Guide to Culturing Phytoplankton

Reefphyto Phytoplankton Culture Kit

Culture Guide

1. Sterilise the provided culture container.

2. Set up the aeration system. Place the air pump somewhere above where the culture will be placed so that the culture fluid does not syphon back to the pump, (or a check valve can be used) and run a piece of tubing into the culture through the lid securing it at the bottom of the container using the supplied airline sucker.

3. Add the 250ml starter culture of phytoplankton to the supplied container.

4. Add prepared culture water at a specific gravity of 1.019 to the growing container.

5. Add 3ml of [Reefphyto Nutrient, Guillard's F/2 food to the culture. (this is double the concentrate required as per the instructions on the front of the nutrient packaging for the first batch) This is a one-time application, and fertiliser should not be used again during the first batch growing process.

6. Place your fluorescent light (not supplied) alongside the culture. This should be close to the containers but not touching them. Phytoplankton appreciates the heat of the light as well as the rays, preferring to be at a temperature of 68-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a timer for the light as you will need 16 hours with the culture lit and 8 hours with the light off.

Create a Phytoplankton Culture

With the setup complete, it is time to begin cultivating the phytoplankton.

1. Watch the mixture carefully. In the initial phases, it should be thin and light green in colour. However, a successful mixture will begin to thicken and turn dark green.

2. When it becomes darker after 10 - 14 days (this depends on the lighting you are using), top up the container with culture water to just below the top. The colour should turn lighter in colour.

3. Allow the culture to darken once more for a further 7 days or to the desired colour you require.

4. When the culture container is full and the culture has reached the dark green colour again, it is time to begin the harvesting process.

Harvest and Store Phytoplankton

A good phytoplankton culture will eventually need to be divided and harvested to continue the process.

1. The dark green culture should be divided. Place 70% of the mature culture into a storage device and store in the fridge for use. The remaining 30% can be used for starting the whole process over again this time adding freshly prepared culture water at a specific gravity of 1.019 up to the top of the culture container. As your culture is now mature use the recommended amount of nutrient as specified on the front of the packing.

Adding slightly more nutrient than the recommended amount will achieve quicker results.

2. From this initial harvest, new subdivisions should take place approximately every week. Each time, harvest about 70%, leaving 30% in the old container and adding new water, fertiliser each time. It may be wise to start additional cultures using the same lighting.

3. Harvested phytoplankton can be added to an aquarium, fed to corals, or stored for future use.

4. Stored phytoplankton can be kept in a refrigerator until it is needed. However, if it will be stored for an extended period of time, it needs to be shaken at least once a week to prevent settling at the bottom, which could lead to rotten phytoplankton.

Be patient. It will take some time before anything really happens. The growth of these tiny plants is exponential. A moment will come when the colour of the water starts to change. The colour of the water changes according to the pigments that are contained in the cells.