Feeding Live Food

Live phytoplankton in aquarium – Yes or Not?

N.Oculata cells at Microscope – zoom 1000x. Photo by Felice Panico

Today, we will talk about Phytoplankton’s benefits, disadvantages and our experience on dosing live Phytoplankton in the reef aquarium.

What is Phytoplankton?

The phytoplankton is a set of autotrophic photosynthetic organisms (Micro Algae) or of organisms capable of synthesizing organic matter starting from dissolved inorganic substances, using solar radiation as an energy source.




Food chain

The phytoplankton is at the basis of the food chain of aquatic ecosystems and also produces half of the oxygen produced by the total plant organisms of the Earth.





Phytoplankton can be composed of:

  • Cyanobacteria
  • Prochlorales
  • Chlorophyceae
  • Cryptophyceae -> N.Oculata
  • Chrysophyceae
  • Dinoflagellata
  • Bacillariophyceae

The phytoplankton is commonly used for aquarium purposes, and the best known is Nannocloropsis Oculata which has a spheroidal shape and a size of 4-6 mM so it is only visible with optical microscope.



What are the benefits?

    • The live phytoplankton compared to the dead or dried has the advantage of not polluting, so over-dosing does not affect the aquarium pollution.
    • It directly nourishes soft coral  and all coral and filtrant sponges.
    • Indirectly heals hard corals (SPS and LPS), indirectly, acting on the microfauna in the aquarium, resulting in the creation of a dissolved corpus organic (DOM).
    • Phytoplankton absorbs nitrogen / phosphorus proportionally from water being a vegetable.
    N.Oculata cells at Microscope – zoom 400x. Photo by Felice Panico

  • What are the Disadvantages?

    • Being very small is subject to foaming very quickly from the skimmer.
    • Purchase or dosage of phytoplankton with fertilizer not completely absorbed.
  • Our experiences:

    Our phytoplankton experiences are very positive, there are no obvious disadvantages that do not allow it to be used in aquariums, indeed it is a product to be used, it is clearly not a magic liquid that, with its dosage, makes miracles, but with its continuous use over time, in the right doses, it is possible to observe remarkable improvements, such as: increase in microfauna, greater benthos, sponges and spirographs growth, and greater night-time seizure of coral colonies.

    In the case of aquariums with prevalence of soft coral over time, there will be an improvement in growth and digging.

    It is advisable to use a dosage pump to continuously dosage a small dose of phytoplankton every day.

    So is live phytoplankton in the aquarium, yes or not? Definitely yes

Felice Panico
Acquariofilo dall'età di 10 anni con esperienza in acquariologia dolce,marina e salmastra, appassionato di immersioni subacquee e di microscopia.

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