rants & recipes

Pond Life, 09-AUG-08

Posted by trktos on 9-August-2008

A few weeks ago, I (finally) bought a microscope on e-bay. “Finally” as in I’ve wanted one for a really long time … Ironically, it was in Annandale, VA but the seller insisted on shipping it and for some reason, it took almost two weeks to arrive.

In theory, we can attach a camera to the microscope and take photos with it … in actuality, the top tube, for taking photos, is way too long to take good pictures, so Evin is trying to figure out how to make a replacement.

Anyway, we’ve done the standard onion skin and check cell slides and looked at some permanent slides I purchased online. Peppy’s been sick and I’ve looked at some his droppings, too. I accidently cut my finger tonight with an exacto knife, so we got to look at some blood. Either the glass slide messed my blood up or I have kidney disease. Or was recently bitten by a rattlesnake. I will be ordering plastic slides soon. (And cutting my finger again, I guess!)

But this afternoon was the first time we looked at pond water. I actually feel a bit guilty about it, because all those little critters are going to die, trapped under the cover slip.

Since we don’t yet have our camera attached to the scope and working, I thought I’d list the stuff we saw (at least, the stuff we could identify later, online).

The biggest thing we saw was a Great Blue Heron, down at the “fishy end” of the pond – wonder what he was doing down there?? – where we were going to get some pond water. He watched us for a while, and then flew off, staying low over the water and complaining a bit about being disturbed. What a wing span!

  • Paramecium bursaria
  • Parmecium – either aurelia or caudatum – some with their trichocysts deployed
  • Euglena of some kind, best guess is from Catilliferae, maybe Euglena calvata
  • Cyanobacteria with heterocysts (for fixing nitrogen). We didn’t see as many as is in the linked photo, though.
  • Euchlanis rotifer(?) – whatever they were, these little guys were really cute! And really fast. Well, not really fast or we couldn’t have “chased” them … the non-bursaria parameciums were really fast! But the Euchlanis had a little forked tail, two retractable red eyes, and retractable horns on its head. We could see the internal organs and one little fella found the edge of the cover slip and kept trying to “escape”. At first I thought they were water bears but they aren’t. Evin thinks they were rotifers, I’m not sure, now, after looking at more photos online.
  • Closterium – a common desmid; we could see the gypsum crystals, dancing around, in its tips.
  • mosquito larva (that Evin inadvertently squished under the cover glass)
  • possibly Bacillaria paxillifer, the carpenter’s rule diatom, although all the images online seem to have more-square ends than ours had.

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