Difference between Zooplankton and Phytoplankton

Feb 13, 2012 by

Difference between Zooplankton and Phytoplankton

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  1. daniel

    The term plankton is derived from a Greek word and it means a wanderer or drifter. Planktons are the small organisms that float along fresh water surface. There are two kinds of plankton, which are phytoplankton and zooplankton.

    1. Nature

    The difference between phytoplankton and zooplankton is that the former is a plant, while the latter is an animal. Algae and diatom are the two popular kinds of phytoplankton. An example of zooplankton is a crustacean such as krill or other tiny fish.

    2. Food habits

    Phytoplankton is basically a plant and thus it flows naturally on the surface. These plants regularly convert sunlight to food using photosynthesis. However, zooplankton relies on phytoplankton for food. As such, phytoplankton can be regarded as the main food source of zooplankton.

    3. Habitat

    Phytoplankton is largely dependent upon sun as their main source of food and they usually prefer the top water surface. Hence, you can easily see lots of phytoplankton floating on water all through daytime. Conversely, zooplankton prefers the cooler and darker areas in the ocean. They only swim up to clear surface waters during daytime and then they swim deep into the ocean in the evening.

    4. Ecological significance

    Both living organism are important indicators of good ocean health. These amazing creatures are normally very prone to any alterations in the aquatic environment. This means any difference in water temperature and acid content can have a destructive effect on planktons. Phytoplankton has a great importance as they help in releasing oxygen back into the ocean through photosynthesis. However, zooplankton cannot release oxygen.

    In brief, planktons are an essential part of the aquatic ecosystem. Whereas zooplankton prefers the cooler and darker areas in ocean water, phytoplankton is prevalent on the top water surface. This is because phytoplankton requires sunlight for photosynthesis.

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