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Collecting Plankton

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  • Offline Linseed
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Collecting Plankton

« posted: 3 years ago »
So, If I gather correctly, pun intended; you harvested that plankton from the ocean? How does one go about doing that? As you know, I live on the coast  :)
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  • Offline DanU
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Re: Collecting Plankton

« Reply #1 posted: 3 years ago »
Actually from the Inlet of Indian River Lagoon.  Usually estuaries have higher counts of organisms.  Collecting depends upon your resources and location.  We have a boat that has been rigged and setup for pulling plankton nets, setup so we can hang them so they can be washed down, wash down pump added and able to sort on board.  It can also be done from a bridge or dock if there is a fast moving current.  Without a wash down setup, collecting can be limited if there is a lot of micro algae, ctenophores or jelly fish in the water which clog up the nets.  Having a good quality net with a large cod end jar also helps.  I have pulled in the ocean but the plankton isn't as thick so it takes much longer and we burn a lot more fuel.  Currently I put in at the Smithsonian Marine Station which is about 5 miles from me.  During slack tide we will idle along and pull the nets or if the tide is right we drop anchor and let the tide do the work and save fuel. Usually takes 2 to 3 hours of my day.  Depending upon how thick the plankton is, how many fry I need to feed and if I am collecting for anyone else, I will do anywhere from 1 to 2 dozen tows. Been doing it now for almost 3 years.   If you look at other commercial breeders that are producing any quantity of H. reidi or H. ingens they are using plankton as well.   We only use it for the first 10 to 14 days. 

Dan
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  • Offline Linseed
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Re: Collecting Plankton

« Reply #2 posted: 3 years ago »
Thanks Dan. My curiosity was piqued as I know that the beaches and close by are nature's protein skimmer. I don't think that I will be harvesting any plankton over here on Hilton Head anytime soon as my net would probably get clogged up with tourists from Ohio and jettisoned Salty Dog tee-shirts. Also, I don't have a boat.
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  • Offline TamiW
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Re: Collecting Plankton

« Reply #3 posted: 3 years ago »
You can definitely do it from shore, but you have to find the right spot. I've done it at the Indian River Lagoon and Sebastian's Inlet on the indian river lagoon. I've also done it from a few piers. The best place is to find where there is a natural flow of water. That's why inlets are great. Also places where there is a narrowing of the flow during various tides.

Then just let water run through the plankton net. If the water isn't moving, you can toss the net and drag it through the water, creating flow to catch plankton this way. Some places will be better than others, and different times of the year will be better than other times of the year. Beaches, for example, tend to be pretty poor; plankton clears out before it gets close to the crashing shores. In places like Florida, I've even collected plankton off piers with just the sieves and a bucket of water. :) But for best results you really need a plankton net.
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  • Offline Linseed
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Re: Collecting Plankton

« Reply #4 posted: 3 years ago »
There is a popular fishing pier in a neighboring town, Beaufort, SC. The pier is an old bridge that runs parallel to the new one. They cut it off about a half of a mile from shore... I wonder if that would be appropriate?
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  • Offline TamiW
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Re: Collecting Plankton

« Reply #5 posted: 3 years ago »
I bet it would be perfect. Depending on the height, you might need a long rope. But even if the current doesn't cooperate by flowing in one direction, you could easily drag a plankton net along while you walk. :)

I found some diy plankton net instructions. There are actually plenty of instructions, but they usually suggest using nylon stockings, and the holes are too big for the really good size copepods and it's not very sturdy.
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Re: Collecting Plankton

« Reply #6 posted: 3 years ago »
Dan, is the inlet you speak of Sebastian inlet? Or someplace else. I've been to that area twice, so I'm not extremely familiar with it.
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Re: Collecting Plankton

« Reply #7 posted: 3 years ago »
I hope you guys don't mind, I separated this into it's own topic because I think there is a lot of good info to share on this topic specifically.
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  • Offline DanU
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Re: Collecting Plankton

« Reply #8 posted: 3 years ago »
I don't mind the split. 

The inlet I was referring to is the Ft. Pierce Inlet, the next inlet south. 

Where she is there is some pretty good movement of water as they have decent tides.  Here we see the current get up to 4 mph through the inlet.  When the tides are right, I will drop anchor and pull and save gas.  A good flow of water is needed to get a decent amount of plankton.

When I first started collecting plankton, I used a student net,  12 inch ring and a tiny cod end jar.  Best thing ever happened was when I lost while pulling it.  I then ordered a 50 cm (about 20 inch) ring with a 3 1/2 foot 100 micron bag and a 2 liter cod end jar setup from Sea Gear.  Expensive put it collects a lot quickly.  After trying it, I got a 2nd one so I can have two out, pull one in and work it while the other is collecting.    Water velocity and ring size is important if you are trying to collect very much.  If the tide isn't strong enough, the net doesn't stay suspended and it takes a while to fill the bag.  I usually do about a dozen pulls per bag for 5 to 10 minutes at around 4 mph.  That yields enough for a days worth of feeding for a couple of decent size batches of fry.

Dan
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Re: Collecting Plankton

« Reply #9 posted: 3 years ago »
I decided I'm going to make a plankton net; there instructions here. and they are fantastic. You have to get an account to see the images. I found hoops like these at JoAnn fabrics (they were only $2/ea at the store). They seem to have a good weight to them.

I have a sewing machine, but I am horrible at sewing, so I am going to try to make the first version with just cloth. Once I'm happy with it, I'm going to buy some proper micron mesh (either 50 or 80).

I don't live anywhere near the ocean, and don't have any trips planned anytime soon, so this will be a project I work on as I have time. The good news is that I have as much time as I need to get it right. The first step is figuring out how to use the sewing machine. I bought one about a year ago, and haven't touched it. I guess now I have a good reason to.
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  • Offline DanU
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Re: Collecting Plankton

« Reply #10 posted: 3 years ago »
I would go with 100 micron cloth.  You would be surprised at how fast they can clog up.  Once they start clogging, you get smaller organisms.  Both my nets are 100 micron.  I get tons of stuff that are in the 500 to 100 micron range. 

Dan
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Re: Collecting Plankton

« Reply #11 posted: 3 years ago »
Thanks for the suggestion. I just assumed smaller is better, but I've only got the student net. It only can do small collections, so I've never had to worry about it clogging. :) 100 microns it is!
  • H. erectus, H. comes, H. kuda, H. zosterae, Doryrhamphus excisus, Bryx dunckeri, Corythoichthys flavofasciatus
It's all about the snick!