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Is Phytoplankton a necessity addition to a reef tank?

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Is Phytoplankton a necessary addition?

  • Yes

    Votes: 2 13.3%
  • No

    Votes: 13 86.7%

  • Total voters
    15

mattseattle

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 15, 2003
Messages
2,694
Location
Seattle, WA
The past few months I have stopped adding any type of Phytoplankton to my tank and I have not noticed any ill effects on the life.

do others consider Phytoplankton a necessary addition to a reef tank?
 

NaH2O

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 25, 2004
Messages
8,568
matt - Great thread! I'm glad you started it, as I've been doing some reading on the subject of phytoplankton. I'm trying to get an understanding of the different perspectives on feeding it.

Let me start with just naming 3 types of microalgal species that are often cultured: Nanochloropsis, Tetraselmis & Isochrysis.

Direct Feeding...what organisms need to be fed phyto directly? I imagine clams under 3.5 inches (babies) could benefit, other filter feeders too - like feather dusters, tunicates, and sponges. Some people claim that when they start to feed phyto they see an increase in filter feeders. I agree with this statement, as you are feeding more to the tank, which means more food for theses guys to utilize....I'm not saying that this is a good thing, as I am beginning to understand excess nutrients usually means fighting nusiance algae. I'm not sure which corals really need to be directly fed phyto...dendroepthya?

Indirect Feeding...another part of the phyto debate. Some hobbyists feel that by feeding phyto to the tank, you are then feeding the zooplankton organisms, and therefore feeding the inhabitants that feed on the zooplankton. If you think about SPS, they get most of their food from the sugars produced from the zoox, so I don't think they will benefit much. However, the excess nutrients in the tank could prove to be detrimental to the tank.

Phytoplankton is an algae. Growing the algae and storing it requires food for the algae to live on. What happens to the food the algae are using after they are full? It sits in the bottle.....then when you feed the phyto to the tank - you are adding the extra fertilizer/growing media, too. Then, what about phyto that has been stored for some time and is beginning to die off.....excess nutrients....more phosphates.

Another important note to make....what about the skimmer? Turn it off, leave it on? It is also important to be sure and get rid of the phyto before it dies in the tank.....that would mean....excess nutrients.

Here is something to ponder.....when you clean off your glass, what are you cleaning? Algae. Do you think this would provide the same food for your tank as adding phyto?

Whew! I didn't mean for this post to be so lengthy. Let me know what you think....
 

Gina

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Messages
54
Location
Maryland
[

Here is something to ponder.....when you clean off your glass, what are you cleaning? Algae. Do you think this would provide the same food for your tank as adding phyto?

Hmmm...good question Nikki! Food for thought so to say! I was feeding Phyto but, in the last couple of weeks have stopped. I have not noticed any difference in my corals. I am glad this thread has been started! I for one am curious...are my corals really benefitting from the feeding? I don't think it's hurting anything and I don't overfeed but, I am not convinced it's really helping either. Wish I knew for sure!
 

fishermann

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Joined
Jul 13, 2003
Messages
670
Location
Searcy, Arkansas
other then small clams, which you can take out and put in a container with some tank water and target feed, and maybe some VERY specilized softies that the majoriede of us well never see this stuff is nothing but food for algae and diatoms
 

NaH2O

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 25, 2004
Messages
8,568
nice post, fishermann! Gina, it is difficult to weed through all the things we are told are good for our tank/inhabitants. For myself, I feel it is important to get an understanding of the different facets of the hobby, so I can make an educated decision. I always try and keep an open mind, and see things from other perspectives.
 

Chimera

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2004
Messages
24
One thing I can't stand is when 'the rules for the road' tell us to do something that there is no real proof of benefit. In the case of Phyto, there are a lot of theories about how it could, theoretically, benefit. But when it comes to practical usage, there is no real difference between using it or not. Case in point, My tank is stuffed with SPS that are growing fine without adding phyto. Could my stuff grow faster if I added it? Maybe, but I'd never be able to tell. Does it matter? Is it worth the potential trouble? IMO, no.

Of course, in cases where we absolutely know that the animals eat the stuff, ie-small clams and fanworms, then there is no question that it is needed.
 

mojoreef

Reef Keeper
Joined
Jul 5, 2003
Messages
7,530
Location
Sumner
Good thread Matt. I think what alot of the misconception when it comes to not only phyto, rotifers, and all the other shelf type foods is that yes they may indeed eat it, BUT it is by far not the only food they eat, its not even the food they eat most often. Through countless scientific studies it has been shown and proven that the vast majority of coral type food comes from detritus/ fish waste and the bacteria associated with it. When we look at our tanks and see what is needed to be feed and then look to either add more food or use what we have its a simple choice really. Most reef tanks if not all have an abundance of fish waste/detrtus in our tanks to not use this and then add more food always leeds to and over abundance of waste and detritus.

Mike
 

RockyHeap

Evil Genius
Joined
Jun 30, 2003
Messages
232
Location
Sultan, Wa
I add phyto occasionally.

As others have stated, all depends on your tanks critters and population.

I have tons of sponge growth, small clams, feather dusters, and gorgonians. All are thriving. Some peoples tanks I see are very void of this hidden macro and nano-life. Sure there may be tons of SPS or softy corals in the tank, but you have to feed the critters you're wanting to keep.

Moderation goes a long way too. A bit of phtyo sure won't hurt any SPS or softies, but if you don't have the right animals to be feeing phyto too, then yeah it'll just go to waste.
 

mattseattle

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 15, 2003
Messages
2,694
Location
Seattle, WA
this was a good thread of information. thanks everyone for the input.

i stopped adding DT's about 2 - 3 months again. i haven't noticed a decrease in the small feather worms, sponges, etc. in my tank. i've actually noticed an increase in sponges the past few months. not saying it's due to the lack of DT's but something is making up for it. i have some interesting purple, blue, yellow as well as white sponges growing on my rock work in the shaded areas. i also have a ton of small feather dusters growing in the shaded areas as well. i haven't noticed in a decrease in pods either.
 
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