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The Mighty Copepod

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 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.

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102 thoughts on “The Mighty Copepod”

  1. These are so neat. I love looking in the tank, after lights out, with a flash light, and seeing all the life.

  2. I love having copepods in my tank. If you turn off the lights and even cover LED’s and give you eyes about 10 minutes to adjust to the total darkness, you sill start to see some of them fluoresce. It’s really cool to see bioluminescence in your own home!

  3. darksorcerer0530

    I struggled with setting up a copepod colony at first, but now they are pretty essential for me as my mandarins love them!

  4. Max Williquette

    So many benefits to good pods, and AlgeaBarn is the best source I have found! My seahorses and mandarin love them!

  5. I don’t think pods are emphasized enough in this hobby. I like to have a variety of different pods in my tank.

  6. We use both live and frozen copepods. One as a food source for our fish and the other to help keep the tank healthy.

  7. I seeded my system with pods from Algae Barn 2.5 years ago and my tanks thrived, the so called expert level fish like the Mandarin have been the easiest fish pair I’ve ever owned. 2 years and have never had to feed or do anything as the pods reproduce in their millions in the refug, just need to seed heavy the first 6 months.

    1. Awesome to hear! Please when you get a chance post up a picture of your tank on our facebook or instagram pages! We love to see fat happy mandarins 😀

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