The humble copepod is often referred to as the cow of the sea. These tiny creatures predominantly eat phytoplankton but are also preyed upon by other ocean animals like fishes, whales, and even seabirds.
Now there are so many questions that may come to your mind, “What fish eat copepods?” “Do small fish eat copepods?” All the answers to these questions are explained in this blog. Read the whole blog to learn about creatures that eat copepods.
Copepods can be found in most marine and freshwater habitats, from coral reefs to deep ocean trenches. Copepods are great for the ecosystem. They grow and multiply very fast and keep the ecosystem balanced.
They are an important part of the food chain, providing a vital source of nutrition for many other aquatic organisms. Almost all underwater predators, from small to large, eat copepods.
The most common predators of copepods are fish, squid, octopuses, and crustaceans such as shrimps and crabs. Whales and dolphins also feed on copepods when they need protein. Other animals like mollusks, sea stars and sea cucumbers will eat copepods as a part of their diet.
However, eating copepods is not the regular diet for every fish. Some fish, such as clown frogfish, can eat their own kind. But if they are hungry and can’t find any prey to hunt, they will choose copepods to fill their tummies.
Also, any type of sea creature can easily gulp copepods. Wrasse and mandarin are the best copepod eaters. These two types of fish eat copepods on a daily basis. Wrasse and Mandarin are predators of copepods.
Copepods are the best for reef tank fish. Octopuses, seahorses, and gobies eat copepods when they are hatching. Copepods can be very nutritious for pregnant fish and crustaceans. Sand-stifling gobies, Mandarin fish, and sleeper gobies eat copepods on a regular basis as their primary food.
Other reef tank fish like the Midas blenny (Ecsenius Midas), adult seahorses, and firefish love to eat copepods. The majority of saltwater fish that strictly depend on these crustaceans for food are difficult to maintain.
They need an aquarium that has been around for a while with a steady population of copepods and amphipods. If there is not enough food available, they could go hungry.
Sometimes we use copepods in the freshwater aquarium to keep the ecosystem balanced for the fish. But what eats copepods in freshwater aquariums is also a topic to consider. Because if you put fish in a freshwater aquarium that doesn’t eat copepods, the copepods will overpopulate and disrupt the ecosystem.
Chili rasboras are one of the best small fish that eat copepods in a freshwater aquarium. You will only need three to four chili rasboras to kill copepods. If your aquarium is filled with copepods, it can be harmful to other fish. To get rid of them, bring chili boras.
Guppies, betas, sparkling gouramis, guppies, scooter blennies, and gumdrops are a few possibilities. They do a good job of eating copepods. They are freshwater aquarium fish, and they easily gulp copepods and detritus worms.
Every small fish eats copepods. The primary food source for small fish is the copepod. Big fish can easily hunt small fish and eat them. That’s why copepods are food for small fish. Rasboras, tetras, and guppies, among other small fish, will be eager to look for copepods. Larger fish won’t be aware of them or consider them food.
Not only small fish but other small creatures can also eat copepods. Most people bring small fish to kill copepods in their aquariums. Anchovy fish keep their mouths wide open to filter copepods and other zooplankton. You can keep anchovies to filter your aquarium water and kill the copepods.
Copepods do not roam around in the water when there are other fishes looking for them. Most of the time, copepods will go and hide in rock and dark areas. Keeping corals in the aquarium can be high maintenance, but they are beneficial.
Coral can be an alternative to fish for getting rid of copepods. If you have an aquarium, you can keep corals to eat copepods. But how do corals eat copepods? Copepods can mistakenly think of corals as sea rocks. They will hide by entering the coral and perceiving it as rock cover. And then, the copepods are eaten by the corals.
But it is only possible if the copepods go into the corals. Corals will not roam around the aquarium and hunt copepods. That’s why killing copepods with coral can be time-consuming.
Cherry and peppermint shrimp eat copepods when they find them. If you are keeping cherry shrimp and peppermint shrimp in the aquarium, they will eat copepods. These shrimps will poke the rock randomly, and if they find any copepods, they will gulp them as soon as possible.
Amphipods love to eat copepods. Amphipods see copepods as their prey and hunt them by going into the rock or attracting the copepods. Amphipods can eat adult copepods, small copepods, and even copepods with eggs to keep the ecosystem balanced.
Also See: What Eats Amphipods? Amphipods as Prey
For clownfish, copepods are easy to access food sources. If clownfish cannot hunt or find their prey, they can easily eat copepods to survive.
It is not uncommon for clownfish to eat copepods. Usually, clownfish do not eat copepods as their primary source of food. It is because clownfish hunt other fish and crustaceans to survive and don’t need copepods.
Hermit crabs eat pretty much everything in the ocean. They also eat copepods to survive. Copepods are nutritious and filling for small fish. Small crabs can easily eat copepods and survive in the ocean.
After knowing what eats copepods, you can put those fish in your tank to balance the number of copepods. Copepods are very nutritious food for small fish, saltwater fish, reef tank fish, and freshwater aquarium fish. Keeping copepods will balance your aquarium’s ecosystem.
If you love to keep an aquarium, make sure to cultivate copepods. You can also see our “how to grow copepods” blog to learn about cultivating copepods.