View Full Version : Microcrustacea and Microinvertebrates - Now Pic Intense!

03-18-2010, 07:47 AM
Possibly the two coolest classifications of taxonomic awesomeness I've ever encountered in my life!

My what was originally supposed to be a refugium turned more into a planted reef. It was always supposed to house either pipefish or seahorses in the end, so it was set-up to benefit 'pod' populations. Now, I do have two black ocellaris clowns in it, but they seem to have had no effect on the population development. The tank was thriving, so I added a couple gobies; Gobiosoma macrodon, and Eviota pellucida. These are both less than 1" long, and zip around all day in the tank STUFFING themselves to near the point of explosion, still doing nothing to the population in the tank. Recently, I have noticed clouds of some sort of what I identified as 'zooplankton' near the surface of the water, and in different regions of the tank. I got curious, and began to look closer.

Just eyeballing from my 'reefkeeping knowledge', I identified there were copepods, amphipods, and isopods motoring around. I wanted to know more, so I looked around online for more 'real' information (avoiding 'reefer' info) about all these types of critters and the groups they belonged to.

Bumped into some good stuff, which connected some key words and taxonomical info to my bio classes. I probed for a book in the UofA library on the campus im at, and happened upon the bio/invertebrate section when I went to retrieve it. The first book got me interested and asking questions, have been taking and compiling notes and info on microcrustaceans and micro invertebrates since then. Today I left the library with a few textbook on the subjects. Earlier in the week I also contacted the school's bio lab and my cell biology prof to ask about bringing in some 'samples' to play with. I got a 'for sure, no problem!', and now my bio prof is interested.

Spent tonight reading sectional introductions getting me more and more addicted and interested in these critters, including:
Flatworms (Turbellaria and Nemertea), Rotifers (Rotifera), The subphylum Crustacea (which includes Amphipoda and Isopoda[members of Malacostraca], Mysidacea (Mysid/sis shrimp), and Copepoda.

I have collected a whole buttload (another scientific term ofcourse) of critters from my tank including some harmless flatworms, plant parts, a miniscule snail, some small 'bristle worms' (that are under 1/8th inch) what I think is snail eggs, some sort of 'centipede' that is about 1/8th inch long, and a multitude of 'pods' to take in to the lab. Im hoping I can get a better idea of what kinds of critters we can find or expect to find in our aquariums. Im hoping one of the scopes in the lab has some sort of camera, or if not a screen I can take pictures of. The copepods we can find in our tank I read (and see) can actually be quite colourful on a microscopic level!

Anyways, just had to share my interests. I will update this thread with info/pics as I can. As soon as I find some way of getting pictures of these critters right up close, I will post them! Not that anybody cares, and I know its been done before... but this is fun :lol:

Its so cool how this is connecting to my schooling, and I get to play with my darn fish tank while im at it! Anybody else ever 'dive in' like this? Would love to hear it!

Thanks for reading! Sorry for the essay.



03-18-2010, 03:28 PM
Very Cool subject. Can't wait to read your update and see pics if you can get them.

03-18-2010, 05:01 PM
I did a freshwater dip on an acro colony a while back and saved the water, took it to work and checked it out under the scope myself. There were all sorts of amphipods, there was a tiny tiny clam, like 1mm big if that, there was an egg sac of some sort. It is pretty neat what you can find! Sometimes holding a digital camera up to the eyepiece of the microscope works but often it ends up pretty fuzzy. There are camera adapter eye pieces that any school nowadays will have, just gotta find someone nice enough to let you use it. And I do have to admit the 2 semesters of Invert class that I had to take are coming in awefully handy :biggrin:

03-18-2010, 05:36 PM
Good for you that you are so interested in the micro world as it pertains to our hobby.
Pictures would be very welcomed

03-18-2010, 06:40 PM
Thanks Everyone :)

Nora: Wow, thats awesome! & what do you do that had to you study inverts?! :)

Hill: Thx!

