FAQ

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions. If you have any other questions, please reach out to us via our Contact page and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you.

General Questions

Phytoplankton is the basic building block of all nutrition in the ocean. It provides nutrients to maximize the growth, coloration, and polyp extension of your corals. Phyto also feeds the copepods, amphipods, feather dusters, clams, and other "filter-feeders" in your tank.

Copepods feed the fish and corals in your tank - some fish such as mandarin gobies will only eat live copepods - and also serve as micro cleanup crew. They eat detritus and many different forms of algae. Having a sizeable population of copepods is incredibly valuable for providing balance to your tank (biodiversity) and also helps lessen the severity of the "ugly stage" on new tanks.

There are two basic types of copepods: some eat phytoplankton and detritus, while others ONLY eat live phytoplankton. The three species we selected to culture - Tisbe, Apocyclops, and Tigriopus - all crawl on surfaces (such as live rock and sand) in your tank and eat detritus and algae in addition to consuming any phytoplankton that you might dose.

We don't see any value in selling you pods that will die without specific nutritional requirements. Rather, we want to provide copepods that will serve not only as food for fish and corals, but that will also serve as micro clean-up crew in your tank.

Your copepods will love the balanced nutrition that they get from consuming our phyto, and they will reproduce faster if you do dose phyto. However, your copepods will survive and thrive on just detritus. (Some companies sell pods that do require daily dosing of live phyto to survive, but we've carefully selected species of pods that can survive solely off fish waste and algae.)

We have suggestions for how much of each product to buy based on the size of your tank. Please see our charts here:

How Much Should I Buy?

Mandarins consume an enormous number of copepods daily. Because of that, we suggest seeding your tank heavily for a period of several months before attempting to add a mandarin.

Use this chart to determine the correct number of copepods to add to your tank (we suggest the Snacklebox, because it contains the greatest variety of copepods). Add this quantity to your tank every month for 3-4 months. (You can find a subscription option on the product page; this will save you money and hassle.)

After seeding your tank with the recommended amount each month for 3-4 months, you should be ready to add a mandarin. For extra peace of mind and to keep your populations healthy, we suggest adding more copepods every 2-3 months.

All saltwater tanks will benefit from a healthy population of copepods. They are vital members of your cleanup crew, eating algae and detritus in the tiny cracks and crevices of your rock that snails and urchins can't reach. The also provide fantastic nutrition to your corals and other fish. Anthias particularly enjoy snacking on copepods during the day, as do most smaller aquarium fish.

Because copepods eat different nuisance algaes, they are quite helpful in mitigating or preventing an "ugly phase" in your tank. They particularly love to eat red cyano, and can be an important part of the "fix" for dinos.

Some people will see their tank surfaces absolutely covered with copepods, while others will never see them. What's up with that?

Copepods are incredibly tiny - just a few hundred microns. While you can see them easily enough in our bottles, when placed in a much larger volume of water (your tank), these incredibly tiny organisms are naturally going to be harder to see. The copepods we sell are benthic, meaning they prefer to crawl on surfaces rather than swim in the water column. Naturally, it's very difficult to see a tiny brown copepod on liverock several inches away from the tank glass.

Sometimes copepods will congregate on the glass, but not always. They prefer to crawl over surfaces containing algae films and detritus; if you keep your tank glass very clean, it's entirely possibly they will avoid it completely.

Finally, copepods do take awhile to explode in population. While they are fast breeders, it will usually take months before the population reaches the point where they might begin congregating on the glass.

Your best chance of seeing pods in your tank is to wait until lights out and shine your flashlight on through the side of your tank, illuminating the front glass from behind.

For best results, we always suggest dosing your copepods the same day you receive them. But things happen, and there may be times when you need to wait a day or two before adding your bottles to the tank.

If you find yourself unable to add your pods to the tank right away, we suggest leaving the bottle on the counter (do not refrigerate - most home refrigerators get too cold). Open the lid so that the pods can "breathe" and add a few drops of phytoplankton. Each day, recap the bottle and gently shake it to reoxygenate the water, then remove the cap and feed more phyto. When handled this way, the pods will last 1-2 weeks.

