Dosing phytoplankton (for those of us not interested in culturing it)

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Crashjack

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I'm interested in dosing phytoplankton for two major reasons: 1) I think it could be good for my corals and maybe even some of my fish (indirectly), and 2) I think it might actually be easier than messing with other coral foods.

Regarding #1, I've read some of the circulating studies and it appears traditional coral foods aren’t that beneficial for some corals, and even though phytoplankton isn’t really identified as the ultimate solution to feeding a lot of varieties of corals, it does seem to have strong benefits for some and possibly minor benefits for others. If nothing else, pods/plankton benefit from phytoplankton, which might indirectly benefit corals that don’t benefit from phytoplankton directly, while also benefiting several species of fish.

Regarding #2, I’m handicapped and operate out of a powered wheelchair (chair also elevates). I think pouring phyto into a small measuring cup and then pouring into my sump’s return pump chamber would be a little quicker/easier than mixing tank water and powdered food in a small bottle, shaking, and then elevating my wheelchair to the top of my tank to disperse (I don’t use my return pump chamber for dried coral food because I’m afraid a lot will settle there). I realize the time savings are minimal, but if I can save a little time for a better food source then why not?

Most of the information I’ve found on the internet is either oriented around culturing phytoplankton or written by the people who sell it. I haven't found a lot of information from users of phytoplankton products. Though I’m sure most of the sellers have good products, I also realize they are trying to sell those products. I’ve also found conflicting information from sellers regarding live versus non-living, how much to feed, how often to feed, nitrate/phosphate reduction, and even how long it will last in the refrigerator. Most sellers usually get around to recommending daily dosing (obviously the more we dose, the more we buy), but if you look around several also mention dosing 2-3 times per week. This isn’t to say that the sellers don’t give good information, only that some of the information is geared toward selling product, and it is a little hard to discern what is what.

I'm not really looking for the “best” brand. I'm really interested in the following:
  1. What differences have users noticed between dosing phytoplankton and dosing traditional coral foods (good and/or bad differences)?
  2. Is there a difference in the benefits of phytoplankton when comparing live to non-living?
  3. How long will phytoplankton really last in the refrigerator (live and non-living)?
  4. Is it necessary to dose phytoplankton daily (e.g. have folks seen a big difference dosing daily versus 2-3 timer per week)? Does living or non-living make a difference in dosing regimen?
  5. Though this also relates to how often to dose, how much (volume) does it take to see benefits?
  6. Assuming live phytoplankton, how long might it live in a reef tank and might it reproduce? I realize it will be consumed, die, be skimmed-out, etc. at some point, but how long might it remain viable once added to the tank (this would likely have a bearing on #4)?
  7. When comparing phytoplankton to traditional coral foods, are there any benefits in regards to nitrates/phosphates?
 
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xxkenny90xx

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I like live phyto alot since alot of coral foods will make po4 skyrocket.

Arguably, live phyto can actually reduce nutrients

I dose daily, but only because the seller told me too....

I'm currently dosing about 35ml in my ~130g setup. Should probably dose more though
 

hans4811

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Following this...interested in doing the same for similar reasons. AlgaeBarn suggests 5ml/20 gals daily, but like you said they’re trying to sell it. Their‘s has 4 diff types of algae, so concentration of the phyto may have something to do with the differences in the instructions. Bought a 16oz bottle of Phytopreme from Rusalty, which has 6 types of algae, and he says 1/4 cup per 50 gals every 3-4 days. His is considerably more expensive, 2x of AlgaeBarn...$29 per 16 oz vs $15 from AB.

Will start at maybe half of AB’s suggestion, so for me, 60gals would be about 8-10ml / day....and go from there.
 

Pkunk35

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Very interesting thread start I’m def following to hear others experiences if any chime in.
I’ll try to answer from my own limited experiences of dosing multiple phyto products in a young (6 mo) tank.

I use: brightwell phyto-chrome, easysps and Easyreef products.

