Haliplidae, or the Crawling Water beetle, gets its name from its poor swimming abilities. Rather than swim, the beetle clings to submerged vegetation and crawls along the bottom of the stream or pond that it inhabits. This slow movement supports the idea that they are herbivores in all life stages, although it has been thought that the adults were partially carnivorous. They are found in calm waters, and the adults, larvae, and pupae are found within the same habitat. When threatened at all, they immediately dive straight down, and cling and burrow on the water bottom.
The larvae vary widely in appearance, with some species having many spine-tipped filaments radiating from the body, giving it the appearance of a small water porcupine. Other species have no filaments at all. All larvae have some form of forks or teeth on their legs or basal abdominal segment.