A waterflea

Scientific Name: Daphnia lumholtzi

James Kuwabara, USGSCopyright Info

Identification: Waterfleas are small, mostly transparent crustaceans that are a type of zooplankton, which are animals that live suspended in the water. The most distinguishing characteristic of this waterflea species is the long spines that extend from its head and tail. The edges of the shell also have short, prominent spines.

Size: This species is a large waterflea, reaching 0.14 inch (3.5 mm) in length.

Native Range: This waterflea is native to tropical and subtropical lakes in eastern Africa, eastern Australia, and India.

Table 1. Great Lakes region nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state/province, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Daphnia lumholtzi are found here.

Full list of USGS occurrences

State/ProvinceYear of earliest observationYear of last observationTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
Michigan200720071Lake St. Clair
Minnesota200520051St. Louis
Ohio199920021Lake Erie

Table last updated 9/30/2019

† Populations may not be currently present.

* HUCs are not listed for areas where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).

Means of Introduction: This species is a dominant zooplankton species in Africa’s Lake Victoria. It is suspected to have been transported with shipments of Nile perch from Lake Victoria, which were arrived in Texas as early as 1983. Its discovery in new locations could be due to continued stocking of fish through international commercial trade.

Alternatively, the close proximity of affected reservoirs in Missouri and Texas might indicate that this species was spread by movement of recreational boating equipment from initially infested reservoirs to new bodies of water. This species can produce resting eggs that are able to survive drying out. These resting eggs have small hairs and spines that can grip to boats and other equipment, aiding this species’ spread.

Status: This waterflea species has been detected in 56 reservoirs in the southern and midwestern United States. The earliest record is from Texas in 1990. In August 1999, it was first discovered in the Great Lakes in Lake Erie.

Remarks: Research has found that non-human dispersal mechanisms had little to do with the waterflea’s spread in Kansas. It was not detected in small ponds inaccessible to boats, even though the ponds were within watersheds where it was established.

Author: Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

Contributing Agencies:
NOAA Sea Grant GLRI Logo

Revision Date: 9/25/2012

Citation for this information:
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, 2019, A waterflea: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, and NOAA Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System, Ann Arbor, MI, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/greatLakes/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=164&Potential=N&Type=1&HUCNumber=, Revision Date: 9/25/2012, Access Date: 10/13/2019

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.