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Copepods (Cyclopoids)

Taxonomic group

Cyclopoida: Cyclopoids

Diagnostic features

Copepods are small (less than 3mm long) swimming crustaceans with an almost teardrop (or short comet) shape. Their swimming motion is often more sustained and less jerky than the cladocerans that often share the same habitats. Cyclopoid copepods have antennae that are about half of the length of the body.

Typical habitats

Cyclopoids are primarily inhabitants of ponds or slow flowing weedy streams. They are sometimes found in sewage treatment ponds.


Cyclopoids have mouthparts capable of grasping suspended food items including small invertebrates or planktonic algae.

Indicator value

  • Hard bottom: 5
  • Soft bottom: 2.4

The tolerance values (ranging from 0 to 10) give an indication of which are the sensitive taxa (values of 8 or more) and which are the tolerant taxa (values of 3 or less). For more information see: Indicator species

Cyclopoids are associated with pond-like or slow-flowing habitats. Their occurrence in sewage treatment ponds suggests some species can tolerate poor water quality conditions. The Order Copepoda has been assigned tolerance values of 5 (hard bottom sites) and 2.4 (soft bottom sites).