Even if there is no camera available, or screen, I was going to try putting a camera up to the eyepiece. We'll see how it goes :)

03-18-2010, 07:07 PM
I did my undergrad at the University of Guelph in Zoology, so my required courses included 2 invert classes and 1 vert class to cover the animal kingdom. I also taught first year bio labs at the University of Lethbridge where we covered most of the inverts you mentioned. Right now I work in a lab where we clone horses so I use scopes all day long. Interestingly enough we got a camera eye piece in months ago but the guy who ordered it got a specific piece that only works with 1 type of camera and my boss is too cheap to actually get the camera...so I can't take pics either :sad: not good ones anyways! They'll get it in eventually and then I'll take pics for sure :biggrin:

And since I can't help myself, true centipedes are land dwelling, but marine segmented worms with "legs" are polychaetes :wink:

03-19-2010, 05:46 AM
Oh wow! Thats awesome! (thanks for sharing more! :) )

Haha, yes, I know they have a name but since this thing is so tiny, I just said it 'looked' like X because I couldnt really tell. Thanks for the what I see is a class name! I didnt get this guy under the scope today so I still dont know more about what he looks like. He rests in a tupperware until tomorrow! haha.

Ok so, today was moreso a day/chance for me to figure out what im working with or what i have to look forward to. Here is what I came up with!

Pictures/info about the picture:

The first picture (Below) is a flatworm I collected off the front glass of my tank. It is about 0.5-1mm long when extended on the glass. Following some preservation advice for other types of invertebrates, I tried putting it in a solution of 70% ethanol which would also operate as a working medium (which would not leave 'salt' creep either. It turns out when you put this particular flatworm into ethanol, not only do they get upset and curl up (death resulting ofcourse), but they also turn from a dark brown/black, to a bright green colour (it was like a neon green to the naked eye). Unsure of the best way to plate it, I took the now altered specimen and put it on a microscope slide with the ethanol and added a coverslip. Here is a 'point' of one of the rear sections of the flatworm (this one has two rear points, unfortunately here it is slightly curved to the side so it looks out of line). The magnification here is 1000X.


Next, I collected what I figured was in fact an actual copepod of some sort. Applied the same ethanol treatment (transfered it to a solution of 70% ethanol). Here it did not appear to affect the specimen at first. I then transfered the specimen in the same way to a microscope slide with a coverslip. I should note that until and beyond this point I was using a compound or light microscope. I think the coverslip damaged the specimen as one can identify what appears to be the inner fluids of the specimen have 'blown out' the back end of it. The transfer was very clean and I rinsed it before it went in so I am quite sure this is what happened. The following pictures show with a magnification of 40x, 100x, 400x, and then 1000x on the upper left section of the head. I though it was cool that you could see colour in the specimen's head. Here are the pictures:





The next specimen is another type of copepod. This one I chose to attempt observation under a dissecting microscope, and placed it in the smallest drop of water I could get (I only had some crappy plastic disposable pipettes, so it was hard to adjust the drop size). the magnification on this microscope has a 10x ocular lens (similar to the compound microscope) and either 1x or 3x magnification on the primary lense. So the total magnification (in the end in these pictures) is 30x. This is another type of copepod, this one in particular is a female with a large upper body, and a thin tail section. Some sort of swimming mechanism is visible below the mid-section, and along the tail are egg-sacs. When I first took a look under the microscope the specimen was still, and I accidentally bumped it and it took off swimming around like crazy in this drop of water! That was the coolest thing ever to watch! I highly recommend watching that if you ever get the chance. I may try to get a video of it again, but it is a little hard. Another thing that boggled my mind was the sight of some of the small specs in the picture (that are like 1/500th the size of this pod) were Swimming around! You could see parts of some sort moving, and they were not completely round. That i have to check out! Anyways, here are some pictures. In one the specimen is on it's side, and the other it is 'flat'.



Hope everyone enjoy's the pictures! Oh, I'd like to add that sorry if the picture quality sucks, but this is using my Blackberry's 3.2MP camera 'looking in to' the lense where you would typically place your eye! It is VERY hard to get the picture to stay still in the correct spot (and you have to position it about 1" from the eyepiece), hence the blurred sections in most of the pictures. My professors were not there today and it was a random lab technician that let me do this stuff, so im hoping I can get some 'back-up' tomorrow in terms of getting some more functional material, and maybe finding out about a better 'scope.

Thanks for looking!



03-19-2010, 05:55 AM
Man the thing i am just so thrilled by is that this is just from digging around in my friggen aquarium! A 'fish tank!'. These are in EVERYONE's fish tank! Critters this size, and smaller, and equally as interesting, are on doorknobs, blades of grass, in every part of life! Cool, to the max!

