We compared the development and fatty acid content of the harpacticoid copepods Tachidius discipes and Tisbe sp. fed with different microalgal species (Dunaliella tertiolecta, Rhodomonas sp., Phaeodactylum tricornutum, Isochrysis galbana and a concentrate of Pavlova sp.), which differed in cell size and fatty acid composition. Tisbe could develop in 11 days with every alga to the same average stage, whereas Tachidius developed poorly when fed with Isochrysis and Dunaliella. Feeding with Phaeodactylum resulted in a fast development of both copepods at low algal concentrations. However, reproduction was higher with Rhodomonas as food than with the other algae. Fatty acid compositions of copepods were influenced by their food source, but both were able to convert docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) from precursors. Tachidius fed with Rhodomonas or Phaeodactylum was closest to the DHA/EPA/arachidonic acid (ARA) ratio of 10 : 5 : 1 considered optimal for some marine fish larvae. Tachidius showed similar development and reproduction capacity as Tisbe, but requested higher absolute fatty acid contents in the diet. Tisbe was superior in the utilization of bacteria as additional food source and the bioconversion of precursor fatty acids. Phaeodactylum and Rhodomonas are recommendable food sources for both copepod species, but Phaeodactylum is more easily cultured.