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Published: 2020-02-17

Observations on the life cycles of aquatic Oligochaeta in aquaria

Estonian University of Life Sciences, Centre for Limnology, Vehendi, Elva vald, Tartumaa, Estonia
Annelida Aquatic Oligochaeta aquarial cultures life cycle life span reproduction


Observations on the life cycles of aquatic oligochaetes were made in the period 1962–2017 at the Võrtsjärv Limnological Station (Estonia) using small aquaria with sieved profundal mud covered with unaerated water. The aquaria were mostly inseminated with 10 juvenile worms and checked four times a year, changing the mud and eliminating the progeny, until the natural death of the original worms. Besides, mass cultures were kept in bigger aquaria. Many individuals of Tubifex tubifex, T. newaensis, Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri, L. udekemianus, Ilyodrilus templetoni, Psammoryctides barbatus, Spirosperma ferox, Potamothrix moldaviensis, P. vejdovskyi, P. bavaricus, Stylodrilus heringianus and Rhynchelmis tetratheca survived for several years, reproduced repeatedly, and died out one by one during the observation period. In some cases, the most longevous individuals reached an age of up to 8 years (I. templetoni), 10–12 years (T. tubifex), 15–17 years (L. hoffmeisteri, P. barbatus, S. heringianus), or even more than 20 years (L. udekemianus, S. ferox, T. newaensis). Criodrilus lacuum did not reproduce in aquaria, although the oldest individual spent 46 years there. Potamothrix hammoniensis, Lophochaeta ignota, Lamprodrilus isoporus, most naidines and some others did not thrive in aquaria and usually died without reproducing. In a cellar, where temperature conditions imitated seasonal fluctuations in lakes, or when the aquaria were maintained at continuously low temperature, the lifetime of worms was often longer than at room temperature. At elevated temperatures (+25° to +35°C) T. tubifex and L. hoffmeisteri formed cocoons mostly with only 1–2 eggs while their life span was then shorter. Architomic clones of Potamothrix bedoti, Bothrioneurum vejdovskyanum, Aulodrilus pluriseta and A. japonicus survived and propagated for years. The architomic Lumbriculus variegatus was thriving only when fed, e.g., with yeast. Uniparental reproduction by parthenogenesis was observed in T. tubifex, L. hoffmeisteri and S. heringianus kept or reared single. Two special races(?) were noted both within T. tubifex and L. udekemianus.


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