How to automate a phytoplankton culture

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chippwalters

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the cells settle out if not kept suspended and can die,,,, if you shake the bottles every so often, refrigerated phyto can last a few weeks or so
Thank-you for your quick response!
I've read somewhere that if they die, they still provide nutrition for your reef. Is that correct?
Anyway, cool, my issue is always contamination, which leads to crashes. I was wondering if your strain is pure or roll your own by now?
Not sure if that is meant for me. Because the bottle is only to be consumed, there is not a need to continuously keep it alive, so I don't think contamination is an issue-- unless I'm missing something?

My overall thought would be to create outside the sump a large batch of phyto, then bottle and refrigerate, and then use up each bottle, one by one which should last months. Just wondering if there's a problem with this concept and if so, what issues are there and is it possible to overcome them.

My reasoning is that if you build a phyto reactor and you're having to maintain a weekly fresh saltwater reservoir, along with fertilizer supplements, perhaps it's less work to just dose a new bottle of phyto every couple weeks. Still looking for feedback. Thanks!
 
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Thank-you for your quick response!
I've read somewhere that if they die, they still provide nutrition for your reef. Is that correct?

Not sure if that is meant for me. Because the bottle is only to be consumed, there is not a need to continuously keep it alive, so I don't think contamination is an issue-- unless I'm missing something?

My overall thought would be to create outside the sump a large batch of phyto, then bottle and refrigerate, and then use up each bottle, one by one which should last months. Just wondering if there's a problem with this concept and if so, what issues are there and is it possible to overcome them.

My reasoning is that if you build a phyto reactor and you're having to maintain a weekly fresh saltwater reservoir, along with fertilizer supplements, perhaps it's less work to just dose a new bottle of phyto every couple weeks. Still looking for feedback. Thanks!
Most types of phyto remain viable for about a month when refrigerated. Tetraselmis stays alive for many months. Even if phyto dies, so long as you prevent if from rotting I think it would be fine as feed.

Plenty of reefers dose phyto, most use preserved/refrigerated due to cost of live phyto. People usually dose it manually, but you could do something like a doser with the bottle in a fridge.

You can grow your own phyto, "harvest" it after about a week after it's consumed most of the fertilizer and keep it refrigerated for dosing into your reef tank. I recommend paying attention to the amount of fertilizer you use, which may require some experimentation. Many people over-fertilize, and so when adding the phyto to their reef tanks are basically dumping fertilizer in, which is loaded with nitrate & phosphate, leading to algae growth in the tank.
 
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I just ordered some k1 media thanks for the tip! I've never heard of it before.

I tried continuous culture like this before but eventually everything crashed, with exception of tetraselmis. Are you using nanno?
Was using a random mix culture from online seller no issues. I believe the miracle gro fertiliser was a great way of keeping the culture going
 
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If you're adding saltwater from a reservoir, won't that reduce your RODI top off additions to the main system and result in increasing salinity in your water? Why not use tank water to fill the plankton reactor? That way you wouldn't be changing the salinity of either system.
You could if you have a decent filtration method on the inlet. But in reality in a large tank it would take years for the salinity of the culture to create any noticeable impact to your tank salinity. People that dose manually don’t have this issue by automating you wouldn’t be creating a new issue imo
 
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YAY! I have been looking for a thread like this for several months now and couldn't find the right combination of words to use in the search bar to locate it. Finally, I found it.

Thanks for the experiment. I am looking forward to trying it out for myself.
 

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can you use dirty tank water instead of ferts & make it so it is like a really slow refugium? also will a phyto culture die at 35 ppt
In my experience the hardest thing about phyto is sanitization. Culture crashes usually happen because something else gets in and either out-competes the phyto or just kills/consumes it. Using tank water means adding competing bacteria and predators like ciliates.

Perhaps it could work if you used bleach or some other method to sterilize the water.
 
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Getting the reactor fired up for a new build, just leaving it on the conservatory for 7 days to strengthen the culture before assembly on the tank.

D715091B-250A-4501-A750-5B3DD3CE97CB.jpeg
 
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Connected it all to the dosing unit, 2 lines, salt in and phytoplankton out.

BA7541BF-B1F7-4E94-8022-FD9772B6A388.jpeg


how it looks over the tank, i’ll be honest it does looks odd and interesting at the same time.

FD086185-0EEF-47E1-8B52-BA30032C5418.jpeg


Started at 1ml per hour and just upped the dose to 2ml per hour meaning 48ml per 24h.

I’m letting the tank get slowly used to the new constant availability of phytoplankton and as a result the new increase in CNP.
Bacteria and zooplankton should be the primary beneficiaries from this photo reactor.

my last culturing run for 2.5 years straight will be interesting to see this one going and observe the changes.
 
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Connected it all to the dosing unit, 2 lines, salt in and phytoplankton out.

BA7541BF-B1F7-4E94-8022-FD9772B6A388.jpeg


how it looks over the tank, i’ll be honest it does looks odd and interesting at the same time.

FD086185-0EEF-47E1-8B52-BA30032C5418.jpeg


Started at 1ml per hour and just upped the dose to 2ml per hour meaning 48ml per 24h.

I’m letting the tank get slowly used to the new constant availability of phytoplankton and as a result the new increase in CNP.
Bacteria and zooplankton should be the primary beneficiaries from this photo reactor.

my last culturing run for 2.5 years straight will be interesting to see this one going and observe the changes.
Do you add fertilizer as well, or just saltwater?
 
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Do you add fertilizer as well, or just saltwater?
Yes, although I don’t use f2 or miracle grow anymore.
I find that a salt mix with a lower ph and a fertiliser with lower nitrates and phosphates to do the job well and add less pollutants to the main system.
 
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Yes, although I don’t use f2 or miracle grow anymore.
I find that a salt mix with a lower ph and a fertiliser with lower nitrates and phosphates to do the job well and add less pollutants to the main system.

Which fertilizer do you use? Curious what is better without having to experiment if you don't mind sharing. Keep kicking this around since first reading your post on it but haven't started yet
 
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Which fertilizer do you use? Curious what is better without having to experiment if you don't mind sharing. Keep kicking this around since first reading your post on it but haven't started yet
I personally use TNC complete Aquarium plant food.
I use it for a few reasons, the product is designed for aquariums, meaning if the phytoplankton don’t use all the fertiliser the residual unused trace and nutrients will be easily dealt by the system it also contains a lower amount of phosphorus In comparison to other fertilisers that some times can have a concentration of 1:1 or 2:1 nitrates to phosphates.
wend choosing a fertiliser for live phytoplankton the user should ask himself/herself what fertiliser would you dose straight to the tank as some will end up in there independently if it’s on a continuous dosing or manual dosing.
Other aspect that I find just as important as fertiliser is the salt, I tend to use just natural salt instead of synthetic salt, am not totally sure on the reason although the lower ph, alkaline and trace in natural salt tend to grow phytoplankton well without the culture crash as often. Maybe the lower ph will contribute to the increase of co2 in the culture, not sure.
one more aspect that I always do is add k1 micro media to my cultures, the k1 is a really good addition as it helps keeping the vessel clean and the phytoplankton suspended in the photoreactor.
 
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