Saturday, 26 January 2019

A new Alga for me...

Now that we're in the depths of winter I have little of waterborne interest to investigate. I do have a few water containers sitting in a basement window sill that have some algae from my aquarium growing in them. This afternoon I noticed a new growth on the glass side of one bowl and managed to scrape a bit off to view under the microscope. It turned out the specimen was a radial, flattened and multicellular alga that I had never seen before. I'll try to find out what it is but until I do here are a few images I took at various magnifications. After a bit of sleuthing it looks like its a member of the genus Coleochaete , possible orbicularis.

 Here it is at 40X. It appears to have grown out from a central cell and has retained a fairly symmetrical appearance.

This image has been cropped from a 100X magnification photo. The symmetrical growth is very evident here.

Here is a final image with a magnification of 400X. A scale bar indicates the cells are from 15 to 20 microns long.

Monday, 14 January 2019

A green diatom...

We're into the depths of winter here in Manitoba and my favorite haunts are sitting under a couple of feet of ice. The mini and micro aquariums have basically died out except for the odd rotifer or ciliate. All except for one little jar, where it seems conditions are ripe for a number of diatoms. With not much else to look at I've started reading about, and focusing my photography efforts on, diatoms.

No idea what this specie or even genus is but I was struck by the fact the chlorophyll withing the frustule was green. Based on observations and my reading this is a fairly rare occurrence.
It wasn't moving so it may belong to the genera that lack raphe or it just may be dead and perhaps the green color is an artifact resulting from that.

I thought this specimen was rather neat in that the shape was so different than anything else I had seen before. It was moving so it is a member of the diatoms with at least one raphe.This is possibly an individual from Achnanthes inflata.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018


I did manage a few water samples before freeze-up and one of them held a specimen I hadn't seen before.  It was from the genus Merismopedia, a member of the cyanobacteria. They reproduce by fission in two planes, thus forming sheets with a thickness of one cell.

This specimen was collected from shoreline sediment on the La Salle River.

The cells are about 2 microns in size. The photo was taken in phase contrast with a 40x objective.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Centropyxis Amoeba

I feel somewhat negligent since I see that my last post to this blog was made over 4 years ago. However, my microscopes are set up in the new house and I've found a camera tube that should result in some better photography with my Zeiss PC microscope so hopefully I'll be posting more regularly again.

After filtering some of the water from the bottom of an aquarium I found a whole bunch of these empty shells of a species of Centropyxis amoeba in the collected detritus, and oddly enough, no live ones up to this point. No apparent reason that there shouldn't be live ones since I've found all sorts of live micro-organisms. So, another mystery to be pondered and perhaps a search continued.

This is also a first experiment with the stacking software, Zerene. I'm happy with my first attempt using brightfield with my Leitz Laborlux S and am anxious to try it with images from my better microscope.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Tumblin' Tardigrade

After a long hiatus, largely precipitated by a long winter on the Gulf Coast and a longer summer spent in search of big fish, I've finally run into some poor weather.  Time to pull out the microscope but what to look for? At 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the water in the bird bath didn't yield anything interesting except for a number of small amoebae...moving really s-l-o-w-l-y. Pretty boring but suddenly inspiration struck. I was going big game hunting for bear.

It was off to the wood lot beside my home where various species of moss and lichen attach themselves to the scrub oak. I sampled a number of sites and brought home at least 4 species of moss and the same number of lichens. Most stayed in a big jar for drying and a source of samples when the waters freeze but a few small chunks were put into a petrie dish and soaked with distilled water. After a few hours I squeezed each moss sample and pulled a drop off with a pipette. My first look under the scope revealed a little water bear. Not sure of the species but here is a short video.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Locked in the basement...

Despite reporting in a previous post about a new traveling companion I must now recant and retire said companion to a cold Manitoba winter, locked in the confines of my basement lab. After a careful examination of every nook and cranny of our Gulf Coast rental unit in the online photos, I couldn't find a place suitable for a photomicrography setup. And so, a thorough examination of the Laguna Madre microfauna will have to wait for now, and if I'm lucky, proceed next year.

As a placeholder for next spring, I'll share a little video I assembled.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Experimenting with video on a possible Glaucoma genus micro-critter

On my second day of experimentation I've finally figured out how to set the white balance for video mode. It turns out that video white balance is set separately from digital stills WB. Next up will be the onerous task of trying to figure out what exactly the real colours seen through the eyepiece are. I ended up taking four separate videos, all of which turned out much better than previous attempts. However, they would all benefit from some artistic, or is that ruthless, editing so I'm only going to upload one here. The organism, a possible member of the Glaucoma genus, expelled a small portion of it's body interior just prior to taking the above shot. The contractile vacuole is still partially distended as a result of that expulsion. Not sure what was happening there and I wish I had caught it on video.

The one video I'm going to post here just shows a slow moving ciliate but displays quite nicely the operation of the contractile vacuole.