How To Deal With Copepods In An Aquarium

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Last Updated on 2023-08-08

Though they are not actually harmful, many aquarists view copepods as a nuisance. They are, in fact, good for a healthy aquarium in a number of ways. Some fish keepers even try to cultivate colonies of copepods in their aquariums. They are tiny crustaceans that can be found in virtually any body of water on Earth. Various species inhabit both marine and freshwater habitats, such as wetlands and swamps.

As a result of their ability to digest organic matter, copepods make for a great fish food.

In most cases, copepods will hitchhike into your aquarium on live rock, frags, or macroalgae.

Eliminating copepods is simpler than it sounds. You can get rid of copepods by reducing the amount of food you give your fish, maintaining a clean aquarium, and introducing predators of copepods. Keep reading to learn more about copepods!

What Are the Tiny White Bugs in Your Aquarium?

Copepods are those little white bugs that tend to hang out in a fish tank. These mites can be anywhere from one millimeter to two millimeters in length. The antennae of copepods are long, and they have a globular body plan like amphipods. They, too, are crustaceans, but their exoskeletons are tough, and they have compound eyes.

Copepods, in contrast to amphipods, have round bodies. There are five distinct sections of the body. They have learned to live in aquariums without gills. Because of their diminutive stature, copepods are able to take in oxygen through their skin. These white bugs are also active swimmers, and they have a pair of appendages that help them move.

How Do You Get Rid of Copepods in A Freshwater Tank?

There are several fish species that rely on copepods as a source of natural, live prey. Some enthusiasts see value in them due to these factors. In fact, a diet consisting primarily of copepods may cause certain fish to exhibit more vibrant hues. But if you have a lot of copepods, they might start to bother you. When there are too many copepods in an aquarium, it can be ugly and potentially bothersome to the other residents.

Here are some steps to take if you want to rid your tank of copepods or at least reduce their population.

Maintain a Clean Aquarium

Tank maintenance cuts into their food supply because they consume decaying matter. Keep up with regular maintenance if you don’t want to see a rise in the population. Use your finger to stir up the substrate and kick up the underlying copepods as you siphon during a water change.

Do Not Overfeed / Reduce Feeding

The copepods will benefit from the leftovers. Most fish can go without food for several days, so if you have a serious population problem, cutting back on feeding is a good idea.

The Addition of Predators

If there are too many copepods in your aquarium, you can control the population by adding fish that feed exclusively on them. Rasboras, tetras, and guppies, among other small fish, will actively seek out and consume copepods. They won’t be seen as a threat or a meal by bigger fish.

Change the Filters

Decomposing matter will quickly accumulate at the tank’s bottom if the filter isn’t working properly. If the filter is changed, the food source for the copepods is reduced, which could reduce their population.

Changing the Water

Reducing the number of copepods in your aquarium can be accomplished by regularly changing the water. Take caution whenever you need to replenish the water in your aquarium. Do some reading up on the topic to find out the safest and most effective approach to taking care of your ecosystem if you’re just getting started with the hobby.

Remove the Copepods Manually

A group of copepods can be easily removed from the tank by using a siphon; simply shine a flashlight on a specific area of the tank to attract them there. As soon as a sufficient number of them have gathered near the light source, drain the water very slowly from the area. In doing so, you will drain the copepods.

Make Use of A Hanging Filter

If the copepods in your tank persist after you’ve cleaned and managed the debris, you can try filtering them out with a canister-style filter hung from the tank’s side. Be careful when adding anything to your tank. Some aquatic organisms are particularly vulnerable, and it only takes one new factor to throw their delicate ecosystem off.

microscopic shot of a small cupepod crustacean

What Eats Copepods in A Freshwater Tank?

There are several types of freshwater fish that have been shown to eat copepods in aquaria. These include:


They are a large family of fish that includes many aquarium favorites like angelfish, oscars, and discus. They are typically predators of small invertebrates like copepods. As they feed on these creatures, they help to keep the water in aquariums clean.


Another popular choice for freshwater tanks and have a reputation for being bottom-dwellers. Apart from eating algae, detritus, and other debris found at the bottom of the tank, some species of catfish also eat copepods.


