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RE: aquatic insects

> Has anyone tried keeping beetles (or other insects) in a 
> planted tank? I'm
> particularly interested in bugs that would a) eat algae, b) carry out
> their complete life cycle under water - that is, no chironimids,
> dragonflies or other critters that are aquatic only as larvae 
> and c) are too large and/or hard-shelled to be eaten by small fish.

I've never tried, but it sure would be cool.  I'm partial to the large
predatory insects (e.g., water scorpions, giant water bugs, etc).

According to Robert Pennak in "Fresh-water Invertebrates of the United
States", beetles (Coleopterans) from the family Hydrophilidae (water
scavenger beetles) may fit your criteria.  There are over 170 species in
the US, with the majority being aquatic, and many species are quite
abundant.  Their size can range from 1 to 40 mm, and mostly eat decaying
vegetation and algae.  Some eat carrion, and others have been known to
prey upon other aquatic insects.

Unfortunately, most adults can fly, which is how they migrate from one
body of water to another, typically at night.  Also, while the adult and
larval stages are aquatic, and the eggs are laid in water, the pupal
stages are almost always terrestrial.  If you only have one aquarium in
the house, I suppose the flying adults would eventually find their way
back home.  Otherwise, they could populate every tank in your house.

Pennak lists Hydrophilus triangularis as a good swimmer, 35 mm long,
widely distributed and abundant.