What Do You Feed Copepods in a Refugium?

What Do You Feed Copepods in a Refugium?

Copepods are good. The more, the better. That’s why you want to produce as many as possible. And as fast as you culture them, your corals and small reef fish will eat them! For sure, due to the heavy predation that typically occurs in a reef tank (a single mandarin can eat hundreds of adult copepods every single day!), you will have to make some effort to maintain large pod populations.

Maintaining consistently high copepod densities requires (1) constantly replenishing the population with fresh stock from outside the tank (i.e. regularly buying them) or (2) building and sustaining a large, stable population inside the system. For most aquarists, the second option is preferable as (1) it is less expensive over time and (2) there is an uninterrupted food supply for the species that depend upon them. In many cases, it is necessary to bolster the population with a bag or two of new pods from time to time. But one can keep a pretty reliable availability of pods present at all times when using a refugium.

The most wonderful thing about copepods is that (at least as adults) they survive by eating unwanted stuff like film algae and detritus. As such, they may be the most important members of your clean-up crew! However, the juveniles have significantly different eating habits. This is because they live a planktonic lifestyle during the larval stages (yes, even the harpacticoids which live on the bottom as adults). It’s important to remember that even though you’ll see the adults concentrated in the fuge, the microscopic larvae are freely drifting everywhere! While living in the plankton, and developing rapidly, they consume phytoplankton.

Some phyto is naturally produced in your tank, but is rapidly consumed by corals, clams, etc. or is removed/killed by the filter system, sterilizer, etc. Thus, in order to support naturally high populations of young pods (as well as keep your corals, clams, etc. well nourished), it is advisable to regularly dose live phyto. In supporting a large population of copepod larvae, you’ll always have a sure supply of big, fat, healthy adult copepods!
    • Related Articles

    • What Do Copepods Feed On?

      Copepods are Nature’s trophic intermediaries. That is, they transfer nutrients and food energy from lower (e.g. plants) to higher (e.g. carnivores) levels in the food chain. This also happens to make them nearly indispensable in aquarium systems, ...
    • How Does a Refugium Work?

      A refugium is an auxiliary tank that is connected to the “main” tank. While the main tank is used mostly for display, the refugium serves mainly utilitarian purposes. In short, refugia naturally turn unwanted materials such as dissolved and ...
    • Will Shrimp Eat Copepods?

      Copepods have almost become a staple of the marine aquarium systems, serving as (1) algivorous and detritivorous members of the clean-up crew and (2) providing a self-supplying, nutritious live food source for the most finicky corals and small reef ...
    • Are Copepods a Good Sign?

      Copepods are widely believed to constitute over 75% of the biomass of all zooplankton on Earth. They may be found in nearly every marine and freshwater habitat from coral reefs to roadside ditches. But it is not just their omnipresence that makes ...
    • Amphipods Are Not Copepods

      There is hardly a more natural way to feed your aquarium animals, or to clean your tank, than with microcrustaceans. It's pretty safe to say that these little creatures, frequently referred to as "pods," have indeed revolutionized saltwater aquarium ...