Ultimate EcoPack

A Saltwater Smorgasbord: Using The Ultimate EcoPack

Though they are nowhere near as ecologically complex as actual, wild coral reefs, reef aquaria can be incredibly complicated and downright tricky to maintain in a “natural” manner. To be fair, reef aquarists have to sustain a precarious balance between underfeeding to the point of deprivation and overfeeding to the point of feculent nastiness. Waste products must be eliminated as efficiently as possible. All the while, the biological community is ever changing–mostly growing–making it a constant challenge to feed the many, diverse animals just the right amount of the right item.

Perhaps the easiest and surest way to provide ample, nutritious food to your reef animals whilst generating the least amount of rubbish is to use minimally processed or (even better yet) live foods such as those found in the Ultimate EcoPack. A well-preserved natural food item typically produces less waste, is quite nourishing and is palatable to a wide range of organisms. But live foods carry the distinction of being 100% intact nutritionally and are even more appetizing. And, arguably most important of all, many live foods actually reduce waste.

Wait, live foods can reduce the build-up of wastes in the tank? Some live foods, yes! And this applies to both dissolved and particulate wastes. In this respect, these organisms–primarily tiny plankton–help to control nutrient levels, thereby helping to curb the growth of nuisance algae. Additionally, some even consume nuisance algae!

Bearing all of this in mind, AlgaeBarn brings the entire base of the marine food pyramid to your tank on a platter with the Ultimate EcoPack. This truly unique, cost-effective package offers a virtual buffet of select items for your detritivores and planktivores alike:

  • PNS YelloSno, a suspension feed that simulates marine snow.
  • PNS ProBio, a live phototrophic bacterioplankton.
  • OceanMagik, a four-species blend of live phytoplankton.
  • EcoPods, a four-species mix of copepods.

No other reef aquarium food package presents a gathering as comprehensive and dynamic as the Ultimte EcoPack. Together, this cohort satisfies the dietary needs of your most demanding reef denizens from the most specialized corals to the finickiest small fishes.

Gooey goodness

Many marine suspension feeders are adapted for collecting and consuming particulate organic matter. Mainly heavily mineralized leftovers, this material tends not to be very high in nutritive value. Marine snow is a very notable exception to that. Essentially, marine snow is formed from particles of poorly degradable organic debris (e.g. chitin-rich fragments of dead copepod exoskeletons) that have become colonized by nutritious microbes. These suspended particles grow, and then sink out of suspension, as they stick together.

Biological activity on these miniscule particles can become intense enough to deplete oxygen over their surfaces. This leaves an ideal microhabitat for purple non-sulfur bacteria (PNSB), which actually prefer anoxic conditions.

Each dose of PNS YelloSno™ simulates a marine snowfall. Made with a natural chitinous material that is colonized with live PNSB, this product is flash pasteurized to lock in its wholesomeness (protein, B vitamins and amino acids) and preserve its partially photofermented state. Particle sizes range from infinitesimal (e.g. individual heat-deactivated microbial cells) to huge (e.g. flocculated clumps). While in suspension, it is consumed by animals ranging from soft corals to tube worms; when settled into the sediments it is consumed by copepods, sand-sifting sea cucumbers, etc.

Going pro

Aside from containing purple non-sulfur bacteria (Rhodopseudomonas palustris), the  PNS ProBio™ found in the EcoPack differs significantly from the above. Firstly, this is a live culture, capable of establishing itself in the water column, in the sand bed and even within the guts of animals (as a probiotic). Further, the bacteria it contains exist mainly as free-living, highly motile bacterioplankton.

R. palustris is well-known by aquaculturists for its nutritional, as well as probiotic, benefits. Not only is it quite rich in protein but it also produces copious amounts of color-enhancing carotenoids such as astaxanthin. These very tiny cells are a perfect food for fine filter-feeders ranging from sponges to certain copepods (especially Oithona).

But that’s not all. PNSB are proven to remove ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and phosphate as well as dissolved and particulate organics (e.g. detritus) in both aerobic and anaerobic parts of the aquarium system. The more you feed, the cleaner the tank!

In the green

Tropical coral reef waters are characteristically oligotrophic (i.e. nutrient-poor). They thus have limited phytoplanktonic productivity, which is why they are so clear. Despite the relatively low natural abundance of phyto in reef waters (much of which is actually washed in from offshore habitats with the tides), it is a critically important component of reef animal diets, and is included in the EcoPack. This is because it is so rich in essential vitamins and fatty acids. Just like on a natural reef, phyto is quickly consumed in a heavily stocked reef aquarium and should be replenished regularly.

Despite the fact that phyto is such a precious commodity, some phytoplanktivores are quite selective (e.g. for cell size) about the types they will eat. On top of that, different phyto species have different (and not quite complete) nutritional profiles. To solve this issue, AlgaeBarn developed OceanMagik. This live feed is a blend of microalgae selected for complimentary sizes and nutritional content (Nannochloropsis gaditana, Tetraselmis sp., Isochrysis galbana and Thalassiosira weissflogii).

