Copepods & Amphipods: Fun Facts that will blow your mind!

Copepods & Amphipods: Fun Facts that will blow your mind!

Copepods

  • Copepods meaning “oar-feet” are a group of small crustaceans found in the sea
  • The body of an amphipod is divided into 13 segments
  • Amphipods are typically less than 10 millimeters
  • Mature females bear a marsupium, or brood pouch, which holds her eggs while they are fertilized and until the young are ready to hatch
  • Around 7,000 species of amphipods have so far been described
  • Most amphipods are detritivores or scavengers with some being grazers of algae, omnivores on small insects and crustaceans. Food is grasped with the front two pairs of legs which are armed with large claws
  • The name Amphipoda comes, via the New Latin amphipoda, from the Greek roots meaning different foot, in reference to the two kinds of legs that amphipods possess.
  • The copepods from AquariumDepot.com are benthic meaning they live on the ocean floor
  • Copepods are sometimes used as bioindicators-Biological indicators are species used to monitor the health of an environment or ecosystem. An example of such a group are the copepods and other small water crustaceans present in many water bodies. Such organisms are monitored for changes (biochemical, physiological, or behavioral) that may indicate a problem within their ecosystem.
  • The copepod is typically 1 to 2 millimeters
  • Copepods typically have a short, cylindrical body, with a rounded or beaked head. The head is fused with the first one or two thoracic segments, while the remainder of the thorax has from three to five segments, each with limbs.
  • Because of their small size, copepods have no need of any heart or circulatory system
  • Many benthic copepods eat organic detritus or the bacteria that grow in it, and their mouth parts are adapted for scraping
  • They are usually the dominant members of the zooplankton, and are major food organisms for small fish, whales, seabirds and other crustaceans such as krill in the ocean
  • Live copepods are used in the saltwater aquarium hobby as a food source and are generally considered beneficial in most reef tanks. They are scavengers and also may feed on nuisance algae
Do you want copepods in your reef tank?  Considered the Super Food of the Ocean

Do you want copepods in your reef tank? Considered the Super Food of the Ocean

Copepods: the largest biomass on earth, the fastest organism and having one of the highest nutrient dense biological makeups,

The mighty Copepod is the Super food of the Ocean.

This subclass of Crustecean, Copepoda, make up the largest biomass on earth.; this fact alone is indicative of the critical role copepods play in the health of the earths water sources.  Much to many peoples surprise, Copepods are not limited to oceans.  Copepoda live swimmingly well – in both freshwater as well brackish water.

Copepod varieties are well over 10,000 with these small yet durable creatures boasting one of the must robust adaptation abilities known to man.  Not only are they the largest single component of the food web, but they are also the fastest animal on the planet relative to their size.  Comparatively – if a person could jump 1/2 of a mile in 2 seconds, humans would earn the coveted title of fastest creature.  Copepods have all of us beat, hands down.  As they are a highly sought after food source, their ability to out maneuver predators has marked their success in the game of cat vs mouse.

Copepods also commonly referred to as Pods, need only a small quantity of moisture to sustain life.  They have been found in moist moss as well as polar regions.  In 2004, the New York Times wrote about a small crustacean found in the drinking water in NY City.  Our forever friend, the copepod, caused quit a ruckus as many orthodox Jews were concerned about the small crustacean and the “Kosher-ness” of their kitchens.  Water Filters were installed at such an alarming rate the wait time was several weeks as the plumbers in the NY City area struggled to keep up with demand.

 

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Copepods are also Environmentally friendly.  Scientists estimate that copepods are the largest absorber of carbon, valued at 1-2 billion tons of carbon each year.  Since they release less carbon waste then they absorb, this gives the humble Pod the well earned nickname carbon sink, defined by Wikipedia as a reservoir which accumulates more carbon from the environment then it excretes.

