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    Microfauna | Those Great ‘Pods

    Although some consider my aquarium techniques and style, sterile I am still fond of ‘pods and find they play an important role in all reef aquariums. Even with no substrate and minimal live rock their presence is easily seen in my systems. When hobbyists use the term “Pod” it generally signifies Amphipods, like the Gammarus […]

    Although some consider my aquarium techniques and style, sterile I am still fond of ‘pods and find they play an important role in all reef aquariums. Even with no substrate and minimal live rock their presence is easily seen in my systems. When hobbyists use the term “Pod” it generally signifies Amphipods, like the Gammarus Amphipod from the glassbox shown above, or Copepods. The best way to distinguish the two is by their eyes– Amphipods have two, while Copepods have just one. (MicroAngela has some amazing photographs of Copepods here.)

    For a timely discussion on Copepod anatomy and diversity among the 4 free living Copepods (Calanoida, Cyclopoida, Harpacticoida, and Misophrioida) I encourage you to read Dr. Ron Shimek’s 2002 piece for ReefKeeping Magazine.

    These creatures feed on detritus and algae and provide a natural food for our aquarium inhabitants. Amphipods can reach nearly 1/2″ in length making them a great natural snack for larger fish such as Pomacanthids and Chaetodontids. Copepods tend to be much smaller, becoming food sources for fish such as Mandarin Dragonets (Synchiropus spendidus) while copepod larva are a well suited food for Acroporas.

    .25″ captive bred Synchiropus spendidus by Matt Wittenrich

    As fish like the Synchiropus species increase in popularity so have many of the bottled Copepod products that claim to supplement and re-populate your copepod populations. The most common Copepod species offered is Tigriopus californicus a cool water species from the Western U.S.  These tend to be larger in size and can prove useful in feeding finicky eaters, but there use beyond that is in question for myself. 

    Recent additions to the industry have brought smaller, faster reproducing species such as Acartia, Nitokra and Tisbe spp. These species appear to multiply faster and continue life within captivity. Some aquarists are even having success raising and growing populations in separate dedicated refugiums to continually repopulate their reef systems.

    Are these packed pods really adding value and working? I am not sure yet. Besides a promotional bottle of Tigriopus californicus, I have always relied on live rock to create and sustain Copepod and Amphipod populations. I do hope the addition of these newer species being packaged will help in the care of finicky fish and juveniles. We plan to add some Tisbe spp. in the near future and we will update with results from there. 

    If you have experience culturing pods or adding “packaged pods”, do you feel they have helped your aquarium? 

    5 Comments

    1. October 27, 2008 at 9:13 AM | Permalink

      I just finished cooking some rock and re-setting up my 120 gallon BB tank. The pod population is low to non existent at the moment, so I’ve been looking around locally for some of the packaged pods, no luck yet so far. I figure it can’t hurt… well… I hope it can’t hurt to add them 😛

    2. October 27, 2008 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

      After I moved my apartments this past summer, it seemed the one thing that noticeably suffered from the move was the population of microfauna. I purchased two bottles of Tigriopus californicus hoping that they would repopulate the tank.

      The fish picked them off pretty fast and that was about the end of it. No evidence after 24 hours that any of them managed to establish within the tank. From my own experience, I wouldn’t rate these bottled solutions for anything higher than direct feeding.

    3. Nic
      October 31, 2008 at 3:20 AM | Permalink

      I have an abundance of pods thriving in my Remote DSB Bucket. When I do some caulerpa trimming I take the excess and add it to the main tank to feed the Tangs and along with it I add some extra pods.

      I don’t run a prestine setup. I let algae grow where it can and I don’t eliminate all sources of detritus when I see it. I have 2 hungry sea cucumbers that thrive on detritus. I think it’s valuable to have places to grow these critters as they provide a great natural source of food for your fish and corals.

    4. Todd March
      December 17, 2008 at 2:50 AM | Permalink

      Tigriopus californicus hasn’t worked well for me either, disappearing after a couple of weeks. Next up I will try Nitokra lacustris from Dr. Adelaide Rhodes (essentiallivefeeds.com)…

    5. December 17, 2008 at 3:32 PM | Permalink

      Todd,

      Let us know how the Nitokras go for you.

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    1. […] the round of treatment this is the waste that was left behind. Flatworms and Amphipods make up most of the waste with algae and detritus mixed in as […]

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