When thinking about crustaceans many creatures come to mind like shrimp or lobster. And while your mind may be wandering toward an all you can eat buffet, there is another type of crustacean that isn’t so tasty to humans, but boy do the fish love them. I speak of the mighty (and tiny) copepod.
Copepod is a blanket term to describe a subclass of the Crustacea family. There are many types of copepods and they are anywhere and everywhere there is water. Some species of marine pods are planktonic, or they drift in the currents like plankton do. Other species are benthic, or living and moving along the ocean floor like tiny little sea bugs.
The one thing all pods do have in common though is the same basic body type. Copepods are part of the crustacean family and because of this they all have exoskeletons or outer shells (though they vary widely by class). They are also very small with the largest variety measuring at 1 cm. Most copepods measure at around 1 to 2 mm. When using live pods in a saltwater aquarium, they may look like tiny bugs floating in the water or crawling on the glass.
Marine copepods feed off of phytoplankton and bacterioplankton, and in turn provide a food source for larger fish such as mandarins and gobies. Knowing that ornamental saltwater fish love and live off of pods, it only makes sense that a growing number of aquarium enthusiasts are switching to providing live copepods for their fish. Live aquarium copepods provide a wonderful food source for aquarium fish. The fish don’t have any; “I need to get used to this food” down time because live copepods are what they instinctively eat. And with the advantages of modern technology any aquarium hobbyist can buy pods online and have them delivered right to their door, with the next stop in the aquarium.
So there you have it. Copepods may seem tiny and insignificant to us, but their presence is irreplaceable to our favorite fish.