If you need them to live longer, your best bet is to remove the from the bottle and put them in a bucket or bowl with fresh saltwater, phytoplankton (until the water is barely tinted green), and gentle aeration.

Phytoplankton is a food, and as such we recommend that you add it to your tank daily. If you are happy with the results, you will want to continue using phytoplankton indefinitely.

After beginning regular dosing of phyto, you should begin to see improved coloration, polyp extension, and growth. These results will continue as long as you feed your corals our phytoplankton.

The good news is that copepods will reproduce in your tank, ultimately creating a self-sustaining population. While every system is different, in most cases you won't need to add copepods forever.

We generally suggest adding the recommended amount of copepods every month for several months to ensure your tank is well-seeded. After this initial seeding, we recommend adding copepods every 3-4 months to "refresh" your population and maintain healthy genetic diversity.

Shipping

Unfortunately, we're not able to offer local pickup at this time. We grow all products at our shop across town, making it difficult to coordinate pickup times.

If you have an emergency need, please contact us. The health of your animals is paramount, and we can work something out!

We offer free two day* shipping on orders over $65. Otherwise, shipping is $19.

There's an exception for berghia nudibranchs; because they have to be shipped overnight, shipping is $49 (or free for orders over $200).

We guarantee live delivery and 100% customer satisfaction guarantee.

*For customers with PO boxes, we have to ship USPS Priority Mail which could take up to three days.

We ship Monday - Wednesday. All orders are shipped to arrive within two days. We do not get all orders shipped on Monday, however. Depending on the product you order and shipping volumes, it could be as late as Wednesday before your order ships. But it will definitely be delivered by Friday.

Our system automatically sends an email with your tracking number once we've created a shipping label (you may need to check your "spam" folder if it doesn't show up in your inbox).

We typically print shipping labels all at once, on Sunday/Monday. Don't be alarmed if you don't see any movement on your tracking number immediately. Your order may not actually have shipped out just yet.

We ship all products in biodegradable styrofoam boxes. Before shipping, we check the weather for every delivery address, and we add ice or heat packs as needed. We then automatically upgrade shipping as needed, depending on day of the week and destination.

Since we have a 100% satisfaction guarantee, it's in our best interest - and yours - to ensure that your order survives the trip and looks just as good when you receive it as it did when it left our shop!

We provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If for any reason you aren't satisfied with the quality of your products, please let us know and we will reship or refund them.

Approximately 98% of orders arrive to customers in perfect condition, thanks to our biodegradable styrofoam shipping boxes and ice/heat packs. But about 2% of the time random things happen during shipping (losses, delays, etc.). Whether it's our fault or not, we will ALWAYS make it right to you!

We don't make you send us pictures or fill our forms. Just let us know the problem and we'll resolve it immediately!

Most of our products, even berghia, will survive a one day shipping delay. If your order was delayed, please carefully inspect it and let us know if there are any issues so we can make it right.

Phytoplankton and copepods can generally survive a two day delay without any issues. Once again, please inspect your order carefully and let us know if anything is wrong.

If UPS does not deliver your order by Saturday, please let us know. Most of the time, copepods will survive a weekend at a UPS warehouse, but phytoplankton may not. Please get in touch with us so that we can ensure your 100% satisfaction!

Berghia nudibranchs are extremely sensitive to shipping, and because of this, we have to ship them via UPS Next Day Air. Berghia are the one exception to our free shipping policy, because of the expense of overnight shipping. However, if you order over $200 worth of products, your order containing berghia will ship for free!

Because of import/export restrictions on live plants/animals, we are only shipping within the USA.

Dosing/Acclimation

When you receive your copepods, we suggest removing the lid and keeping your bottle/jug at room temperature until the lights go out in your tank. At that point, recap the bottle/jug, and float it for about 20 minutes. Then pour the entire contents into your tank.

