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Re: Aquatic entomology

Craig asked...

>    I was just wondering if any others out there have done any experimenting 
>with insects in planted aquariums. I'm an entomology student and was just out 
>catching some small mayflies when I thought that their larvae would make 
>excellent tank cleaners. I caught about 20 or 30 adults (about the size of 
>fruit flies) and figured that a few of them might still have enough eggs in 
>them to drop a few in my tank. I dropped the adults in and before I close the 
>lid back and sit down, my diamond tetras had eaten them all. I don't think 
>they had time to drop any eggs, but I'll see. I've never seen them get that 
>excited about live brine shrimp or worms. Has anyone else tried any types of 
>insects as algae eaters or bottom cleaners before? I wonder how hydrophilid 
>beetles (water scavenger beetles) might work. Just curious.

I haven't tried any insects or their larvae; however, a local aquarist
gave me some gammarus shrimp which he uses to eliminate all algae. I was
sceptical at first, but I set up a five gallon tank with fifty or so
adults. When I insert severely algae-laden plants from another tank in
the gravel the plants are cleaned in a few days. So far all types of algae
have been eaten. There is no algae of any kind left in the tank. These
shrimp multiply at a good rate and will eat zucchini if algae is in short
supply. There are some snails as well in the tank. Two weeks ago I added
seven kribensis fry to feed on the shrimp nauplii. I will have to remove
them soon. I'm guessing that keeping gammarus in the company of any fish
other than dwarf rasbora would be problematic.

At this point I won't swear that they eat BBA as I have yet to do an
inventory of the types that have gone in on the plants. They won't
touch cyanobacteria. This aquarist keeps the shrimp in a tank with
daphnia and they co-exist. He says that they nibble at the plants
when the algae is gone.

Dave Whittaker
Gloucester, Ontario
ac554 at FreeNet_Carleton.ca