Things you will need to Culture Plankton
Air line hose
Florescent light fixture – standard output similar to one you would use in your house, not one you would put over your aquarium. I used two 13″ lights used for mounting under a cabinet. They have a standard plug on the end and don’t require any wiring.
Plankton Algae disk- Available at Florida Aqua Farms Nanochloropsus green non motile 4 to 6 size
1 bottle of Micro Algae Grow available at Florida Aqua Farms
5 gallon bucket
When growing plankton it is very important that you keep the culture as sterile as possible. You do not want to get any rotifers into your culture because even just one can multiply into millions and your plankton will disappear very quickly. If possible place your plankton above your rotifers on a shelf and not the opposite. If your plankton drips into your rotifers it isn’t a big deal, however if your rotifers drip into your plankton, it will be eaten very quickly. I have also put the two in separate rooms. Just be careful with the buckets and materials that you are using that they are not infecting the cultures.
As mentioned above, you will need a disk of nanochloropsus. The disks are like a petri dish with the green plankton on top of it. When it arrives add enough mixed saltwater at 1.019 to the top of the disk to cover all of the green on the disk. Every 30 minutes swirl the disk in a circle like you would a glass of wine to loosen the plankton. You should do this for about 2 hours with one of your lights 5″ from the top of the disk. Keep swirling and let the plankton come back to life. All of the green material should be loosened. After two hours has passed, pour the solution into a clean 2 liter soda bottle (or Gatorade bottle) with saltwater at 1.019. This should give the water a light green tint. You also will need to add 20 drops of Micro Algae Grow.
Next you will need to modify your bottle top to allow the air line tubing to pass through it. Drill a hole in the top of the bottle cap in the center of the cap. The hole should not be tight on the line and should let a small amount of air come back out of the bottle. If the hole is too small the plankton will spray through the top. Run the hose through the top and place an air stone on the end of the hose.
The air stone weighs the end of the tube down so that it sits on the bottom of the bottle. I usually set my aerator to high and allow as much air as possible stir and aerate the plankton. Make sure the cap is screwed on the bottle well to prevent other things from getting in. You also should remove any labels on the bottle to allow the most light to get in.
I place both the plankton bottle and the lights inside of a 5 gallon bucket and just place the top on the bucket. Make sure the bottle is close to the light but not touching or close enough that they start to heat up the plankton. Keep the lights on for at least 16 hours per day. I keep my lights on all the time. Watch your plankton over the next couple days it should start out very light (lime) green and turn to a very dark almost black green. After the plankton stops getting more green over 2 consecutive days, the plankton is done. You can now use this to start another culture. Simply mix a bottle with salt water and Micro Algae grow and pour around 2 ounces of the recently finished plankton into the bottle. You can do this multiple times and have multiple cultures going at once. I usually have two cultures going at all times. When one is done I mix up some saltwater and Algae grow and 2 ounces of the previous batch.
Now you can have an endless supply of plankton to feed to your rotifers. This plankton mix is not as concentrated as rotifer diet so it will take more of the plankton to get the rotifer water to the proper green color. Usually one 2 liter sized bottle will last me around 1 week feeding two rotifer cultures. Always make sure you have enough food for your rotifers or they will crash or produce cysts and go dormant.
The finished and filled plankton bottles will last at least a month in the refrigerator. You should gently shake each bottle in the fridge each day to make sure the cells are not crushing one another. If you have looked into the costs of breeding clownfish you know that the rotifer food such as rotifer diet is very expensive. Starting a plankton culture is a great way to save money. I got my continuous setup going for about the cost of one bottle of rotifer diet.
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