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The word plankton is Greek for wanderer/drifter. Plankton are mircoscopic organisms which all marine life depend on in order to survive; this is because they form the basis of the food chain in our oceans.
There are two main types of plankton phytoplankton (light loving algae) which needs light for photosynthesis. These types of plankton can be found drifting in the ocean’s upper water columns because this is where the light is strongest! If you wish to grow live phyto plankton at home or in a Lab you will need to ensure the algae is receiving the quatity and quality of light to make it grow. A good light meter helps.
The other common type of Plankton is Zooplankton, which predominately lives at the surface because this is where their food source, phytoplankton, bacterioplankton and sometimes other zooplankaton, can be found.
Please see our diagram below which explains the basic planktonic food chain.
Types of Zooplankton
Types of Zooplankton can vary but mainly depend on the area and the time of year, the main ones are ciliates, copepods, rotifers, amphipods, and tintinnids.
Below is an image of a copepod, a crustacean which makes up the natural diet for many fish such as: mandarinfish, mandarin dragonet (Synchiropus splendidus), Pipefishes (Syngnathinae) and Seahorse (Hippocampus).
There are numerous species of copepods some are pelargic (drifting) in the water columns and some are benthic (bottom dwellers).
Rotifers consume phytoplankton and microalgae and are consumed by a many fish varieties, shellfish, corals, and other organisms. Baby fish often consume rotifers as they are the smallest of the zooplankton (50-1000 µm) . Some species are freshwater, some brackish, and many live in the marine environments. What ever the species it is always important to make sure the rotifers are enriched with algae before using to feed baby fish. If the rotifers have empty stomaches the baby fish will not get enough nutition from digesting them. In aquaculture the use of live and freeze dired algae cells is very common. Becareful when feeding baby fish as they are very sensitive to ammonia poisoning from overfeeding which is easily done. We recommend always using a good quality free ammonia monitor like a seneye.
Corals relationship with plankton
The biomass of phytoplankton contains more carbon than that of zooplankton, therefore phytoplankton tend to be a more important food resource to faster growing soft corals. “So much so the community of phytoplankton consumers on coral reefs can drop phytoplankton levels 15-65% below adjacent open ocean waters” (Yahel et al 1998).
Hard corals on the other hand prefer zooplankton but again these really need to healthy and enriched on alage.
Easy reef’s Easy Booster product contains a good blend of algae cells; Isochrysis T-ISO (33%) / Nannochloropsis (31%) / Tetraselmis (18%) / Phaeodactylum (18%).
All of these microalgaes in this formula provide an optimum nutritional profile for aquarium animals.
For further and more comprehensive information on corals and there relationship with phytoplankton and micro algae please take a look here:
Here is what easybooster looks like under a microscope
 Yahel, G, Post AF, Fabricius K, Marie D, Vaulot D, Genin A. 1998. Phytoplankton distribution and grazing near coral reefs. Limnol Oceanogr 43(4): 551-563.