What are copepods?

Live copepods are small crustaceans that can be used as live food for saltwater aquarium fishes, corals and other invertebrates. 

Who should use live copepods?

Almost any marine aquarium will benefit from the addition of copepods, but aquariums with mandarin fish, anthias and seahorses may require regular copepods for optimal results. Aquarists that maintain a refugium as part of their overall system should regularly add copepods to their refugium.

How to use live copepods

To add them to your system, pour the pouch directly into the aquarium on the day of delivery. You can use a sieve available in our store if you require one.

If a refugium is present, add some copepods to the refugium, where they will not be eaten. If no refugium is present, you may add all of the copepods directly to the sump (consider shutting off the protein skimmer for a time if one is present). If the system does not have a refugium or a sump, consider adding at least some of the copepods when the aquarium lights are off on the day of delivery.

We do not recommend storing live copepods once they arrive, as we do not guarantee live foods after delivery. (Live copepods should be fed on the day of delivery).

Which live copepods do you stock?  

We stock Harpacticoids copepods (Tigriopus Californicus), the most commonly available copepods on the market today. They are substrate-dwelling copepods ("benthic" copepods). They feed on microalgae, detritus and even flake fish food. Some harpacticoids are cannibalistic and will eat other copepods if no other food source is present in the aquarium. Because of its size and abundance, this species of copepod (Tigriopus Californicus) is regarded as the insect of the sea. This creature is generally tiny, from 1-3 mm in size, as adults.

They are cylindrically shaped and have a segmented body (head, thorax, abdomen) though no noticeable division between body regions (Powlik 1966). Each segment of the body has a pair of legs. They use their 'legs' to propel themselves through the water in short rapid jerks. They have two pairs of long feathered antennae, a chitin us exoskeleton and a single eye in the middle of their head; this simple eye can only differentiate between light and dark.

Why can't I see live copepods In my aquarium?

Over time, the population of the copepods in your aquarium will decline as they are grazed by the corals, anemones, fish and shrimp in the tank.

The best time to look, of course, will be at night. Using a light, look through the open water column. Then scan the area 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.

How do live copepods help my aquarium?

Adding copepods to your aquarium will help corals enormously as they expand their feeding tentacles at night. A wide range of small fishes, from mandarin fish, wrasses & scooter blennies, will be plump and seemingly always on the prowl for the next bite. Nuisance microalgae will be under tight control. There will be a significant reduction in the accumulation of detritus. Live rock and sand will have an overall cleaner appearance.