Tiny black bugs eating my plants - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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Tiny black bugs eating my plants

Hey all,
I was hoping someone could help me out here. I have some sort of very tiny black (possibly black and white striped) bugs eating my bacopa carolinia. I noticed them in the substrate of the tank a few months ago, but a few weeks ago, I noticed them INSIDE the top section of the stem on one of the plants. The stem section they were in had become transparent, so I figured they were eating dead plant material. However, yesterday I noticed that they had moved down to the next stem section (the "sections" are separated by leaves) and had begun eating that section from the inside. Before this, that section had been healthy.

I have not seen them in any other plants, but I have noticed my ludwigia repens is developing dark brown/black stem sections that rot away and separate from the rest of the plant. It's possible this is caused by something else, but I am wondering if they have gotten into those too.

Any idea what these are and how I can get rid of them?

Thanks,
Cat
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 11:08 PM
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Are these plants growing submerged inside an aquarium? Or are they growing emersed?

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 11:47 PM Thread Starter
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They are growing submerged.

Tank specs:
150 gal tall
moderately planted
4 light T5HO fixture with reflectors/6500k bulbs
no CO2
tank temp is ~84 degrees
inhabitants are discus, rummynose, sterbai cory, RCS, and various snails
substrate is hadite
ferts are osmocote plus and flourish comprehensive
EDIT: also have laterite at the base of the root feeders

Thanks,
Cat
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 11:50 PM
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I'd like to know as well.
Do the bugs look like little dots that swim erratically?
If so I have something similar in my tank. I hope they aren't eating my new plants.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 11:57 PM Thread Starter
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I have not seen them swimming in the open water, but they can be seen sort of darting around in the spaces between the hadite gravel. They seem to move pretty quickly, and do seem to dart around in those spaces. It doesn't seem to be erratic movement, but more like quickly moving from one spot to the next, almost like jumping. I don't think they are actually jumping though, just moving very quickly, and then they also "walk" around on the glass. I have only seen them under the substrate and inside that plant stem.

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
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Also, they are oval shaped and very tiny, like maybe the size of baby fleas. They look black-ish, but on closer inspection, they may be black and white striped on what appears to be a clear body. It's very hard to tell since they are so small.

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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 12:37 AM
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I know getting a pic will be hard, but can you try? Maybe a video? Anything? I've never heard of a bug found inside the stems of an aquatic plant. Not saying it can't happen (it definitely happens to regular gardening plants), but it leaves me without any ideas of what it could be. So this is very interesting.

I'm going to be doing some internet searching to see if I can find anything that might match your description, and pics would be very helpful.

Do you have any ideas how the bugs may have gotten in the tank? Have you added anything recently? Any plants, fish, inverts, decor, anything? Live food?

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 12:41 AM
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Look at this page: http://www.planetinverts.com/what_is..._aquarium.html

Do the bugs you have look anything like Seed Shrimp, Ostracoda or Springtails, Collembola? I know the color is off, but there are many different species of each of these bugs so some may be darker in color. Right now, I'm just trying to get some idea of the overall look of the bug.

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 03:34 AM Thread Starter
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I can try to get a pic, but I doubt they will show up. I cut the section of the stem out of the plant they were in and put them in a baggie, but it's doubtful they survived. I will look in on them tomorrow and try to get a pic.

I had checked out that bug site before, and they seem to look most like the seed shrimp in the pic with the CRS. It's hard to tell scale from that pic, but I don't think they are quite that big. It's possible though, because I could see them moving around in the plant which is situated about halfway between the back and front glass.

The only thing I have added to my tank recently were the discus, and that's been maybe a month and a half or so ago. It's possible they were in there before that. Most of the plants went in at about the same time, which was several months ago.

I also have tiny white bugs in the tank, which are a little bit smaller than these bugs, but move in a similar fashion and are also down in the substrate. These could be a young form of the darker bugs that were in the plant, or they could be copepods - I am not really sure.

Thanks again for the help!
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 03:52 AM
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Well, I don't know how much help I can offer. I've looked around, but haven't found much of anything so far.

If you don't get an ID here, try looking for university professors who study aquatic insects. I've emailed several professors over time about many different things and often receive replies.

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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 04:31 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the suggestion! I will try that if I can get a pic to send them.

The description of the seed shrimp sounds about right, but there is no mention of them eating plants. It's really weird, and kinda creepy. I'm all itchy now lol.

Hopefully I can find out what they are, becuase I have a decent amount of money in this tank and I would hate to see bugs destroy it all. It was a total nightmare planting this tank, since it's 33" deep. I really really don't wanna have to do it again. The bruises I got from leaning headfirst down into the tank were horrible, and my ribcage (which was leaning on the top edge of the tank the whole time) was sore for a few days. The pain of loosing all that money I spent on the stuff will be even worse.

Thanks again,
Cat
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 04:37 AM Thread Starter
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By the way, I REALLY appreciate you taking the time to research this. It means alot to me!

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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 04:54 AM
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You're very welcome! I'll keep looking, and if I run across anything, I'll be sure to post it. If you ever find out what it is, please post it, as well.

I can definitely appreciate what you're saying about the bruises. If it wasn't for my extra long tweezers, I don't think I could possibly keep up with my 90g tank, and it's only 25" deep. I can't imagine planting a 33" deep tank. How big is your tank?

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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 05:28 AM
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I'm pretty much just shooting in the dark, but check this video to see if this matches: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkIlOeUWppk

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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 05:30 AM
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A different look at copepods. Not the best pic, but maybe you can tell by the way they move. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2ISs3xsnkY

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