What Do Animals Eat? Everything From Ants To Zebras

What Do Plankton Eat?

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Plankton is actually the term for a variety of zoological creatures that can include the jellyfish, for example, at the large end of the scale. There are four different types of plankton that can be referred to as bacterial, zooplankton, archaea and phytoplankton. One feeds on the other and leads to a cycle called the biological pump. Many of these are microscopic in nature, and they are usually found in the area of the sea. These provide life to many different species.

4 common types of planktonFour common types of plankton; coccolithophores, dinoflagellates, green algae & diatoms. Illustration by Robert Simmon, NASA Earth Observatory.


The plankton in this group includes both archaea and bacteria that consume organic material that has been left behind by other organisms. They can also survive by chemosynthesis and photosynthesis. Processes such as remineralisation are features of this type of plankton. They are food for zooplankton.


This group is comprised of crustaceans, arthropods and other animals that feed on telonemia and other plankton. This can include krill, man o’ wars, jellyfish, arrow worms, juvenile fish and others. These feed on phytoplankton, bacterioplankton and other zooplankton. They too also provide food for the higher food chain in the sea.


These are the smallest members of the plankton family. Plankton of this sort has to have energy from the sun to survive and this process is called photosynthesis. They live closer to the top of the ocean and provide the basis for the food chain in the ocean. Minerals are also a source of food such as silicic acid, nitrate and phosphate.

Cycle of life in the food chain

Basically the chain of life for food starts with the phytoplankton, then goes to the barcterioplankton, and finishes with the zooplankton. Phytoplankton feeds the most in this particular food chain. The zooplankton feed on the other two. Plankton as a whole is responsible for most of the oceanic food chain. So each one will feed the other and in one case will feed on the other two. Each provides food for the other.