1) biggest difference i notice in my tank using phyto is how fast feather dusters or other cryptic fauna grow. I also think I can see it boost my pod population (or more accurately see the populations seemingly go down during a time when I stopped dosing (I do this by looking at my back walls and rocks at early morning or late at night and trying to visually see population density). Hard to say if it affects coral or not because I generally dose phyto in the dark when tentacles are out anyway.

2) yes. Live phyto without preservative will rot and rot fast from my experience. It also smells kinda “sweet” when live and rancid when bad, this is fairly easy to determine so that is nice. Now I don’t know if feeding the live phyto that now smells bad is actually bad, but I personally would never ever dose that into my tank. Brightwell’s “dead” phytochrom smells like fish oil to me, and 3 months later with daily use, the same bottle will still smell exactly the same. It’s very concentrated and I would think is why it smells this way.

3). I could notice a difference in “fresh” smell missing from fresh live phyto within days in the fridge. Week 2 and 3 i started to suspect it, week 4 I ditched it out of fear. I have a small tank so didn’t dose much. I’m also using the product daily so pulling it in and out the fridge, but I do only pour out and never introduce anything into the bottle.
4) I dose daily 2x, early morning and at night although the reason I do it this often is for my dusters mainly
5) determining volume with live was confusing to me, I had no concentration values to go from. The dead stuff all have instructions so easy to start.
6) no idea on how long it lives but I believe my skimmer will pull it out very quickly as visible ski mate (within hours It seems but my skimmer is def oversized)
7) no idea but phyto used to be made fun of sometimes as “algae bloom in a bottle” a long time ago when all there was was DT’s nannochloropsis. I’m sure if not exported or consumed it will have an effect on N and P so monitoring of those until dosage is calculated is prob good idea. I personally never noticed either a rise or drop when using or slowing down in anything but cryptic life but also I am not a chronic tester so not a good data set.

also, fwiw, I have white tube feather worms that grow so fast I think in the beginning of the tanks alk and calc consumption Was from these tiny worms growing. I have also seen larger worms eject from their tubes for one reason or another and survive in my tank in the gravel, growing new tubes and attaching to substrate. I have a coco worm that when I reduced dosing phyto greatly, started to look ragged and never came out. Upon reintro of phyto it now comes out daily again (it took weeks for this to happen and I do feed other tiny particulate food as well as lots of finely chopped mysid and calanus) and has regrown some of its crown.

My experience in dosing modern phyto products has convinced me that it helps keep up our Tanks biodiversity which is just a hard thing to measure without looking at the right things. I def enjoy using “dead” product because the preservative keeps it at better condition And particle size, I assume, over time. I am not saying it is better tho, just easier.
And to the OP if dosing manually is not ideal , consider using easyreef gel and a doser into the return pump, it def seems like a solid product to me (currently using their single serve packs to try them out and I really like the smell and density of the product, the packs are ridiculously convenient too, although pretty wasteful from a plastics standpoint and I won’t buy it again. I will prob switch to the dosable gel in a bag as a primary food)
 
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Crashjack

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Following this...interested in doing the same for similar reasons. AlgaeBarn suggests 5ml/20 gals daily, but like you said they’re trying to sell it. Their‘s has 4 diff types of algae, so concentration of the phyto may have something to do with the differences in the instructions. Bought a 16oz bottle of Phytopreme from Rusalty, which has 6 types of algae, and he says 1/4 cup per 50 gals every 3-4 days. His is considerably more expensive, 2x of AlgaeBarn...$29 per 16 oz vs $15 from AB.

Will start at maybe half of AB’s suggestion, so for me, 60gals would be about 8-10ml / day....and go from there.
I bought a jug of the Algae Barn phyto and am going to try that 3x per week. 3x per week is my Max as more than that is too taxing, and I won’t stick with it. I don’t know if that will be more or less beneficial than the 2x per week coral food dosing (Reef Roids and Reef Chili) that I currently do. Though my tank looks pretty good, I can’t really say that I see much benefit from the coral food additions in that I’ve never seen much polyp extension when feeding and no explosion of pods. If I’m going to feed something, I would like to see some sort of results.
 
