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Aphids / Hydrachna

>I've poked through the archives, but I'm still fuzzy on what to call the
>little black bugs that have appeared on the surface of my tank.  Aphids?

>I get the impression from the archives that aphids have wings, and these
>little guys don't appear to.  They look kind of like fleas.  (I had
>noticed the black spots on my crispus noodles a few days ago, but
>despite some aquascaping and a water change, I hadn't realized they were
>bugs until today.  Pretty observant, huh?) 

>Anyway, I saw lots of references in the archives to submerged colanders,
>but I don't think that would work very well when the duckweed escapes,
>and floats up to the surface.  I also came across an old post of Merrill
>Cohen's, where he suggested placing a powerhead at the surface of the
>tank.  However, I've got a flowering crispus and a flowering ozelot
>sword, and they won't be pushed down by a measly little powerhead.  I
>would also think that the crispus, at least, would be difficult to
>completely submerse, without damaging part of the stalk.  It's got four
>long shoots right now, and is taking up far more than its share of the
>tank, but under and above the water.  I'll give it a shot, if there's no
>better way to eradicate these darn bugs, but...

>They're welcome to the duckweed, but how much damage will they do to the
>spikes on the crispus and the ozelot, or any sprouts?  Or should I be
>thankful, because little aphid legs will only help to pollinate my

>Alysoun McLaughlin
>Wheaton, Maryland

Hi Alysoun,

I have the same 'problem'. Very tiny 1mm small bugs that jump on the water
surface and sit on floating leaves and above the water surface on the 
tank walls. They are too fast and tiny for the fish to catch. :(
I have literally gazillions of them in my tanks. Mine are sand colored to
brownish. They feed on decaying plant matter (duckweed, Ceratopteris
leaves...) and do no harm to plants or fish. They are just annoying because 
they don't come alone but with millions. 
After a long search I found that they are Hydrachna species, 'water mites'
related to spiders.
I tried to remove them by scooping them out with a glass, (when they are
on the water surface, along with some water) or with duct-tape (sticky on 
both sides) in the hood, but they multiply that fast that it's just lost
time. The only thing I can think of that would make some difference is
starve them by removing all floating plants and install a powerhead.

Best regards,

Hugo Hoekstra