How to Feed Phytoplankton to Reef Aquariums

Written by susan roberts
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How to Feed Phytoplankton to Reef Aquariums
Feeding your reef aquarium phytoplankton can improve overall coral health. (actinies et corails 1 image by Mikhail Blajenov from

Phytoplankton are one feeding option for a reef aquarium. Some hobby aquarists feed phytoplankton regularly and some hobby aquarists feed phytoplankton only when they have certain aquarium species. Regardless of why you feed phytoplankton, it is important to follow a proper method so you reduce the chance of overfeeding and potential resultant issues such as over burdened filtration and increased algae growth. Two primary methods of feeding phytoplankton are indirect dosing and direct dosing. The choice depends on personal preference, prevalence of coral that need phytoplankton and control over equipment.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Phytoplankton
  • Plastic syringe

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  1. 1

    Turn off the protein skimmer. This keeps the phytoplankton from getting sucked into the filtration before they are consumed.

  2. 2

    Prepare the amount of phytoplankton solution needed according to the manufacturer's instructions. The exact preparation depends on the type of phytoplankton you are using, and it may require thawing or mixing with liquid. For example, frozen algae pastes require thawing, while spray-dried phytoplankton require mixing in a blender. The specific dose required depends on the volume of the tank and the specific organisms that require phytoplankton.

  3. 3

    Decide if you are going to indirectly or directly dose your tank. The decision is largely about personal preference and health of the coral. Indirect dosing may be more appropriate if you have many coral to feed. Direct dosing may be more appropriate if you have only a few coral to feed.

  4. 4

    If you have a lot of coral, indirectly dose your tank by adding the phytoplankton solution to the water column, which is where the water is circulating. The circulation disperses the phytoplankton evenly throughout the tank.

  5. 5

    Directly dose specific coral in your tank by using a syringe to drop the phytoplankton a few inches from each coral that requires feeding. Be careful that you don't drop the phytoplankton too close to the coral as this can cause the polyps to close and negate the benefit of feeding phytoplankton.

  6. 6

    Turn the filtration on when you are done feeding.

Tips and warnings

  • Closely monitor the health of the tank and adjust the feeding schedule accordingly. This includes watching nitrate and nitrite levels, as well as watching for general increased algae growth. Significant increase in nitrates, nitrites and algae growth can be a sign of over feeding.
  • Feed phytoplankton at night to mimic natural feeding cycles.
  • Do not forget to turn your filtration and protein skimmer back on when you are done.

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