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Paracyclops Chiltoni.jpg
Scientific Classification
  • Archinotodelphyidae
  • Ascidicolidae
  • Buproridae
  • Chordeumiidae
  • Cucumaricolidae
  • Cyclopidae
  • Cyclopinidae
  • Fratiidae
  • Lernaeidae
  • Mantridae
  • Notodelphyidae
  • Oithonidae
  • Ozmanidae
  • Speleoithonidae
  • Thaumatopsyllidae
One of the smallest species of Cyclopoida, the Diacyclops
Diacyclops Harryi.jpg

Although the Cyclops may be better known as a mythological creature of massive proportions, it is also the common name for species of microscopic Crustaceans that belong to the taxonomic order Cyclopoida. It does share one characteristic, however, they both have a single black eye in the center of their "heads". Cyclopoida contains many families and inhabits more places than we realize, the lakes we swim in, ponds, streams, and they have even made their way into some of our aquariums! The Cyclops is a very intricate creature if you just take the time to examine the details.


The basic anatomic structure of a Cyclops

The Cyclops has two divided regions of their body, the head and the thorax near the front, and the further back region being the rest of the thorax and the abdomen. The head and the thorax make up the widest area of the Cyclops, and it grows narrower up to the most posterior portion of its body until it reaches its forked tail. It has two pairs of antennae on the most anterior region, one is half the length of its body, and the other is much shorter.[1] The females carry two packs of eggs at the base of its tail. Some of the female Cyclops can grow to two centimeters, but most of the species of cyclops are under two centimeters in length. They have a single black eye, which is how they received their name. [2]


The female Cyclopoida, being the bigger and more common of the two genders, carries her pair of egg sacks at the base of her tail. Many of the species of Cyclopoida are very capable of rapid outbreaks when the water temperature along with amount of algae are optimal.[3]


An ideal habitat to support the life of the Cyclops

The Cyclopoida's main habitats are mainly located in fresh water ponds or lakes because they dislike the presence of a current and their main food is algae, which is in abundance in places without a current. Cyclops are also common in household aquariums, where they pose little to no damage to other fish inhabitants. Cyclopoida are considered to be omnivorous because they consume algae, detritus, and even sometimes they feed on the weaker Fry. Some Cyclops have been known to prey on the larval stages of fish, particularly in fish hatcheries. However, when you are part of an ecosystem and at the very bottom of the food chain, you are eaten as well. The Cyclops, being so small, can only be a reasonable part of diet for other slightly larger marine life such as the Phantom Midge Larvae and water mites.[4]


With twelve of the families of Cyclopoida either being hosts to parasites, or parasitic in nature themselves, Cyclopoida can pose a threat to humans as well as the other inhabitants of their ecosystem. A few of the freshwater species are a key temporary host of parasitic worms that are harmful to humans. The parasitic species usually inhabit mollusks, sea anemones, and sea squirts. One family in particular finds a sufficient host then inhabits its mouth or gills. In this family, the females jaws are sickle shaped, allowing the Cyclops to attach to its host and eat it very slowly. The Cyclops would not cause major damage to a fish because of how small it is, but it can cause major problems in smaller fish or how many are feeding on the host at one time. [5]



  • [6] Unknown, Net Industries, 2010.
  • [7] Unknown, Bumblebee, 1997.
  • [8] Carl Strohmeyer, ArticlesBase, 2006.