Bathynellacea are typical inhabitants of groundwater and can be collected in wells, in sandy banks of rivers and sandy shores of lakes, in caves, and in springs. One species is known from a hot spring in Africa at a temperature of 131°F (55°C). Bathynellacea are absent from surface waters. Only two species are known from Lake Baikal, where they occur on sandy patches down to 4,725-ft depth (1,440-m), but not in the open water. A few species have been recorded from near the seashore and tolerate brackish water conditions. Only one species is polyhaline.

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