Can you imagine how much fish food is being poured into the ocean every day by the big hand in the sky? Me neither. The fact of the matter is that the natural reef is self sustaining. All of the food is natural and usually alive. Herbivores graze on the rocks and eat the algae that grows there, omnivores eat some algae, and hunt for small benthic organisms. Predators eat other fish and invertebrates. The ocean for all its beauty is a functioning cycle of life. We should be so fortunate as to have our reef aquariums be the same. While it is unlikely to ever have a completely self sustaining reef tank, we can employ tactics to maximize that potential. Live food is easily added and very beneficial to the ecosystem.
I am speaking specifically of various species of pods and phytoplankton. There are numerous species available and one should strongly consider the implementation of a variety of live pods and phytoplankton.
Some of the pods are detritivores, eating detritus that builds up on the rocks. Others reside in the refugium and produce a large number of eggs over their lifespan. These eggs hatch into nauplli and enter the water column becoming food for filter feeding corals and invertebrates. Other pods are useful as food for clams, filter feeders, seahorses, mandarin fish, pipe fishes, etc.
Ideally, with the regular addition of a variety of pods combined with a high quality phytoplankton for food your aquarium will be a fair duplication of the natural reef.
Phytoplankton(microscopic marine plants) are the foundation of the aquatic food web. Phytoplankton feeds everything. From microscopic zooplankton to larger animals. Phytoplankton are photosynthetic organisms that take up carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
As a marine aquarium service company, we feel it is our duty to utilize phytoplankton and various species of pods in our clients aquariums. We practice the natural approach to reef aquarium management as much as we can and find this methodology produces positive results both in the ease of our job and the goal of providing a beautiful natural reef aquarium teeming with life.
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