Culturing and dosing live phytoplankton

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by jlinzmaier, Jul 20, 2009.

  1. jlinzmaier

    jlinzmaier Active Member

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    Just looking for some info on people's experiences with culturing and dosing live phytoplankton. I know many people use live phyto as a food source for culturing zooplankton, but I'm interested in hearing about those who dose live phyto into their tank and why.

    Here's what I'm particularly intersted in:
    1) What made you decide to culture and feed live phyto?
    2) What species of phyto did you culture?
    3) General description of your culturing set up (including food for phyto, lighting, aeration, etc...)
    4) Amount you fed/feed to your tank (with tank size).
    5) What determined how much you should feed?
    6) Any changes good or bad you saw when feeding live phyto.

    Thanks.

    Jeremy
     

  2. Fishcrazy06

    Fishcrazy06 Reefing Addict

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    Jeremy do you feed Phyto or no? Are you at work right now and bored like me? LOL

    Eric
     
  3. jlinzmaier

    jlinzmaier Active Member

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    I cultured live phyto (nanochloropsis) for over a year and used it to feed my rotifer and brine cultures as well as dosing it into my DT. It was time intensive and I couldn't show any proof that the addition of live phyto to the tank was beneficial in any way. I have since done a lot of research (go figure) and will likely be starting up a live culture again.

    I currently dose brightwell's phytochrom at a low dose. It is nothing more than "dead" cells and I can argue a thousand and one reasons to dose live phyto vs dead but I'm interested in hearing others opinion and experiences.

    My intention with dosing live phyto is to feed the little critters that my fish and corals will feed on. I'm not entirely convinced that many corals use phyto as a food source but I know for a fact that pod reproduction will increase with the addition of phyto.

    (I wish I had this much free time at work!! LOL!! At home at the desk right now.)

    Jeremy
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2009
  4. Fishcrazy06

    Fishcrazy06 Reefing Addict

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    With the new setup I am working on I will have the room to do this so I too am curious! May be beneficial just for the pods then. Hmmmm Will have to keep an eye on this !

    Eric
     
  5. jlinzmaier

    jlinzmaier Active Member

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    If nothing comes of this I'll at least be sure to send you the details of what I'll be setting up and you can go with it from there if you like.

    Jeremy
     
  6. pells61

    pells61 New Member

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    I use a gallon milk jug that is stored and lit in my sump closet. I use this room because it is always at 78 degrees and I can run my lights on the timer for my sump lighting. Having the lighting on a 12 hour cycle seems to produce heather batches, which is only gauged by its murky...ness. I grow all the same microalgae in one jug and they seem to get along ok, that or the fittest won out and I now only culture one evolutionarily fit species, but I don't know. What I do know is that the culture I started with contained lsochrysis Pavlova, thalassiosira, teraselmis, nannochloropsis, and synechococcus. One thing that I have found to be a problem is creating enough flow within my milk container to prevent algae from settling on the walls and bottom. I currently use one air pump feeding a gang valve that runs two ridged air tubes to the milk containers cap. One of the two tubes is routed down the handle of the milk jug and seems to create an under gravel filter effect and the other is at the bottom running its bubbles up the wall adjacent to the handle. I currently feed my cultures to a rotifer culture but I have also been feeding it to a softy tank I have, small ten gallon with lots of leathers and the like. I have found that the Kenya trees have slowed with their incessant dropping of their limbs and F'ing up my aquascape!
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
  7. pells61

    pells61 New Member

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    I use a gallon milk jug that is stored and lit in my sump closet. I use this room because it is always at 78 degrees and I can run my lights on the timer for my sump lighting. Having the lighting on a 12 hour cycle seems to produce heather batches, which is only gauged by its murky...ness. I grow all the same microalgae in one jug and they seem to get along ok, that or the fittest won out and I now only culture one evolutionarily fit species, but I don't know. What I do know is that the culture I started with contained lsochrysis Pavlova, thalassiosira, teraselmis, nannochloropsis, and synechococcus. One thing that I have found to be a problem is creating enough flow within my milk container to prevent algae from settling on the walls and bottom. I currently use one air pump feeding a gang valve that runs two ridged air tubes to the milk containers cap. One of the two tubes is routed down the handle of the milk jug and seems to create an under gravel filter effect and the other is at the bottom running its bubbles up the wall adjacent to the handle. I currently feed my cultures to a rotifer culture but I have also been feeding it to a softy tank I have, small ten gallon with lots of leathers and the like. I have found that the Kenya trees have slowed with their incessant dropping of their limbs and F'ing up my aquascape!
     
