Are Copepods On Glass a Good Sign?

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I was doing my regular maintenance on my reef tank when something peculiar took my attention away. I saw a small number of copepods on the glass. I have seen copepods on the rocks before, so this wasn’t news.

However, the following day the glass was covered with a lot more copepods. They were everywhere. I could even see them floating through the water column, blown away by the powerhead.

copepods on glass

Suddenly the water wasn’t clear like it used to be. I know copepods are a good thing in a reef tank, but I didn’t like the fact that I had a copepod infestation.

What have I done with the copepod bloom? You have to read it to find it.

Let’s get started!

What do copepods look like?

Copepods are a group of tiny crustaceans found in freshwater and saltwater habitats. These small organisms are everywhere, from the deepest parts of the oceans to the shallowest waters.

Copepods play an essential role in the reef ecosystem. They are an important part of the food chain, providing a food source for organisms such as corals and small fish.

They are very tiny crustaceans, reaching sizes between 1 to 2 mm. Even though they are small, you can easily see them with the naked eye as small white dots moving on the glass and the rocks.

Copepods have a teardrop-shaped body with an armored exoskeleton and large antennae on the head.

How did copepods get in my tank?

If you didn’t intentionally introduce copepods in your system, how did they get in your tank? I was wondering the same. It turns out you don’t need to introduce copepods in your tank to have a healthy population later on.

Copepods are naturally introduced in your reef tank when adding live rock, live sand, or a coral frag. With the right conditions, the copepods will reproduce and populate your tank in no time.

I didn’t start with live rock and live sand, so the copepods in my reef tank probably came when I added my first coral. And now, they are everywhere.

Are copepods on glass a good sign?

Seeing copepods on the glass is usually a good sign. It means that you have a healthy system with good conditions where the copepods can live and quickly reproduce. However, it can also be part of the new tank syndrome.

What is a new tank syndrome, and how does it affect the pods’ population? 

New tank syndrome happens during the nitrogen cycle or shortly after. The ugly stage begins; there are algae everywhere, meaning plenty of food for the copepods to reproduce. Assuming there isn’t a fish in your tank, there isn’t a natural predator to keep them in number.

In general, having copepods in your system is a good thing. There are a lot of benefits of keeping these critters in your tank. 

First, even though tiny, you can consider copepods as part of your clean crew. They feed on detritus, film algae, and don’t forget they make excellent live food for your fish.

Second, they don’t do any harm. In fact, today, many reefers intentionally add different types of copepods to increase the biodiversity in their reef tanks.

Overall, copepods are great organisms to have in your reef tank.

Can you have too many copepods?

Copepods will reproduce in significant numbers where there’s an abundant food source, good water conditions, and no natural predators.

Will this have any harm to your system? No, it won’t.

Copepods will sort themselves out as the food source decline. If you have fish in your tank, they will probably keep them in a healthy number. In general, there is no such thing as too many pods.

Final Thoughts

Copepods are an important part of the food chain in the ocean and our aquariums. They are a sign of a healthy system, and they make a great clean-up crew and excellent food source for smaller fish.

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