be blended or whisked every time to reduce particle size. Your Elegance will not eat any phytoplankton. Zooplankton for it.> As for the cleaner shrimp sticking their pinchers between the meat and the skeleton of the elegance, this does not bother me too much, because they are not attacking the coral. What I mean is they are not doing that all the time, only when necessary. Don't know if that's the most correct way to describe what they do. <Ok, but I would watch it.> Glad to hear that you pretty much have the same type of animals variety as me. <You will see a full and complete description with pictures once our online magazine comes out.> I have few fish, mostly corals (soft and hard). As for cleaning my skimmer, I don't feed my fish as much as most people do. So stuff that comes out isn't as much. <But your corals are constantly producing wastes that your skimmer could be removing.> Most of the liquid that is in the collection cup is drained into a container. <Ok, you have an overflow on the collection cup. These are both good and bad. They make life easier, but negatively impact performance. The neck of the collection cup needs a bit buildup to skim, but after a day or two the buildup gets os thick that skimmate cannot rise, hence the need to clean a well working skimmer every couple of days.> But you are right, I should probably clean them more often. BUT every other day, that's way too often for me, like I said, I don't get that much "stuff" in the collection cup. <But you should be.> Normally I go by how dirty the collection cup looks. And you are right, for the past few years in the hobby. One of the things I learn is that there is really no one tank is the same. Each one is unique. As for the brown and green algae growth, I do realize that it is a new tank's cycle thing it goes through. But I also believe that there must be something that is fueling it's growth. The bottom line is that the system is not balanced out yet. As fast as the coralline algae is growing, I hope it can be faster. Right now still kind have that newly setup tank look without them cover the rock. Thanks again for all your help and patience. As far as I can tell, my elegance is doing better now. <I am glad to hear it.> I hope it pull through this. Have a nice Thanksgiving. <You too!> Sincerely, George <Kind regards. -Steven Pro>

DIY DT's I want to make my own DT's. From what I have found, all it is saltwater in a jar that sits under light and kept warm for a week or two. The water will turn green and then you have DT's. Is this true? <Not exactly.> If so how can they sell it for $16.00? There has to be more to this. <Please take a look at the following articles: http://www.reefs.org/library/talklog/r_toonen_102500.html http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-07/ds/index.htm> Thanks so much for your time! <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Phytoplankton I was reading the Q/A's last night on the site regarding environmental disease. One of the Q/A's was from someone who had been told that the proper dosage of DT's Phytoplankton for a reef system was 1 cup per 50 gallons. The person was having fits with getting the water cleared. I use this product--the filter-feeders (including the flame scallops) seem to love it. The flame scallops are constantly excreting waste so they are feeding on it well. However, the proper dosage is actually one ounce (or 1 tablespoon) per 50 gallons every other day, and perhaps a bit more if the system is heavy on filter feeders. One cup per 50 gallons is 16 times the recommended dosage! I've been using it according to the directions, and have never had any problems with my water becoming cloudy as a result. Also, according to the label directions, live phytoplankton is not removed from the system by a protein skimmer--so powering off of the pump after adding it should not be necessary. Anyone who uses this product also should smell it every time before using it--if it smells like anything but salt water, it's no good and should be discarded. Pass this on so that the misinformation will stop! <Will post, and I thank you. Bob Fenner>

Phytoplankton In my prior message, my math was wrong. The proper dosage is 1 Tablespoon per 50 gallons, or one ounce per 100 gallons. So one cup per 50 gallons is sixteen times the dosage--but the proper dosage, in ounces, is 1 oz per 100 gallons, not 1 oz per 50, as I stated before (and these things are all very fluid, anyway, based on the load of filter feeders in the tank. . .)

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