  8. jtma508

    jtma508 Member

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    I've been culturing phyto, rotis and pods for some time. My early research led me to the conclusion that it was a natural, realtively inexpensive food source for the zooplankton that feed the tank. I currently culture Nannochloropsis, Tetraselmis, Isochrysis and Rhodomonas. I built a 'culture station' that accommodates up to 14 64oz PET jars. I also have a quantity of and 32oz PET jars as well. Airation is by a pond airation pump through a Florida Aqua Farms 12-port manifold. I use the standard f/2 formula at a rate of ~0.3ml/L at culture split. I keep two cultures of each species going at all time. I feed my tank (120gal tot vol) 1-2 a week by dosing the fuge. The phyto disperses from there through the system. Each feeding equates to about 1.5L of phyto culture. I routinely monitor my system's microfauna using a high quality microscope. I'm satisfied that dosing phyto has boosted the populations of a wide range of zooplankton and protista.

    Some observations:

    :: I picked-up a large bench centrifuge that accommodates up to 8 250ml tubes. If I spin-down 50ml of a particularly dense culture (~2M cells/ml), I'll end up with 1-2ml of packed cells. So you are getting ~2% cells by volume.

    :: There has been a long-held belief that feeding phyto will introduce nitrates and phosphates to your tank via the culture media. I found this to be untrue. I spun down a mature culture and tested the supernatant (the culture water) for both nitrates and phosphates and got no nitrates and barely detectable phosphates (well below 0.01ppm). This is for my live cultures. I cannot say the same would be true of commercial phyto.

    :: Nannochloropsis is the easiest and most commonly cultured phyto. It is easten by a wide range of critters but pods cannot digest it. They prefer the brown and red phytos but will also eat Tetraselmis. Each phyto species has specific nutritional strengths so mixing species is important. Tet, for exmaple, contains two natural antibiotics.

    :: You cannot culture mixed phyto. At least not for long. Nanno and Tet (most especially the former) will out-compete all other species and you will ultimately end up with a Nanno culture. This is a big problem when culturing multiple strains: avoiding cross-contamination.


    All-in-all I have no doubt that dosing phyto is highly beneficial to a tank system.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
    BluewaterLa likes this.
  9. jlinzmaier

    jlinzmaier Active Member

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    Thanks for the replies!! Very helpful!

    Jeremy
     
  10. Norcalreefer

    Norcalreefer Active Member

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    Ok, I'm looking to start growing phyto and I'm wondingering what is the best phyto to grow if I'm only growing one type. I'm assuming that Nannochloropsis is the best for a beginner as I've read a few places that it's the most hearty type, but what would be the best food?. Are the others much harder to grow?
     
  11. cdness

    cdness 2006 - Present Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    I am very interested in this topic and will be following along for more information. I am trying to gather info on culturing in an attempt to start up in the fall...
     
  12. -Logzor

    -Logzor Valuable Member

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    1) What made you decide to culture and feed live phyto?

    Since it's so easy to start a culture, I figured I would try and see if it benefited my reef. A local club member donated the phyto.

    2) What species of phyto did you culture?

    Nanochloropsis

    3) General description of your culturing set up (including food for phyto, lighting, aeration, etc...)

    Four 1-Gallon jugs hooked up to a Whisper-100 Air Pump, Liquid Miracle Grow, Reef Breeders PAR 38 Red LED.

    4) Amount you fed/feed to your tank (with tank size).

    I feed 10-12 oz daily in a 150g Aquarium.

    5) What determined how much you should feed?

    I keep increasing to see the impact on my reef, at first I had blooms from the amount I dosed but that doesn't occur any longer. I plan on continuing to increase to see what happens.

    6) Any changes good or bad you saw when feeding live phyto.

    Good changes. My Chateo is growing again, it had been shrinking/dying. Since I run a bare bottom tank with a powerful skimmer keeping nutrients in the water column can be tricky. I believe it has benefited the overall health of the aquarium by sustaining higher nutrient levels. Beforehand I believe some of my corals were "starving". I'm not entirely sure what consumes the phyto but I think it's beneficial.

    It's cheap and easy to culture large amounts.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2013
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