What are Copepods?
Copepods are relatively easy to care for and maintain. They feed primarily on brown microalgae and can be fed products such as Phyto-Feast. They can also feed on green algae such as Nannochloropsis and Tetraselmis, however most of these algae will pass right through their digestive tracts and not provide any nutrition.
Copepods can live in your main tank, your refugium, or in a separate dedicated system. In your main tank they will be eaten and depleted by your fish and corals. In your refugium they will thrive since there are no predators. Pods from your refugium can be periodically harvest and fed to your main tank.
Copepods like to hide so they will prefer an environment with nooks and crannies. In your main tank they will hide in your live rock and gravel. In your refugium they will hide in your macroalgae and other plants.
Directions for Feeding while in the 6 oz bottle
If you are going to keep them in the bottles for an extended period, remove the lid to increase oxygen in the water and put them in a refrigerator between 34 and 40 F. At this temperature they will go into hibernation and require very little oxygen or food. Alternatively, store the bottle in a cool place with the lid removed and feed them 3 drops of Phyto-Feast™ every 2-3 days
Directions for Feeding in a refugium
Add 5 drops of Phyto-Feast™ daily for each gallon of water in your refugium. (i.e. a 25 gallon refugium should get 125 drops. 1 teaspoon = 76 drops).
What you will need for Culturing in a Stand Alone Container
- Culture vessel. This can be anything such as a 5 or 10 gallon aquarium, Tupperware container, etc. that holds water. Deep containers or carboys are not suggested.
- Culture water. You will need some freshly mixed clean seawater, or you can use a natural seawater product such as Catalina water. Do not use water from an existing aquarium or culture as this will contaminate your attempt to start a new culture of copepods. A specific gravity of 1.020 to 1.025 for this strain of copepod is suggested.
- Small air pump, air stone, and airline tubing.
- Cover to keep dust and contaminants out and evaporation down.
- A food source, such as Phyto-Feast phytoplankton.
Directions for Culturing in a Stand Alone Container
Fill your container half to two-thirds full with the clean seawater. Attach the airline and air stone to the air pump. Put the air stone in the culture vessel, and plug in the air pump. Make sure you use a drip loop and check valve to keep water from getting into your pump and electrical outlet. Add a small amount of Phyto-Feast to lightly color the culture water. Do not add too much, or the water will foul. Add your new copepod culture, put the lid on, and you are done!
Over the next few weeks, your copepods will reproduce. It may seem at first that they aren't reproducing as fast as you would like, but once they get to a certain population level you will see an "explosion" of copepods in your culture vessel. Feed with Phyto-Feast as necessary to keep the water lightly tinted, and monitor water quality. Crashes from overfeeding that leads to high ammonia and nitrite are possible, water changes can help if the water quality declines too much.
To harvest your copepods, a plankton collector/strainer of some sort is very helpful. You can siphon your copepods through the collector, insuring that when you feed them to your aquarium you are only adding copepods, not culture water. Make sure you do not dip your strainer in the copepod culture, and then in your aquarium, and then back in your culture vessel without cleaning it first. Likewise, keep siphon tubing and other equipment you use on your culture separate from equipment you use in your aquariums or larval tanks to avoid contamination. While you can always buy another batch of Tigger-Pods should your culture crash, you can avoid that frustration by not sharing equipment between different systems!
Receiving your Tigger Pods
Upon arrival you may notice the Tigger-Pods aren't very active. This is normal when cold shipped or cold stored. As the bottles warm up, the Tigger Pods(TM) will become more active. It is not uncommon to have a few of the oldest copepods to die from old age. We pack the bottle with all stages of life, but only count the adults. On average, we pack at least 10% more in every bottle to account for any DOA.
Upon arrival, open bottle cap and remove the inside liner. Let stand at room temp for 2 hours to allow temperature to rise. The Tigger Pods can be poured directly into your refugium and/or main tank. They can live several weeks in the bottle, as long as they are fed and the bottle is open to the air.
Tigger Pods feed on microalgae and we recommend feeding them with Phyto-Feast. Phyto-Feast can be dosed directly into both your refugium and main tank. The recommended feeding rate is 1 to 5 drops per gallon each day, depending on the bio-density of your reef tank.