When hobbyists add copepods to their aquarium for the first time, they often want to know how long it will take the copepods to significantly grow in population. Whether you are simply curious or need to feed a starving fish, this article will hopefully help you out.
Let's start with why you may want a rapid copepod population boom. Usually the reason hobbyists are anxious about their copepod population is because they have a finicky fish to feed. Maybe you got a mandarin before learning you needed to seed your aquarium with copepods first. Another reason could be algae control. If you are getting your copepods for algae control, be patient. Also, make sure you are targeting the root of the problem as well. Don't expect copepods to be the solution to your overfeeding habits or lack of sufficient nutrient export. Copepods will help keep the aquarium clean. They can do a lot, but they will not keep algae down if your nutrients are skyrocketing.
If you are worried about feeding a fish, we'll get to that. However, if you haven't gotten the fish yet, it is incredibly important to seed your aquarium ahead of time. Make sure your glass is overrun with copepods first.
Now, how long does it take for copepods to reproduce? Unfortunately, there is no exact number because a lot of factors come into play. However, we can tell you that the average lifecycle for copepods is around two to three weeks. While that fact is interesting, it doesn't really help. There are so many other factors that are much more important than the life span. Although it's not really possible to give you an exact number, we can give you some information on how to grow your copepod population as quickly as possible. Sound like a plan?
The fastest way to get a boat load of copepods in your tank is to...well, add a boat load of copepods. If you are gravely concerned about feeding a fish, the best thing to do is add a lot of copepods. Add enough copepods to feed the fish for a while plus even more than that to establish a population. For reference, a mandarin dragonet can eat thousands of copepods in one day. Yes, thousands. They can eat around 5,000 in one day if they can find that many. This is why it is important to seed the tank ahead of time. If you didn't, hopefully you bought a captive-bred mandarin
so you can at least train it to eat frozen food in the time being.
Now, what are some of the factors that can make copepods breed more and encourage a population explosion? The number one thing you can do to increase your copepod population is add a refugium to your aquarium. This is especially important if you have a copepod eating fish in your main display. Refugiums offer an ideal environment for copepods to live and breed without getting eaten by fish. A refugium usually has some sort of media and/or substrate, macroalgae, and a light. You can put other things in a refugium as well. Just don't add anything that will eat copepods. That would defeat the purpose.
There are lots of ways to implement a refugium into your aquarium. To keep it short, the most important thing you need in a refugium for copepods is breeding grounds. The best breeding grounds for copepods is chaetomorpha macroalgae. Other macroalga work great as well. You can also add MarinePure blocks to provide some surface area for not only copepods, but beneficial bacteria as well. We could spend a whole other article going over how to start a refugium and the different methods you can use. In fact, we have. Check out this article
on refugiums for more information.
Another factor that is important for increasing your copepod population is food. As you may or may not know, copepods eat detritus and algae. This is a huge reason they are so great for marine aquariums. However, juvenile copepods largely rely on phytoplankton
for food. Not adding phytoplankton to your aquarium does not mean copepods won't reproduce, but it means a lot of the juveniles will die. Adding phytoplankton will significantly increase the amount of juveniles that make it to adulthood. More adults means more reproducing, which means even more copepods. So, if you want to give your copepod population a boost, adding phytoplankton to your aquarium is a must.
Phytoplankton is awesome because it does more than just feed your copepods. In fact, it is recommended that you at phytoplankton every so often even if you aren't worried about copepods. Phytoplankton will compete with nuisance algae by consuming nutrients in the water. It also makes excellent coral food!
Lastly, having a diverse makeup of copepod species in your aquarium is important for several reasons. First, different copepod species are better for certain tasks. For example, Tigriopus californicus copepods are best for feeding fish. Tisbe biminiensis is best for cleaning detritus from those tiny crevasses in your aquarium. Those are just two examples. Galaxy Pods
from AlgaeBarn offers 5 distinct species of copepods that each fill a role in the aquarium.
Another reason it is important to have different copepods is for biodiversity. Of course, biodiversity is important in any ecosystem. Although your aquarium is sort of similar to a real ecosystem, it is far from a real one. So why is having copepod biodiversity important. Well, it encourages more stability. To broad for you? Well, to be specific, having multiple species of a particular organism ensures that if one of the species is eradicated or severely depleted, the others can fill the place. If you only had one species of copepod and it disappeared for some reason (eaten by fish for example), that would be it. You wouldn't have anymore copepods. However, if you had other species, they would fill in the place. AlgaeBarn offers several different copepod mixes
as well as species specific jars.
That is how you can significantly increase your copepod population. Here
you can find packs that include copepods and phytoplankton. Use that phytoplankton and definitely set up a refugium if you don't already have one.