Mr. Saltwater Tank

Mr. Saltwater Tank Friday AM Quick Tip: The Easiest Way to Save Copepods and Amphipods

First things first: copepods and amphipods are beneficial to your saltwater tank. Second, it is worth your effort to save them when they get caught in your filter socks. Here’s how to rescue the little guys and gals.

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Comments for this article (16)

  • Richard [Rick] Allen says:

    You have hit a nerve with this one. Great advice. But wait, not so fast. I use felt socks on my 120. I find the critters seem to come in waves. The record for a mysis type pod was 122. Some fell out of the sock but most had to be picked from the felt fabric after pulling the darn sock inside out. Thanks to two cleaner shrimp hunting by night and two Hovens Wrasses hunting by day assisted by a Diamond Goby, the shrimp population has been reduced to less than than 5 per clean out. Now I have some type of serpent star, smaller than those normally purchased, I am getting between 20 and 40 per clean out. These stars don’t appear to be free swimming but there they are and they DO NOT come out with a knock and a shake. I have no idea how they come to get in the sock but they are there. I try to pick 80% of them but some are so entangled in the felt they cannot be saved and to tell the truth I just don’t have the time to save them all. I also get a few very small bristle worms, small snails and other strange things. I return all but the bristle worms as I think I have enough thank you very much! Knocking will get some, but in my case, not most of these critters out. Wish it would.

  • Tony says:

    I dump them back into my refugium and not the display tank especially if I find them during the day when doing maintenance. If you dump them back in the display during the day, they become a quick snack for my fish.

  • George Barsi says:


    I’ve got a Crazy idea but given what you are dealing with it may be worth thinking about.

    Try and get a drawstring mesh filter sock and fit it over the ring of your felt sock and then push it down in to your felt sock, with that as a pre-filter you should be able to separate your critters easier. Mainly the bristle worms that are an absolute pain to remove from felt, and can’t be left in the sock if you are going to wash and reuse the sock.

    I admit this sounds like a pain to me but if you have that many bristle worms and other critters, it may be less of a pain than removing them from a felt sock.

  • Richard [Rick] Allen…use mesh socks. The pods won’t get stuck in them.

  • Richard says:

    Good idea. I will play with it an let everyone know. Thanks

    I used to use mesh but I get great filtration with the felt. I have a large two sock- rectangular frames that slip into a holder, set up. Hold a lot of stuff. It also forces me to replace them quicker than mesh! I might order some more socks and replace the felt with mesh. Average changing 2x per week.
    I have a 40 gal sump with DIY glass partitions and is very over-crowded. My sump does some things very well but could have been designed better Stand is a modified cheap pine stand. It is too low. Above causes major pain changing socks. Next time I will do it differently. Changing socks will be a priority. Wish you had your tank build consulting offer when I built my system. It would have been the best $100.00 spent!

  • Tony says:

    Richard – You always upgrade your saltwater tank and buy Mark’s No Nonsense Guide to Moving and Upgrading a Saltwater Tank. (Shameless plug for Mark’s book 🙂

  • Richard Allen says:

    Already have it, it was also not available when I built my tank. Its all Mark’s fault…no consulting, no book, heck I didn’t even know about his books that were in print 2 years ago! He failed to make me aware of them!


  • Brandon says:

    Good! I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt guilty washing them down the drain. I just couldn’t do it. I always have tried to save all the pods I could when changing my filter socks. Then throw them in the fuge so they don’t get eaten immediately.

  • Kyle O says:

    My nine-year-old loves “saving pods” with me. Her little fingers are much better at plucking the smaller pods from the filter sock (turned inside out). We also go through this routine when it is time to remove some Macro Algae from the Refugium.

    I have a feeling that this is teaching her a bigger lesson in the long run…….

  • melody says:

    Hi Mark! I have been wondering about copepods & amphipods. I sent you an email about this. I am also wondering about amphipods. When I clean the pad on a approx 100 gal. Commercial tank at work. There are hundreds of black what look like bugs crawling all over it. They crawl on my arms and fall all over the floor. At first I thought these were giant copepods. But in reading I think these may be amphipods. I try to put as many back in the sump as I can. I’m wondering can I take these home and put them in my tank for my fish? I do not have a sump. Also as this has been a topic of interest for me lately. A friend told me that I need to release a new bag if copepods in the water ,not to pour it , as the copepods die if they come in contact with air. Don’t quite get it as they are in water when I pour. This came from the owner of a lfs. If they were caught in a sock wouldn’t they possibly be exposed to air. Any way I look foward to any more info. I can get on this subject. THANK YOU!

  • Jeff from Milwaukee WI says:

    I hit them with some RODI water and they run out of my felt. 1 min later pods back in the DT

  • steve from England says:

    if your putting them back back in your main tank put them in when the lights are off to save them from being eaten

  • George Barsi says:

    I know Amphipods are the large ones I can see with my eyes and copepods are much smaller. Adults are 1 – 2 mm, so how likely am I to be able to get them out of the sock w/o dumping the majority of what I filtered back in to my system? For that matter how big of an impact to the population am I likely to see if I do not attempt to return them.

    I am guessing that the copepods that are likely to get trapped in my filter sock are the ones that float around in the water. I have always been more concerned with the rock / sand dwelling ones, since I want to get a Green or Red Mandarin once my tank gets a bit older and I get my new 20L fuge setup.

    Given a dedicated 20L for a fuge I was hoping that I would be growing 100x what might be trapped in the sock. Does that seem reasonable, or am I completely off on my estimation of what the fuge would produce?

  • Eli says:

    I thought about doing that it seemed to me that they when take them out of the water. It this not true?

  • Lyle Sobba says:

    I’m building my first saltwater system right now. If I build with dry rock and Figi Pink sand (in the DT and Sump) do I need to add copepods from a bag? I’ve not found a clear answer yet and am probably a month out from ordering rock and sand. Would still love to know for my planning. Thanks,

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