Reef Phyto mail order foods review

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Live marine foods by post. Jeremy Gay sees what's on the menu at Reef Phyto.

Feeding marine livestock is more interesting than ever. As we better understand what makes up the food web on a reef, and then offer those foods to our captive organisms, our reef tanks will become more successful.

While searching the Internet the other day for all things reef I came across Reef Phyto, a company which had some very interesting food listed, including phytoplankton, zooplankton, copepods and even rotifers.

As an enthusiastic amateur breeder I always seem to find literature that lists rotifers as the best first fry food. But could I get any? Could I heck! I resigned the whole process of culturing and feeding rotifers to the labs and public aquariums.

However, now you can buy it mail order from Reef Phyto with no mess and no fuss, and feed it straight away. They even tell you how you can culture it yourself and provide all the necessary bits in a rotifer culture pack! I love modern reefkeeping…

If this is all going over your head, and you currently feed two types of food to your marines — flake and frozen — read on.

In the oceans there is a food chain. Nutrients plus sunlight feed floating green algae known as phytoplankton. This marine, green water is then fed upon by tiny animals known as zooplankton, as well as directly by much larger animals such as corals. Tiny zooplankton are then fed upon by larger zooplankton and fish, and invertebrate larvae — and the food chain continues.

Both phyto and zooplankton are eaten by fish and corals in the wild, so you could have the best flow, light and water, yet if you aren’t adding phytoplankton and zooplankton to your reef tank, the whole system could be starving.

"We provide a reliable source of quality live phytoplankton, rotifers, copepods, zooplankton and brineshrimp all cultured and grown on our premises in the UK," say Reef Phyto. "Place your order before 4pm and we will dispatch your live food the same day."

Mail order marine food is here!

The verdict

I like the range of foods and the in-depth, yet simple to understand instructions that accompany them. They arrived quickly and in great condition.

Just one day after adding the copepods I had copepods on my glass, so immediately the diversity was richer. As they reproduce and multiply they will in turn feed fish and corals.

The Mandarin food packs are a great idea and, being live copepods, will benefit any fish finding it tough to get enough natural foods in the reef aquarium. You can even receive a package of copepods every week, but they do work out quite expensive to feed if you do.

This company is helping hobbyists to make reefkeeping easier and more successful, so they get my vote.

Products/service: MarIne livestock from Reef Phyto.

Prices: From 40p per portion of Daphnia or brineshrimp, to £95.44 for a three-month subscription of Mandarin combination food packs.

Reviewer: Jeremy Gay

Rating: 4/5

More info: 0800 0337 537

Good

  • Hassle-free live foods.
  • They show you how to culture your own.
  • Great range for finicky feeders and corals of all types, from light-loving SPS to full-on planktivores. They do brineshrimp and Daphnia too, if you want mail order live foods for freshwater fish.
  • Nano-size bottles available

Bad

  • Live foods have a finite life, so buy the correct amount to avoid wastage. and keep refrigerated.
  • Expensive. As good as the Mandarin combination packs are, a year’s worth would cost you £381.76.

This item was first published in the December 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping. It may not be reproduced without written permission.