What is your favorite copepod?

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What is the Best Copepod?

  • Tisbe

    Votes: 9 60.0%
  • Apocyclops

    Votes: 6 40.0%
  • Tigriopus

    Votes: 3 20.0%
  • Pseudo

    Votes: 1 6.7%
  • Acartia

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Parvo

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters

Reef By Steele

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Aug 1, 2023
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Let’s delve into this question and see if we can come up with a solid answer. First is why do we add pods? The answer to this last question can impact the answer to the first. Is it for live food, algae control, additional Clean-Up Crew (CUC), coral propagation, or increased biome. Any and all of these reasons to have copepods are valid.

BENEFITS OF PODS IN YOUR AQUARIUM: The primary benefits include FOOD SOURCE, CLEAN UP CREW (CUC) and BIOME DIVERSITY. Copepods aid in the husbandry of certain aquarium inhabitants which require an endless food source as their metabolism requires them to hunt non-stop. These include but not limited to Mandarin Dragonets like our beloved Rainbow Wish and Paisley, other dragonets such as HUSKER our Ruby Red Dragonet (Can’t live in the Cornhusker state and have a red and yellow fish and not name it after your team lol) plus pipefish, seahorses, anthias, various gobies such as sleeper, sand sifting, etc. Copepods also provide a consistent and viable food source for many different captive bred fry. Plus as an added bonus almost all if not all of your fish in your aquarium BENEFIT as they munch on these protein and fatty acid enriched treats. Copepods are a valuable member of your clean-up crew. They aide in Algae control due to pods small size, they can get into the tiniest of crevices and clean the algae down to its roots and help reduce the formation by reducing nutrients in your aquarium. They aide nutrient export by consuming bacteria, detritus and uneaten food and converting it to protein and fatty acids for our fish. Copepods add to an increased biome when colonies of different species establish colonies with in our aquariums.

So which is the best?

The following describes the six copepod species we currently stock and sell and the features and benefits of each.

Tigriopus_californicus copepod is a wonderful addition to any saltwater aquarium as this species of copepods are rich in astaxanthin which helps bring dull colored fish back to their naturally vibrant colors seen in the wild. These bright red colored copepods are larger sized copepods (250-1500 microns) and make an enticing meal to any fish due to their quirky swim pattern, whose erratic, jerky swim pattern combined with their color and size. We highly recommend these pods for reefers who keep fish with high metabolisms allowing them to forage all day long, and are an excellent choice for finicky fish. Having a live food source will also help to lower nutrients often caused by over feeding prepared foods that sink to the substrate and start to decay in your tank.
In sum, the Harpacticidea copepod Tigriopus californicus is an excellent addition to any tanks micro fauna. Providing optimum clean up capabilities combined with a ready food source. As we Huskers like to shout "go big red!"

Apocyclops_pananmensis pods are opportunistic feeders eating phytoplankton, fish waste, and other detritus in your tank. This makes them a critical part of any clean-up crew. As juveniles, Apocyclops copepods are benthic meaning they stay hidden in the rockwork, macroalgae, and glass in your aquarium. As they progress through their life cycle they become pelagic meaning they are free swimming. These life cycle changes makes them an excellent addition to aquariums with “pod hunters” as Mandarins will hunt them from the rocks and wrasses and anthias will benefit from them in the water column.
In sum, the cyclopoid copepod Apocyclops panamensis is an excellent addition to any population of microcrustaceans. Resilient and fast-growing, they are likely to colonize your aquarium and play an important role in removing unsightly algal films over the aquarium substrate and provide a constant food source.

Tisbe_biminiensis are small copepods that tend to inhabit the cracks and crevasses of live rock and macroalgae. These pods can maintain their population in your aquarium as they tend to hide in your rock work where you might see your Mandarin Dragonet hovering like a brightly colored fairy pecking at them as it constantly grazes for food. Being nocturnal in nature helps them maintain a sustainable food source in your tank, yet they still provide a highly nutritious snack or meal for your fish. Tisbe biminiensis also assist with Clean-up by consuming nuisance algae in your aquarium and refugium.
Tisbe biminiensis is a harpacticoid copepod. Thus, as an adult, it lives on the seafloor. Because it spends most of its adult days crawling around on the rock, sand and glass surfaces, it feeds primarily on detritus and algal films. Juveniles, on the other hand, inhabit the open water column where they graze on phytoplankton. We highly recommend dosing Phyto Buffet to provide for their nutritional need, and it aids in establishing colonization.
In sum, the Harpacticidea copepod Tisbe biminiensis is an excellent addition to any tanks micro fauna. providing optimum clean up capabilities in those hard to impossible to reach areas.

