How To Grow Live Phyto – Step by Step Guide

by | Jan 31, 2023 | Aquaculture, Feeding | 0 comments

Why raise live phyto? Well, they are an important part of the food chain in a reef tank. Phytoplankton is a small, photosynthetic, micro-algae that takes in nutrients and carbon dioxide to create fatty acids that are very important for all organisms in the tank. Phyto is consumed by filter feeders and copepods, which can pass the fatty acids on to fish that consume the pods. A big plus is the fact that corals will also consume phyto. Side benefits are the reduction of nitrates and phosphates and a higher PH.

The Basic Setup

What are the steps for setting up live phyto cultures? You essentially need to provide a clean environment for the phytoplankton to grow, some air to keep the water moving and oxygenated, a light source, some food, and a starter culture.

For growing containers you can use some one gallon transparent bottles. Target has some distilled water bottles that are perfect to raise phyto. Poland Spring sells some water containers that seem to be just as good as the Target containers, but they are a bit smaller. I ended up using four Poland Spring bottles.

The dilution factor for creating a phyto culture is one to one so you will want to fill one half of the container with a phyto culture and the other half with freshly mixed saltwater. Don’t use established tank water since it will contain bacteria that can contaminate the culture.

The Poland Spring containers can hold about one hundred ounces of liquid so I mixed fifty ounces of phyto culture with fifty ounces of fresh saltwater inside each container. The specific gravity of the saltwater to add to the culture should be 1.020 but going up to 1.026 is fine.

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