Because of the complex number of families, genera, and thousands of species contained within the Phylum Arthropoda > Class Crustacea > Subclass Copepoda, and Subclass Malacostraca > Order Amphipoda / Order Amphipoda groups , we are not going into detail about the taxonomy of these organisms, but here are some basic facts about these tiny crustaceans.
- There are both pelagic (free swimming), and benthic (bottom dwelling) bugs.
- Copepods occur in all types of aquatic ecosystems; freshwater, estuarine (brackish) and marine.
- Amphipods are mostly found in marine ecosystems, but there are some freshwater and terrestrial species.
- They are just a few of the tiny animal organisms that make up zooplankton, which contributes to the make up of plankton.
- These creatures eat phytoplankton (tiny plants and algae that also help make up plankton), small microzooplankton (the division of zooplankton that are smaller than 200 microns, or 1/127th of an inch in size), and detritus.
- Only a few of the thousands of species of copepods and amphipods known are carnivorous or parasitic, and these are rarely found in a saltwater aquarium system.
- For many saltwater fish and other marine species, copepods and amphipods are a primary food source, both in nature and in captivity.
- Because these tiny organisms are a natural part of the plankton food chain in the ocean realm, they are naturally going to occur in a saltwater aquarium environment. They are also micro-cultured as food for various species of adult marine animals, as well as used and tested as a food source in the research of culturing and rearing all kinds of tank-raised fry.
- Copepods and amphipods most often appear in closed aquarium systems after live sand and/or rock has been added.
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