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Crashjack

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Very interesting thread start I’m def following to hear others experiences if any chime in.
I’ll try to answer from my own limited experiences of dosing multiple phyto products in a young (6 mo) tank.

I use: brightwell phyto-chrome, easysps and Easyreef products.

1) biggest difference i notice in my tank using phyto is how fast feather dusters or other cryptic fauna grow. I also think I can see it boost my pod population (or more accurately see the populations seemingly go down during a time when I stopped dosing (I do this by looking at my back walls and rocks at early morning or late at night and trying to visually see population density). Hard to say if it affects coral or not because I generally dose phyto in the dark when tentacles are out anyway.

2) yes. Live phyto without preservative will rot and rot fast from my experience. It also smells kinda “sweet” when live and rancid when bad, this is fairly easy to determine so that is nice. Now I don’t know if feeding the live phyto that now smells bad is actually bad, but I personally would never ever dose that into my tank. Brightwell’s “dead” phytochrom smells like fish oil to me, and 3 months later with daily use, the same bottle will still smell exactly the same. It’s very concentrated and I would think is why it smells this way.

3). I could notice a difference in “fresh” smell missing from fresh live phyto within days in the fridge. Week 2 and 3 i started to suspect it, week 4 I ditched it out of fear. I have a small tank so didn’t dose much. I’m also using the product daily so pulling it in and out the fridge, but I do only pour out and never introduce anything into the bottle.
4) I dose daily 2x, early morning and at night although the reason I do it this often is for my dusters mainly
5) determining volume with live was confusing to me, I had no concentration values to go from. The dead stuff all have instructions so easy to start.
6) no idea on how long it lives but I believe my skimmer will pull it out very quickly as visible ski mate (within hours It seems but my skimmer is def oversized)
7) no idea but phyto used to be made fun of sometimes as “algae bloom in a bottle” a long time ago when all there was was DT’s nannochloropsis. I’m sure if not exported or consumed it will have an effect on N and P so monitoring of those until dosage is calculated is prob good idea. I personally never noticed either a rise or drop when using or slowing down in anything but cryptic life but also I am not a chronic tester so not a good data set.

also, fwiw, I have white tube feather worms that grow so fast I think in the beginning of the tanks alk and calc consumption Was from these tiny worms growing. I have also seen larger worms eject from their tubes for one reason or another and survive in my tank in the gravel, growing new tubes and attaching to substrate. I have a coco worm that when I reduced dosing phyto greatly, started to look ragged and never came out. Upon reintro of phyto it now comes out daily again (it took weeks for this to happen and I do feed other tiny particulate food as well as lots of finely chopped mysid and calanus) and has regrown some of its crown.

My experience in dosing modern phyto products has convinced me that it helps keep up our Tanks biodiversity which is just a hard thing to measure without looking at the right things. I def enjoy using “dead” product because the preservative keeps it at better condition And particle size, I assume, over time. I am not saying it is better tho, just easier.
And to the OP if dosing manually is not ideal , consider using easyreef gel and a doser into the return pump, it def seems like a solid product to me (currently using their single serve packs to try them out and I really like the smell and density of the product, the packs are ridiculously convenient too, although pretty wasteful from a plastics standpoint and I won’t buy it again. I will prob switch to the dosable gel in a bag as a primary food)
Excellent information! I estimate my system to be around 130 gal actual volume, and my plan is to start with 15-20 ml of the Algae Barn live phyto 3x per week and then increase the dose to 25-30 ml. I figured I would start with the live stuff and then if results are good, stick with that. If I can’t keep for long in the refrigerator or results are poor, I might try the nonliving concentrated stuff. I don’t doubt that daily dosing isn’t the best way to go, but if that is the only way to realize good results, I want to find out quickly so I don’t waste a lot of time.
 

zukihara

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Since I started dosing small amounts, my cyano is dying. Coincidence or effective?
James Earl Jones Reaction GIF
 

CanuckReefer

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I've been only recently dosing Phyto, about 2 months. Phyto Feast. I have to admit, compared to roids my balance is more stable. I do twice a week. Roids only once now. I see all my corals reacting positively. From what I read the phyto boosts the zooanthelye the corals are actually feeding on?
I originally bought it for my gorgonian, but seems to really boost all the others as well....
 

