Subject matter of experiments and observations of water animals in school aquarium VIII (The Great Silver Water Beetle and similar species)

Lubomír Hanel, Vojtěch Kolář


volume: 29
year: 2020
issue: 4
fulltext: PDF

online publishing date: 1/12/2020
DOI: 10.14712/25337556.2020.4.1
ISSN (Online): 2533-7556

Licence Creative Commons
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The Great Silver Water Beetle (Hydrophilus piceus) is the largest type of aquatic beetle in the world. Adults can reach up to five cm. The common name “Silver Water Beetle” refers to the appearance of the underside which is covered by hairs, and when submerged, is covered with a layer of air (known as “physical gills”). All species swim with alternating leg movements and carry air beneath the elytra, which they renew by surfacing head first. The adults are, in general, detritivores or herbivores but will also feed on worms, etc., while the larvae of the beetle are predatory upon aquatic animals. The beetles occur in a wide variety of aquatic habitats but, in general, inhabit well-vegetated standings or slow-running and shallow waters; they fly well and go towards light or will alight on illuminated surfaces, sometimes far from water. Adults are long-lived, up to two or three years, and generally leave the water to overwinter among marginal vegetation or in soil. Oviposition occurs in the spring; the females use structures similar to arachnid spinnerets to produce egg cocoons which are generally placed among marginal vegetation or left to float. The larvae are aquatic, but when fully grown leave the water to pupate among marginal soil and have occasionally been found far from areas of water. In this article, some observations in school aquaria are presented. Breeding of the hydrophilid beetle is well known, and the earliest mention of the breeding of the Great Silver Water Beetle in an aquarium dates back to the mid-19th century. A similar water scavenger beetle, Hydrophilus aterrimus, or smaller species (Hydrochara flavipes or Hydrochara caraboides) reaching less than two cm of the body length of Hydrophilus piceus can also be kept in aquarium tanks.


water scavenger beetles, Hydrophilus piceus, Hydrophilus aterrimus, Hydrochara flavipes, Hydrochara caraboides, school aquarium

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