Let’s delve into the world of Lepadella! These tiny rotifers, often overlooked in aquariums, have some interesting features. In this discussion, we’ll explore the genus Lepadella, their size, structure, and the essential roles they play in aquatic ecosystems. Join us as we take a closer look under the microscope at these intriguing creatures.
Size & appearance
Rotifers of the genus Lepadella are among the most common representatives of the aquarium microbiota.
The average size of these rotifers is about 100 micro meter, making it impossible to see them with the naked eye. Their structure and beauty can be observed under a microscope. One of the representatives of this genus living in the aquarium is Lepadella ovalis. This is a small animal with its body enclosed in a protective shell consisting of two plates tightly connected to each other. The anterior edges of the shell are concave and C-shaped. resembling a fork. At the bottom-end of the body, we find a movable foot with two equally long toes, which can attach to surfaces or be used for locomotion.
Feeding, locomotion & reproduction
Lepadella obtains its nutrition through the action of its rotatory apparatus, equipped with cilia. By creating a water vortex towards their mouth, they capture organic food particles, small protozoa, algae and bacteria. In addition to their feeding function, the rotatory apparatus performs a locomotor function, allowing Lepadella to move over considerable distances. Researchers studying this group of microscopic animals have made an interesting discovery: some rotifers are capable of entering into extended cryptobiosis and can remain in this state for thousands of years. Lepadella rotifers are dioecious animals, with females and males exhibiting some differences in appearance. The development of young individuals takes place inside eggs, which are laid by the female after fertilization.
A journey into the world of rotifers shows us that sometimes the most inconspicuous creatures can have a significant impact on biological systems and enhance our understanding of the natural world. Lepadella rotifers, along with other microorganisms, participate in breaking down fish feces and leftover food, thereby contributing to water purification.
Due to their small size, they also serve as a food source for young fish. Apart from representatives of the genus Lepadella, other members of this extensive group of animals can be found in the active sediment at the bottom of the aquarium.