Are Copepods a Good Sign?

Are Copepods a Good Sign?

There are tons of little critters and creatures that can make their way into your aquarium. Some are good, others are neutral, and some are very bad. Some will help keep your aquarium clean, while others will feast on your corals. It can be hard to tell which hitchhikers are bad and which are good, so it is advised you avoid hitchhikers anyway you can. Regardless of your efforts, some critters will find themselves in your aquarium. Copepods are one example. If you find yourself without copepods in your tank, you can call yourself lucky. A lot of hobbyists wonder if seeing copepods in their aquariums is a good sign.

To start, let's make it simple. Most of the time copepods are a good sign. The reasons I say most and not all of the time is because there are some copepod species that are potentially harmful. These species are very rare in the hobby, and it is highly unlikely any of them will make it into your aquarium. You should worry about everything else before you even think about harmful copepod species. You could pretty much say that copepods are always good. When talking about copepods, let's assume we are talking about the good ones. Some examples of beneficial copepods are Tigriopus, Tisbe, Apocyclops, Oithona, and, Euterpina. However, there are many others.
If you find your aquarium glass covered with copepods, your first inclination might be to freak out and head to the forums asking for help. Don't worry! This is a good thing. You can't have too many copepods in your aquarium. Copepods will do absolutely no harm to your fish and corals. In fact, they actually benefit them in several ways.
Why are they good? In this article, we'll go over just that. When you learn what copepods do and how they benefit your aquarium, you will rejoice that you found some in your aquarium.

What are copepods?

First, let's establish what a copepod is so we know we are talking about the same thing.  Copepods appear as little white specs. Most of the time, you will spot them on the aquarium glass, if they are in there. You may also see them darting around in the water column when your pumps are off. If you see some other sort of bug that seems to be eating your corals or bothering them, it is almost definitely not a copepod. It is probably some sort of pest.
Copepods are one of the most common forms of zooplankton. They feed both corals and fish. These tiny little crustaceans are found in most bodies of water. You can find copepods in, of course, the ocean as well as rivers, lakes high up in the mountains, and even puddles of water. With that being said, you might think they would be abundant in every reef aquarium, but many aquariums have little to none. If you find copepods in your reef aquarium, that is a sign your aquarium is healthy.

Why are copepods beneficial to reef aquariums?

When you think about it, life starts on the microscopic level. It starts with atoms which makeup cells. You can even find single-cell organisms in your aquarium in the form of beneficial bacteria, one of the most important parts of an aquarium. Copepods are much larger than bacteria but still microscopic. The microscopic side of your aquarium is crucial.

One of the major reasons copepods are beneficial is in what they eat. There are lots of different things copepods will eat, but the most important part of their diet is microalgae, detritus, and fish waste. This makes them an essential cleanup crew member. Sure, one copepod cannot make a noticeable difference, but thousands can. Depending on the size, one aquarium can easily have more than 100,000 copepods. Copepods prefer to eat algae, actually. No, they won't miraculously solve your algae problem, but they can provide a lot of help. Aside from algae, they help keep your aquarium clean in general. Even if you don't have an algae problem, adding copepods to your tank can prove to be beneficial.

The great thing about copepods eating algae specifically is that it makes them highly nutritious. The algae consumes nutrients in the water and uses them to grow. Those nutrients are transferred to the copepods, making them rich with fatty acids. Why does this matter? Glad you asked. Copepods are an excellent coral and fish food. Copepods will find their way into the mouths of corals, boosting the health and color of the corals. Copepods can also be used to feed finicky fish such as mandarin dragonets, leopard wrasses, and others. They are the ultimate food source.
Another great benefit of copepods is for those with refugiums. Refugiums are often used to provide copepods with a safe place to breed, but the copepods can actually return the favor and benefit the refugium. Refugiums are also used to grow macroalgae. This is done to compete with nuisance algae for nutrients. Copepods will help keep the macroalgae free of detritus, which helps it grow better. In away, copepods and macroalgae have a symbiotic relationship. Copepods keep the macroalgae clean, and the macroalgae provides a place for the copepods to live.
Those are most of the major benefits of copepods. You are probably not worried about copepods being in your tank now, right? You should be glad they are in there. Also, if you can't spot any copepods in your aquarium, you probably want to know how to add them to your aquarium so you can reap the benefits.

Where do you get copepods?

Lucky for your AlgaeBarn sells a wide variety of different copepods. You can buy individual species or mixes of several different species. Each species fills in a certain roles such as feeding corals, eating algae, etc. The great thing about buying from AlgaeBarn is the outstanding Alive On Arrival Guarantee. AlgaeBarn promises that your copepods will arrive alive or you will be sent another order free of any cost including shopping. If you want to know how to tell if your copepods are alive or not, checkout this article.

So, are copepods a good sign? Hopefully you know the answer to that question is a big, huge, fat yes! Copepods are amazing for your tank, whether it is cleaning up detritus, feeding corals, or feeding fish. Seeing a bunch of copepods on your glass is something to be glad for and proud of. 
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