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Fish Tank Forum • View topic - Culturing your own phytoplankton
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Culturing your own phytoplankton

New to saltwater or still thinking of moving onto it.

Culturing your own phytoplankton

Postby Mick » Tue Jul 07, 2009 7:08 pm

One of the most beneficial foods to corals and the fish in you marine tank has to be a quality phytoplankton. It is full of nutrition and is often used to enrich live foods that we feed our marine fish. Brine shrimp and rotifers will double their nutritional value by being fed this prior to feeding the fish. Most corals that are filter feeders will definately benefit by this being added directly to the tank and therefore into the water column.
Phytoplankton are basically the bottom of the food chain, it doesn't get any lower than these species of macroalgae. They are unicellular plants that require nutrients and photosynthesis for growth which they convert into fatty acids, vital in a fishes diet to obtain optimum growth and health.
There are many species of phyto plankton but the most common seen available for culturing are as follows:-

Nannochloropsis oculata
Chaetocerous gracilis
Isochrysis galbana
Tetraselmis sp.
I always had the best results using the Nannochloropsis but its purely a matter of personal preference which you try to culture. The plankton have three basic requirements for growth- nutrients, water, and light.
When I first started off I found the best option was to purchase a starter kit which I obtained from http://www.phytoplus.com, this comprised of :-
1 petri dish with my Nannochloropsis culture
1 bottle of phyto fertiliser
1 sterile syringe
2 sterile cotton buds.
The additional items I purchased seperately were:-
various lengths of rigid tubing
3-4 empty 2 litre pop bottles
A twin outlet air pump with a four way manifold fitted

While I was waiting for my starter kit to arrive, I was thinking of ways of keeping my culture out of harm and the reach of other people. In the end I decided to set my cuture up in the outdoor shed and used two large poly boxes laid on their sides to place the bottles in and for the lighting I had a 3 foot lighting strip that was left over from an old Jewel tank that I no longer used. The pop bottles were sterilised with sterilising fluid, the secret to success with phytoplankton is cleanliness, it is very easy to crash a culture if the equipment you are using is not as germ free as possible. The bottles were rinsed and the caps replaced and put into a corner to prevent contamination.

The day arrived that my parcel came through the post and it was eagerly unpacked. The Nanno culture is dekivered in a petri dish and the plankton is cultured on top of a agar medium. First job of the day was to add a small ammount of cooled, boiled water on top of the culture, this is then left for 24 hours in a corner where it will not be disturbed.
During this time my next job was to drill a hole in the cap of the pop bottle, just large enough to slide the rigid piping into place. I then sealed the hole with a ring of silicon to prevent any air getting into the bottle apart from the air produced from the air pump. Flexible piping was then attached to the rigid piping and this was then connected to the manifold on the airpump. I also added a piece of muslin into the airline to act as a filter to prevent contaminants from reaching my culture after it was set up.

24 hours later it was time to start off the culture. 1 litre of cooled boiled water was added to the first bottle apart from a few drops that were held back, salt was added to a salinity reading of 1.014. To this the reccomended ammount of phyto fertiliser was also added by using the sterile syringe. This was placed in a small container and the petri dish was opened up ready to remove the phyto. This is removed by using one of the streilt cotton buds, dragging it carefully over the culture and then dipping it onto the small container. This mixture was then added to bottle no.1 as it will now be called.The mixtrure in the bottle will be a light green and this is placed in the poly box and the air pump switched on to release a steady stream of bubbles into the mixture.This is to create the water movement required to keep the plankton in suspension.

Image

The lighting unit was placed 2-3 inches away from the bottle and the lighting was set by means of a timer to run for 16 hours a day. Every day the solution will get a darker green as the plankton grows and multiplies and by day 8 we are ready to split the solution to start another culture
Bottle no.2 was set up exactly as bottle no.1 and 1 litre of cooled boiled water was added with the same salinity and the appropriate ammount of phyto fertiliser was added. 1 liter of solution from bottle 1 is now poured into bottle 2 and bottle 1 is then left for another 5 days before it is ready for use. This process is repeated for as many bottles as you wish to start off depending on your usage.

Image

The bottle that is being used for feeding the tank should be kept refridgerated and every day should be shaken slightly to keep the plankton from settling on the bottom.
It is basically that simple to culture and I found that by setting up 3 bottles I even ended up with surplus phyto plankton that I would send out to my friends.

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Re: Culturing your own phytoplankton

Postby madhouse » Tue Jul 07, 2009 7:31 pm

good read and i might just try it

what type of tube is that ? seems to be a blue one ? or is it both lol
Karl

Dont ask as i probably dont know but just incase i do it's probably wrong
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Re: Culturing your own phytoplankton

Postby malakye » Tue Jul 07, 2009 7:34 pm

Brilliant read Mick.
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Re: Culturing your own phytoplankton

Postby Mick » Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:10 pm

Its just 2 standard tropical tubes, god knows what the neighbours thought I was doing when the shed was lit up all night :-):
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Re: Culturing your own phytoplankton

Postby malakye » Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:25 pm

Depending on the local area, some would have assumed you were growing your own :drag: :lolflag :lolflag :lolflag
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Re: Culturing your own phytoplankton

Postby Nec » Mon Jul 13, 2009 6:53 pm

LOL. Great thread Mick. :thu: I will be doing this soon enough.
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