Live Cultures

Growing live cultures of phytoplankton, rotifers and copepods for your Saltwater Aquarium at home


Phytoplankton cultures start the base of the food chain and are essential to any home culture. Many filter feeding organisms in your reef tanks Phytoplankton and rotifer culturesregularly consume phytoplankton.  When added to a rotifer or brine shrimp (artemia) culture, it not only sustains the life of these organisms, but also boosts their nutritional value to your fish and invertebrates.



Often the next step up in the synthesized food chain for aquarium systems and aquaculture. Rotifers are not necessarily a ‘natural’ food for many of the organisms they are fed to, but they get the job done. Feeding response in organisms like larval fish is largely dependent on size, movement and speed. Rotifers tend to meet these requirements for many species. The ease with which they can be cultured seals the deal. Unfortunately, rotifers on their own are very low in nutritional value–therefore gut-loading with a highly nutritious phytoplankton strain or supplement is essential to the survival of the animals you are feeding them to.


Copepods are everything rotifers are not. Well, that’s a generalization, but hopefully you will get my point. They are a more common, ‘natural’ food for larval fish. They are generally fast moving and highly nutritious. Larvae feeding on young copepods, called nauplii, generally enjoy superior survival rates than those feeding on rotifers. However, they are also considered by some to be more difficult to culture than rotifers.

Brine Shrimp

Brine shrimp artemia hatcheryBrine shrimp are slow-moving filter feeders that are high in fats when newly hatched, and high in protein when fully grown.  They are generally well accepted as a supplemental food, extremely easy to culture, but can be dangerous when used as a sole source of food, because they are not nutritionally sound. Ease of culturing and availability drives the use of these organisms as an aquaculture staple.   Culturing them can be as easy as ‘just add (salt) water’.

Written by Albert B. Ulrich III. Follow me on Google + and Twitter


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