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old talk page post[edit]

The sizes given here were using two different systems, I think, since all the ranges they listed were based on multiples of ten except one, and that created a notable gap. They also reported the size of a water molecule to be 20 μm, which is a little on the large side. I've standardized on a system that seems to be popular on-line. However, that isn't necessarily the one biologists use, so it should be checked.

What do plankton eat?[edit]

The tiniest plankton must eat still smaller planton! Is there a point at which the organisms just self-reproduce? Adambisset 17:05, 11 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Well, you would be talking about a virus at that point. But there is no hard and fast rule that bigger fish eat smaller fish, etc. All living organisms require some source of energy to carry out life functions like reproduction, so "self-reproduction" and what something eats are unrelated issues. Presumably very small organisms could feed on stray organic molecules, be photosynthetic (maybe what you meant was "self-produce"?), or feed on dead bodies of larger plankters. - Marshman 17:27, 12 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Thanks very much! It always pays to ask questions :) Adambisset 15:08, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Can't let this one sit. Plankton do not simply eat smaller and smaller plankton down to organic molecules. Many plankton are actually plants and synthesise their own "food" from light (and CO2, water and simple nutrient molecules). The article specifically mentions them. They can be considered to "self-reproduce" in the sense the question suggests. As regards viruses, they don't self-reproduce from scratch. They parasitise living cells, using the machinery they contain to make copies of themselves. If there weren't any other organisms to service them, viruses would die out. Anyway, I know this answer is, like, 9 months late, but I thought I should add something. --Plumbago 15:05, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
If you read my answer you would see that autotrophs and heterotrophs are described. - Marshman
Sorry Marshman, my reply does sound rude (and like I hadn't read your reply). I'm afraid I've picked up the bad habit of shooting from the hip in Wikipedia. My concern was with your use of "presumably" - I didn't think it was robust enough (i.e. no "presumably" about it - we know what drives the ocean's food web). Also, I thought that the questioner might have got the wrong end of the stick re: viruses, and might be assuming they reproduced willy-nilly in the open water column. Anyway, apologies again for shooting first and making amends later. --Plumbago 07:40, 2 September 2005 (UTC)
I have no problem with others amplifying or correcting my answers. I do not know everything. But you would be more appreciated if you in fact amplified or corrected. I've found that trying to communicate via typing can not follow what we use in conversational style; generally you have to be more to the point and much less personal to avoid unintended "rudeness". It is difficult, so I always try to cut others some slack. Does that all make sense? - Marshman 18:14, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

I think the one word answer here, which above have not mentioned is: Picoplankton. -Marcus334 (talk) 18:02, 21 January 2010 (UTC)


Hi JesseW. I'm responsible for the recent reorganisation of the images to the right hand side of the article. Although I wasn't particularly happy with my own work, I think the new arrangement is a bit messy. I think part of the problem is that the article itself is too short to support the number of images we have (though I may try to extend it - I should really, plankton are my bread and butter). Anyway, I hope you won't be offended if I re-edit.

On another note, the pictures aren't terribly representative of plankton in the first place - I think they're all zooplankton. Ideally we'd have some phytoplankton and bacterioplankton (not that the latter make for good pictures!). Does anyone have anything to hand? Alternatively, we could scour existing pages for some images. I've worked extensively on the diatom page and it's got a nice image heading it up. Cheers, --Plumbago 07:57, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

I think the layoput looks pretty good right now. You could substitute some phytoplankters for zooplankters, although I'd try and move the zooplankters somewhere else first, like amphipods or Wikimedia so they do not get "lost" - Marshman 18:14, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

Cultural references[edit]

I suggest moving the Cultural references section in order to separate biological information from everything else. We've been doing this for other biology articles, it helps readers focus on what's interesting for them. If there are no objections in the next 4 days I'll do it. Lejean2000 13:53, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

