If you've been a long time veteran in the world of reefing or just emerging into your journey with your very first reef tank, you've probably heard the words, "pods" or "phyto". If you've stumbled across these words then you've come to know that having pods in your tank and dosing phyto makes for a happy, thriving reef because you are providing the most natural environment and nutrient rich feeds for the specimens you love. Let's dive in and take a closer look as to why these are so beneficial for your tank!
PHYTO[PLANKTON]: So let's get back to basics and start at the very bottom of the oceanic/aquatic food chain with phytoplankton. Phyto are microscopic organisms that posses the ability to create their own food through photosynthesis of the sun. This means they are self sustaining just by light! In turn without phyto, much larger organisms and all the beautiful species in the ocean we admire wouldn't have a food source.
PHYTO & YOUR TANK: How is phytoplankton beneficial for your tank? Now that we understand how vital and the vast presence of phyto is in our natural oceans, we can safely say that having resources to add phyto into our tank gives us the ability to recreate the most natural ecosystem for your reef tank. Phyto will fuel your pod population which will then keep your reef inhabitants healthy and thriving.
PODS: Let's start off for our new reefers who are scratching their head thinking, "What are pods and where do they come from anyways?'' The word, "pods" is short for amphipods & copepods. There are hundreds upon thousands of different species and classes of these microscopic, crustacean like organisms. They occur naturally and in every single ocean in the world because they are a primary and very vital part of the big blue sea's ecosystem. Pods consume phytoplankton (tiny single celled organisms who are primary producers and the basis of the oceanic food chain.)
PODS & YOUR REEF: So now that you understand where and why pods exist, how does it benefit your tank? Similar to humans we aren't able to self produce our own food and need to attain our energy from another source, just like our reef tanks. When starting our very first saltwater aquarium we tend to spends loads of money on hardware such as the actual tank itself, salt, lighting, pumps, and the list goes on for days. We often ignore the most crucial and basic fundamentals which is the basis of our very own ocean, the food source. As reefers, we strive to mimic and emulate a natural ocean as close as possible for healthy corals and fish. Introducing pods into your system is hands down one of the most beneficial things you can do for your tank by creating a natural food source. Pods are loaded with crude fat and protein that allow your fish to stay healthy.