JosephM

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  1. What differences have users noticed between dosing phytoplankton and dosing traditional coral foods (good and/or bad differences)? I have way less nuisance algae when I’m dosing, pods are popping up more, corals are growing and healthy
  2. Is there a difference in the benefits of phytoplankton when comparing live to non-living? I’ve never tried non-living but I believe that living is the better route as it’ll provide the best nutrition value
  3. How long will phytoplankton really last in the refrigerator (live and non-living)? I have used live phyto past one month in the fridge but I think it’s BEST before a week. It’s safe to say the average will be one month but it all depends on density and shaking it at least once a day.
  4. Is it necessary to dose phytoplankton daily (e.g. have folks seen a big difference dosing daily versus 2-3 timer per week)? Does living or non-living make a difference in dosing regimen? It doesn’t matter as much just don’t decrease or increase too much. I went from 15ml a day I’m not up to 50ml a day in a 35gal system
  5. Though this also relates to how often to dose, how much (volume) does it take to see benefits? I was noticing differences at 15ml a day. I like to think some is better then none.
  6. Assuming live phytoplankton, how long might it live in a reef tank and might it reproduce? I realize it will be consumed, die, be skimmed-out, etc. at some point, but how long might it remain viable once added to the tank (this would likely have a bearing on #4)? I don’t think they survive long at all in the system unless at added in extreme amounts but then you’re likely to have a culture crash inside your tank which wouldn’t be pretty
  7. When comparing phytoplankton to traditional coral foods, are there any benefits in regards to nitrates/phosphates? I honestly haven’t seen much system but I have a ton of variables. I have a ULNS and have to dose and I feed reef roids every 3 days. Friday I hooked up a UV and stopped feeding coral foods and phyto and my nitrates have gone up but not phosphates. Nitrates may be going up because my chaeto died though.
    Just a little add-on. It’s not hard to culture and I highly recommend but if you want to buy I’d recommend purchasing it off fellow reefers, quite a few sell at good prices on here compared to commercial businesses :)
 
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lynncgo

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I started dosing phyto when I bought a small clam. I also happened to start getting dinos around the same time. Dosing phyto wasn't an obvious improvement but something visually looked subtly different. I was able to manage and eradicate dinos at the time so then I stopped phyto because I read that phyto was adding more pollution than helping. Well, after I stopped dosing phyto I felt like there tank was always on the verge of a breakout with either dino, green algae, or cyano. I just started dosing phyto again because of the new sponsor on R2R.... Tommy's phyto.... Algae barn shipping made it tough to sustain dosing for me. My coral... Sps, lps, softies... Got extra fluffy again. The green algae and cyano is again retreating. Everything is super subtle but I believe phyto makes a difference.
 

hans4811

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I started dosing phyto when I bought a small clam. I also happened to start getting dinos around the same time. Dosing phyto wasn't an obvious improvement but something visually looked subtly different. I was able to manage and eradicate dinos at the time so then I stopped phyto because I read that phyto was adding more pollution than helping. Well, after I stopped dosing phyto I felt like there tank was always on the verge of a breakout with either dino, green algae, or cyano. I just started dosing phyto again because of the new sponsor on R2R.... Tommy's phyto.... Algae barn shipping made it tough to sustain dosing for me. My coral... Sps, lps, softies... Got extra fluffy again. The green algae and cyano is again retreating. Everything is super subtle but I believe phyto makes a difference.
Yup, just put in an order to Tommy’s, thought I’d try it. Found it in this thread.. https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/t...-only-20-w-free-shipping.808925/#post-8657399
 