Loaches are a group of freshwater fish that can be kept in aquaria and are known to feed on small invertebrates, including copepods. The clown loach is especially adept at hunting down tiny copepods and is a popular choice for aquariums.


Tetras are one of the most common types of freshwater fish kept in aquaria, and certain species, like the neon tetra, have been known to feed on copepods. They are social fish that prefer to be kept in schools of at least six individuals.


They are a group of small, colorful fish that make a great addition to any freshwater tank. Certain species, like the harlequin rasbora, feed on tiny invertebrates, including copepods. They can be kept in small schools and prefer to have plenty of hiding places like driftwood or rocks to feel secure.


Corydoras are perhaps best known for their ability to clean copepods from tanks. They’re small and peaceful bottom-dwelling fish that have a habit of scavenging the substrate for food. This makes them well suited to eating copepods from the substrate, as well as any other small organisms that might be living in it.


Another bottom-dwelling fish that can eat copepods. They’re larger and more active than corydoras, making them somewhat more difficult to keep in captivity. However, they’re also well suited for the task of eating copepods due to their large mouth and strong suction feeding ability.


They are adept predators that can take down small prey items like copepods. While angelfish tend to be more active than corydoras or plecostomus, they’re also more territorial and difficult to keep in a community tank. If you do decide to add angelfish to your freshwater tank, make sure that they are given plenty of hiding places and space so that they don’t become overly aggressive.

There are many types of freshwater fish that will eat copepods in an aquarium. Keeping some of these fish in your tank can help keep it clean and healthy by controlling the population of copepods.  With the right combination of fish, you can create a thriving and beautiful freshwater environment in your tank.

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How to Add Copepods to Your Aquarium?

The incredible range of living things that may be kept alive and flourish in a freshwater aquarium is certainly one of the most exciting aspects of maintaining such an environment. This level of biodiversity is crucial to the health of a fish tank. Beneficial organisms, such as copepods, can help maintain a healthy aquarium environment.

Hitchhiking on live rock, frags, and macro-algae is the most common way copepods enter a tank. These useful copepods can be added to your aquarium to promote species variety and population levels.

When putting live copepods into your tank, be sure to follow the proper procedures.

  • It is recommended that you feed your fish first and then place the food in the tank at night.
  • The closer to the substrate you can release them, the better.  Use a PVC pipe or feeding tube. Instead of being devoured by the many other inhabitants of your aquarium, the copepods will have time to establish themselves in the substrate and begin reproducing.
  • Having a protected area, or refugium, where pods can reproduce and thrive is crucial for keeping the whole population healthy.
  • You should be careful using a UV sterilizer, as it can destroy the vulnerable larvae that are part of the Copepod reproductive cycle and float freely in the water.

The larvae inside the bottles are quite small and nearly invisible to the naked eye, but after about a week or two, the number of larger adult pods will increase dramatically in your aquarium.

Top 5 Causes Why Your Aquarium Needs Copepods

With their wide range of uses, live Copepods are widely regarded as a desirable addition to fish tanks by enthusiasts. Some aquarists, however, have yet to learn about the true benefits of keeping Copepods in their tank. What exactly is it about these species that makes them so great for your aquarium?

Here are the top five reasons why:

Copepods Provide a Substantial Amount of Essential Nutrients for Fish

To meet their nutritional needs, copepods convert the microalgae and bacteria they eat into a protein-rich, fatty acid-rich food source. In fact, many fish can’t make it without a certain fatty acid that can only be found in Copepods.

To Put It Simply, Copepods Are a Crucial Part of The Aquatic Food Web

Copepods are important in the aquatic food web since they are at the base of the food chain. Copepods and other crustaceans are crucial to the aquatic food web.

Copepods Play a Crucial Role in The Diets of Many Fish

Not only do fish get a lot of nutrition from Copepods, but many fish species need to eat them right after they hatch in order to survive. To ensure the health of these fish, it is essential to include Copepods in your aquarium setup.

Copepods Are Responsible for The Maintenance of A Pristine Aquarium Environment

Copepods are not only a great food source for your fish, but they also serve as a natural tank cleanser by eating excess phytoplankton and bacteria. Copepods are an excellent food source for fish because their bodies concentrate the protein and fatty acids from the phytoplankton and bacteria they consume.

