Growing Paramecia

Paramecia are fresh-water ciliates that make excellent microscopic specimens. They are relatively large and therefore easily observable, even under low magnification. Pond water usually does not contain sufficiently high concentrations of them. For educational purposes it is necessary to enrich them.


Fresh pond water, wheat grains, glass beakers


  1. Pour some pond water containing ciliates into the beakers and place 1-2 wheat grains into the water.
  2. Wait for 2-3 days. The wheat grains will start to decompose and will seem to form a slimy layer around it. There should be thousands of ciliates in this slime. We have established a small food chain. Bacteria will break down the wheat grain. Paramecia will feed on the bacteria and reproduce.


Problem: No paramecia have formed.
Solution: There were probably none in the original water sample. Paramecia and other ciliates can be found on the ground of ponds, in the slimy surface of rocks, etc. Include some of this material as well.
Solution: Did you use a complete wheat grain (with seed coat)? If you use rice or other polished cereals, then there are not enough nutrients available. The seed coat contains DNA and proteins (phosphates and nitrogen compounds) which are used by the bacteria.

Safety issue: You are cultivating unknown microorganisms. Potentially harmful bacteria could also be in the sample. It is therefore important to observe the rules of hygenics. Use this method at your own risk.