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RE: The hopping bug question
> Perfect timing! Page 153 of TFH April 1999 edition.
> Question was asked about floating and jumping bugs about the
> size of a small pinhead.
> Answer (in brief): probably water mites introduced via live plants.
Except that water mites neither jump nor float. Those jumping, floating
insects are springtails, which are commonly found on the surface film of
planted aquaria. They eat plant debris.
Water mites are denser than water, and sink when not in motion. Some
are good swimmers, but others can only crawl.
Aquatic springtails can have specially adapted feet that allows them to
"walk on water", and they also have a catchlike spring holder, called a
furcula, that when released throws the insect into the air, hence the
"jumping" we see.
Water mites are often brightly colored, and have no body segmentation.
Springtails are often drab colored, and are distinctly segmented.
Water mites have 8 legs, while springtails have 6.
A good general reference on this topic is "Fresh-Water Invertebrates of
the United States" by Robert W. Pennak.