Copepods Are Extremely Cost-Effective

You can multiply and expand the Copepods you buy from a live-foods store as long as you know how to care for them. You can avoid spending money on Copepods while making a direct impact on the tank’s ecosystem by raising them yourself.

When Can You Add Copepods to Your Aquarium?

This is an important question to consider when setting up a freshwater aquarium because copepods are essential for the balance of your tank’s ecosystem. Below are the best times to add copepods to your fish tanks.

After Your Tank Has Been Set up And Has Stabilized

This means that the temperature, pH levels, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels have been checked, and all are at acceptable levels. Additionally, the tank should be established with plants, decorations, and other species of fish or invertebrates before adding copepods. Copepods need time to establish themselves in an environment, and the presence of other living organisms will help them do this.

After the Tank Has Cycled

It is an essential part of a healthy aquarium. After the nitrogen cycle completes and the bacteria balance reaches equilibrium, the water conditions will be more stable for copepods to survive in. It’s important to remember that copepods are very sensitive creatures and can die quickly if not introduced into proper water parameters. As such, you should always research the species of copepod you are looking to add and ensure that they can tolerate the conditions in your tank.

No Predators

Fish that actively hunt or feed on copepods should be avoided if you want your population to survive and thrive, as they will quickly deplete the copepod population. If you do decide to add predators, you may need to supplement with additional copepods on a regular basis.

The benefits of adding copepods to your aquarium are numerous; they help with algae control, contribute to the nitrogen cycle, and provide additional food sources for other tank inhabitants. Therefore, introducing them at the right time is essential. Following these guidelines can help ensure that you introduce copepods successfully into your aquarium and reap the benefits of having them in your tank.

How to Keep Copepods Alive in Your Aquarium?

Copepods are small crustaceans that inhabit the water column of many marine and freshwater aquariums. They can play an important role in helping to maintain a healthy aquarium ecosystem, but they need the right conditions to survive and thrive. Here are some tips on how to keep your copepods alive and happy:

Feed Them with A Variety of Food Sources

Copepods are omnivores, so you should provide them with a balanced diet that includes both plant and animal-based foods. Offer small pieces of live or frozen food, such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, Daphnia, rotifers, baby shrimp, etc., for your copepods to feast on.

Provide Enough Oxygen

Copepods need a good level of dissolved oxygen in the aquarium water, so make sure your filtration system is up to par and add an air stone if needed.

Control Excessive Nutrients and Pollutants

Excess nitrogenous waste, phosphates, nitrates, and ammonia can cause a drastic decrease in the copepod population. Install an efficient protein skimmer and use activated carbon to help filter out these pollutants.

Keep Water Temperature Stable

Keeping aquarium temperatures between 72-78°F (22-26°C) is ideal for both freshwater and marine species of copepods, but make sure to avoid large fluctuations in water temperature.

Maintain a Gentle Water Flow

Provide your copepods with moderate water currents that are free from turbulent eddies and circular flows, as these can cause them to become disoriented or stressed.

Keep the pH Level at 8-9

Most copepod species prefer slightly alkaline waters with a pH range of 8-9. Monitor your aquarium’s levels regularly and adjust them as needed.

Introduce Copepods Gradually

Slowly add copepods to your tank over time so they can adapt to their environment before the population increases too quickly and overwhelms them.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to keep your copepods alive and thriving in your aquarium. And once they’re established, you can enjoy watching these fascinating little creatures zipping around the tank!


Are Copepods Good or Bad for Freshwater Aquariums?

Copepods are usually a good sign. Copepods will not hurt any of your fish in any way. In fact, they help them in more ways than one. Just make sure to keep their numbers in check.

Can Copepods Survive in Freshwater?

Copepods can live in both saltwater and freshwater, making them a great choice for either type of aquarium system. Most live in marine ecosystems, but there are some species that live in freshwater.

What Are the Tiny White Bugs in Your Aquarium Gravel?

The tiny white bugs in your tank are probably copepods. These tiny animals live in the wild and in closed aquarium systems too. These tiny creatures are actually harmless crustaceans.

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