AlgaeBarn EcoPods - The TINY Titans of a Reef Tank’s Clean Up Crew!
"Pods" is a generic term used in the aquarium hobby to describe a variety of microcrustaceans, most commonly copepods and amphipods. These critters are naturally abundant throughout our world's oceans and in our tanks, they can be an incredibly valuable part of the ecosystem. They facilitate nutrient transfer as part of the natural food chain and supply nutrients to both fish and corals, they help manage detritus and defend your aquascape against photosynthetic pests such as algae and diatoms.
While copepods can hitchhike their way into your aquarium from the ocean, modern reef-keeping techniques caution against allowing hitchhikers of any kind into our aquariums for the sake of preventing unwanted pests. Algaebarn is one of the leading captive aquaculture companies specializing in copepods, amphipods, and phytoplankton. These captive-cultured pods are the best way to introduce beneficial microcrustaceans into your aquarium without the risk of harmful hitchhikers.
In our recent BRStv Investigates Biome Series, we found that adding copepods into a new aquarium before the introduction of fish can really help eliminate the severity of photosynthetic pests during the ugly phase. By introducing the pods early, they establish a healthy population before fish and other predators populate the tank. Once the lights are turned on and you start adding corals, you already have a natural defense against algae and diatoms.
What are Ecopods?
Ecopods is the most popular pod-blend from Algaebarn that contains four different species of pods; Tigriopus, Tisbe, Apocyclops, and Oithona.
By adding a blend of species, you're filling a variety of different niches and improving the overall biodiversity. For example, one pod might inhabit the rocks whereas another pod will inhabit the sand bed. One pod species may prefer to consume microalgae while another pod may prefer to eat detritus or diatoms. Adding multiple species also gives the pods a better chance at establishing a sustainable population in your tank by reducing the pressure from predators on any one species.
- Tigriopus californicus: Loaded with amino and omega-3 fatty acids, Tigriopus copepods make a nutritious meal for even the pickiest of fishes. These pods occasionally inhabit the water column and make quick bursts of movement as they "Swim" which makes them an easy target for your critters. Females can lay hundreds of eggs during their lifecycle. These harpacticoids contribute to your clean-up crew by consuming detritus and nuisance alga.
- Tisbe biminiensis: Small and hardy, these harpacticoid copepods tend to inhabit the cracks and crevasses of live rock and macroalgae. Their secretive nature helps them to maintain lasting populations in marine aquaria. Like the above, Tisbe copepods add to your clean-up crew by consuming detritus, phytoplankton, and invasive algae in your aquarium; think of these guys as the smallest big mouths in your food chain.
- Apocyclops panamensis: Being slightly larger than Tisbe and slightly smaller than Tigriopus, these resilient copepods round out your tank's zooplankton size range. Apocyclops is extremely nutritious with a very high amino acid and protein content. It reproduces quickly by laying eggs every 4-6 days--about twice the rate of Tisbe and Tigriopus! This cyclopoid spends much time in the water column, providing a continuous source of nutrition for seahorses, swallowtail angelfish, etc.
- Oithona colcarva: This highly adaptable pod is a cyclopoid like Apocyclops but spends even more time in the water column. Oithona also feeds on smaller particles, consuming suspended items as minute as bacteria. Its nocturnal nature helps to prevent it from being completely decimated by hungry zooplanktivores.
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