WHEN THE PRODUCT ARRIVES
Here are some tips to keep your copepods happy upon arrival:
When they first arrive,the copeods may not be very active since they have been out of the sunlight for several days. Live Copepods love the light, so they will begin to wake up once you get them out of the box and into room temperature conditions. They may take longer to wake up when shipped with ice or stored in the fridge.
If you see what appears to be inactive copepods on the bottom, there are a few possibilities: discarded carapaces from molting, excess food, or a few expired animals (copepods live about 10 weeks).
When the copepods get to your home, open the bottle cap to provide some fresh air. Once acclimated to room temperature, introduce them into a larger container or pour them directly into the main tank, refugium and/or sump. While they can live several weeks in the bottle if fed, you will get more milage from the culture if you can place them into a larger container with some food, such as crushed up fish pellets or any live phytoplankton.
In nature, copepods feed on microalgae, fish detritus and macroalgae. In captivity, they can eat excess algae and bacteria in your tank. If you are maintaining a culture outside of your tank, remember to feed them occasionally with crushed up fish feed pellets or live phytoplankton.
The best way to use this product is to add it directly to your tank so they can spread out and multiply. Copepods will eat the leftover fish food in the tank.
Copepods can live in your main tank, your refugium, or in a separate culture system. Fish LOVE copepods, so they will be eaten and depleted in your main tank by your happy and active fish and corals. When the copepods are grown with predators, they will reproduce rapidly. Copepods reared in your refugium, sump or separate container can be harvested and fed to your main tank once or twice a week (depending on the size and density of the culture container).
CARE AND FEEDING
Not everyone needs to culture copepods. If your live rock just needs a little boost or you have a thriving refugium but have seen less and less of the “little white bugs” that inhabit it, just buy some ‘pods and put them into your system to boost the population – no extra culturing is required.
The following info, however, can help students and others (mandarin owners) who need to have a continuous culture for feeding, study or amusement.
Keep them in a 1 quart (1 liter) tupperware container or a glass mason jar. Cover the top with saran wrap to prevent excess evaporation. It is best to start the culture with water from your fish tank, so they can acclimate.
Good things to feed the critters are a combination of plankton and small bits of flake food, crushed up – but just a few flakes. If using fish flakes and the water gets cloudy, you’ll need to change it.
Recommended live plankton species (sometimes found in stores as paste or freeze-dried): Isochrysis, Tetraselmis or Nannochloropsis.
Add little food, to reduce the chance that bacteria will take over. When I say a little, I mean you can hardly see a tint in the water with the algae, and just a few pinch of flake food at a time.
CHECKING ON THE CULTURE
The females will be reproducing every other day for up to 20 days, so you should see a bloom of new adults in a couple of weeks. To see the copepods, the best way is to turn off all the lights, and shine a flashlight on the side of the culture container or your refugium. The copepods will be attracted to the light.
TRANSFERRING THEM TO THE TANK
An easy way to collect them for transfer is wiping a sponge along the side of the container or sucking them up with a turkey baster after shining a light on the side of the container to attract them.
Pouring the culture water through a filter bag, brine shrimp net or an unbleached coffee filter, is another method of catching and moving the copepods to your main tank or a fresh culture container.
MORE TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL CULTURE
Do a 10-20% water change every week to ensure the best survival of the pods. These copepods will thrive at 28 to 34 ppt (1.020 to 1.025).
Beware of crabs in your refugium – they have a habit of eating these little guys!
Try to keep them separate from rotifers – they can coexist with rotifers, but it will drive down the population levels of your copepods. (All copepods are shipped from Essential Live Feeds without any rotifers.)
IT TAKES TIME TO BUILD A SUSTAINABLE CULTURE
Copepod populations will bloom after a few weeks, but eventually they will get depleted. It is possible to crash the culture by overfeeding, so it is important to use either live phytoplankton or another clean food source to prevent crashes. It is natural that the population will eventually become depleted, so it may be necessary to replenish your stock periodically until you get some practice maintaining the cultures.