Invertebrates: “Reef Bugs”

The “micro” organism populations in reef aquariums never cease to amaze me.  Most pods in a reef aquarium are part of a harmless ecosystem that exist to process detritus and algae.  Harmless “Pod Blooms” (see last photo) are related to an overabundance of food and a lack of predators.  The bloom will die down as the food source dwindles or predators take them out over time.  
Enjoy the diversity!   
Sphaeromatid Isopod (Female) – Reef Safe
This cute little girl is a harmless scavenger, but is commonly confused with Cirolanid Isopods (frequent fish parasite).


Sphaeromatid Isopod (Sand Skater) – Reef Safe
These are also harmless scavenger isopods, but they are frequently confused with Acropora-Eating Flatworms. They can be told apart by their slightly curved shell (AEFW do not have a shell).


Ostracoda (Seed Shrimp) – Reef Safe
This little guy was identified by “Beastiependent” on ReefCentral as a seed shrimp.  It’s about the most terrestrial-looking pod I’ve seen in a reef aquarium.  There is also a similar freshwater seed shrimp (brackish water too). 
Zoanthid-eating Spider – Not Reef Safe
The photo below is of a zoanthid-eating spider that came off a zoanthid colony during a dip in CoralRx. It is in a water droplet on the top of a water test card for size reference. To my knowledge there is no in-tank treatment other than manual removal (tweezers). Coral dips, such as CoralRx and Lugol’s iodine, both help dislodge the spider from the coral.

Munnid Isopod – Reef Safe
These are frequently encountered in the hobby, especially on the glass.  They just add to the great pod diversity and are a nice treat for fish.

Amphipod – Reef Safe
Like Munnid Isopods, these are very common in the hobby.  For the large majority, they are reef safe, but a few are predatory.  The best way to tell which are predatory and which are not is to watch their feeding habits.  Keep in mind non-predatory amphipods will still feed on dying/decaying matter, which should not be confused with feeding on healthy organisms.  (Finding these on dying zoanthids does not necessarily mean they are eating the zoanthids.  They could be just eating the dying tissue.)
Copepod –  Reef Safe
Without a better photo, copepod is my best guess.  This little guy is a harmless herbivore feeding on film algae on the glass.
Mysis Shrimp Bloom – Reef Safe
In my hospital aquarium, I have no fish, so every 30 days I get a new (very prominent) batch of Mysis shrimp.  Most of these end up as coral food after the first night.


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