A wonderful thing about having a saltwater aquarium is the way it allows you to care for an amazing range of aquatic life. You are creating a little ecosystem in your own home, and allowing loads of different creatures to thrive and live under your care. It is really rewarding and extremely fascinating!

One of the main goals of having a saltwater aquarium is to mimic nature. Creating an ecosystem and habitat as close to nature as possible means that your marine life will be comfortable, healthy, and happy. An important part of any watery ecosystem is zooplankton, which are tiny animals that are found in abundance in both saltwater and freshwater habitats. Copepods and amphipods are species of zooplankton that are tiny crustaceans. They are an essential part of the food chain for marine life and do a lot of great things for saltwater aquariums. But what are the benefits of these creatures, how many should you buy, and how would you check the copepod/amphipod shipment?

Why Copepods and Amphipods Are Great For Your Saltwater Aquarium

These tiny crustaceans are at the beginning of the aquatic food chain. They eat the phytoplankton and convert the energy from the sun into energy for bigger predators. Because of their importance in the food chain in nature, having these in your tank mimics the oceans and creates biodiversity. 

They are also great cleaners. They spend their time floating around in the water and cleaning the tank by feeding on microscopic organic matter. Because they are so small, they can get in between rock work and in crevices to clean any debris or algae that larger members of your clean up crew can’t get to. 

Copepods and amphipods are a great live feed for a great deal of aquatic life. A lot of famously picky eaters, such as mandarin fish, will eat copepods and amphipods, mainly feeding off these small creatures! This is good because copepods and amphipods are a great source of protein for your fish. These crustaceans are around 50% protein so they help your fish stay strong and healthy. 

It is not just fish who eat copepods and amphipods either, with some corals known to feed on them too!

Live feeds are really important to marine life that live in saltwater aquariums. Copepods and amphipods will trigger your fish’s natural hunting instincts, keeping them occupied in the tank. Also, because they are live feed they do not create nitrates or phosphates in your aquarium. These chemicals are caused by uneaten food breaking down in the tank and can really affect the health of the water. Too much nitrates or phosphates in your tank can really make your fish sick, but providing live feed for your fish help to combat these chemicals as they are not decaying in the tank. 

Copepods and amphipods are also great because they regularly reproduce, creating more feed for your fish. This reduces long-term feeding costs and also provides you with a food source you can rely on once they have settled into the tank or refugium. 

How to Add Your Copepod and Amphipod Shipment to the Tank 

We sell a copepod and amphipod mix ranging from a shipment of 1000 to a shipment of 250. They will come healthy and ready to be fed to your fish. They can, however, be stored in a refrigerator if you are not ready to use them. This means that they will slow down their energy use and therefore still be of great health when you decide to feed them to your fish. 

We ship our copepods with minimal water to ensure their health on arrival. They arrive in filters without water, in a bag, and once they arrive, you should acclimatize them in a tub. Here is our guide to acclimate your shipment of copepods and amphipods!

Once they are in their new tub, now is the time to check the shipment to ensure their health. Normally, the bigger crustaceans will start moving around the tub, finding things to eat. You will be able to see them moving around in the water. 

It sometimes can be hard to see the really small copepods, but if you shine a flashlight through the water you might be able to see them better. If you see movement in the water, this suggests that your shipment has arrived healthy! You should be able to see swimming copepods that look like specs of dust moving around in the water column. 

After a few hours in the tub, they are ready to add to your tank! A net is a perfect way of putting them into the tank. 

How to Look After Copepods and Amphipods

A great thing about copepods and amphipods is that they reproduce and thrive in an aquarium, creating a constant food source for your marine life. But, for them to reproduce, they need to be comfortable and their needs must be met. 

If you wish to add them to your main tank, it is better to do it after feeding your fish. This means that your marine life won’t go straight for the tiny crustaceans, eating them all before they get a chance to settle in. 

To maintain copepods and amphipods in your saltwater aquarium, you must microdose the tank with phytoplankton and have live rock. It is also advised to have a decent amount of hiding places in the tank so they can reproduce safely. 

A lot of hobbyists also choose to keep their copepods and amphipods in a refugium attached to the tank. This means that they can reproduce and become a stable, constant supply of live feed for your marine life. Having them in a refugium means that you can track your zooplankton and how much you are feeding to your fish. Check out our handy guide to refugiums and discover the other benefits they have for your saltwater aquarium

How Many To Add To Your Tank

If you are feeding the copepods and amphipods directly to your fish, we advise 250 copepods and amphipods for a tank under 20 gallons with one hungry fish, 500 copepods and amphipods for a bigger tank of around 20 – 50 gallons, and 1000 copepods and amphipods for a tank over 50 gallons with 1 – 3 hungry fish!