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aphids and springtails

Having studied Entomology in my younger years let me offer a few

From: "H. Hoekstra" <hugo at greed_nl>
Subject: Aphids / Hydrachna

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

>I get the impression from the archives that aphids have wings, and
>little guys don't appear to.

[From Chris Wells
Aphids don't always have wings.
If you get a 10X magnifying loop and look at them the aphids have a
sucker mouth tube that they stick in the plant and then a big abdomen
and of course 6 legs.  The sucking does do damage to the plants and it
even can transfer virus from other plants they may have fed on.  If you
pick up the plant and see the sucker tube and the plants have little
necrotic dots - you have aphids.

The springtails  are primitive insects ( Collembola) have a very
characteristic tail that they latch under their bodies. When disturbed
they will release it and bounce away. Color will vary from white to
brown to black  Body is elongated relative to aphids and much
smaller..   In the US they are rather small and you will find some that
live on moist soil or typically at the edge of a calm body of water.
They are harmless and are feeding off of bacteria, fungus etc.  The only
down side is they may be unsightly.   Your best bet would be to get some
mite predators that will keep them in check - add another layer to your

> 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
>bugs until today.  Pretty observant, huh?)


>They're welcome to the duckweed, but how much damage will they do to
>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

[from Chris Wells - They aren't very mobile once they stick their mouth
parts in.]

>Alysoun McLaughlin

Hi Alysoun,

I have the same 'problem'. Very tiny 1mm small bugs that jump on the

[From Chris Wells -yes jump = springtails!!!!]

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
brownish. They feed on decaying plant matter (duckweed, Ceratopteris
leaves...) and do no harm to plants or fish. They are just annoying
they don't come alone but with millions.
After a long search I found that they are Hydrachna species, 'water
related to spiders.

[From Chris Wells
Sorry - I don't think so - try looking up Collembola.
mites do not have distinct heads, thorax and abdomen.  just one big
Springtails do.]

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
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