An added benefit of dosing OceanMagic is that this live product takes up dissolved nutrients such as nitrate, phosphate and silicate from the system water as it grows. A food that cleans up after itself!

Stuck in the middle

Regarded as the most abounding animals in the ocean, copepods are ecologically indispensable for their role as food chain middlemen. As key trophic intermediaries, they facilitate the linear trophic transfer of nutrients and food energy from the base towards higher parts of the food pyramid. That is, many vital compounds they consume (fatty acids, carotenoids, etc.) may be passed on to the animals (planktivorous fishes, stony corals, etc.) that eat them.

Though they all might just look like teeny bugs to us, copepods are so diverse in form and behavior that it is common for multiple species to occupy rather specialized niches in the same habitat. This correspondingly supports a greater range of zooplanktivores. Hence EcoPods!

EcoPods is a live seed culture in the ultimate ecopack that contains two cyclopoid (Apocyclops and Oithona) and two harpacticoid (Tigriopus and Tisbe) copepod species. The two species representing each group are of different size classes. The tiny planktonic larvae of both types serve as an excellent food for many corals. The adult cyclopoids, which also are largely planktonic in habit, satisfy the needs of larger zooplanktivores (for example, fishes such as anthias, chromis, etc.). The adult harpacticoids, which are benthic in habit, satisfy the needs of animals that hunt small crustaceans on the seafloor (mandarins, for example); they additionally contribute to your clean-up crew, devouring detritus and film algae.

In practice

Absolutely, the live copepods in EcoPods effectively transfer the nutriment of PNS YelloSno, PNS ProBio and OceanMagik to the fish, corals and other zooplanktivores in your tank. By helping to control dissolved nutrients levels and nuisance algae growth, they promote a cleaner, healthier aquarium environment. This makes the Ultimate EcoPack more than just a “combo” package; it’s an entire, synergistic, living chunk of the marine food web readymade for your captive reef.PNS Products and EcoPack Combo

What makes it “ultimate” is that no other pack comes close to meeting so many of your reef animals’ dietary needs so naturally and so effectively. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be enhanced or improved! For a full-on reef feeding frenzy, order a side of Nano Brine with your next Ultimate EcoPack. Gutload the brine shrimp by soaking them in a gallon of tank water with doses of PNS ProBio and OceanMagic (remember to add the air stone!) for one hour before adding to the tank. Also, go ahead and enrich all of your prepared foods with probiotics by soaking them in PNS ProBio for a minute or two before use. The possibilities of cool Ultimate EcoPack feeding hacks–as multiplex as this package is–are virtually endless.

601 thoughts on “A Saltwater Smorgasbord: Using The Ultimate EcoPack”

          1. Been trying to get my copepods to continue multiplying but no look might add more media and see if that helps

  1. I’ve added pods to my tank twice now, once from Algaebarn and once from another reef clean up crew site. My fish enjoyed feeding on the pods and I did notice a slight initial reduction in algae for the week following. Definitely appreciate learning more about the various possible methods of making my tank more self-sustaining!

  2. I’ve added pods to my tank twice now, once from Algaebarn and once from another reef clean up crew site. My fish enjoyed feeding on the pods and I did notice a slight initial reduction in algae for the week following. Definitely appreciate learning more about the various possible methods of making my tank more self-sustaining!

  3. I’ve tried live phytoplankton, and it was very helpful. I’ll definitely have to consider this pack.

  4. Jared Friedrich

    This was a good read, nice to learn a lot more about what you actually putting into your tank.

  5. Pingback: How to Feed Fish the Right Way: A Useful Guide ~ Queen of Reviews

  6. I believe in keeping a reef aquarium the closest to a natural conditions, and I love all the products that Algaebarn offers to the reefing community. And this is my place to go. Thanks.

  7. Karl Mayfield

    Just started my Chaeto in a LED Media reactor hoping for great things, love natural nutrient removal. Go Algae Barn

  8. Newbie!! someone gave me chaeto and it is rare? looks like grapes on vines? added pods and 16 oz.of the live phyto over the coarse of the last month Ive only a hand full of small coral frags yet….what a huge project !! Parameters and water top off !! WOW!! lots of work! 100 gallon tank with a 30 gallon sump… all DIY …. lots to convert and deal with… Especially the Cost of LIGHTING!!

  9. Josimar Chali

    1st order is in! I’m so excited for my package to arrive!! I heard nothing but the best from AlgaeBarn

  10. Stephen Torres

    Looking forward to ordering the Ecopack and didn’t realize all the benefits of marine snow. Have pods growing in a side tank at the moment, but excited to guyload them with the oceanmagik, so my scooter gets all the benefits of his favorite meal!

  11. Vickie L Couturier

    this is something that ive been interesting in trying,so im happy to be reading more about it

  12. Brandon Baumann

    Currently have dosed my tank with eco pods and regular feedings of phytoplankton. Everything seems to be thriving but hard to tell if the pods are thriving or not.

