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Hi, I was wondering if anyone here keeps any sort of water insects.
water beetles, giant water bugs, pond skaters, etc.
I would really like to know how one would keep them, raise them, requirements, feed them, breed them, the whole pizza pie and all. Does anyone keep them i a planted tank of sort? pictures of your pet water bugs?


I have always been fascinated by the whirligig beetles at my cottage. I used to spend so many days catching them and chasing them when I was a tiny little girl and I always wondered if they could be kept in aquaria and how to take care of them. They are really cute, they mostly scoot arround on top of the water in groups. I giggle just thinking about them because it brngs back good memories of being a child(I am talking 4-9 years old) and makeing pond fortresses or sand and stones in the shallows and catching minnow, bugs, tadpoles, crayfish, and plants and placing them in there, letting everyone go before bedtime.

Anyone know any good sites dealing with these sorts of creatures, specifically ones found in the US Great Lakes Regions (think Wisconsin/Illinois/Indiana/Michigan)
I would just really appreciate any good links of book refernces dealing with aquatic insects (not larvae). o_O anything about locals snails would be a bonus.
 

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well, you can certainly feed your fish live worms, daphnia, and brine shrimp, that may amuse your kids. you can keep a dwarf crayfish or Thai red claw crabs, an African dwarf frog, all of which are plant and fish friendly. however the problem with these ideas is the likelihood that they will escape given half the chance.
 

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Most adult aquatic insects can fly. The larvae are unable to fly but most of them are either fish food, ugly, or carniverous. If you keep aquatic insects you pretty much have to have a tight seal on the lid and not have fish.
 

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I tried keeping adult whirligigs, watertigers, and corixids once. They escaped. I did keep an adult Hydrophilus beetle for several months and it didn't leave. It ate fish food (but the larvae are predaceous) . But many of the adult water insects do require live food and I'm not willing to do that (as are most of the larvae which I think are much more fun).

If you're not into larvae but want to avoid the wings, skip the beetles and go with (true) bugs like the skaters, water scorpions, or corixids. The immature forms look much like the adults, minus the wings. The predaceous bugs can have a pretty nasty bite though...usually worse than the beetles.

Petersen's Field guide to Insects is OK for IDing critters to family level (which is usually enough). Some of the taxonomic designations are out of date but it's pretty good for something you can get anywhere.

I'd like a little tank set up for a dobsonfly. Those guys are cute! And they don't mature for years (like some of the dragonflies) so you can keep em for a loooong time.
 

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Dwarf crayfish don't escape. At least not in my tank. There are many places they could climb out of and the tank is always filled to the top too. I see no reason they wont' climb out besides the reason that my water is to their liking and that they just don't climb out.
 

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I do know the pond skaters (they appear to float on top of the water) are predatory and eat smaller insects like mosquitos and gnats.

Giant water beetles will eat tadpoles and baby fish. As will water scorpions.

Dragonfly larva will eat small fish and small tadpoles also, along with small insects. They have powerful jaws for catching prey. The lower jaw unlatches and shoots out, like the aliens in the the Alien movie.
 

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Not all giant water beetles are predaceous as adults...flip 'em over and look for a keel along the middle. If they have that and short antennae, they belong to a family (Hydrophilidae) that are almost exclusively detritus feeds as adults. The other giant water beetles that are superficially similar (Dytiscidae) lack a keel and have longer antennae.

If you're willing to feed live food and keep a lid on, giant water bugs are my favorite. Bugs > beetles!
 

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Just don't confuse beetles with bugs, giant water bugs are in the order Hemiptera (true bugs) and will give one nasty bite! Water scorpions, whirligig beetles (poor name), water striders, back swimmers, and water boatmen are also all Hemiptera. Diving beatles are really interesting critters (order Coleoptera) that will usually resist flying away, their larvae are very predaceous so you might be better off finding adults.
 

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Whirligigs are beetles (F. Gyrinidae), too. Almost as cute as bugs, but not quite.

Many of the predaceous beetles will give a pretty painful bite too...something about that flesh-digesting saliva is just irritating...
 

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That's what I get for not having Merrit and Cummins handy.
 

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Yeah I missed out on TX, but, I have done sweep nets in:
ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, PA, and MD;

kick nets/ surber sampler and leaf pack bags in:
ME, NH, MA, NH, VT, and CT;

and flipping rocks in:
ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, NY, PA, MD, VA, NC, SC, GE, FL, AL, TN, MN, MT, ID, WA, OR, OK, and UT.

Odonates are my favorite. I just forgot whirligig beetles are actually beetles. I wish I could remember what critter I was thinking of that I confused with whirligigs.

retoid, I don't think that you'll find Chinese water beetles anywhere, but you should be able to find something similar near where you live. You just need a net and a weedy pond or a still, weed choked backwater on a river or stream.
 

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i keep large barrels in the garden and always have the following in them:
daphnia
mozzies
mayfly larvae
sometimes dragonflies

would love some pond skaters and boatmen
 
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