Collecting samples for microscopy

Petri dish culture of bacteria and fungi grown following exposure to air 4 days previously – pictures through Zeiss IM microscope using Bresser MikrOkular and Mikrocam 9.0 cameras

I took the opportunity today to try out my new Bresser Mikrocam 9.0 camera on the Zeiss IM microscope. Last Saturday I exposed a Petri dish of Nutrient Agar to the air outside for 4 hours and this has grown a diverse culture of bacteria and fungi.

Both cameras performed well – the Mikrocam though allowed me to zoom in for a higher magnification shot. I used GIMP2 software to sharpen the image and bring out the colours a little to compensate for limitations in illumination.

All pictures taken using Phase 1 annulus on the microscope.

No stains – live culture.

Both Rhys and Hannah had friends around to the house – so they found themselves with an unexpected biology lesson half way through their half term holidays!


Air-exposure-@-4-days-261017-x4-x32-objectives-Ph1-I-bacteria-x4-MikrOkular-camera.bmp (below):

Air-exposure-@-4-days-261017-x4-x32-objectives-Ph1-II-Fungal-spores-MikrOkular-camera.bmp (below):

Air-exposure-@-4-days-261017-x4-x32-objectives-Ph1-III-fungal-stems-fruiting-bodies-MikrOkular-camera.bmp (below):

Air-exposure-@-4-days-261017-x4-x32-objectives-Ph1-IV-fungal-spores-MikrOkular-camera.bmp (below):

Air-exposure-@-4-days-261017-x4-x32-objectives-Ph1-V-bacteria-x32-MikrOkular-camera.bmp (below):

Air-exposure-@-4-days-261017-x4-x32-objectives-Ph1-VI-bacteria-x32-MikrOkular-camera.bmp (below):

Air-exposure-@-4-days-261017-x4-x32-objectives-Ph1-VIII-bacteria-x32-Mikrocam-9-0v4.bmp (below) – I used GIMP2 on following to bring out the detail in the image (brightness, contrast, sharpen, despeckle):

Air-exposure-@-4-days-261017-x4-x32-objectives-Ph1-VIII-bacteria-x32-Mikrocam-9-0v4-small-area-interest.bmp (this is a small area of above image to allow magnification on this website, making use of the 9MB resolution of the camera – individual bacterial cells can now be seen):
In the following image I have taken the area of interest above and changed it to greyscale then used curves to stretch the data – my first attempt at this so please let me know what you think?
Video of protozoa found in culture from air exposed Petri dish – exposed for 4 hours – this sample from 4 days later (AVI):

Collecting sample of water for microscopy from stream next to Lichfield Heritage Canal on Darnford Lane 20/5/17

Here I am collecting the sample for microscopy later in the day – the pictures at the bottom show what I used to filter the sample to concentrate the organisms. I did not think this was particularly effective and have now purchased some coffee filters!


Successful concentration of protozoa and algae using homemade 10-20 micron Plankton net

Following pictures are from Stowe Pool pond water sample taken today using homemade Plankton net – using 4x-40x objectives, in bright field.

They show high concentrations of protozoa and algae collected earlier using our homemade Plankton net.

Andy & Rhys

Making my own 15 micron plankton net

Plankton nets are used to collect samples of protozoa from both fresh and sea water – they use a filter to concentrate the organisms into a bottle at the bottom – are and very expensive to buy online. So I decided to make one myself.

Ideally, the filter should be 10-20 microns – and that is the issue – most materials do not have this small sized holes in them. Usually, they are a lot bigger. With some searching on ebay, I purchased the following which came in a nice size with a pre-built in metal ring at the top – ideal for the job and not very expensive!

  • Qty: 1
  • Micron Rating: 15um/800 mesh
  • Material: polyethylene(PE)
  • Ring type: stainless steel
  • Bag size: NO.5 150x550mm – 6″x20″

The photos below show the process of turning this into a plankton net – I used a £1 screw-thread food/drink container from ASDA, used a hole saw to make an appropriate sized hole in the lid and drilled small holes around this so that I could use those to sew it on to the sock bag. I cut a hole in the bottom of the sock bag and sewed it on, then sealed the area with a glue gun.

Hopefully, this won’t fall apart when used in water now!


Filter Sock Bag as purchased:

Food container:

Drilling holes in lid of food container:

Cutting hole in bottom of filter sock bag:


Sealing edges of hole in filter sock bag using needle and thread:


Sewing lid on to filter sock bag – I went around all the holes three times:

Sealing area with glue gun:

Final plankton net: