Saltwater aquarium copepods

Saltwater aquarium copepods DEFAULT
Pod Hotel Copepod Haven

Pod Hotel Copepod Haven

Do you ever see your copepods homeless, roaming the glass or rocks looking for a home? The Pod Hotel is the solution to their problems with six levels of vacant rooms ready for them to set up a temporary home in. If your aquarium does not utilize a refugium the Pod Hotel makes a great home for them…

5280 Pods - 3 Live Copepod Species

5280 Pods - 3 Live Copepod Species

…-5280 Pods contains a range of juvenile to adult copepods. Juvenile copepods are difficult to see with the naked eye upon arrival but are best for establishing sustainable copepod populations. This is because livestock do not consume the copepods immediately after you add them into your tank! Adding…

Mandarin Feeder Kit

Mandarin Feeder Kit

…Similar to the appearance and size of live adult copepods, Can O' Cyclops are a preserved cyclopoid copepod that will encourage feeding responses in fish that actively eat copepods. After a few days of your fish getting used to consuming live copepods, start to add a small amount of Can O' Cyclops…

Advanced Hang On Back Refugium - Medium

Advanced Hang On Back Refugium - Medium

…provide a safe-haven for desirable copepods amphipods to feed and reproduce, and this can create a renewable source of food for fish and invertebrates in the display. Fiji Cube's compact refugiums create the perfect environment for cultivating algae and copepods, with a unique baffle system that…

Tisbee Pods & OceanMagik Phytoplankton

Tisbee Pods & OceanMagik Phytoplankton

…-Tisbee Pods contains a range of juvenile to adult copepods. Juvenile copepods are difficult to see with the naked eye upon arrival but are best for establishing sustainable copepod populations. This is because livestock does not consume the copepods immediately after you add them into your tank!…

EcoPods - Copepod Variety Mix

EcoPods - Copepod Variety Mix

…EcoPods contains a range of juvenile to adult copepods. Juvenile copepods are difficult to see with the naked eye upon arrival but are best for establishing sustainable copepod populations. This is because livestock does not consume the juvenile copepods immediately after you add them into your…

PhytoTank CL System - Copepod and Phytoplankton Culture Reactors

PhytoTank CL System - Copepod and Phytoplankton Culture Reactors

copepods and another for growing phytoplankton to feed your copepods. You can also use any excess phytoplankton to feed your corals!**The kit features the PodNest-- a combined aerator and copepod habitat which results in significant copepod culture density. Also included is a large, 4 inch copepod

Poseidon's Feast - 2 Live Copepod Species

Poseidon's Feast - 2 Live Copepod Species

…Sizes! AlgaeBarn's Poseidon's Feast Copepod Blend is perfect for seeding a tank and also for feeding finicky fish and corals. Many fish like Mandarins, Seahorses, Wrasses, and Anthias will need live food to eat while they adapt to prepared or frozen foods and copepods are perfect because they help…

8oz Purple Helix Coralline Algae

8oz Purple Helix Coralline Algae

…change (and at times can smell like an old sock!). AlgaeBarn's Alive on Arrival (AOA) Guarantee! AlgaeBarn takes all the worry out of buying live copepods and phytoplankton online by going above and beyond to take care of their customers. That’s why they guarantee every order we ship will be…

Goldpods Liquid Plankton Concentrate

Goldpods Liquid Plankton Concentrate

Liquid zoological plankton concentrate that includes Arctic Copepods! Nyos Goldpods provides the ideal nutrition for numeroussaltwater fish and corals. The high-quality calanoid copepods collected from the Arctic seas, Calanus finmachicuscan be added directly to your tank without having to thaw or…

Tig Pods - Tigriopus Pods

Tig Pods - Tigriopus Pods

…Filter Feeding Invertebrates Copepods are an essential part of a saltwater aquatic ecosystem for many reasons and it is common to get them as hitchhikers in your home aquarium, but it can be very hard to sustain their populations. In most instances, it is the adult copepods that are transferred as a…

Copepod Powder - Freeze Dried

Copepod Powder - Freeze Dried

…cryptoxanthin, and echinenone that will help increase the coloration of fish. The arctic copepods are sustainably collected and quickly dried to preserve the nutritional and anti-oxidant properties of the copepods. Great protein source Feed directly or as an additive High in carotenoids and…

Apocalypse Pods - Apocyclops Pods

Apocalypse Pods - Apocyclops Pods

…hardy copepods are slightly larger than Tisbe pods and slightly smaller than Tigriopus copepods. This intermediate size makes them a healthy live snack for your finicky fish and coral. Apocyclops copepods are extremely nutritious with a very high amino acid and protein content. Apocyclops copepods

HOB-R Hang-On-Back Refugium

HOB-R Hang-On-Back Refugium

…up the water column. The HOB-R will also harbor many beneficial invertebrates which consume uneaten food or detritus. Invertebrates such as copepods and amphipods can be found living in the sand and liverock in many aquariums, however, these invertebrates can often diminish in numbers as they…

Red Ogo - Live Red Ogo Gracilaria Algae

Red Ogo - Live Red Ogo Gracilaria Algae

…red macroalgae is not only valuable for maintaining water quality, but it also makes a perfect home for small beneficial benthic creatures like copepods, isopods, and amphipods. Many reefers utilize a refugium setting to grow the algae within the sump which makes harvesting and managing the growth…

16oz Live Phytoplankton - 2 Pack - Tommys Phyto

16oz Live Phytoplankton - 2 Pack - Tommys Phyto

…Isochrysis, and Thalassiosira species of microalgaes. This blend is great for filter-feeding animals in your reef, such as corals, clams, and copepods. Tommys Phyto is a hand-selected blend of these live algaes and provides an excellent source of nutrition for your reef. Because these phytoplankton…

Bio-Pure Frozen Cyclopod

Bio-Pure Frozen Cyclopod

…feeding corals and invertebrates. One Size Available 1.75 oz Blister Pack Cyclopods are a very small planktonic crustacean that is a member of the copepod family. Mostly ranging in the size of under 1 mm, Cyclops are a protein rich food, that will allow your fish to naturally graze on a zooplankton…

Poseidon's Feast & OceanMagik Phytoplankton

Poseidon's Feast & OceanMagik Phytoplankton

…Feast contains a range of juvenile to adult copepods. Juvenile copepods are difficult to see with the naked eye upon arrival but are best for establishing sustainable copepod populations. This is because livestock does not consume the copepods immediately after you add them into your tank!…

Advanced Hang On Back Refugium - Large

Advanced Hang On Back Refugium - Large

…provide a safe-haven for desirable copepods amphipods to feed and reproduce, and this can create a renewable source of food for fish and invertebrates in the display. Fiji Cube's compact refugiums create the perfect environment for cultivating algae and copepods, with a unique baffle system that…

Ultimate CleanChaeto Refugium Starter Package

Ultimate CleanChaeto Refugium Starter Package

…everything from nitrifying bacteria, phytoplankton, copepods, and macroalgae. By systematically adding these components to a new or established refugium can set you up a low maintenance reef tank that has sustainable populations of copepods. All the components will be delivered in a single shipment…

Ultimate Red Ogo Refugium Starter Package

Ultimate Red Ogo Refugium Starter Package

…everything from nitrifying bacteria, phytoplankton, copepods, and macroalgae. By systematically adding these components to a new or established refugium can set you up a low maintenance reef tank that has sustainable populations of copepods. All the components will be delivered in a single shipment…

Nano Brine Shrimp

Nano Brine Shrimp

…your fish before you add copepods or other live foods. AlgaeBarn only uses decapsulated eggs that are proven to product much better hatch rates and do not pose any risk by feeding unhatched eggs. It is recommended to add brine shrimp a few minutes before adding copepods to your aquarium to help…

5280 Pods & OceanMagik Phytoplankton

5280 Pods & OceanMagik Phytoplankton

…-5280 Pods contains a range of juvenile to adult copepods. Juvenile copepods are difficult to see with the naked eye upon arrival but are best for establishing sustainable copepod populations. This is because livestock does not consume the copepods immediately after you add them into your tank!…

Calanus - Freeze Dried

Calanus - Freeze Dried

All Natural, High Protein food for Fish, Coral, and Filter Feeders! Calanus (arctic copepods) are all-natural and a great source of carotenoids and anti-oxidants. The freeze-dried copepods are perfect as a stand-alone food source or can be added to any DIY food mix to increase the nutritional…

Sours: //

The Smallest Hack for the Biggest Results: Reef Hacks Guide to Copepods.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “it’s the little things that matter.” While we typically assign this to behaviors of others, when it comes to reefing, this statement carries a different tune.

It’s easy to get caught up in the bigger elements of reefing. From choosing the perfect tank to ensuring your filtration system is optimized for your unique microcosm, many novice reefers focus on the bigger picture. While it’s important to understand how these bigger devices and overarching concepts impact the health of your aquarium, most are nothing more than the stage in which the performance is played.

If this is true, then who are the actors in this production?


As a lifelong aquarist, Yuliya has an endless curiosity about our underwater universe. After graduating with a bachelor’s in Environmental Engineering, she transformed her passion into a successful career. While working at the Institute of Environmental Protection in Moscow, her passion for saltwater and reef aquariums only increased. Moving to the United States in 2013, Yuliya embarked on another impactful journey by sharing her unprecedented experience for all aquarium hobbyists ... Read More.

Equipment for your reef tank and saltwater aquariums.

Interestingly, the stars of this show aren’t the coral or various pieces of equipment needed to establish a healthy tank. While you may think that your SPS coral, aquascaping design or the newly installed skimmer take front-and-center, the real celebrities aren’t what you see.

Life in your aquarium is smaller than you realize.

Several weeks ago, I was speaking with a group of novice aquarists. While they had a solid understanding of major reefing topics, they seemed more concerned about the bigger elements of reef keeping. Subjects like lighting, coral species and substrate materials dominated the conversation. Each of these topics are important to understand, absolutely, but within this conversation I noticed a trend.

Reefers are easily distracted by the larger components of building their microcosm.

Unfortunately, getting caught up in these overarching subjects leaves little room for just that: the little elements of marine life.

Here’s something you must always remember:

Life begins at the microscopic level. Even the largest of filtration systems are used to maintain this invisible balance tank life requires to flourish. So while it’s easy to get caught up in the high-tech gadgets and visually stunning growth of coral, as soon as you take your mind off the unseen universe within your tank, you’re putting all your hard work at risk of failing.

From nutrient export methods to choosing the best reef salt mix for your tank, the most impactful components of reef keeping tend to focus on the smallest of elements. After all, our goal as reefers is to replicate the brilliance of natural reefs, which as you know, is rich in both visible and microscopic life.

Whether you’re simply thinking about starting a journey in reef keeping or have already taken the steps to establish a tank, now’s the time to readjust your focus. Although there’s literally hundreds of topics that align with this subject matter, let’s start with one of my personal favorites: copepods.


Defining Copepods: What Are They? 

Without a doubt, copepods are some of the most intriguing crustaceans you’ll never see. Throughout the years working with both fresh and saltwater aquariums, this is one of the few planktonic critters found in almost all types of salinities.

Essentially, copepods are tiny crustaceans found in almost any location where there’s water. From the deepest corners of our oceans to the highest mountain lakes, this critter is literally everywhere. In the saltwater world, copepods play a direct role in the overall aquatic food chain.

In the wild, such as in natural coral reef colonies, copepods impact the local inhabitants by ensuring the food chain remains strong for both small and large creatures. Since copepods live their entire life in the water column, they’re an essential food source for marine inhabitants, such as coral and fish.

Copepods, which is a generic term used to describe this incredibly large family, feed on a variety of food sources, but are quite fond of microalgae. This, as it turns out, is exactly why corals and other invertebrates find copepods to be so delicious.

As these nearly invisible crustaceans feed on microalgae, they become rich with its fatty acids. Along with being a widespread food source, copepods provide a steady source of essential fatty acids for corals, invertebrates and fishes like the mandarin goby. Think of copepods as an easy way to boost coral and fish nutrition. And when I say easy, just wait until we discuss just how easy copepod seeding is for any tank.

In fact, many reefers feel copepods is the ultimate feeding hack. And in many ways, I don’t disagree.

Copepod PolypLab

Cornucopia of Copepods - My Favorite Types.

Considering these minuscule crustaceans live basically anywhere there’s water, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s more than handful of species/types. However, only a select few are recommended for your reef tank. Let’s take a brief look at some of the most common copepod species used in reef keeping. Keep in mind, this isn’t a conclusive list.

Tigriopus Californicus.

When brainstorming this list, I decided to stick with the copepod species I currently use and personally recommend. As mentioned above, this isn’t a conclusive list. But if you’re new to the realm of copepods, the species included in this list are considered the hardiest and easiest to control.

Topping this list is a Harpacticoid Copepod, Tigriopus californicus. Most commonly found in supralittoral tide pools in along the Pacific coastline, T. californicus exist in areas that are traditionally inhospitable for most marine life. What this means for the aquarist is a hardy copepod species. Due to its resilience, this species is fairly sturdy against water parameter shifts and other stressful aquatic situations.

Because of its incredible adaptability to its surroundings, even less-than-perfect aquarium chemistry balance won’t have a detrimental impact on its population. Ultimately, this means not having to worry about accidentally killing your entire copepods population.

Personally, my go-to source for T. californicus copepods is Polyp Lab. What I appreciate about this supplier is their dedication to swift and stable aquarium seeding. While larger than other copepods, Polyp Lab chose this size to increase the likelihood of creating a self-sustaining population. I definitely recommend checking out this supplier.

Tisbe Biminiensis.

Also categorized as a harpacticoid copepod, T. biminiensis is another ideal copepod for any reef aquarium. In the wild, this species populates tropical and subtropical regions. As an epifaunal crustacean, meaning it prefers living on the surface of stones, macroalgae and sediment, they tend to form massive colonies.

Found in such dense populations, it’s no surprise this species is the primary food source for many tropical fish and coral. What I really enjoy about this species is how productive they are. Within a controlled environment, like an aquarium, it’s not impossible to achieve staggering densities of 20,000 copepods per liter of water. While their lifespan is surprisingly quick, they make up for that in their population density.

For the aquarist, T. biminiensis is, in many ways, the ideal food source. We’re always looking for the cheapest, easiest and least impactful on water parameters food sources. When you consider the nutritional profile, seamless population growth and maintenance ease, this copepod species is an obvious choice.

So, where do source this species? You guessed it, Polyp Lab wins again. Their T. biminiensis cultures are, in my opinion, some of the best in the marketplace. Like their other products, inoculating your reef aquarium or refugium is a breeze. As the smallest copepods found in most reef tanks, they’re ideal for SPS corals. However, we’ve found that fish, such as mandarins and dragonettes, love to get their fill on these invisible crustaceans.


Cultivating Your Private Biome - Refugium and Copepods.

In many ways, a refugium is the life source for a reef aquarium. It’s easy to toss this “tank-within-a-tank” concept as nothing more than a way boost microorganism life. But if you really think about their purpose, or more importantly, their potential, it’s easy to see why so many aquarists contribute their overall success to this life-rich tank.


When it comes to copepods, your refugium plays an important role.

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to growing your own food sources is having a growing population literally consumed faster than it expands. However, by leveraging the separate growing room offered by a refugium, copepod populations can explode without the threat of being over-consumed. Essentially, think of a refugium as a dedicated grow room.

Since the refugium and display tank are connected, as the copepod population rises, they literally overflow into the display tank.

This offers a steady incoming supply of copepods for inhabitants to consume, while simultaneously reducing the frequency of copepod seeding. After all, the population will never fully be consumed.

If you aren’t already, I highly recommend installing and leveraging the potential of a refugium or a chaeto reactor.

What About the Chaeto? Our Preferred Copepods Housing Hack.

Before moving forward, I think it’s beyond important to talk about our dear friend, the chaeto reactor.

This goes without saying, refugium tanks are really cool and serve a distinct purpose in reef keeping. However, for the sake of transparency, our systems leverage a different tool. While there’s nothing wrong with using a refugium, obviously, in my opinion the chaeto reactor is ideal for growing a healthy copepod population.

There’s two reasons why I prefer this setup over a refugium:

Much easier to setup and maintain.

The interior container, where the macro algae grows, is the perfect living quarters for pods.

PAX-Bellum ARID N18 Chaeto Reactor

Okay, so the first reason is purely subjective toward those who already use a chaeto reactor. FYI, if you’re looking for an awesome reactor, I recommend checking out the Pax-Bellum ARID N18, it’s seriously cool.

The main reason you should consider this setup is because of its ease. Since copepods enjoy feasting on algae, what better place to house this tiny population than in a dedicated algae grow container? Not only does this encourage healthy reproduction levels, but as water flows from the reactor and into the display tank, copepods happily tag along.

Copepod Curiosities - Quick Tips for Success.

While I could go on about the benefits and unique characteristics of copepods, there’s enough of that online. At this point, you’re probably ready to begin your copepod adventure. Even though copepods are some of the easiest natural, living reef tank food sources, it’s not error-proof.

Here’s a brief collection of tips and hacks to help you get started:

Build a Refugium Condo. Okay, maybe not a giant condo, but most of the issues reefers face when trying to establish a copepod population are circumvented with a refugium. Notably, copepods grow best with ample algae access, but too much algae is a no-no for a display tank. A refugium gives copepods all the nutrients they require, which include algae and detritus, without compromising your display tank.

As soon as you receive your copepods, divide them between your refugium and display tank. Improve their chances of survival by placing a few crushed fish pellets or phytoplankton in their new home. If the copepods were refrigerated during shipping, don’t introduce them into your refugium until they’ve thawed and have reached room temperature. Be aware, if they were frozen it may take a little while for these little critters to reanimate.

If using a culturing container, be sure to regularly feed copepods with free-swimming phytoplankton and microalgae. Because the copepod species you’ll likely use prefer tropical waters, be sure that your culturing container temperature stays between 22-27 degrees Celsius.

Supercharging Coral Feeding - Copepods Final Thoughts.

As a reefer, it’s my job to not only ensure corals and fish have a solid foundation to grow, but that their nutritional requirements are met. While this is easier than ever before, thanks to advancements in food sources and supplements, there are some elements even modern technology can’t beat. Few topics reflect this as clearly as copepods.

What’s your experience with copepods? Are you just now starting to learn about this natural food source or have you been a fan for years? Head on over to our Facebook page and leave us a comment or send us a message with your thoughts and questions. As always,

Happy Reefing!

by Yuliya Ivanova for ReefHacks.

Featured photo by Kat Masback / CC BY-SA 2.0

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Are There Pods in Your Reef?

Copepod Culture
Considering that they are an integral component of pretty much all natural marine ecosystems, it is likely that a large, stable population of copepods could benefit any reef aquarium. The surest means of establishing a lasting supply of copepods in your reef is to seed the aquarium system with a healthy, mixed-species starter culture.

But the benefits of adding pods does not end there. It is of clear benefit to boost an established population from time to time with supplementary cultures. Each addition of a quality mixed-species and mixed-life stage product such as 5280 Pods will provide a surge of food energy to varied filter-feeding invertebrates (e.g. corals) and microcrustacean-eating fishes (e.g. mandarin fish and seahorses). Even more importantly, the few individual new pods that escape predation will contribute both biomass and genetic diversity to the established population.

How to Start a Population of Copepods in Your Reef Tank

Given the normally short lifespan of a copepod, a few dead individuals in each bag is to be expected and is totally acceptable. There should be some evidence of movement by adults in the bag. Holding the bag up to a bright light source will aid the eye in locating these tiny animals as well as glimpsing their movement. Noting just a few healthy adults will be good assurance that the culture is strong. This is particularly so with products such as Poseidon’s Feast, which include individual copepods of all life stages. They not only include the larger adults (which you might be able to see) but also smaller individuals from the younger life stages (which you almost certainly cannot see). These mixed-life stage products will help to promote the rapid establishment of large, stable and long-lasting pod populations.

So, you have just released the fresh, new pod culture into your reef. Now is the time to take a deep breath of relief. Give these little creatures some time to adjust to their new home. A few are sure to picked off by some aquarium animal just after introduction to the tank. But just as certain, there will be a few that settle onto the aquarium rock or substrate and hide out. There, they might spend the rest of their days (and maybe nights too) feeding on detritus and hiding from would-be predators. They will likely breed, though the miniscule young copepods in your reef will remain undetected by your naked eye as they drift through the open waters. It takes 4-6 weeks for the pioneer pods to generate progeny that grow up to the point when they can be seen with the unaided eye. It might take a couple of months or longer before the growing population becomes dense enough to spill out into openly lit bottoms of the tank in search of new food sources.