The_Skrimp

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I started dosing phyto when I had dinos and kept dosing after they were gone. I culture my own because I want live/fresh phyto to compete with the uglies and it’s cheaper to just culture my own in the long run.
I dose nano and tetra. I don’t noticed too much of a difference feeding aside from maybe a little more polyp extension with phyto vs more vibrant colors feeding reef roids but the growth of my corals has definitely accelerated since I started dosing it. I just don’t know how much of it is because of the phyto. The one thing I do notice is how my nutrients drop after dosing live nano. I use it to keep my nitrates under 5 between water changes. It’s a great way to add more micro organisms to fight ugly things like Cyano and Dinos. It can even help clear up cloudy water.
 

ImaFlippinDolphin

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Plankton is natural food source for our tanks and of course the ocean. From a zoomed out view, it makes sense to me which is why I dose. Having said that, my anecdotal evidence based purely on my tanks experience: it helped battle back and defeat dinoflagellates(combined with other methods) increased pod size and population, seems to improve health and biodiversity of my tank. Is it a case of tank aging and maturing or is it helping? All I can do is hedge my bets as it seems to be helping and makes sense from a food chain perspective
 

Dj City

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Look at Easyreefs EasySPS Evo and EasyBooster.

I started dosing my 180 gallon with EasySPS and Easybooster and i'm VERY happy so far.

No refrigeration and is best used with a doser.
Corals are happy, Pods are happy, tank is happy and i'm happy.

I think you might be happy too.
 
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Crashjack

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Thanks for all of the great responses! I fought dinos twice. I had to dose nitrate and phosphate to get rid of, and the reason I got the second time was because I tried to bring my nutrients back down too quickly. In regards to battling dinos, my guess is that dosing phyto does two things: 1) It adds nitrate/phosphate due to the elevated nitrate/phosphate it is cultured in, and then 2) The phyto along with other algaes (good and bad), outcompete the dinos for nutrient uptake. In my case, I had to rely on chaeto, hair algae, film algae, etc. to outcompete my dinos. I'm guessing that live phyto would join the battle and might even lessen the amount of "bad algae" growth associated with elevated nutrients. That said, I know dosing phyto hasn't defeated dinos in several cases, but my guess is that the nutrients added simply weren't enough. Possibly had they also dosed nitrate/phosphate, the phyto might have helped eradicate sooner or maybe with less nuisance algae... just a thought.
 

ImaFlippinDolphin

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Thanks for all of the great responses! I fought dinos twice. I had to dose nitrate and phosphate to get rid of, and the reason I got the second time was because I tried to bring my nutrients back down too quickly. In regards to battling dinos, my guess is that dosing phyto does two things: 1) It adds nitrate/phosphate due to the elevated nitrate/phosphate it is cultured in, and then 2) The phyto along with other algaes (good and bad), outcompete the dinos for nutrient uptake. In my case, I had to rely on chaeto, hair algae, film algae, etc. to outcompete my dinos. I'm guessing that live phyto would join the battle and might even lessen the amount of "bad algae" growth associated with elevated nutrients. That said, I know dosing phyto hasn't defeated dinos in several cases, but my guess is that the nutrients added simply weren't enough. Possibly had they also dosed nitrate/phosphate, the phyto might have helped eradicate sooner or maybe with less nuisance algae... just a thought.

When I got dinos, I did a ton of soul searching trying to figure out how I'd angered the reef gods lol. In my case, too large a water change that threw the nitrate/phosphate balance askew. I also dosed nitrates to rebalance but used the phyto to increase the biodiversity and feed other algae to out compete it.
 
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Another question, has anybody played with dosing more/less volume more/less frequently? I would love to replace my current Mon/Thu coral food regimen with phyto dosing on the same schedule. I figured I would do 3x per week only due to the strong push toward daily dosing. However replacing my current 2x per week schedule would be great.
 
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