I will try to get some close-ups of some very very small bristle worms tomorrow, as well as the cells of both grape and feather caulerpa, a snail about 1/8th" long, and then get this polychaete worm 'examined' too.



03-19-2010, 06:29 AM
Cool stuff and pictures. I didn't even think of looking at the library for books on this stuff.. Might have to check it out tomorrow or something after class!

03-19-2010, 07:21 AM
I have spent a lot of time checking out the tiny 'naked eye' sized stuff in my tank, and honestly that's the coolest part of my tank (and the reason it's not stuffed with corals and fishes)! I love the little hitchhikers that came in on the rock... I have algaes of all shapes, sizes, and (almost) colors, snails, various amphipods and copepods, polychaetes, etc.

My next tank is planned to be 'rock only' or LRWOF... Live Rock With Out Fish :lol:

Very cool, thanks for sharing :biggrin:

03-19-2010, 04:51 PM
Cool stuff and pictures. I didn't even think of looking at the library for books on this stuff.. Might have to check it out tomorrow or something after class!

Definitely! I dont know where you go, but I just go to the small U of A augustana campus in Camrose, so our library isn't giant (but it is brand new!) anyways, I bet main campus, and possibly Gmac, have a pile more books so there is a good chance of finding more!

03-19-2010, 04:53 PM
I have spent a lot of time checking out the tiny 'naked eye' sized stuff in my tank, and honestly that's the coolest part of my tank (and the reason it's not stuffed with corals and fishes)! I love the little hitchhikers that came in on the rock... I have algaes of all shapes, sizes, and (almost) colors, snails, various amphipods and copepods, polychaetes, etc.

My next tank is planned to be 'rock only' or LRWOF... Live Rock With Out Fish :lol:

Very cool, thanks for sharing :biggrin:

I know what you mean! I love to stare at that stuff! Watching for things you'd never expect or have never seen, or even just seeing little specs zipping around! I thought it was so cool seeing this stuff with the naked eye, so small, and examining this coolest little critter that exists in thousands in my tank! Haha. I love it :biggrin:

03-20-2010, 08:59 AM
Got into a different lab today with one of my bio profs. I was able to use a new microscope (and slightly more convenient to use, although less powerful than the light microscope) called an inverted microscope. This meant I could mess around with drops of water in, or an entire petri-dish full, yet it still keeps the objective lens close to the specimen. The prof also told me that she thinks we do have a microscope with a screen, but she is not entirely sure about it's availability/location yet, and that we MAY have one with camera adaptability. If you look very closely, (though its really hard to get with the camera), you can spot some colour in the limbs and other parts of the critters, for example orange/blue and some pink/purple specs in the copepods, and some significant orange in the polychaete worm. The red spot in the two pods is a semi-functional 'eye'. (A single eye found in all members of the Subclass Copepoda).

I did get a couple videos of these critters swimming around in their 'drops' of water. I will try to get those on when I get a chance tomorrow.

Anyways, the first specimen is the last one from the previous set of shots but under a stronger scope.







03-20-2010, 09:00 AM
Another type of Copepod:






It was not very happy in this drop of water hence i think it began to, well, not do so well. The 'tail' began to twist upward like this. Once i transferred it back to more water it appeared to recover!

Under the same magnification as the last picture, most of these 'specs' are actually alive/moving around.

03-20-2010, 09:03 AM
Feather Caulerpa:






In this picture and the next, on the upper side of the main stem, 2 strands from the tip, you can spot a transparent organism on the outer side of a 'leaf'/branch. It was motoring around in and out of the parts of this sample, seemed to be hanging out 'against' the plant.


03-20-2010, 09:04 AM
The Polychaete worm I mentioned earlier. It was about 1/4 inch long when fully extended.






What i thought was a bristle worm (looks the same (as one of the same size) to the naked eye). It does not compare to a bristle worm under the scope.




Grape Caulerpa up close and personal:




Some sort of Isopod: (Appear to reach full size at about 3/16th of an inch)



03-22-2010, 04:30 PM
I think your second bristle worm is still a polychaete...the segments aren't as well defined as the first one, they're a bit more squished together...but you can see the podia (the little bristle feet) on it still...

And your copepod was probably getting hot...it gets pretty hot under the lights.

Great work though :biggrin: Keep the pics coming!