I've received a lot of questions regarding my pod cultures on many different threads throughout the months. I ended up writing a brief tutorial on an old thread of mine but it was obscured on page 4. I thought I might just make a thread devoted to it for others to find easier.

First thing, I'm a complete and utter reef noob. Ask anyone here and they'll tell you to take EVERYTHING I say with a grain of salt. Proceed at your own risk.

Second, I'm nowhere near a master of culturing pods. This is just basically some things I've learned the past year I've been culturing them. I'm probably wrong on a lot but I've had 3 cultures running with no crashes producing 10k pods a week each (30k total) for the past year.

Culturing pods is surprisingly easy, the hardest part is simply knowing what to purchase and determining what to do.

Step 1.) You need to get the proper supplies.

There are two ways to approach this:

-Buy a $50-$100 setup from poseidon reef systems. I started with the poseidon reef system culture setup as I had no clue where to start. I highly recommend it if you want everything you need with no hassle. Purchase here.

-Purchasing from scratch: Here are the supplies you'll need
  1. Poly bags, preferably 12 x18.
  2. A jar, jug, tub, etc preferably 1.5-3.5L.
  3. Airline tubing.
  4. ~250 micron sieve.
  5. Not sure the names of them but the little knobs you connect to airline tubing to control the intensity of bubbles. You'll want it to be in the shape of a t. I believe this is called a valve in some circles. I will be referring to it as a bubble valve for the rest of this write-up.
  6. Led lights, you can get the cheap ones on amazon. All that matters here is that you can control their intensity/are dimmable. Be sure you get something you can change the intensity of.
  7. Little air pump. The Tetra whisper 20 is what I use.
  8. Sponge or something porous pods can live in.
  9. Power timer (optional) I highly advise it however.
  10. Pods, self-explanatory.
  11. Phytoplankton (can be live or something cheap like phyto feast).
  12. Detritus, reef roids works the best from the stuff I've tested (depends on what pods you are culturing).
Step 2.) Create your culture setup.
  1. You need to first cut a hole on the top of your jug, jar, tub, etc. This will be to slide the airline tubing through. Try your best to keep it pretty snug. One main consideration when culturing pods is ensuring everything is sanitized and minimizing outside bacteria from entering the system. On my systems, I have a second hole with a piece of airline tubing sticking out to ensure trapped air can escape. This second piece of airline tubing is not connected to the air pump and only goes 2-3" deep into the jug.
  2. Cut off maybe a 6-8" strip of airline tubing and fit the valve on top of it. Cut off another strip of airline tubing and connect it to your air pump. At this point you should have a little system where if you were to fill water, you could start the air pump and control the intensity of bubbles being generated.
  3. Wrap the leds around the jar, jug, tub, etc. Put these on half intensity. It's hard to instruct you how much you should lower them given the differences in led lights. The best I can do is show you what mine look like with the lights off:
  4. pod culture.png
  5. That's it, you are done setting up the main operation of the culture. It should look something like this:

Step 3.) Actually starting the culture.

Hopefully, you have your pods and poly bags ready to go. Go ahead and take the lid off your jug and stuff the bag into the jug, jar, tub, bath, etc. Like so:


You can now fill the bag up with your pods and FRESH 1.025 water. DON'T EVER ADD TANK WATER TO YOUR CULTURE. I marked a point where I add them towards to the top to manage salinity/topping off.

As you can see above, I have the sponge connected to the airline tubing. You don't have to do this but now is a good time to go ahead and place the sponge inside the culture for the little guys to chill in. At this point, I also add in a cap full of phyto feast and 1/8th tsp of reef roids. (will get into food soon).

Step 4.) How to care/maintain the culture.

The food delivered to your culture depends on the pods you keep. Apocyclops, these are your tisbe and apex pods. Apocyclops prefer detritus & meaty foods, reef roids works the absolute best in my opinion. While they prefer detritus, I also add in a cap full of phytoplankton. They consume it. If you have tigre pods, you only need to feed them phytoplankton but a lot more of it. Add in one cap of phytoplankton, ~5ml. And plan on adding ~5ml every 2-3 days. You'll know it's time to feed when the water becomes crystal clear. So be sure to check on your culture every 3 days or so.

As mentioned above, you want the lights relatively dim (see picture above). In terms of lighting schedule, I have my photoperiod from 5pm-8am (I think). It's approximately 14-15 hours. If you purchased the electric timer, good for you, you're not a dingus. Unless you want to manually turn on/off these lights every day, you should purchase one. Go ahead and configure that now per the schedule recommended above.

Copepods do not like heavy flow so do not pound these guys with a lot of bubbles. The general recommendation is 3-5 bubbles per second or slower. Tweak your valve until you're getting this amount.

Congratulations, you have officially set up a culture with copepods.

There are a few more things we have to cover however.

You are going to be tempted to harvest half of the culture after the first week. Don't. You're main goal at this point is to let the culture grow in size. This will take about 2 weeks.

How will you know your culture is ready to be harvested? It will look like this:


Every inch of the tub, jug, jar, pool, etc will be covered in thousands of pods. When your culture gets to this point you also need to be very mindful of food consumption. This is approximately 5,000-10,000 pods and they can consume all of the reef roids in a matter of 2 days. Add in more food if the water is too clear. They will die off fast when they are this abundant.

After the initial two weeks, you will get into a routine of harvesting every 7 days.

Step 5.) Harvesting.

Harvesting only takes about 10 minutes and is very easy. To get started, geta home depot bucket WITH lid. Then trace a hole in the center of the lid about the size of your sieve. Then place the sieve in the hole. It should look like this:

My steps to harvest are to disconnect the culture from the lights and air pump. Then I slowly pour the bag into the sieve. Don't just slam these guys into the sieve. Also I've found after a couple of cycles the water gets real gross and clogs the sieve so maintaining a slow pour ensures the sieve doesn't get clogged and you don't have to wait 20 minutes (you'll thank me later). Once done, I take the bag out and fill with a little bit of FRESH saltwater. I then shake the bag to get out the remaining pods. I then pour this through the sieve. You should see thousands of pods on top of the sieve.

Grab a piece of tupperware or something, fill it with a solo cups worth of FRESH saltwater, and take out the sieve from the home depot lid. Turn the sieve upside down so that the pods are falling onto the FRESH saltwater within the tupperware. Pour FRESH saltwater on the top of the sieve to have them all fall into the tupperware. There should be nothing left on the sieve.

If you did everything correctly, you should have several thousand pods in the tupperware. Should look something like this (it's hard to see all of the pods):


CONGRATULATIONS, you have just completed your first harvest and it gets much easier from here on out.

I generally harvest 50-70% of what's in the tupperware and add it to the tank.

To restart the culture, throw away the gross old bag and grab a new one. Place it inside the jar, jug, tub, ocean, etc and fill with FRESH saltwater. Then add in the remaining 30-50% of pods. You can also add in ~5ml of phytoplankton and 1/8th tsp of reef roids like the first steps.

Reconnect to the air pump and lights and you're ready to restart the culture.

That's all there is to it! Hopefully this helps someone, I received a number of dms to write up how I culture. It’s very easy and only requires maybe 30 min max of maintenance a week.