This week we will take a closer look at Dileptus sp. Dileptus is a large predator of the micro-world in aquariums that deserves special attention. Many aquarists are not aware of the diversity of microorganisms in their aquariums. In our articles, we often talk about animals whose small size does not allow them to be seen with the naked eye, but which reveal their beauty and uniqueness when we take a look at them with the help of a microscope.
The genus Dileptus, which consists of 13 species, belongs to the class Litostomatea, most of which are active predators. Dileptus consists of two parts: the body and the proboscis, in between which the mouth opening is located, surrounded by a row of cilia.
To catch its prey, the predator rotates its proboscis in all directions. When another microorganism touches the proboscis, it becomes paralyzed and loses its ability to move for a short time, after which Dileptus quickly devours its immobilized prey. This happens because the proboscis is covered with toxic extrusomes, with which the predator stuns its prey.
Dileptus’s diet includes various unicellular organisms such as Coleps or Paramecium, bacteria and detritus. At the other end of the cell there is an excretory opening through which waste products are removed from the cell.
Like all unicellular organisms, Dileptus can reproduce by division, where the tail part of the mother cell separates and a second cell develops from it. But it can also procreate by sexual reproduction, for which two individuals merge their proboscises to exchange genetic information.
Dileptus can reach sizes of up to 1 millimeter, which is impressive for a single-celled organism. It inhabits freshwater reservoirs, lakes, rivers, and is often found in the biofiltration system of aquariums. Thanks to its predator way of life, Dileptus controls the population of other unicellular organisms in the ecosystem, and even can catch harmful microorganisms that may pose a danger to aquarium fish.