Tap Water Shrimps

If you are living in New York, you may have been downing hundreds of microscopic shrimps by the name of Copepods that live in the tap water. However, there is nothing to be concerned about as they are absolutely harmless.


If you H&E stain the tap water and put it under a microscope you will see these shrimps floating around in the drop of water.


Copepods are planktonic crustaceans that just drift around in the water and eat. They are opportunistic feeders as they eat only that which comes their way. Instead of actively hunting for food they wait until the food floats over to them. When they spot some food, they use their tiny feeding appendages, which look like a bit like antennae, to swish the water with the food towards them.

They are known to be quite beneficial for us as they consume mosquito larvae which pose a threat to our health. The website Gizmo reported the discovery and wrote “Copepods are even known to eat mosquito larvae, so don’t think of them as invisible shrimp caught in your teeth- think of them as invisible shrimp who make NYC tap water taste fantastic. Like, fantastic, quenching shrimp juice.”

Copepods live among the zooplankton which live in fresh water. Their lifespan ranges from 6 months to one year.

Farrel Sklerov, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Environmental told FoxNews.com “It’s one of those interesting facts you learn about local drinking water- but it’s in no way dangerous,” He further said “They pose no risk to human health. It’s not something that’s regulated because there are no harmful effects from them.”


Scientists in the state Department of Agriculture Philip Alampi Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory bred a colony of Copepods specifically to fight mosquito larvae in New Jersey. “We colonized thousands at a time. They grow in water. You can have several thousand Copepods in a bucket,” said the Administrator of the State Office of Mosquito Control, Bob Kent.

Copepods bred in a laboratory were released into a roadside ditch in Cape May County, New Jersey. Photo courtesy of the NJ Department of Agriculture.

New Jersey began combating mosquito Larvae in 2011, said Kent. In late June 2012, 10,000 copepods were released in Cape May County, followed by the previous release of 50,000 Copepods in Bergen, Passaic, and Morris counties.


Not all Copepods are effective in controlling mosquito populations. There are 13,000 species of copepods and only some species are particularly good predators over others. “Some species are not particularly good predators, and some are,” said Rey, whose lab provides mosquito/copepod rearing kits to teachers for use with their students. “Copepods are not very effective for control of mosquito in our environment,” Said Dr. Waheed Bajwa, executive director of Vector Surveillance at the New York City Department of Health.

Although they are not really effective in attacking mosquitoes in great numbers, they do to some extent create an advantage for tap water. And no, they do not poison water so you can continue to drink it without any problems. That is if you are willing to.








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