Phytoplankton is a form of beneficial microalgae found in just about every marine environment. They play a vital role in ocean ecosystems by converting light and carbon dioxide into glucose via photosynthesis. They are found in abundance in and around natural coral reefs, providing a valuable source of food to invertebrates.
The same benefits conferred by phytoplankton in natural environments can be applied to home saltwater aquariums. Adding live phytoplankton to a system can provide a nutritional boost for beneficial invertebrates and filter-feeding corals. Marine aquarium enthusiasts can read on to find out about the various means of dosing phytoplankton to learn how they can begin to take advantage of these benefits.
This technique can be performed using a specialty feeder, or aquarium owners can simply use an eyedropper or a pipette to extract phytoplankton from the bottle. Regardless of what device is used for direct dosing, the general procedure is the same. Simply fill the eyedropper or feeder with some of the phytoplankton and release it slowly next to the target coral or clam, repeating these steps as necessary.
The primary advantage of direct dosing is that it helps to keep costs low by using only a minimal amount of phytoplankton. It also helps to reduce the risk of negative impacts on water quality. It is, however, quite labor intensive when compared to indirect dosing.
Aquarium owners who choose to use this technique can simply add phytoplankton directly to the tanks’ water columns. This requires a larger amount of phytoplankton than direct dosing but saves a good deal of time and introduces some extra phytoplankton that can feed other invertebrates in the tank.
Automated dosing requires a larger budget than either of the manual techniques described above. It involves setting up a reservoir, connecting it to the tank via tubing, and installing a pump programmed to provide a steady drip of phytoplankton to the aquarium.
These systems require little maintenance and need only be refilled periodically to maintain consistent levels within the systems. It is, however, important to check the equipment periodically, as failing pumps and hoses can wind up causing a huge mess.