Microscopy Accessories

There are different ways of approaching amateur microscopy. Some people like to mostly prepare their own slides, while others prefer to look at ready-made commercial slides. The accessories that you need therefore depend on which direction the hobby will take you. If you like slide making, or if you want to observe water samples, then you should invest in slides, cover glasses, mounting media and a variety of other tools. These are not expensive. A safe working environment, or even a home laboratory costs more, of course.

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Obtaining these accessories might not prove to be too easy, however. Chemical companies might be reluctant to sell stains and reagents to private people. I would first try to find appropriate materials from educational supply companies. Microscopy tools are much more easily obtainable. You can buy a set of dissecting tools, some plastic containers to collect your samples and maybe a bag or box where you have everything together nicely.

Suggested Accessories

  • Tweezers: I like to use the pointed ones. They are probably one of my most used tools. They can also be used to transfer water or stains to the microscope slide.
  • Scissors: For cutting algae, lens cleaning paper, tissue paper, etc. Small pointed scissors can be used to clip off the legs and wings of insects.
  • Petri dishes: For storing specimens and also useful for stereo microscopy to move the specimens on the stage.
  • Plastic containers: They should be water tight for storing water samples. Ideally they are transparent to allow light for photosynthesis to enter the container. Water samples should not be stored in a closed container, however.
  • Carrying box: Small enough to be easily carried along. I found an assortment in a hardware store for keeping screw and bolts.
  • Dropper pipette: There are disposable ones (pastic) and those made of glass. Long ones are preferred to make it easier to extract sediments from the bottom of the jar.
  • Slides: There are different ones. Cheaper ones have sharp corners.
  • Cover glasses: Standard size is 18mmx18mm but I like larger ones (50mm x 20mm)
  • Plastic tray: For storing the accessories next to your microscopes.
  • Teasing needle: To separate delicate and small specimens on the slide.
  • Glass jars: These are mini-aquariums for storing water samples.