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What Do Water Slaters Eat?

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A water slater (Asellus aquaticus), which is also frequently referred to as an "aquatic sowbug" or "water hoglouse," is a crustacean that spends all of its time underwater. Water slaters physically are similar to woodlice. These freshwater organisms usually inhabit stream, pond or river environments. As with other crustaceans, male water slaters are smaller than the females.

About Water Slaters

Water slaters are wee arthropods that generally grow to lengths of less than 1/2 inch, although some of them exceed that, according to the Freshwater Studies Council organization in the United Kingdom. Water slaters have two sets of antennas and six sets of limbs, similar to other members of the subphylum Crustacea. In terms of coloration, these little guys are usually brown and can blend in very seamlessly with their natural surroundings. They are especially prevalent throughout calm waters. Instead of swimming, they crawl to get from one place to another. Water slaters inhabit areas of North America and Europe.

Water Slater Diet

The water slater diet consists of decomposing organic substances -- both from animals and plants. Detritus makes up the bulk of what water slaters take in. These isopod crustaceans do all of their feeding at the bottom of bodies of water, often amidst vegetation, as they are benthic creatures.

Comparison to the Woodlouse Diet

Although water slaters and woodlice share a lot of physical traits, especially since they are both small, bug-like crustaceans, their diets are not exactly the same. Woodlice are herbivorous to the core, and as a result of that, do not consume the rotting remains of animals, unlike their water slater cousins. Occasionally, however, they will eat dead bugs. Their diet is made up mostly of organic plants. It is not common for woodlice to feed on plants that are alive. They prefer rotting fruits, wood, fungi and foliage.

Predator of the Water Slater

Although water slaters do a lot of "meat" eating themselves, they are not exempt from a little predation of their own. Fish often go after these little crustaceans when they're feeling hungry, after all. The crucian carp (Carassius carassius) is a specific fish that occasionally dines on water slaters.