Amphipods – Good Hitchhiker or Bad?

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Amphipod

Amphipods are common hitchhikers every saltwater aquarist will see at some point.

Amphipods

People have asked if they are good hitchhikers or bad hitchhikers.  I would say most of the time they are good hitchhikers provided that they have enough detritus, diatoms and other omnivorous items to eat.  These nocturnal scavengers are omnivores and are an important part of a reef ecosystem.  Several marine species will consume amphipods such as Angelfish, Wrasses, Butterflies and Hawks will consume them and are recommended to help control the population.  Amphipods can and will take over an aquarium, especially if there is sufficient algae growth and detritus.

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A finicky eater, Seahorses love to eat amphipods.  They are relatively easy to culture and reproduce in a marine ecosystem, but forget about catching them.  They are extremely fast and come out more at night.  Although amphipods can tolerate a wide range of water conditions it is best to keep them within normal water parameters.  A must for culturing amphipods within a reef tank includes live rock.  Amphipods will hide, reproduce and come out when it’s safe to forage for algae, detritus and other organic waste.  More benefits of amphipods include they won’t eat coral and their natural nutritional value.  Rich in Omega 3-6 as well as vitamin nutrition, amphipods contain a natural source of high quality nutrition for marine fish.

Culturing in a refugium or a small saltwater tank is easy.  Keep the temperature between 60-80 degrees and feed with algae pellets and or fish food. With the right care, 30 will become 1000 within a few weeks to a month.  Best practice would be to mimic the conditions of the tank they are going into.  While they don’t need much light you will need an airstone for water movement as well as some form of bottom surface area such as live rock or an old filter pad.  They are easier to catch at night when they enter the water column and usually a small net will suffice for collection.  This low cost nutritious food source is definitely a healthy addition to any marine environment.

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