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Lateral view of a Male Baetis (Baetidae) (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Dun from Mystery Creek #43 in New York
Blue-winged Olives

Tiny Baetis mayflies are perhaps the most commonly encountered and imitated by anglers on all American trout streams due to their great abundance, widespread distribution, and trout-friendly emergence habits.

27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

DayTripper's profile picture
Northern MI

Posts: 70
DayTripper on Jul 4, 2009July 4th, 2009, 7:45 am EDT
I have a 5 gallon aquarium I'm setting up specifically for aquatic insects and was hoping some of you who have your own aquariums could share any tips, etc.. Also, I was wondering if anyone knew what water temp I should try to keep it at, as well as any inexpensive ways to keep the water temp cool without access to a basement. Thanks.
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Jul 4, 2009July 4th, 2009, 10:17 am EDT
Maintaining a single aquarium for trout stream species can be difficult. For one thing, the temperature/oxygen requirements vary from species to species. For another, the predators will eat whatever they can in a mixed population. Many warmwater/stillwater species are easier to maintain in a room temperature aquarium, but you would still have to segregate some species--unless you want to watch the predators eat the others.

I have had some success keeping temperatures cool enough to accommodate coldwater species for short periods by floating reuseable "freeze packs" in small aquaria, but it is a P-I-T-A to do that over long periods of time. Aquarium chillers will do the trick, but they are somewhat pricey.

A while back, Jason had devised a clever arrangement that included a chiller and an "artificial stream" contraption. I know he had taken some pictures of his setup, but all I can find is some discussion of that here:

Troutnut's profile picture
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Jul 5, 2009July 5th, 2009, 11:01 am EDT
My old "artificial stream" in PVC pipe was a pain in the ass to build, wasn't very cool to observe, and wasn't at all worthwhile. I didn't really know anything about aquaria at the time. I wasn't very successful raising any but the hardiest bugs.

Since then, I haven't tried another invertebrate aquarium, but I have been running a saltwater fish aquarium, which is very involved. That has been very instructive, so I have a much better idea what I'll do next time I set up an invert aquarium.

The first and most important thing would be finding a really good book on freshwater aquarium keeping... maybe more than one. I haven't really looked into what's out there. You should get a basic understanding of nitrogen cycling in a freshwater aquarium, and what you need to keep your ammonia and nitrite levels down. That could determine what substrate you use, among other things.

For water temperature, there are a lot of high-maintenance tricks like Gonzo suggested, or you could keep it against a cool basement wall, near an air conditioner, etc. Otherwise, an Ice Probe Chiller is probably your best bet. I plan to use one of those next time.

For current, don't worry about creating an artificial-stream-like environment. Just get a little circulation pump like a Koralia and you'll get all the current you need. I would suggest trying to landscape the aquarium so there are some rocks right in front of the powerhead that get STRONG flow for clingers, and some very sheltered areas elsewhere.

Introduce critters by drip-acclimating them, rather than just dumping them in or simply temperature-acclimating in plastic bags. You can learn how to do that online with a simple piece of aquarium tubing with a knot in it to control the drips.

Lighting is another topic I'll have to study before I try this again. Simple is probably fine, but when I do it I'm going to aim to grow a natural amount of algae on the rocks for grazer insects, and possibly some natural plants. Aquarium stores sell pretty cheap timers you could use to at least mimic a natural day/night cycle.

Hope these things help. You've got me looking forward to trying it again.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
DayTripper's profile picture
Northern MI

Posts: 70
DayTripper on Jul 7, 2009July 7th, 2009, 2:34 am EDT
Thanks Guys!

That ice probe chiller you linked to is the first chiller that is actually affordable. Most I've seen start at around $500. I like bugs, but not that much. Thanks for that link!

I've got about a half dozen caddis larva in there right now that I brought home to photograph and figured I'd throw them in just to see how they did till I refine my setup a little more. I'm pretty sure that two are Limnephilidae, and I think the rest are Lepidostoma. They've been in there for two days now, and so far, haven't died. In fact, they're pretty active; which I hope is a good sign(not sure about the Lepidostoma as they all migrated under a rock) . Anyone know what they eat? (I'm hoping the answer to that is the regular fish food I've been giving them :^))

Right now, my water temp is sitting in the mid to high 60s, depending on the time of day. I've got the aquarium near a window(never sees direct sunlight)and think that is about as far as I'll go with lighting- at this point.

Anyways, thanks for the tips! I think I'll stop by the library tonight to see if they have any books on freshwater aquariums.
DayTripper's profile picture
Northern MI

Posts: 70
DayTripper on Aug 17, 2009August 17th, 2009, 1:24 am EDT

So far, so good. I decided to clean my tank last night since there was a lot of algae building up on the glass. The bigger Limnephilidae have sealed themselves off in their cases under their rock, while the Lepidostoma are fairly active. (I'm still not 100% that they are what I think they are) Most of the time, they're burrowed down into the gravel, but at least once or twice a day, I'll notice one crawling around, or up the aquarium glass. I haven't set up any type of chiller yet, so water temp has been fluctuating between 67-72 degrees F.

DayTripper's profile picture
Northern MI

Posts: 70
DayTripper on Aug 25, 2009August 25th, 2009, 6:18 am EDT
Had my first emergence! The way the pupa moved around the tank definitely has me rethinking a few things as far as angling presentation is concerned.

notice the dragon nymph checking it out

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