Deep Sea Isopod
Name: Deep Sea Isopod
Scientific name: Bathynomus giganteus
Range:   Bay of Bengal, ArabianSea, Gulf of Mexico, and the South Western Atlantic off Brazil. 
Habitat: Sea bottom (about 2000feet) and also some have colonized freshwater habitats 
Status: Not Threatened
Diet in the wild: fish, sponges, small crustaceans,nematode worms, protozoans.
Diet in the zoo: Fish Food and Dried Shrimp
Location in the zoo: JamesR Record Aquarium

    Physical Description:

  • Body is divided into three distinctregions: head, thorax, and abdomen
  • Very Large set of compound eyes
  • Two pairs of antannae
  • Four sets of jaws
  • Oblong body shape
  • Distinct calcified segments
  • One pair of appendages to each segment
  • Grows up to 18 inches
General information: 
  • Live on the ocean floor below 1200feet
  • Mainly found in the West Atlantic Ocean
  • Related to the pillbug, sowbug, lobster,crab, and shrimp
  • Food scavengers
  • Grow to 18" long and weigh up to 3pounds
  • Primary predators are tiger sharks
  • Live in area that have little to nolight
  • Water temperature is extremely cold
  • Food is scarce in habitat and manyadapt to feast or famine
  • Isopod means similar footed. (iso-similar, pod-foot)
  • Have the ability to catch large prey

             Feeding and Development:
    The Isopods feeding habitsare extremely diverse.  Some groups are parasitic and some travelin large groups at night.  They prey on diseased or injured fish andalso attack fish that have been caught in commercial nets.  They developembryos in a direct matter within the female brood pouch and emerge asjuveniles.  Isopods are egg laying, but have no larval stages. The young are brooded in the female pouch.  Some females can carryabout 20-30 eggs.

    There are currently two Deep SeaIsopods the Fort Worth Zoo.

    They are kept at an ice cold temperature and the fish tank is incredibly dark
    as if to resemble life at the depthsof the ocean. 

    Wild deep sea isopods are sometimes accidental passengers on remote operated vehicles in undersea explorations. This animal was picked up from an ROV operating at a depth of 8500 feet off the western coast of Australia (Thanks to Trevor McCarthy for these very interesting photos.)

    ROV Hitchhiker

    ROV Hitchhiker
    Personal Observations: 

    The isopods don't have much to do. They do not swim around like others in fish tanks.  Most often theylook as if to be sleeping.  Oh, what a life!

    Source Materials and RelatedLinks:

    Hickman, Clevand P, Jr., and ToddZimmerman.  A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Galapagos. Sugar Spring Press, 2000.  (Very nice for photos!)

    The Smithsonian's World Isopod List:ngof isopod species and descriptions:


    St Petersburg Times story on Isopodsat the Florida Aquarium:

    University of Arizona Tree of Life: Isopods

    Page author: {short description of image}ChelsyPlott 

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    Invertebratesat the Fort Worth Zoo

    WhoZooAnimal Index