  13. Ricardo Curiel

    New to the reef hobby world! Thanks to coralfish12g for the educational and helpful video on the refugium setup. I hope I win this weeks contest to try out the pods everyone seems to enjoy! Thank you algaebarn!

  14. Rebecca Cooper Brown

    Just curious, once the algae is gone do you still need to have algae eaters in your tank? Very informative about live algae eaters just didn’t see anything about needing to keep them all the time. Thank you!

  15. Oh man, can’t wait to pick this up. I had no idea about the synergy between all these different products. Love it.

  16. Very thorough info. I had been concerned that phyto was increasing phos/no3, but this post cleared that up. Thank you!

  17. Been using ecopods for a few months now, let me tell you my refugium and tank is full of these pods now. My wrasse is going nuts every day trying to keep their population down, she swears its her soul purpose in life.

  18. This why your site is so fantastic. Great information and very informative. and thanks for helping our reef tanks look so great!

  19. Michael Rodrigues

    Going to have a happy healthy reef with this kit. Time to start building my population before I add the mandarin.

  20. soon as i buy all the rest of my fish and inverts im hoping to make an order for some macro algea and pods but im in Canada and the cold weathers coming fast so hoping i can really soon :O

  21. Soon as i finish buying all my fish and inverts ,I am hoping to be able to make an order for some macro aglea and pods , but im in canada and the cold weather is coming fast ,so im hoping real soon :O

  22. Ordered some Macro Algae, came fast and packaged well. Took a big whif and almost gagged. Dont smell the sea lettuce LOL.

  23. AlgaeBarn Rocks! Love your Pioneer Pods, 5280 pods, and the upcoming CADE tanks… Can’t wait to try your OceanMagik Phytoplankton!

  24. I started using these products about 2 years ago. Since I have gone all natural, i have had great success. Dosing 3oz every 2 days of Phyto, (which by the way is THE best on the market), i have kept algae in check and parameters all in the green zone day in and day out. Thanks AlgaeBarn! You all are the greatest.

  25. I have the pleasure of not only being in the hobby but working in the hobby !
    My customers as well as my self love the pod packs!

  26. Sorry…very noob question…
    When I used to feed frozen food back in the day, I would soak small pieces in a little tank water and just feed with a small eye dropper. Is this still common practice or is everyone using something mechanical now? (Doser?) For as amazingly well as my corals did back when I last had a tank (20 years ago) I feel like I’m only qualified to parent a couple of goldfish now. LOL

  27. Jennifer Whitaker

    Adding phyto made a huge difference in my coral growth rate and overall openness and color. Definitely buying more!

  28. jenachristicarter

    This is a great article! Who knew about probiotics for the tank inhabitants? I didnt until reading this! Thank you Algae Barn for sharing this great information.

  29. Clinton DeVine

    Looking forward to ordering the Ultimate Ecopack to help make my Reef more self sufficient and healthy.

  30. Get your Pods here! Get your Pods here! They’re living the good life in the refugium, but don’t last long when they go on vacation in the display tank!

  31. It is so important to have biodiversity in your aquarium. I am happy that you are a reliable, pathogen free source.

  32. ambermarie714

    I just seeded my tank with pods and have been dosing the ocean magik phyto and so far so good. I will definitely need to check out these other products as well!!

  33. It’s insane how much these products can and will improve tanks. So cool they can be utilized in different ways too.

  34. Heather O'Sullivan

    Great information. I have been using the marine snow and ocean Magik. Will have to look further into this.

  35. This may be the easiest way to get my softy tank that I’m starting off to a good start. I think that bacteria dosing is the future of coral nutrition.

  36. I’ve heard such great things about these products, I can’t wait to get my hands on a kit to be able to help my own saltwater ecosystem!!

  37. My tank is doing so much better since I have been adding OCEANMAGIK. My SPS have colors are amazing and my LPS coral are fat and colorful.
    Thank you #Algaebarn

  38. I

    Now that I placed my order I am going to dive deeper on in to the knowledge on how to use this to my tanks benefits.

  39. So I ordered from algaebarn for the first time just last week, and I can honestly say they shipped my items pretty quick, the packing was very neat and I love all the items i ordered.

  40. So I ordered from algaebarn for the first time just last week, and I can honestly say they shipped my items pretty quick, the packing was very neat and I love all the items i ordered.

  41. Rhett Unbehagen

    This is my first ever saltwater tank and I’m hoping to get everything done right by adding in some ecopods

  42. It is so easy to forget about the things we cannot see that are part of this hobby. This is good information and a great reminder!


    I have not tried this pack yet but look forward too. I did just try the mandarin feeding kit and my little fish loves it.

  44. Room temperature is fine for PNS ProBio. Does this mean it can be put into a container and dosed directly from it (or the bottle itself)? The product page doesn’t list a shelf life. Thanks!