Two of the most common questions we get regarding phytoplankton are: “what do they do and how do they benefit my tank?” We farm and utilize four separate types of phytoplankton that target distinct functions within the tank. Here are the following benefits and reasons we farm these phytoplankton!

Nannochloropsis

Nannochloropsis is one of the green phytoplankton we cultivate in our farm. This microscopic algae typically sits at ~ 2.0μm and 5.0μm. One of the key benefits of incorporating Nannochloropsis into your tank is its ability to eat film-forming algae.

PUFA(Poly-unsaturated fats) 

In addition to this, Nannochloropsis is also rich in PUFA (polyunsaturated fats) which are foundational for the activity of all marine animals. One particularly important “golden fat”  is EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), which has been shown to enhance coral colouration. 

Health Benefits

A further benefit to feeding Nannochloropsis are its immunomodulatory properties. What does that mean? This means that with the ingestion of the phytoplankton it prevents an immunosuppressive response or stimulates a stronger immune response in the animals.

Tetraselmis

Tetraselmis is one of our most popular sellers and for a good reason! It is also known as one of the “basics” within the community. They sit at around 10-14μm in size and have high lipid and amino acid content.

Lipids 

Coral naturally produce lipids due to the zooxanthellae. Along with being concentrated energy reserves, lipids along are an essential component of the cell membrane aiding in the fluidity of the cell.

 Amino acids 

Amino acids create proteins essential to tissue health and growth. The largest contributor of this is the amino acid alanine which has been said to promote high growth rates and can act as an appetite stimulant.

Health Benefits

Tetraselmis, like Nannochloropsis, has also been shown to have health benefits. It resists infection of pathogenic bacteria such as vibrio. In order to do this it reduces the bacterial population in the water in turn decreasing the likelihood of infection.

Isochrysis

Isochrysis is a golden-brown species of phytoplankton that ranges in size from 4-6μm. It is commonly used in one of two ways: to lower your Nitrates and Phosphates and acting as a nutritional supplement for enriching the diets of copepods and other small aquatic animals.

Lowering Nitrates and Phosphates

How does isochrysis remove Nitrates and Phosphates? It sounds like miracle work, but all phytoplankton must consume nitrates and phosphates in order to grow similar to land plants. But, Isochrysis lacks a rigid cell wall and instead have a plasma membrane encapsulating it. As a result, it consumes N and P at a higher rate than other phytoplankton.

Gut Enrichment

Additionally, Isochrysis contains a lot of Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA(Docosahexaenoic acid). Due to its small size(4-6μm) and high protein content they work to enrich the guts of smaller animals such as copepods. They are highly recommended for the smaller strains of copepods such as Tisbe and Apocyclops due to their size and easy digestibility.

Rhodomonas

Rhodomonas is a red species of  phytoplankton that sits at ~7-20 μm.

and is best known for one of its protein-pigment complexes Phycoerythrin and high protein content.

Phycoerythrin 

Phycoerythrin is obtained out of the normal chlorophyll-a spectrum. This is what gives the Rhodomonas its red tint, and is the only phytoplankton with such a complex. When the corals ingest Rhodomonas they also ingest the protein which is then expressed in the flesh. As a result it brightens red pigments within the coral.

It has also been used as gut enrichment, just like Isochrysis, for copepods due to their high protein content and unique pigment.



 

Sources:

Aquabytes, 2023. Understanding Coral Feeding Habits: Plankton Consumption. Aquabytes. https://buyaquabytes.com.au/blogs/facts/understanding-coral-feeding-habits-plankton-consumption 

Chinchin Wang, Christopher Q. Lan. Effects of shear stress on microalgae – A review, Biotechnology Advances,Volume 36, Issue 4,

2018, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biotechadv.2018.03.001.

(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0734975018300399)

Gorsuch Hayley. Zooxanthellae. eAtlas. https://eatlas.org.au/content/zooxanthellae

Helena Khatoon, Kwan Penz Penz, Sanjoy Banerjee, Mohammad Redwanur Rahman, Tashrif Mahmud Minhaz, Zahidul Islam, Fardous Ara Mukta, Zannatul Nayma, Razia Sultana, Kafia Islam Amira. Immobilized Tetraselmis sp. for reducing nitrogenous and phosphorous compounds from aquaculture wastewater, Bioresource Technology,2021, 

(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960852421008695 )

Liz Allen, 2019. Bleached Corals Compensate For Stress By Eating More Plankton.Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/allenelizabeth/2019/06/30/bleached-corals-compensate-for-stress-by-eating-more-plankton/?sh=2549d34121ac 

N.A. Latyshev, N.V. Nuamenkov, V.I. Svetashev, Y. Ya. Latypov. (1991). Fatty Acids of reef building Corals.Inter- Research Science Publisher, Institute of Marine Biology, Far East Branch of Academy of Sciences of the USSR. https://www.int-res.com/articles/meps/76/m076p295.pdf


Sánchez, F., Lozano-Muñoz, I., Muñoz, S., Diaz, N., Neira, R., & Wacyk, J. (2023). Effect of dietary inclusion of microalgae (Nannochloropsis gaditana and Schizochytrium spp) on non-specific immunity and erythrocyte maturity in Atlantic salmon fingerlings. Fish and Shellfish Immunology, 140. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fsi.2023 .108975

June 07, 2024 — Madison Purches