First Bite live phytoplankton is a novel way to feed


Nathan Hill takes a look at a new food that could be of great benefit to the reef aquarium.

This is an interesting concept from food4fish.co.uk. Rather than offering a food directly to the livestock, you add a food that feeds the food for your livestock.

Phytoplankton is the most basic plankton, made up of plant organisms feeding directly on micro and macronutrients in the water. They photosynthesise like plants, in turn providing a food source for larger zooplankton.

Phytoplankton is usually invisible, but enough will turn water slightly green.

This product feeds the zooplankton in your tank, such as the copepods and Mysids that roam the substrate and live rock, sometimes drifting in the water. These kinds of zooplankton are just what some stony corals and certain finicky fish like mandarins feed on. So, you’re indirectly feeding the fish by fattening the plankton your animals can feed on.

This concept isn’t new, as phytoplankton is an essential step in culturing organisms such as rotifers, but the effects can be very beneficial. The strains of algae used – Nannochloropsis, Phaeodactylum and Chlorella — are all good for rotifer cultivation, and this supplement is a lot easier than trying to culture your own.

The product boasts the content of live plankton — a claim that always raises my eyebrows. However, given the green content of the pouch, I suspect that fish4food has managed to crack it with this supplement.

The pouch – 50ml in our sample case – needs to be refrigerated between 0-4°C/32-39°F when not in use and the vague dosage direction of ‘one teaspoon every two days’ makes me wonder if we might have to adjust as we see fit.

At two to 20 microns, this product should be small enough to pass through most filters, although I’m concerned at how it would get on with a hefty protein skimmer. Stop any UV sterilising during use as it would spell a rapid demise for these living micro-organisms.

If overdosed to a great degree, phytoplankton types can play havoc with pH. Don’t pour in bags of the stuff, as this can cause imbalances.

Prices: around £4.99 for 50ml.

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