As a key component in the nutritional well being of many animals, the amazing aspect of pods is their sheer percentage of protein they bring to the dinner table.  Pods are one of the most nutrient dense organisms on the planet at an average of 50% Protein.  Animals, such as, seabirds, invertebrates, both freshwater and saltwater, as well as whales & many other fish, survive primarily on a diet of pods.  .

When considering what these small but mighty creatures will do for your reef tank, consider this:  Uptake of waste, super food of protein value, and a natural super organism.  Why would you not wan them in your tank?

Considering all that they do and are responsible for, it is easy to say that copepods are the most important creature we can own.

Copepod

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Saltwater Aquarium Snails … Algae Eaters vs Detritus Eaters

Saltwater Aquarium Snails … Algae Eaters vs Detritus Eaters

Saltwater Aquarium Snails can be classified a few different ways but for the use of snails in aquariums, it is most helpful to think about what they eat.

First consider this, unlike crabs, saltwater aquarium snails consist of a large meaty body… so if they die they will produce a LOT of waste.

Waste becomes Ammonia which becomes Nitrites which becomes Nitrates which then feeds the Nasty Algae.

The Nitrification Process explained via a Simple Infographic

Simple Infographic displaying the Nitrification Cycle in an Aquarium.

So if you buy the wrong snails or to many snails you will actually increase your algae instead of reducing the algae.

Lets look at the 2 main food substances consumed by saltwater aquarium snails.

1. Algae – algae eaters get a lot of attention because everyone thinks they are the god send for the aquarium.  This is partially true.  They are great for eating algae … However to much of a good thing is a bad thing when it comes to algae eating snails.  To many snails .. not enough food … Snails die …. algae is fed from the death of snails so you end of with more algae.   YIKES!!!


2. Detritus eaters / waste eating snails.  Now these are your TRUE friends.  They keep the house clean in ways you may never know or think about.

A safe recommendation for snail stocking is:

Algae Eating Snails: 1 per 5 gallons of tank water
Detritus Eating Snails: 1 per gallon of tank water

The other consideration is the type of snails.  As with people, all snail palates are not created equal.   So variation is KEY.

Some snails like green algae (ie: Turbo Snails) on the glass, while Cerith Snails prefer brown algae on the rocks.

My favorite detritus eating snail are Nassarius Vibex.

 

Main Point:
Snail biodiversity is key to eliminating
nuisance algae issues.

 

 

Saltwater Turo Snail Grazing on Algae

OOOOOO Yummy Algae … Me Like!!

 

 

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Saltwater Hermit Crabs …. Eating Cyano & Waste …. Best Crab Ever!

Saltwater Hermit Crabs …. Eating Cyano & Waste …. Best Crab Ever!

I noticed several saltwater hermit crabs piled up at the front fighting for food, as I watched my saltwater aquarium after feeding time.   Their antennae raised and lowered in a warning communication call.  It was fascinating to watch them duck and dive for the food pieces, maintaining their distance from each other yet still attempting to steal the morsels.

 

Blue Leg Hermit Crabs Fight

Hey, That’s Mine!! Get your Own!

One of the best uses for Saltwater Blue Leg Hermit Crabs is the reduction of Cyano Bacteria aka Blue Green Algae aka Red Slime Algae.  I conducted an experiment with a patch of slime algae and 100 Blue Leg Hermit Crabs.   The pictures speak for themselves!

Red Slime Algae Before Hermit Crab Addition

Red Slime Algae Before Hermit Crab Addition

After Blue Legs Hermits ate all the Red Slime Algae

After Blue Legs Hermits ate all the Red Slime Algae

The diversity of saltwater hermit crabs is amazing, from blue legs, green legs, brown, red, scarlet, white and black.  Additionally there are many that have some type of patterned design; ie:  halloween, blue knuckle, etc.  Some grow very large while other stay small.   The diets are very different as well, from carnivores to strict herbivores.  Blue Leg Hermits typically will utilize a shell from a whelk, turbo or cerith.  I have seen some pretty inventive hermits who took up house in pieces of sponge, dragging it around on their back.

 

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