Copepod Culturing

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  • #5480
    alford
    Participant

    Mandarins are beautiful, but unfortunately most of us find it hard to keep them due to the fact they are so picky. We can however culture Copepods to feed to them, as they are the closest thing we can reproduce easily at home.

    The following describes how I culture Copepods at home to help with Mandarin feeding, and hopefully this should help ‘normal reefers’ to do the same.

    Copepods are a small planktonic crustacean usually measuring 1-2mm in length, they have a drop shaped body and antennae…

    I’d just like to say before I start, that although I like to culture Copepods and Rotifers together (due to the Copepods ‘apparently’ being more stable paired with Rotifers, it’s not a certain thing, but I like to be careful.) These instructions work for both cultures.

    Equipment
    1) A container with airtight lid, tall ones don’t work well so something like the one in the picture. Its better to use the tubs without clear side so the Copepods and Rotifers do not get startled.
    2) An air pump, air line, air stone, rigid airline.
    3) Filter floss
    4) One way valve for air line
    5) Air restrictor… above few available here
    6) Starter culture of Copepods and Rotifers, and more
    7) phyto, roti-rich, phyto-feast…whichever.
    8) RO water
    9) Aquarium salt, same as you use for your tank
    10) 53 Micron Filter/strainer, available here
    11) A small container 1/3 of the size of the culture container for water changes.

    Assembly
    Make two 6mm holes in the lid of your container then pass the airline through one of the holes, and cover the other hole with a bit of filter floss, (attach it with a bit of sellotape) add the air stone to the end of the airline inside the container and let it rest on the bottom. On the topside, add the one way valve and then the restrictor and connect it to the air pump.
    DO NOT USE TANK WATER; MAKE A FRESH BATCH FOR THE CULTURE, USING FRESH RO AND SALT FROM YOUR USUAL TUB. MIX IT THEN USE IT, DONT USE IT IF IT’S BEEN LYING AROUND.
    Although some people use tank water, I wouldn’t advise it because there can be 101 things going on that could potentially crash your culture, so ‘new water’ is preferable.

    Make up enough water to fill 1/2-2/3 of the container. Mix the water then leave it for 24hours with the lid on. Aerate it just to help mix the salt, you can use it after 20 minutes if the salt is totally dissolved. If you make the water the same salinity as your tank it will reduce the shock the Copepods and Rotifers get when you add them to your main tank.
    For best results acclimatise the starter culture (Copepods and Rotifers) by putting the starter culture into a bigger container and dripping the newly made culture water into it over 20 mins. When there is 3 times the start volume, put the starter culture in the main vessel and add the correct amount of feed… if it’s roti-rich or phyto-feast then a few drops just to cloud the water, or if it’s phyto, add enough to make the water quite green! Try not to add too much, crashes can occur from dirty water.

    The top one is Phyto-Feast and the bottom is plain Phytoplankton

    Leave the tub/tubs in a ‘lit’ area, or, in an area that receives natural sunlight, I have mine on my window sill. They need 12-24 hours light.

    And you are culturing!!
    Feed your culture once or twice a day but try not to let the water go clear. If it does clear it’s not a bad thing, you just need to feed them more.
    Keep topping the vessel up with RO to keep the correct salinity and monitor PH. If it gets to 9 or above, aerate more and change some water (more on that down the page). Cultures can survive at a lower PH but not at higher PH levels.

    Collecting
    After a week you should see a steady increase of life in the culture vessel, if the culture is doing well, then after 7 days you may see an explosion of life. Once they reach a certain point they seem to multiply much quicker.
    At 10 days your culture should be ready to harvest.
    Siphon off 1/3 of the culture and strain it, making sure you don’t get the muck at the bottom of the vessel (the muck is excess phyto, dead pods and egg shells) then add the strained Copepods and Rotifers to the tank of your choice. Top up the vessel with freshly made salt water at the same salinity and temperature as the culture.

    Water changes.
    After a month (maybe before) the vessel will have lots of muck sat at the bottom that you don’t want.

    Siphon off 2/3 of the culture water and pass it through the strainer collecting the Copepods (and Rotifers if you have chosen the dual culture) then throw the siphoned water away. Get a smaller container and siphon off the last 1/3 of the culture, making sure you don’t collect the dirt, therefore, leaving it sat at the bottom of the vessel. You can use the last 1/3 of culture water to wash the Copepods (and Rotifers) off the strainer and into a temporary container so you can clean the culture vessel. (The temporary container needs to be brand new and cleaned with RO). Use fresh RO and a new sponge then add new water to the vessel and add the saved culture, and it all starts again!

    #5485
    bored.albert
    Participant

    Stickied as a number of people have been asking about this subject.

    #5491
    defrocked.albert
    Participant

    Well done I for one will be following this as wanting to culture them myself as no-one local does them – asked on here before ….plus they’ll be cheaper and fresher many thanks for the advice ATB Judy
    Printed off ready to read and prepare at my leisure

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