For best results, turn off your pumps and return pumps for about an hour. Our copepods are "benthic," meaning they like to crawl around on surfaces in the tank. Once they get settled in initially, very few of them will get sucked into your overflows because they will be holding onto your rocks and sand!

Amphipods are shipped in jars containing a reef-safe nylon sponge. The amphipods are strongly "benthic," meaning the prefer a surface to cling to. They tend to burrow deep inside the sponge due to the stresses of shipping.

We suggest adding all the water in the jar, and placing the sponge in the sump or tank for a couple days. After a couple days, the amphipods will have migrated out of the sponge in search of food, and it can be removed if you'd like.

Please note that we intentionally fill the amphipod jars only about 1/3 of the way full with water. If part or all of the sponge is out of the water, it's perfectly fine.

Copepods are highly sensitive to temperature, and the species of pods we sell are also strongly benthic, meaning the prefer to go to the bottom of containers (or of your aquarium) in search of food. In many cases, this can make it look like everything is dead. Here's how you can be sure:

1. Float the bottle in your tank or sump for about an hour to temp acclimate it. Copepods that arrive cold will be very sluggish, in a hibernation-like state. As they warm up, they will become more active.

2. Take the bottle out of your tank or sump and invert it to get the pods up off the bottom of the bottle. Give the bottle a minute to settle, then shine a light up through the bottom of the bottle. You should see tons of movement.

If after doing this you don't see much movement from the pods, please contact us so that we can reship your order free of charge. While rare, in about 1-2% of orders shipping problems do occur. We always make this right!

We daily dosing of our phytoplankton at 0.5 ml per gallon of system volume. If you're seeing the results that you want (better coral growth, coloration, and polyp extension) and your nutrients are all doing well, then after a couple weeks you may want to increase to 1 ml per gallon of system volume.

If you poured in the entire bottle or jug of phytoplankton all at once, don't be alarmed! It's impossible to overdose our phyto. Your tank will be green and hazy for a day or so, but none of the tank inhabitants will be harmed. Within a day, your filtration (especially protein skimmer) should remove the excess phyto from your tank.

Berghia Nudibranchs

We list berghia nudibranchs on our website every Wednesday morning for shipping the following Tuesday.

Berghia nudibranchs are extremely sensitive to shipping, and because of this, we have to ship them via UPS Next Day Air. Berghia are the one exception to our free shipping policy, because of the expense of overnight shipping. However, if you order over $200 worth of products, your order containing berghia will ship for free!

Berghia nudibranchs are so effective at destroying aiptasia (without harming anything else in your tank) precisely because the only thing they can eat is aiptasia. That means that once the aiptasia in your tank is gone, the berghia will die off. However, as they get hungry, the berghia will have a tendency to "come out" and attach to the tank glass. You may be able to rehome them at that point.

We ship all berghia nudibranchs on Tuesday for Wednesday delivery.

All orders containing berghia nudibranchs will be shipped Tuesday, via UPS Next Day Air, for Wednesday delivery.

All orders containing amphipods will be shipped UPS Second Day Air, and will usually be shipped Tuesday for delivery by Thursday.

Float the berghia container in your tank or sump for half an
hour to temperature acclimate the berghia. Then carefully remove about half the
water from the container and very slowly add tank water to the jar over the next half hour. Repeat the process one more time – empty half the container
water and very slowly refill with tank water.

Please turn off all flow in your tank before adding the berghia. This will keep them from being blown around initially. Leave the flow off for two hours to let them get used to the tank before
turning it back on.

The berghia should begin perking up (starting to move their antennae, etc., but maybe not moving around yet. Go ahead and add the jar to
the fish tank and let them crawl out on their own, or if you prefer, use the enclosed large-tip pipette to gently transfer them to your tank.

Please put them near an aiptasia, BUT DO NOT PUT THEM DIRECLTY ON AN AIPTASIA. If you put the berghia directly on top of an aiptasia, the berghia will get eaten. Berghia are nocturnal, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see them during the
day.