Fair enough. It's "cultural" in a rather loose sense! (I say that as someone who added a paragraph.) Where will it be moved to? Lower down the same article, or a separate article? Perhaps "Plankton (cultural)" or similar? Cheers, --Plumbago 15:31, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
I suggest creating a separate article. For Frogs we did Frogs in popular culture, so perhaps Plankton in Popular Culture? Since you added the paragraph, it's fair that you decide. Lejean2000 15:43, 28 January 2006 (UTC)


When I went on a whale watch from Boston, we saw a giant disc-shaped creature that had what looked like a fin. They told us it was a megaplankton. It must have been at least a meter wide. Does anyone know what that's called, and if there's a Wikipedia article for them? If I ever get out there again, I'm going to bring an image-stabilizing camera and get me a picture of one of those things for this page. -Harmil 16:23, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

I'd be interested to know what kind of creature they thought it was. I tend to think of things like the Portuguese Man o' War as being the largest plankters. "Megaplankton" is more a description of lifestyle than kind of organism. Cheers, --Plumbago 16:49, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
You use the word "plankters." The article says "[i]ndividual plankton are referred to as plankters." I'm writing from ignorance here, but this looks wrong. It looks plural. If it is, and the singular is "plankter", then isn't the plural once again "plankton"? -Polymath69 15:51, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Human Consumption[edit]

"The myriad of floating and drifting life in the upper layers of the ocean, mostly of very small size and collectively called "plankton", has been found to be rich in food material and if properly prepared, fit for human consumption. The main problem involved is concentrating this plankton in large amounts and separating the inedible from the edible parts. Fishes at the present time do this more efficiently than man can, and by eating the flesh of ocean fish, we indirectly get the benefit of the plankton. In the book "Kon-Tiki", the explorers tell how they strained plankton from the sea and found it bitter at first, but quite palatable after certain undesirable organisms were removed from it. During the last war German scientists also experimented with plankton as a possible source of food, though without particular success. One possible way of preparing plankton would be to press it into compact "planktonburgers", which could be fried and eaten on bread."

I don't know the best way to include the above, but it should be in there. AThousandYoung (talk) 17:35, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Hi, Just something unclear. In this article, cyanobacteria are named as an important example for phytoplankton. However, in the bacterioplankton article, they are also listed. Does anybody know what if there is a consentus about the classification? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:48, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

From a taxonomic perspective, cyanobacteria are prokaryotes (bacteria), so they can be classified with the bacterioplankton. However, they are also autotrophic, capable of converting light energy into chemical energy through photosynthesis, as with the algae and multicellular plants. So functionally they are generally classified in with the phytoplankton. Part of the issue here is that the phytoplankton and zooplankton are primarily functional classifications, while bacterioplankton is a taxonomic classification (albeit a very broad one), so there can be some overlap. (talk) 18:20, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

PLANKTON COULD LIVE IN 2 DIFFERENT WATER SALT WATER OR FRESH WATER —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:29, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

I do not see any mention of possibility of Plankton farming in the article. We need material on the subject as, such farming provides cheap food to fish farming. Eating planktons directly or after processing may not be acceptable to all and so, converting that into a more acceptable form of food (fish) would be A BETTER IDEA. Today as population is growing alarmingly world over, we consider plankton or such, as an answer to the issue. Pathare Prabhu (talk) 13:21, 21 February 2013 (UTC)


Plankton is a type of invertebrate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Technically, no. Some plankton are invertebrate animals (or the larvae of such animals), but there are plenty of other species that aren't even animals, let alone ones without a vertebral column. Arguably, the majority of planktonic species are protists, algae, bacteria or archaea. But there are a lot of invertebrate animals in the mix too. Cheers, --PLUMBAGO 21:00, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

section 2 3 4 is about the stars, planets, comets,moons.stars sre the things that are way up in the sky and they are realy minature suns.the stars are so far away that they can not be seen for 400 years just like if you was to shine a flash light at the stars they wouldent be abel to see the light for 400 about the planetsthere are many planets jupiter is realy a dwaref planet because people and sieencetist belive that the planet is to small and that there dwarfes that live on jupiter.there other planets like neptune also.neptune is close to the sun but not to close.comets are the thing sthat fly bye in the skythat you always see, and sometimes people wish on lets not forget about the moons.moons are so high up there is no way that you could reach it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:45, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

