PlanctonTech tour – a pure spectacle into the Phytoplankton world
During the last PetsFestival 2022 (our editorial here) we were able to visit Roberto Ferri at Planctontech headquarters.
This article is also available in: Italiano
We finally got to see what is behind and inside the Planctontech brand, and directly from the words of its creator, Roberto Ferri. I personally met Roberto at a ReefItalia gathering back in 2009, and if you are interested you can still find our editorial on the event by clicking here: Reportage Raduno ReefItalia a Formia – Reportage Formia.
Since then I have always followed the evolution of the Planctontech brand, and I was able to try many products of the Cremonese brand. Yes, because Planctontech’s headquarters is in Cremona, home of the last two PetsFestivals, so I managed to get Roberto to invite me to finally go and see the Planctontech workshops.
As I also said in the video, it is a dream come true for me. I know Roberto, I know his thoroughness, and I was really curious to see how his lab worked. Inspired also by the words of my friend Enzo Romeo who had visited the lab years ago and spoke to me in enthusiastic terms about it. Driven by curiosity, I couldn’t wait to get into the labs myself to see how they were organized.
Our documentary on Planctontech with an interview with Roberto Ferri
The video is in Italian language, but you can activate the English subtitles.
So we went to the venue of PetsFestival on Sunday morning, and this is what we discovered.
The facility, housed inside a stately building, is not open to the public and cannot be visited. To achieve the very high quality standards, and to avoid outside contamination, it is not possible to enter it. We could not go beyond the entrance corridor despite putting on our shoe-covers, however we could see three rooms that are part of the facility, knowing that there are many others, similar, although even more isolated because they are under health constraint. In any case, the whole facility is equipped with antibacterial mats.
Every room is kept under positive pressure, it is therefore overpressurized, so that when anyone enters it, the air is pushed out, preventing the entry of pathogens. Of course, temperature and humidity are also kept under strict control.
It’s possible to enter in the various rooms with an isolation suit, which leaves only the eyes uncovered. Each department is airtight; there are departments where inoculations are made and those where aquarium preparations are made. Each tank is treated daily, cleaning the water line to prevent any bacterial growth from forming on the surface. This whole fight against bacterial overgrowth is necessary because it reduces the nutritional value of the whole algal culture, and reduces its life span.
How Planctontech was born
Our curiosity was mainly to understand how Roberto’s passion for phytoplankton came about. He confessed to us that it all started from breeding phytoplankton to try to raise small larvae of Amphiprion ocellaris, the most common clownfish. Because back then, and we’re talking about the early 1990s, the overhead costs of importing to Italy clownfish was very high, so some companies chose the breeding route, but they needed zooplankton and then phytoplankton to sustain it and make it to reproduce.
From there, phytoplankton and zooplankton were used to feed corals and modern Planctontech was born. Although the labs are highly automated, as many as four people are employed there. Planctontech’s future, however, lies not only in aquatics, but also towards in cosmetics and human nutrition.
Whatever the field of use, the starting matrix is always the same, and it is treated with the same care. Each sample for sale is processed by extruding the culture water, which is still rich in nitrates and especially minerals. This water is then reused for new crops, while the sample is rehydrated to have no contamination from fertilizers.
There are Planctontech stores in the United States as well
This is great news, did you know that there are points of sale in Arizona and California too? We of course set out to visit them on Roberto’s behalf. But it is very good to know that an Italian product, indeed an excellent Italian product, is followed and used even in such a strong market as the United States.
Have you ever tried any Planctontech product? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below or on our many social channels.