Using live phytoplankton to beat ugly phase

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I saw this thread in the Algae Barn section and it has me thinking about whether add live phytoplankton could be used to outcompete other nuisance algae when starting a new tank. Based on this response from Algae Barn, it sounds like phytoplankton have an easier time taking up nutrients in the water than other algae:
AlgaeBarn said:
Hi @kinetic! Thank you for this information and for the photo. There is nothing, other than the pods, in your tank to consume the phyto so what is most likely happening here is that you have started your own phyto culture in the tank meaning it is reproducing faster than it can be consumed or removed. This is not a bad thing as it means you will have a ton of pods since they are now basically at an all you can eat buffet. Other than the poor aesthetics of the green water there is nothing to worry about here as far as the tank is concerned and it is easy to fix when you are ready. In fact I would personally rather have a phyto bloom in my new tank than a nuissance algae bloom as phytoplankton provides a better food source for the copepod population you are trying to establish at this time- which is the best time do to so before any/many predators are introduced. If the phyto were not there, something else like a nuisance algae would most likely be growing instead since they are both types of marine algae and both like/need environments containing nitrate, phosphate and light among other things. This is the equivalent of "the new tank uglies" but instead of the nuisance algae taking advantage of the nutrient rich new tank environment, the phyto is out-competing them for these nutrients- which is actually one of the main benefits of dosing live phytoplankton.

Our OceanMagik Live Phytoplankton blend is able to do this because it is free floating in the water column and able to reproduce very quickly. Therefore it has a much higher chance of coming into contact with the nitrate and phosphate molecules first compared to the other types of algae which are usually bound to the substrate and stationary. Kind of like if you and I were in a room trying to swat a fly and I was allowed to run around the room while you were forced to remain seated in a chair. My mobility greatly increases the likelihood of me getting the fly before you and the same concept applies here when talking about suspended vs substrate bound marine algae. In a way, what is happening to you here is a real world example of everything we claim about the benefits of our live phyto being true. In order for it to grow it must consume nitrate and phosphate from the water column, leaving less left over for the nuisance algae and reducing its growth by out-competing it for the limited nutrients available in your new ecosystem. Instead of the new tank uglies and lots of nuisance algae which is very common, you have a phyto bloom because live phytoplankton is a more fit competitor in this environment and it is able to effectively out-compete these competitors preventing/severely limiting them from being able to acquire the nutrients they need to reproduce rapidly and possibly take over in the tank. The fact that I do not see much or any nuisance algae in your tank provides the evidence needed to support what I am saying here. I have also cycled this same tank using our pods and phyto and experienced a very similar situation. Phytoplankton is also much easier to get rid of compared to substrate bound nuisance algae since it is suspended in the water column and can be removed via consumption, the skimmer, or a water change.

In comparison, a "dead" or preserved phyto product that is not alive can only decompose in the water column and can not reproduce or compete with other types of algae for the same nutrients. This means that all the extra "dead" phyto that wasn't immediately consumed would be decomposing in the water column until it was removed and is now potentially contributing to the nitrate and phosphate levels in the system- potentially aiding in more nuisance algae growth. This is why I prefer live phytoplankton over the more concentrated "dead" or preserved products.

To correct this situation, please turn off the lights for a few days and skim heavy until the water clears up. If the tank is in a well-lit room, you may need to cover the tank to block the light. Removing light from the equation will stop the phyto from reproducing in your tank, allowing for what is there now to be consumed or removed by the skimmer. You should also stop dosing during this time. This should clear up the water and solve the issue. A small water change of 5-10gal would not hurt either and would speed things up if you are in a rush.

Moving forward, I would suggest dosing less phyto, start with 1/2 what you were using, until you have some more phyto-consuming livestock in there to prevent another "phyto bloom" from turning your water green again. Once your tank is more established, you can increase the live phyto dose as needed and the water will not turn green because there are now more organisms to consume it before it can reproduce in your tank to the point of tinting the water green. Keep in mind that if you have light, phosphate, and nitrate present in the tank you have an ideal environment for algae growth. If you eliminate the live phyto as the primary consumer/ competitor for these nutrients, you will create an opportunity for nuisance algae to gain traction. This would lead to the more typical "new tank syndrome" that most of us are familiar with.

Hopefully this clears things up and provides a good explanation of what is going on biologically in your tank. Please let me know if you have any other questions, I am happy to help. Thanks!

Lan
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Based on this it sounds like you could theoretically add live phytoplankton to a new tank, wait for it to bloom, then add pods or other things to eat the phyto and skip some or all issues with nuisance algae. I know some people set up a refugium or algae scrubber right away with a new tank for the same reason and this seems like a simpler alternative. I ordered a new tank and I am considering trying this out. Does anyone have experience doing this or anything like it?

I also posted this in the general reef forum but figure it might get more attention here.
 
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Jekyl

GSP is the devil and clowns are bad pets
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There are plenty of ways to reduce the severity of the ugly phase. However it's going to happen either way. It's supposed to. The ugly phase is a normal thing that comes with the use of dry rock.
 
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