So, what should an established copepod population should look like in your tank? The best place to start is by looking for evidence of their benefits. Corals should be healthy and expanding their feeding tentacles out at night. A wide range of small fishes from flame wrasses to scooter blennies will be plump and seemingly always on the prowl for the next bite. Nuisance benthic microalgae will be under tight control. There will be a significant reduction in the accumulation of detritus. Live rock and live sand will have an overall cleaner appearance. But where will you see the pods?

It is not always easy to quickly spot pods in your reef. Even the adults are miniscule. And the adults tend to be more active at night and under the cover of darkness. This is for good reason; copepods are a preferred food source for a good many fishes and invertebrates. Those few individuals that might wander out during the day (that is, while they are much more easily seen) are far more likely to be quickly snatched up by a hungry zooplanktivorous fish. To be sure, a pod on the glass is basically asking to be eaten.

eFinding pods in your reef will take a little bit of eye scrunching and extra lighting. The best time to look, of course, will be at night. Using a flashlight, cast a beam through the open water column. Then scan the area just at the sand surface line along the tank panel. Take time to allow your eyes to train in on the finer details of the illuminated area. You might see some beige to reddish little dots that scoot about. They will resemble what you saw in the bag when receiving your concentrated starter culture.

Those home aquarists who have a microscope have a distinct advantage in that they can find copepods of all life stages. They may even distinguish one species from another. The best time to collect your reef pods for observation on a slide is to set aside a small sample of water drawn from the detritus while performing routine tank cleaning. The microscope might also be a great tool for evaluating the vitality of newly received shipments of booster cultures.

Copepod Starter Cultures: A Growing Investment

A mature reef aquarium surely has thousands upon thousands of copepods! The rate at which a starter culture can build a reproductive population in a reef tank depends upon a lot of things. First, one must consider the effect of predation on the starter culture just after introduction to the system. To minimize these effects, add the culture in the dark and (if present) to the refugium. From there, growth will depend greatly upon the amount and quality of food sources.

Do you want your resident population of copepods in your reef to really thrive? Feed them. Undoubtedly, they will make good use of the detritus and microalgal growths in the tank. But the vast majority of copepod species live through a planktonic life stage and rely upon phytoplankton as a primary food source. Supplementing their diet with a quality live phytoplankton can greatly increase their productivity. For this purpose, a live multispecies blend with a balanced nutritional profile (such as OceanMagik) is ideal. Many essential vitamins and fatty acids are synthesized by these planktonic algae, and are transferred down the food chain from the phyto to the pods to animals that consume the pods.

It is actually pretty easy to add copepods to your reef. Just acquire a quality live copepod product, add it to your system in the best spot at the best time and… wait a while. If you have any detritus or film algae, and there are places for the new pods to hide, you will almost certainly establish a solid population of pods over the next couple of months. Particularly with regular boosts, this population will continue to clean the aquascape, provide a nutritious food source for many creatures and last as long as you keep your tank running.

SEEDING Your Saltwater Tank With Copepods - Saltwater 700

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We take the worry out of buying Live Copepods, Phytoplankton, Macroalgae, Inverts, and Captive bred Fish online by going above and beyond to take care of our customers. That's why we guarantee every order we ship to be 100% Alive on Arrivalor we will credit your account with podpoints or replace it free of charge (when the damaged item value is above $20). Hooray! When the damaged item value is above $20, we'll even cover the shipping on the replacement no matter which service you chose. Double Hooray!

About Our Policy

When your order arrives, be sure and inspect the contents to ensure everything is looking alive and well before you add them to your tank. Do not put our live copepods in the fridge. We'll give you 12 hours after deliveryto let us know if there is a problem. This should give you plenty of time to inspect the product and make sure you are completely satisfied.

"We will take care of you and make it right!"

If, for any reason, you decide that something isn't quite ultra grade, simply snap a photo of the unopened item(s) that you would like replaced. Be sure to get the barcode label on the product in the photo. After that, visit and submit the form. We'll review the photo and have a replacement out to you faster than a six-line wrasse at feeding time. Once your replacement order is processed, we'll send you a brand new tracking number automatically. That's it! Pretty simple, right?

Give your tank the love it deserves and order with confidence - AlgaeBarn has your back!


