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Aquatic insects suitable for aquariums?

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#1 Betta132

  • NANFA Guest
  • San Gabriel drainage area

Posted 08 August 2015 - 03:27 PM

Most of the water buggies we have around here seem to be either carnivorous, the larvae of something non-aquatic, or both. Are there any buggies that could be theoretically kept in a native aquarium that's not a species tank? I was thinking maybe whirligig beetles, the little black ones. They're too small to kill fish, but they're armored enough that I don't think most small fish could eat them. 

#2 gzeiger

  • NANFA Guest

Posted 08 August 2015 - 03:39 PM

Whirligigs often do fine if there are plants to keep them happy. There are probably several species though, so no guarantee.


Keep in mind that many insects are adapted to life in ephemeral pools because there are fewer predators. What that means to you is that many of them actually have wings and will end up in places you don't want them. Backswimmers and water boatmen are the worst.

#3 loopsnj64

  • NANFA Guest

Posted 08 August 2015 - 06:23 PM

2 things


#1 whirligigs are okay if you provide them ALOT of space, not in depth but in water surface area


#2 Backswimmers and Water Boatmen are actually good and the flight is no big deal if you have a good, sealed lid

Edited by loopsnj64, 08 August 2015 - 06:23 PM.

"All good things must come to an end, but bad things think thats rather dull, so they stick around long after their natural end has come"

-From an art book I read

#4 Evan P

Evan P
  • NANFA Guest
  • Knoxville, TN

Posted 08 August 2015 - 09:19 PM

From what I have read, whirligigs can fly, meaning them may end up where you don't want them.

3,000-4,000 Gallon Pond Full of all sorts of spawning fishes! http://forum.nanfa.org/index.php/topic/13811-3560-gallon-native-fish-pond/page-3 

#5 Betta132

  • NANFA Guest
  • San Gabriel drainage area

Posted 08 August 2015 - 11:05 PM

Did a little bit of research, and evidently whirligigs fly around at night. My aquariums are in my bedroom, and I do not want to have beetles unexpectedly crawling across me. 

Don't water boatmen hunt small things? And those bite. I've been bitten by a small one, and it stung for at least an hour afterwards from what I assume was the venom.

#6 gzeiger

  • NANFA Guest

Posted 09 August 2015 - 06:24 AM

There are many species of water boatmen, some carnivorous and some herbivorous. It would be a lot of work to distinguish them; you'd have to really want one. There are probably some that are enthusiastic about flying and some that are not. I have encountered thick swarms of them from time to time. Sometimes they have stuck around an aquarium for a while, but they always end up flying eventually. My experience had been that it's usually earlier than later.


I imagine there may be whirligigs that fly a lot and others that don't so much.


I'd recommend periwinkles (Caddis fly larvae) as a good tank inhabitant. They do eventually metamorphose and fly, but you'll know it when they pupate above the water line, and you can remove them.


If you have the chance to keep something relatively prolific like Gambusia or mollies, a single predatory beetle or water scorpion can be a lot of fun.

#7 Betta132

  • NANFA Guest
  • San Gabriel drainage area

Posted 09 August 2015 - 11:48 AM

Caddisfly larvae are rather cool. How long do they take to pupate? There's a river about half a mile from here, so I imagine the adults would be just fine if I released them outside. 

Predatory beetles are really neat, but I'm not big on the idea of feeding fish to something that tends to slowly eat its prey alive. Yes, I know it happens in the wild, but it's not something I want to watch. 

#8 gerald

  • Global Moderator
  • Wake Forest, North Carolina

Posted 10 August 2015 - 12:00 PM

Diving beetles, water scorpions, giant water bugs will eat other insects, worms, and/or dead fish - they dont need live fish.

Water boatmen dont bite; but backswimmers and Naucorids do.  They're quite easy to tell apart if you get an aquatic insect book.

Gerald Pottern
Hangin' on the Neuse
"Taxonomy is the diaper used to organize the mess of evolution into discrete packages" - M.Sandel

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