Yeah, so based on what I've read in this article, plankton are basically anything that floats in the ocean, that's not a fish or a mammal. I mean, it's essentially that. Plants, animals, whatever. Why not just call it flotsam and jetsam? The word "plankton" has no useful meaning. (talk) 01:24, 4 December 2016 (UTC)
Fish eggs and fish larvae are also plankton. Plankton refers to any live organisms that drift in ocean currents because they can't swim against the current. They are usually small organisms, often microscopic, and they form the base of the ocean food webs. Plankton is completely different from flotsam and jetsam, which refer to marine debris dropped overboard from a ship. --Epipelagic (talk) 02:06, 4 December 2016 (UTC)

Planktonic v. planktic[edit]

The term 'planktonic' is much more commonly used than 'planktic'. If you search google scholar, 'planktic' gets 10,400 hits while 'planktonic' gets 144,000 hits. Also the terminology should reflect usage in the scientific literature, rather than holding to what is strictly correct linguistically. Mikenorton (talk) 13:02, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

I assume I just reply by editing? Excuse the lack of knowledge of Wiki-ways!
I am aware of 'planktonic' being an extremely widely used term (more so than planktic), but 'planktic' is still used by a number of academics, and is the correct derivation from 'plankton', as brought up by various folks in the past (e.g. Emeliani and Rhode - both of whom refer to older papers that I haven't been able to get hold of directly). You will also notice that if you do a similar scholar search for 'benthic' and 'benthonic', you see the reverse of the trend that you got with 'planktic' and 'planktonic', which seems a little illogical... I wonder how this all started?
My removal of 'planktonic' entirely from the article was a little extreme - you're absolutely right that 'planktonic' should be included, as it's so widely used (if incorrectly!). How about a change to something like:
"planktic (often incorrectly referred to as planktonic (ref))"
which acknowledges both forms and states which is the correct one? Theoscar (talk) 15:31, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, it's that easy :-).
Correct and incorrect are difficult words when applied to terminology. Terms develop with time and 'incorrect' versions can become entrenched in the literature, in which case we use the common term even where that's not how it started (see a similar discussion for 'geopetal' a term that was clearly defined but has ended up with a much more restricted meaning in the literature). Mikenorton (talk) 16:15, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Great! I did it right!
I certainly think both should be included - I personally know a number of academics who won't go near 'planktonic', which is what made me try and change this in the first place. Have made a few tweaks - let me know what you think.Theoscar (talk) 17:03, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

Sea foam is produced by plankton, Photo of many, differently-sized bubbles with image of man[edit]

... What? (talk) 09:22, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

Number of speciesDismalscholar (talk) 05:41, 14 March 2011 (UTC)[edit]

I'm finding this a definite lack on a lot of biology pages -- how many species of this sort of creatures are there? I've been searching the web like mad, trying to find out how many species of a number of things are known, and plankton is one. If anyone out there knows this, even a rough estimate, it would be an excellent addition to the article. Dismalscholar (talk) 05:41, 14 March 2011 (UTC)


It says that plankton "are any drifting organisms (animals, plants, archaea, or bacteria)", which is a strange way of writing and not entirely correct, since there are protist plankton as well, right? Like EHUX? I would suggest that the parenthesis read "(eukaryotes, archea, or bacteria)" which also makes more sense since these classes are on the same level. I am very ignorant of the topic though so I would rather not change it myself. Bob130.238.239.80 (talk) 08:53, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

I second this recommendation. A knowledgeable biologist/taxonomist needs to fix this wording.--Foobarnix (talk) 21:38, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
I added a definition from an Open Uni textbook, which seems a reputable source, though I'm fairly unsure about accepted sources for such things. The wording seems less controversial, in any case PJFraser (talk) 12:59, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

