Finding micro life in soil

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Cyclops
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Finding micro life in soil

#1 Post by Cyclops » Fri Jun 09, 2017 6:54 pm

I've been away from microscopy for too long, and I want to get back into peering at paramecium and co, but how to go about finding them? I remember seeing water bears from wet moss years ago but I don't have much chance to travel and am on a very tight budget so what else can I expect to find within the confines of my garden? And what's the best way to extract creatures from soil? I also have a compost bin that I tend to regularly.

Also in all my years of peering down the barrel of a scope I have never seen an amoeba! Surely they can't be that elusive!

Peter
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Re: Finding micro life in soil

#2 Post by Peter » Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:50 pm

Hi Cyclops,
The water in the dish under a potted plant is usually a good source of soil microorganisms.
Peter.

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Cyclops
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Re: Finding micro life in soil

#3 Post by Cyclops » Fri Jun 09, 2017 8:38 pm

Peter wrote:Hi Cyclops,
The water in the dish under a potted plant is usually a good source of soil microorganisms.
Peter.
Thanks, I never thought of that, and I'm a big plant grower!

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wporter
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Re: Finding micro life in soil

#4 Post by wporter » Fri Jun 09, 2017 9:52 pm

A good idea, for those that don't have their own pond full of microorganisms, is to make a miniature one, at least for water organisms. I have found that this works well: get one of those terra-cotta trays sold for drip trays for large planter pots; a good size is 3-4" deep and 18-24" in diameter. Place it out in the open on a stump or other support, in half-shade, for the birds to use as a bird-bath. Keep it filled up by means of a drip-line, natural rainfall, or manually with a bucket. Throw in a handful of soil, one of compost, and one of dead leaves. Let the algae grow in it naturally. In a week or two, it will be full of everything you can imagine, and you will have made the birdies really happy, too.

Much of the microscopic life is attached to, or near, the underwater debris, so make sure you take your sample from near that, or even suck some debris up in your eyedropper to put one the slide.

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Cyclops
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Re: Finding micro life in soil

#5 Post by Cyclops » Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:17 pm

wporter wrote:A good idea, for those that don't have their own pond full of microorganisms, is to make a miniature one, at least for water organisms. I have found that this works well: get one of those terra-cotta trays sold for drip trays for large planter pots; a good size is 3-4" deep and 18-24" in diameter. Place it out in the open on a stump or other support, in half-shade, for the birds to use as a bird-bath. Keep it filled up by means of a drip-line, natural rainfall, or manually with a bucket. Throw in a handful of soil, one of compost, and one of dead leaves. Let the algae grow in it naturally. In a week or two, it will be full of everything you can imagine, and you will have made the birdies really happy, too.

Much of the microscopic life is attached to, or near, the underwater debris, so make sure you take your sample from near that, or even suck some debris up in your eyedropper to put one the slide.
Thanks. I do have a sort of bird bath actually , I was given it ages ago and forgot about it. The birds never use it-we don't get birds in the garden really, but it's collected a film of gunk in there, including what looks like red algae.

JimT
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Re: Finding micro life in soil

#6 Post by JimT » Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:50 pm

Thanks. I do have a sort of bird bath actually , I was given it ages ago and forgot about it. The birds never use it-we don't get birds in the garden really, but it's collected a film of gunk in there, including what looks like red algae.
By all means wet that bird bath down and "feed" it as wporter suggests. Also scrape some of that red gunk off, wet it, and check it out. Might be interesting.

You can also look up hey infusions but that is frowned on now because of bacteria content. See below:

http://www.microbehunter.com/making-a-hay-infusion/

Good luck.

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Crater Eddie
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Re: Finding micro life in soil

#7 Post by Crater Eddie » Sat Jun 10, 2017 3:28 am

That "red algae" might well be our old friend haematococcus, always an interesting subject.
CE
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LOMO POLAM L-213 / BIOLAM L-211 hybrid
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