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Microscopical Creatures

This page is a result of playing with my microscope, trying to identify the protozoa and small animals in the birdbath and ponds.
It is mainly for my benefit.

Back to My Microscope Page
Websites for identification of protozoa        General webite links
The protozoa in my pond [Identification table]
Rotifers: Very small multicelled creatures
Also called wheeled animals that eat bacteria, algae and protozoans

Pictures of rotifers (below)


Websites for identification of protozoa and micro-algae
If you are new to this then I recommend starting with the Microbus 'Pond critters' identification guide

Microbus. This is a very wide-ranging site providing every sort of useful resource related to microscopy.
Microbus 'Pond Critters'. Excellent drawings for identifying protozoa and small pond animals.
Microbus Resources for the pond water investigator.


Protist Information Server [PIS]. This site provides over 80,000 images of protists [still and video]. Also many links to other useful sites    
PIS Microbial digital specimen Archives.
PIS Protist Movie database.

Microscopy UK sites. A useful general resource. Many pages on this site use beautiful photos from Wim van Egmond.Unfortunately although the pictures are beautiful [better than we are likely to see down the microscope] they are limited in number and include little information on size etc.
Pond life identification kit. Also links to A virtual pond dip, tips on collecting protozoa etc.
The Micropolitan Museum. A beautiful site curated by Wim van Egmond

Freshwater algae and protozoa of lake Michigan. By Jason K. Oyadomari.Magnificent site of photos beautifully arranged. Size indicators included. NB: fortunately the protozoa etc in our ponds are the same as in Lake Michigan.

Australian freshwater algae. A well-organised government site. Good photos but no size markers
Mon-motile algae.       Motile algae.

Websites with many links to useful microscopy sites

Protist information server [PIS]. This site provides over 80,000 images of protists [still and video]. Also many links to other useful sites    

Microscopy UK. A useful general resource.
Microbus. This is a very wide-ranging site providing every sort of useful resource related to microscopy.

Postal Microscopical Society. Founded in 1873 in UK.



Common protozoa etc found in my pond and birdbaths             TOP of Page

Acknowlegement: This is mainly taken from the Microbus 'Pond Critters' identification site, but arranged in my order. Eventually I hope to add my own photos here.

Peranema. Mastigophora


20-70 um in diameter.  They are very active predators and scavengers. Common in waters rich in organic nutrients, especially in water in which decay is taking place. 
The single flagellum projects straight forward, and a rapid rotation of its extreme end pulls the Peranema. It can undergo extreme contraction and distortion as it moves.  They can ingest quantities of detritus, bacteria, algae and even large organisms by expansion of the cytostome -- a cavity which lies at the base of the flagellum.

Euglena.  Mastigphora

35-55 um long.  One active flagellum, a reddish eye spot and numerous chloroplasts. Both plant and animal characteristics.
Euglena thrive best where there is an abundance of rich organic waste. There are over 100 different species. They are also able to greatly distort their body to change direction [Euglenoid motion]. 

Chlamydomonas. Mastigophora

10-30 um in diameter.They have one large chloroplast and make food from sunlight as well as have two flagella. They also have an eyespot which allows them to gravitate toward light.  They are found in quiet waters and moist soil. 

Tetrahymena, Ciliophora

40-150 microns Tetrahymena is a small pear-shaped ciliate

Euplotes  Phyllum Ciliophora. 

80-200 um long. Euplotes is an interesting ciliate with a transparent body.  It has large cilia that are tufted together to form cirri and a band-like macronucleus (the big backward "C" shown inside the body). 
From the side, Euplotes is quite thin and can be seen using its cirri and  "walking" along objects.   Left, we see Euplores walking on the edge of an air bubble.

Oxytricha Ciliophora. 

100-150 um long. Oxytricha has large cilia that are tufted together to form cirri and two macronuclei.

Stylonychia  Ciliophora

100-300 microns Stylonychia (genus) belongs to the order Hypotrichida characterized by rows of fused cilia called cirri on the ventral (underside) surface.  Stylonychia uses its cirri to run across a surface as well as for propelling itself through the water.   Common in ponds, where they prey on smaller organisms.  They eat bacteria, phytoplankton and small ciliates; cannibalizes if starved.

Halteria Ciliophora

20-50um [?]. Moves in fast jumps.

 Paramecium, Ciliophora

100-350 um long.  The most common are Paramecium caudatum and Paramecium multimicronucleatum (because of its size).   P. multimicronucleatum is the largest species and is slimmer and more pointed than P. caudatum.  It has one macronucleus and 3 or 4 micronuclei. Paramecium bursaria is one of the smallest species and appears green due to the presence of its symbiotic partner, Zoochlorella.   The green algae use the waste from the paramecium as food and in turn supplies oxygen for the paramecium to use.

Vorticella  Ciliophora

Stalked ciliate with an inverted bell shape.  The stalk contains a contractile fibril called a myoneme.  When stimulated, it shortens, causing the stalk to coil. Vorticella usually anchor themselves to small particles of material however, it is not uncommon to see them free swimming.  When they undergo fission, they split along the longitudinal axis in a process called budding.  When they finally split apart, one keeps the myoneme and the other free swims away and grows its own.  The main purpose of the cilia at the top is to sweep food down into the gullet.There are over 100 different species of Vorticella


Ameoba proteus, Sarcodina [amoebas]

500-1000 um long.  Amoeba proteus is the classic specimen used in the classroom. It moves by extending pseudopodia. It can sense light and tends to move away from it.  Just before it reproduces, it rounds up into a ball with tiny pseudopodia extensions.  Over the next 15 minutes or so, it splits and becomes two. There are many other species, often smaller than this.

 Difflugia, Sarcodina  


Difflugia is a small amoeba 200-250 microns.  It lives in a rather large chitinous "test" (shell).  usually covered completely with sand grains.  Pseudopods extend out from the shell and are used for locomotion.
This rhizopod feeds mainly on Spirogyria (a green alga).




TOP of protoza        Top of page

Rotifers (order rotifera) Seen in most locations containing algae and protozoa

They are also called wheel animals because of the feeding arrangement of cilia. For extensive illustrated survery of Rotifers go to the Wikipedia page

A Bdelloid rotifer (pic from Ask Nature) Collothecais
a monogonont rotifer

from Univ. California site
Euchlanis, a rotifer with a turtle- like shell; from wonderful Vim van Egmond site










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