File:Plancton.jpg Nominated for speedy Deletion[edit]

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Addition to template?[edit]

Should the Plankton template contain a link to Noctiluca scintillans? I was going round in circles a bit getting confused between that and Milky seas effect but I'm not an expert. Akerbeltz (talk) 20:53, 6 January 2012 (UTC)

New Edit[edit]

Hello! I just wanted to let you know that I added a hyperlink for Amphiprion ocellaris into your article. I am a part of a Behavioral Ecology Class ( Washington University and our assignment was to create hyperlinks from our articles to other articles as examples. Best of luck with your article!! Gseehra123 (talk) 22:23, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Plankton discovered in space[edit]

new news that needs to be added to the article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gizziiusa (talkcontribs) 19:41, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Hmmmm. I can't find anything over at NASA about this. I strongly suspect that it's going to come to nothing - either something mistaken as plankton cells (remember the Martian bacteria?), old Earth-side contamination that was never spotted before, or recent contamination from space-side ISS experiments. The addition to the article here is far too early IMHO. Devoid of any context it may give the impression that there are - somehow! - plankton in space. Furthermore, it's been added to the lead which, given its uncertainty, is precisely the wrong place to add it. I'm going to remove it for now per WP:RECENT. If something else comes up, fine, add it back, but it's misleading at the moment. I'd also suggest that, if there really is evidence of plankton in space, a better source of references would be a science journal, not a Russian news agency (... even one quoted by CNET). --PLUMBAGO 09:49, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
YES - Agreed - If interested, several related references (seem current - for now) are here => < ref></ref> AND < ref></ref> AND < ref></ref> AND < ref name="CNET-20140820">Starr, Michele (20 August 2014). "Sea plankton found on the outer surface of the ISS". CNET. Retrieved 20 August 2014. </ref> - In any case - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 14:28, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
BRIEF Followup - recent related (and better WP:RS?) references include the following => < ref name="SP-20140820">Kramer, Miriam (20 August 2014). "Sea Plankton on Space Station? Russian Official Claims It's So". Retrieved 21 August 2014. </ref> AND SIMILAR < ref name="DS-20140821">Kramer, Miriam (21 August 2014). "Sea Plankton on Space Station, Russian Official Claims". Discovery Communications. Retrieved 21 August 2014. </ref> - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 14:57, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
@Plumbago - MORE Possibly Relevant References => < ref name="PHYS-20140821">Yirka, Bob (21 August 2014). "ITAR-TASS claims Russian cosmonauts have found sea plankton on outside of International Space Station". Retrieved 22 August 2014. </ref>< ref name="ITAR-20140819">Staff (19 August 2014). "Scientists find traces of sea plankton on ISS surface". Information Telegraph Agency of Russia. Retrieved 22 August 2014. </ref> - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 11:56, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for these! The reference is, I think, the key one. Firstly, it notes that it's TASS that's reporting the finding rather than anything approaching a scientific publication. Secondly, it goes on to note that a NASA scientist - admittedly out of the loop - pins any plankton down as some sort of contamination. As such, I stand by my suggestion that we wait until it's clearer what's going on before adding anything about this to the article. The last thing that we need to do is add fuel to some internet meme about there being plankton in space. Cheers, --PLUMBAGO 15:07, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

@Plumbago - NASA-WATCH REPORT (*Not* Official NASA) - Issue still up-in-the-air (so-to-speak) => < ref name="NASAW-20140821">Cowing, Keith (21 August 2014). "Russian Scientists Claim That Algae Lives On ISS Exterior (Update)". NASA Watch. Retrieved 22 August 2014. </ref> - ALSO - < ref name="NWN-20140821">Stallard, Brian (21 August 2014). "Sea Plankton Found in Space? NASA Has Doubts". Retrieved 23 August 2014. </ref> - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 01:43, 23 August 2014 (UTC)