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  • Writer's pictureChloe

Reefer's Guide to Culturing Copepods

There are many benefits to culturing your own copepods. A fresh culture allows you to have a live food source on hand at all times for your fish and corals and adds biodiversity to your reef. It can be especially beneficial for finicky eaters like Dragonettes and Anthias. This is a guide outlining how we manage our copepod cultures at Salty Blues. It is easy to do and you can design your setup to be as simple or complex as you prefer. There is no "right way", however, through our research and experience there are a few common keys to success.

What you'll need:

A 5 gallon bucket with a lid and spout (or any container you prefer)

Copepod starter culture - Tigger, Tisbe, and Apocyclops are most suitable, mix & match!


Saltwater with specific gravity of 1.020

Rigid airline tube

Airline tube

Airline flow control valve

Small air pump

Flashlight to help see pods

1. Place the bucket in an area with consistent temperatures around 70-75 degrees. Fill the container about 1/4 of the way with saltwater and let adjust to room temp if necessary.

2. Drill a hole in the lid large enough to fit the rigid airline tube. Trim the rigid tube so that the end sits a couple inches off the bottom of the bucket.

3. Attach the regular airline tube to the rigid tube through the hole in the bucket. Trim to length and attach to air pump.

4. Cut the airline and add the flow control valve. Plug in the air pump and tune the air flow to about one bubble per second. You want to keep the water just barely circulating.

5. Pour in your copepod starter culture, followed by a good dose of phytoplankton. Don't disturb the culture at all for at least a few days.

6. You will see a population explosion about 4 weeks in. When the concentration of copepods seems dense enough, begin drawing out water through the spout. You can pour the pods directly into your refugium or display tank. Add more saltwater as you take it out. You will rarely have to top off with freshwater if your container has a lid and is not in a hot, dry place.

7. Add more phytoplankton whenever the water seems to be clearing.

8. When the population seems to be out of control, add more saltwater to increase the water to about halfway and add more phytoplankton.

Your culture should last as long as you keep feeding phytoplankton and harvesting to avoid ammonia build up. It's super easy and beneficial to your reef! Stop by Salty Blues to pick up your starter culture today.

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Salty Blues

1938 SE 6th St, 105

Des Moines, IA 50315

(515) 410-2779

Tuesday-Sunday 11AM-5PM

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