Copepods saltwater aquarium

Overview of Saltwater Copepods and Amphipods

It is not unusual at one time or another when keeping a saltwater aquarium to find tiny microscopic-like white bugs swimming in your tank. What you are most likely seeing are copepods or amphipods. These tiny, shrimp-like crustaceans dwell in the substrate as adults, but during their larval and juvenile stages, these sea bugs are most often free-swimming through the tank water. Copepods and amphipods most often appear in closed aquarium systems after live sand or rock has been added.

Saltwater Copepods and Amphipod Basics

These sea bugs are both pelagic (free-swimming) and benthic (bottom-dwelling). Copepods occur in all types of aquatic ecosystems including freshwater, brackish, and marine. Amphipods are mostly found in marine ecosystems, but there are some freshwater and terrestrial species.

Copepods and amphipods are just a few of the tiny animal organisms that make up zooplankton, which contributes to the makeup of plankton. These creatures eat phytoplankton (tiny plants and algae that also help make up plankton), small microzooplankton (zooplankton that is smaller than 1/127th of an inch in size), and detritus.

Only a few of the thousands of species of copepods and amphipods known are carnivorous or parasitic, and these are rarely found in a saltwater aquarium system. For many saltwater fish and other marine species, copepods and amphipods are a primary food source, both in nature and in captivity.

Because these tiny organisms are a natural part of the plankton food chain in the ocean, they are naturally going to occur in a saltwater aquarium environment. They are also micro-cultured as food for various species of adult marine animals, as well as used and tested as a food source in the research of culturing and rearing all kinds of tank-raised fry.

Food Source for Fish

According to a breeder's registry database, copepods and amphipods are used as a food source when hatching and rearing gobies, seahorses, and octopus.

Some fish rely on these sea bugs as their primary food such as mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus, ocellatus, picturatus, stellatus, and Dactylopus dactylopus), sand sifting gobies, and sleeper gobies (Valenciennea).

There are quite a few species that actively pick at live rock and sift the substrate in search of these tasty little morsels, which in turn helps to naturally control their populations in a saltwater aquarium or reef tank system:

  • Dragonets
  • Signal/crab eye gobies (Signigobius biocellatus),
  • Midas blenny (Ecsenius midas)
  • Adult seahorses
  • Firefishes
  • Most angel, butterfly, hawk, and wrasse fish species
  • Carnivorous crustaceans
  • Shrimp, true crabs, hermit crabs
  • Carnivorous invertebrates
  • Many small polyp stony corals, gorgonians, and other soft corals that feed on plankton and plankton byproducts

Most of the saltwater fish listed that require or feed upon these sea bugs are challenging to keep, require a well-established aquarium with a heavy bug population or else they may starve, and these fish should not be kept with aggressive fish where they have to compete for food. They are not good fish for beginners or newly started aquariums.

Need More?

So what do you do if your aquarium does not have a good bug population present to sustain fish that require them and you don't want to wait around until one develops?

There are a few suppliers where you can buy them. These can be introduced directly into an aquarium or micro-culture in another system, such as a refugium, and then harvested for feeding. You can also check out any local saltwater fish stores in your area, or browse livestock and aquarium product supplier's online stores to see if they carry these live food colonies. Some online stores you can try are two Hawaii-based companies, Indo-Pacific Sea Farms and

Want to Get Rid of Them?

Even though these sea bugs are considered a food source for some tank inhabitants, these organisms are considered a nuisance to others.

Sometimes when very large populations of these bugs are present in the free-swimming larval and juvenile stages, you may see fish in the tank shaking or shuddering. This is because the bugs are crawling on the fish, causing an annoying tickling sensation. This can become overwhelming and exhausting for the fish because they find it difficult to get any rest as they constantly move or dart around to keep the bugs off.

If this happens, and you are concerned about your fish, and you do not have any bug-eating animals present in the aquarium to help reduce their numbers naturally, it may be necessary to take steps to get rid of them. To do this, add a hang-on-tank type canister filter with a fine micron sleeve or pleat cartridge on the aquarium to filter the bugs out of the water for a short period of time.

In most cases, these tiny bugs are a beneficial and natural part of a well-balanced aquarium ecosystem. They aren't hurting anything, and unless they are causing a big problem for the fish or other tank inhabitants, you shouldn't have to do anything about them. Once they grow to maturity, they will retire into the rocks and substrate of the aquarium.

How to acclimate Copepods and Amphipods to your Reef Tank or Refugium with Macroalgae


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