How to Store Your Aquatic Live Foods

At Aquatic Live Food, one of the main questions people ask is how to store aquatic live foods such as Copepods, Daphnia, Rotifers, and our Micro Magic Phytoplankton Mix. In this article, we explain the correct way to store these products and offer tips and tricks to help you maximize the benefits of your aquarium from your Aquatic Live Foods.

How long can I keep live foods before use?

The term ‘live foods’ refers to both zooplankton and phytoplankton. Plankton such as copepods, daphnia, rotifers, and amphipods are the most common zooplankton used as live foods in aquariums. Phytoplankton, also known as ‘phyto’ or ‘algae’, refers specifically to the green liquid or paste that is the natural food source for zooplankton and other marine life. When storing Aquatic Live Food products, it’s important to remember that zooplankton are more sensitive than phytoplankton in terms of their environment and shelf life.

Upon receiving your goods

When you receive your Aquatic Live Foods, remember that they might have travelled for 2-4 days, based on your location. If they don’t survive the journey, our Arrive Alive Policy guarantees a replacement/refund of goods. If you suspect your goods are dead, follow the DOA process on our website here. Zooplankton and phytoplankton require different storage methods.


If you can’t use your live foods immediately and want to prolong their shelf life, you must acclimate them into new water. See our article here on How to Acclimate Live Foods.

Once acclimated to your tank’s water, you can keep your live foods at their ideal temperature indefinitely. If you keep your live foods stored like this, remember they need to be eaten to survive! You can use any of our phytoplankton, such as our Paste or MicroMagic Mix, available in freshwater and marine. With the correct environment, food and water, your live foods can be continuously stored like this and will start to multiply if left long enough. This is called ‘culturing’; many people use this method to grow their live foods from home. You can read about the Benefits of A Home Culture System here.


Phytoplankton, such as our MicroMagic Mix, can be stored in the fridge for up to 10 days after receiving it. Remember that your phytoplankton will be freshest and most beneficial to use as soon as you receive it, so only store it in the fridge if you cannot put it in your tank immediately. You can also time up your phytoplankton delivery by subscribing to the product and choosing the day you’d like it sent out. Please chat with our friendly staff via our website to organise this, or click here to view our MicroMagic subscriptions.

How to check if phytoplankton is alive

If your phytoplankton experienced warm temperatures during shipping or underwent a lengthy shipping period, examine the content’s colour. If the bottle appears clear, the cells might have died. Shake it and observe for 5-10 minutes. If it settles, the algae have died; if it retains colour, the algae cells are moving again. Sometimes, the algae can settle during transport. Some algae species aren’t mobile and require water movement in the column to feed.

The species within the phytoplankton liquid or paste determine its colour. The MicroMagic liquids and pastes that we offer have either 5 or 7 species of algae. If your phytoplankton appears more yellow or gold, it indicates that a particular species grew more rapidly than the others during culturing.