Parvocalanus_crassirostris is a calanoid copepod in the family Paracalanidae and are small pelagic (free swimming) copepods rich in fatty acids providing awesome nutrition to larval fish and our Mandarin dragonets. They are also a favorite of filter feeders such as feather dusters, clams, christmas tree worms, sps corals, sponges and of course Zoas. Parvocalanus crassirostris can be found throughout the tropical and subtropical Atlantic. In contrast to harpacticoid copepods, such as Tigriopus californicus and Tisbe biminiensis, calanoid copepods do not crawl on surfaces and into rockwork. Do to living in the open ocean Parvocalanus crassirostris is capable of incredible locomotion, far more active than our other pods. This copepod jumps a multitude of its own body length with each burst! This species will perform daily migrations up and down the water column in search of live micro algae. Their natural food source is live planktonic microalgae and it is absolutely necessary for their survival. Unlike other copepod species in the reef aquarium hobby, this species cannot utilize biofilms and detritus. It must be fed a diet of lipid-rich, live microalgae such as Isochrysis galbana, Rhodomonas salina or Talassiosira weissflogii. Though this dietary need presents a unique challenge, our Phyto Buffet includes 6 strains of phytoplankton rich in HUVA and lipids. Parvocalanus crassirostris is the Ferarri of copepods: it requires rocket fuel, for the ultimate performance.

Parvocalanus crassirostris are herbivores and eat live micro algae and phytoplankton only.

Acartia_tonsa are larger pelagic (free swimming) copepods providing awesome nutrition to a host of fish such as Wrasses, Anthias, Seahorses, and of course our Mandarin dragonets. Originating from the indo-pacific regions, but now found worldwide, they make welcome addition to our fish sourced from the indo-pacific. They breed year round in temperate waters so should colonize nicely in our reef tanks. They also provide an ideal nutritional profile for both photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic corals.
Acartia Tonsa are detrivores and eat micro algae and phytoplankton, uneaten fish food and fish waste making them another valuable member of our clean-up crew.

Psuedodiamptomus_pelagicus are the largest pelagic (free swimming) copepods of our three new additions so while still providing awesome nutrition high in omega fatty acid and lipids to a host of fish such as Wrasses, Athias, Seahorses, I consider these to be the best copepods for our Mandarin dragonets. They are also a great choice for breeders whose larval fish continues to need live foods past the first few days.
Psuedodiamptomus pelagicus are detrivores and eat micro algae and phytoplankton, uneaten fish food and fish waste making them another valuable member of our clean-up crew.

We highly recommend dosing Phyto Buffet to provide for their nutritional needs, and it aids in establishing colonization.

It is still my strong conviction that a blend of different species is the best way to go, providing the most diversity and increasing the chances that one or more colonize your system.

If you want to provide live food for your fish and or corals, then just getting Tigriopus pods should do the trick, after all they are big and easy for your fish to see and hunt. But is it truly enough? By providing your fish with multiple species of pods, you enhance the value of the pods by broadening the nutritional profile. Although pods supply similar nutritional characteristics, each delivers different amounts and types of fatty acids, proteins, and other nutrients. The larger pods are far easier for the fish to target and hunt, which also makes it harder for them to colonize. While the smaller are better targets for certain fish especially Mandrins, Dragonets, and Anthias, and they are more able to colonize as they reside deep in the tiny crevices in the rocks. Although able to hide out of reach, these smaller pods still make themselves available as a tasty treat therefore still providing and nourishing our fish. Plus just as we do not eat the same food for every meal, a varied diet is healthier for our aquatic friends.

Algae control is another top reason that reefers introduce pods to their aquariums. Just as with herbivorous fish, pods too may target certain algae while ignoring others. Different species may also naturally desire certain algae so diversity and variety provide an increased probability for success. Larger pods like Tigriopus are often touted as GHA (Green Hair Algae) mowing machines. Yet I have found that although they often do a great job of reducing the appearance of GHA, often it returns again and again. Smaller copepods, such as Tisbe pods that work clear to the bottom of the crevice or hole, consume the algae all the way to its roots removing the problem, rather than just giving the appearance. Since many of the pods are omnivorous, their consumption of detritus and excess food helps to remove nutrients from the tank, thus providing less food for the algae. Again a variety of pods will eat a variety of items in our tanks increasing our chances of success towards our goals.​

Many of us add life to our tanks just to build the biome. More and diverse life in our little glass boxes introduces new and different bacteria and micro fauna creating a more natural environment. These additions help us reefers to develop maturity in our tanks sooner, bringing our tanks into a closer reflection of the oceans natural profile. Many of our corals also benefit from actually consuming pods. Copepods like the Acartia who move freely in the water column during their 6 Nauplian stages provide a steady stream of protein and fatty acid rich nutrition for our anemones, zoas and other corals.

PLEASE NOTE: Reef By Steele ships all pods in all life stages. Our Pods contains a range of juvenile to adult copepods. Some juvenile copepods are difficult-to-impossible to see with the naked eye upon

Check out our Copepod selections here.

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Making aqua concoctions: Have you ever tried the Reef Moonshiner Method?

  • I currently use the moonshiner method.

    Votes: 39 19.9%
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    Votes: 3 1.5%
  • I have not used the moonshiner method.

    Votes: 145 74.0%
  • Other.

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