To study zooplankton–phytoplankton relationships in the diatom-dominated plankton communities of the northern Adriatic we performed feeding experiments with diatoms and zoea I larvae of the brachyuran Xantho poressa. We found that zoea I of X. poressa feed on diatoms of different forms (centric, pennate, colony forming, single celled, with or without setae) and size classes. In a laboratory setup, we presented the zoeas with a mix of diatom species similar to communities observed during blooms regularly found in the northern Adriatic. We report that the grazing activity resulted in a decrease of the relative abundance of the toxic diatom Pseudo-nitzschia calliantha. For the colonial, bloom-forming diatom Skeletonema marinoi our results show a chain length reduction in the presence of zoea I. Of particular interest is the observation that the presence of larvae also resulted in an increased growth rate and abundance of S. marinoi, which resembles bloom induction by grazer presence.