Freshwater Isopod Care Sheet (Asellus Aquaticus)

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Asellus Aquaticus FAQ

asellus aquaticus / freshwater isopods

What is the difference between asellus aquaticus, freshwater isopods, and water louse?

None. Asellus aquaticus is the scientific name of a type of isopod that lives in freshwater, and which is more commonly known as water louse in certain countries like the UK. This creature also goes by the informal name of aquatic pill bug or aquatic sowbug.

What size should an aquarium tank for asellus aquaticus be?

Asellus aquaticus can live in very small tanks. A nano planted environment of as little as 1 gallon capacity can be sufficient, although larger tanks will require less maintainance.

Will asellus aquaticus escape from its tank?

No. Asellus aquaticus are fully aquatic and are not capable of climbing, which is why open containers and rimless aquarium can be used without worries.

What food should I give to asellus aquaticus?

Asellus aquaticus are natural scavengers will naturally munch on any decaying plant, algae, and decomposing animal matter in your tank. You can additionally feed them dry plant leaves.

Do asellus aquaticus prey on shrimplets and fish fry?

No. Asellus aquaticus are scavengers by nature and will only feed on other animals if they are already dead.

Can you breed asellus aquaticus in captivity?

Yes. Freshwater isopods are fairly easy to breed in an aquarium tank. They reproduce seasonally in nature, you can stimulate mating by increasing water temperature to simulate environmental conditions n the summer.

Where can I find asellus aquaticus in the wild?

Different species of asellus aquaticus can be found in different parts of the world, but getting your hands on some should be fairly easy no matter where you are located. Cultures can be found nearby the surface of water streams like rivers and ponds. It is not uncommon for people to pick up wild plants for their tanks and then discover they introduced freshwater isopods by accident.

Where can I buy asellus aquaticus?

There are still not many pet stores or other commercial retailers selling freshwater isopods, although you can sometimes find them sold as live pet food or lab specimens. In some countries, individual breeders have started trading asellus aquaticus through online platforms and social media, and you can sometimes even find them for sale on amazon. We maintain a regularly updated list of online asellus aquaticus traders worldwide.

How long does asellus aquaticus live?

Under the right conditions, freshwater isopods can live for up to 2 years. Higher levels of water pollution and water temperature will shorten this life span, although warmer climates will speed up growing and reproduction rate.

Is asellus aquaticus good as a tank cleaner?

Yes – asellus aquaticus will feed on about any type of detitrus that may form in your tank, as well as keeping vegetation from growing too much. They will eat brown and green algae.

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3 thoughts on “Freshwater Isopod Care Sheet (Asellus Aquaticus)”

  1. This article has been extremely helpful to me, but it left me with a couple of questions. How many isopods should I have per gallon? (I have a 2.5 gal tank that I might put live plants in) and do they reproduce asexually?

    1. Hi Grace,

      asellus aquaticus reproduce sexually (the male attaches to the female in a rather theatrical way) and for such a small tank I would start with a small culture of 10-15 isopods.


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