A Look at the Pros and Cons of Which Form of Phyto to Use for Which Application.
The aim of this article is to help you decide which product in the Midland Reefs range of phytoplankton is most suitable for your application. I’ll cover the different species of phyto in a future article but I first wanted to give you some information about the pros and cons of live phyto versus preserved. I mean, they can’t both be the best choice for feeding you reef can they? So why does Midland Reefs stock both?
There are a number of reasons for choosing one in favour of the other, with the choice usually coming down to either a matter of economics or application. Our phytoplankton, as with the rest of our optimal nutrition range, constitutes some of the best products available in the world.
Preserved phytoplankton is widely used in aquaculture as a reliable substitute for live phyto. It’s used to enrich rotifers and artemia prior to them being fed to larval marine animals – fishes and shrimps. Different species of phyto are used to provide the different nutritional profiles – that’s differing ratios of fats, protein etc, – that different species of animal require to enable them to grow successfully.
Preserved phyto is well suited to being used in the reef aquarium. The primary purpose of feeding phyto in the reef is to encourage the proliferation of the various small critters that come in as hitchhikers on live rock and corals. These species commonly include copepods, amphipods, tanaids, gammarids, mysids, ostracods, small brittle stares, various species of polychaete worms (bristle worms and small feather dusters), bi-valves etc. These critters form the base of the natural food chain within your reef helping to provide a healthy environment for the major animals – the fishes, corals, and other invertebrates that form the focus of your reef.
Depending on preservation method can have a shelf life of up to 2 years (frozen). 12 to 14 weeks is pretty standard for refrigerated products.
Can be very highly concentrated with a starting dosage of as little as 1 ml. per 100 litres being required.
Lower cost than live products.
It’s always there when you need it, unlike live, which has a nasty habit of crashing just when you really need it (providing you remembered to buy more before running out!}
Convenience – no messing about with cultures, no having to remember to shake live culture.
Cleanliness – contains negligible amounts of undesirable residual nutrients such as nitrate and
Preserved phyto is usually non-viable – meaning that you can’t use it to start off a fresh culture.
May not be accepted as food by some corals and other filter feeders.
Perhaps not the best choice for the nano reef, given the density of the product it may be too easy to overdose in a small volume of water.
Live phytoplankton is probably what we’d all like to use as a live natural method of feeding our reefs.
Live phyto is desirable as a natural, non-polluting method of feeding our reefs.
Depending on species chosen may make a significant contribution to the nutritional requirements of certain corals and other filter feeding invertebrates.
May play an additional role in taking up some undesirable nutrients.
Can be used to accelerate the curing time of live rock
Extremely useful when raising larval animals through the process of co-culturing
Best choice for the nano reef, given the amount used cost shouldn’t be an issue, also limits the possibility of pollution through overdosing.
More expensive to use than bulk grown preserved.
Poorly produced phyto has the potential to pollute the reef if it contains undesirable amounts of residual nutrients such as nitrate and phosphate.
It’s potential for crashing, leaving you with no usable supply (usually just when you need it!).