I am often amazed at the panic that people exhibit when they discover that they have a colony of seed shrimp in their aquariums. Is it because of lack of knowledge about this little animal ?or is it just a case of I have some sort of BUG in my tank so I must get rid of it before it kills my shrimp? I know people with planted tanks may not like the sight of them but to my eye they are very interesting.
In this short article I will attempt to dispel these fears by a little knowledge about these wonderful creatures.
Ostracoda Podocopida (Seed Shrimp) belong to the major group Crustacea minor group Ostracoda order Podocopida this order comprises terrestrial, marine and freshwater seed shrimp. they can be described as small crustaceans typically round or egg shaped, varying in size from 0.2 to 1mm .
The body of a seed shrimp is encased in a calcified shell consisting of two parts, superficially resembling the shell of a clam The body consists of a head and thorax. unlike many other crustaceans the body is not clearly divided into segments. The head is the largest part of the body and bears most of the animal's appendages, two pairs of well developed antennae, used for swimming and feeding, a pair of mandibles and two pairs of maxillae (mouthparts) Seed Shrimp have no gills instead they take in oxygen through plates on the surface of their shells.
Seed Shrimp can be found worldwide but mainly in Africa and Australia. Australian Seed Shrimp occur in fresh to hyper saline waters from permanent to temporary waterways. They are mostly free living and are often found in or just below the substrate.
Seed Shrimp are "Filter Feeders" using their antennae to filter and search for their food. They live on organic detritus and algae. Seed Shrimp form part of the food chain for other invertebrates and juvenile fish.
In actual fact Seed Shrimp are a benefit to your aquarium , because of their small size and eating habits they are one of nature's best clean up crews for shrimp keepers aquariums. Many people encourage them to thrive in their tanks in the true belief that they are an indicator that their tank and water parameters are healthy.
My personal experience with these fascinating little creatures is that they seem to be self regulating and will disappear from my tank by themselves only to reappear at a later date. I always look forward to their return.
I hope that this short article will help those who fear them to relax a little and enjoy their company Wayne
REF Wikipedia - Ostracod
www.mdfre.org.au identification and ecology of Australian Freshwater Invertebrates.