Particularly for animals that live in water, jumping from one environment to another–even if quite similar physically and chemically–can present serious stress. Yes, “pods” (copepods, amphipods, etc.), are known to be incredibly resilient and adaptable. Indeed, the tidepool-dwelling harpacticoid copepod Tigriopus californicus is regarded as one of THE toughest of all invertebrate species.
All that said, pods too benefit considerably from acclimation. Allowing a slow steady physiological adjustment to the new surroundings can greatly increase survivorship during the introduction. This is particularly important when attempting to seed a system with pods. Reducing stress in this way might also increase fertility and fecundity, thereby accelerating the pace at which the population increases.
Acclimation techniques for pods differ a bit from those applied to fish or inverts. Featuring copepods of all life stages, products such as 5280 Pods contain individuals so small (i.e. the young, miniscule, nauplii) that there is no practical way to separate them from the shipping water. As a consequence, this water is all added to the system–eventually.
Generally speaking, when utilizing a drip acclimation system and drip counter, two or three drips per second is usually more than sufficient water flow. Still seem like overkill for pods? Satisfied that the tank will almost certainly become seeded since a few individuals are bound to survive no matter how roughly treated?
Consider that the large females (especially those bearing eggs) are the most valuable as seed stock. At the same time, their larger size makes them much more susceptible to predation. Why? Because they simply are easier to see! And just subsequent to being added to a new tank, they usually are somewhat disoriented, which makes them yet more prone to an opportunistic predator. What to do?
Just introduce the pods into the tank after lights-out. Not only are most fish less active around this time but they also have a very difficult time seeing the pods. By morning time, the new pods will have had sufficient time to recover and hide. Adding your pods directly to the refugium (if present) can additionally help to limit predation losses.
The following may be suggested when seeding pods:
- Check the contents of the package to ensure the copepods are there and moving; copepods are easier for some people to see than others.
- Open the package and gently pour contents into a spacious container (e.g. 5-gal bucket).
- Allow culture to breathe for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Deploy drip acclimator system OR begin adding small amounts of tank water (approximately ¼ cup) in 5-10 minute increments until shipping water has been diluted by a factor of 4-5x.
- Gently pour contents of the bucket into the refugium or sump.
With just a little bit of care during introduction, plus regular feedings of a quality live phytoplankton such as OceanMagik, you should have an abundance of fat, juicy pods in your reef.