Microscopes = Great Reef Tool

Discussion in 'General Equipment, Hardware, Filtration' started by dansreef, Jan 4, 2018.

  1. dansreef

    dansreef Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    We have all seen the posts here and elsewhere: Does this look like _ _ _ _? Followed by some terrible pictures of “stuff”.


    I have at times tried to respond with a guess based on the limited information the poster has provided. Of course, it really is a shot in the dark. What might look like diatoms to one person, could be a form of dinoflagellates. A form of Cyanobacteria can look rust like and not really red…and also look like dinos. The only tried and true way to identify something is to take a sample and place it under a microscope.


    For the last couple of years, I have fought a bad outbreak of Dinoflagellates. I won’t go into the gory details. Suffice to say, raising the nutrient levels in my tank and encouraging other algae and bacteria to grow, as well as pods and other micro fauna, I have been able to get an upper hand. I am a believer, that Dinos exist in everyone’s tanks. I have sampled clean tanks, samples from sumps and skimmers, and filter socks…and have found various dinoflagellates. Often, I found them in small quantities or amongst other material like algae. But they were there. I was able to observe Dinos via a low-quality microscope with a 40x magnification.


    Well, this morning the lights came on and I saw material on the sand bed and on different items in the tank that had a large resemblance to Dinos. ( see pictures). The first thing I did was pull out my cheap microscope and pull a fresh slide and samples of the questionable materials. I was able to instantly see that what I was finding was filamentous and not Dinos. There were some dinos in the samples….as there always is… or at least since I had the initial outbreak. But the bulk of the materials was an algae and some cyano.

    image-69053.jpeg


    After a couple of deep breaths, I got wondering why more hobbyist don’t buy a critical tool like a microscope. They aren’t expensive. I bought mine two years ago off Amazon for $58. It came with glass slides and covers. I honestly think from a piece of mind, an education perspective and just to be able to act quickly, I think it is one of the best investments a reef hobbyist can make. I also have a curiosity that I have passed to my kids. We like to look at all the various things under a microscope. I have seen embryonic crabs, shrimp, snails, worms of all types….. It just is a pretty cool thing to look at stuff under the microscope.

    image-69136.jpeg

    I thought I would accompany this post with a quick poll. Who has a microscope? If you have one…. Put the brand name, cost and the place you bought it in comments. I think it would be interesting to see what people are using.
     
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  2. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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  3. dansreef

    dansreef Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I have been in the Dino threads.... I have posted a few times... Also followed a lot of what Twillard did... even followed some of his methods... For me going dirty and letting other algae and bacteria....along with Micro Fauna....letting them all flourish worked. I still have Dinos... but they are kept in check by everything else.

    I didn't see the other selecting a microscope thread. I like parallels too. I wished more people would invest in a microscope. It is a great tool!
     
  4. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    NoNoNoNo. ;) ;) ;)

    If you compare the thread I linked you'll note VAST differences with any other dino doc you've seen. :)

    (Not that your thinking is wrong, you appear to be on the right tack!!! OTOH, that old dino thread had folks bleaching their LIVE reefs and all manner of things....none of which worked.)
     
  5. dansreef

    dansreef Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Wowzers.... Now that is a Dino Thread.... I read maybe the last four pages..... great stuff. I thought I participated in it at one point.... might have been the other one. Yeah.... I followed the Metro.... and Bleach stuff on the other thread.... nothing worked. I honestly think I did every single therapy for the little ********. I then read a couple of articles out of Europe that suggested that going dirty.... contrary to what a lot of people were thinking... and letting other algae, bacteria and letting micro fauna explode.... suggested that would work. That is what I did. I also didn't spend a lot of time on any boards.... I was getting tired of the fight...and was close to calling it quits.... I am glad I stuck it out.

    Have you thought about creating a summary thread....with perhaps a step by step.... for those battling the little ********? Or.... some sort of cliff notes for the thread.... I am not sure I could read through all those pages....

    Good Stuff!
     
  6. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Thanks for the words!!! :)

    The first post is kept pretty up to date and does kinda serve as a cliffs notes. :) It might be a little dense with info, but if you can sift through you should be able to find all the goodies you're looking for. ;)

    (Dosing info I keep off of the main page as some reading and diagnosis is worth doing before commencing with the plan.)
     
  7. revhtree

    revhtree Owner Administrator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Maybe we could get some good suggestions?
     
  8. JonB

    JonB Member

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    I cannot say that I own it but the microscopes that I have access to (and any anyone has "access to" if you want to send me samples) can be found here:

    http://www.motic.com/Am_Digital_Mic_Up/product_594.html

    It is not really hobby grade but we use them in the classroom and they are great. We also use the phase contrast objective lenses for increased usefulness. Definitely can be helpful to identify organisms.
     
  9. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I use the $10 toy scope mentioned elsewhere cuz I'm still too new to decide how much "real scope" to buy.
     
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  10. JonB

    JonB Member

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    An inexpensive scope can easily view multicellular organisms such as algae and a total magnification of 400x is more than adequate and 100x (TOTAL magnification which would be 10x eye piece x 10x objective lense) will actually give you a better view. I feel that a scope that is a couple hundred dollars can have the quality optics and light source needed for observing algae, multicellular, and unicellular life (including prokaryotes if you stain them). Compound microscopes (the type most commonly used) with a 100x objective (for a total magnification of 1000x because of the 10x eye piece) is only useful with oil immersion and a coverslip is not used. This is used for observing prokaryotic life such as bacteria and observing algae at this magnification is not all that helpful unless you want to only view one cell. How much a microscope can magnify is not necessarily the most important feature for what we would use them for in this hobby. Just some thoughts!
     
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  11. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    +1

    I've gotten decent results (pics and movies of algae....check out the Dino sticky in the algae forum) out of the toy scope I mentioned (100x, 400x and 1200x) so it's a great place for a total newb. to start IMO.

    But I already know you don't HAVE TO spend more than $50 to get a much better scope. One that's got some weight and metal construction SO IT DOESN'T WOBBLE SO MUCH. :D

    But I'm also thinking that having fine focus and a 3d mechanical stage would be nice.

    Binocular capability seems like it could be advantageous during longer "hunting sessions"....or at least a built-in camera.

    Those last two features are on the maybe list. ;)

    One can certainly spend a lot more if you're going after more features like alternate lighting schemes or high-grade lenses. Bang for the buck on these features seem to be a lot lower, so I'm not sure I have any priority on them or not.

    I know I'd like to be able to ID cyanobacteria cells....and I'm not too sure my current scope can do that.
     
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  12. JonB

    JonB Member

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    I would feel confident that a positive ID (and good image) of cyano could be easily obtained with a total magnification of 400x.

    And you are absolutely correct- go with heavy frame, a coarse and fine adjustment knob, and both x and y adjustment for the stage. Binocular scopes take some time to get used to but are easier to use for long views.

    These features would be the most helpful compared with increased quality of lenses or alternate lenses.

    Your budget will dictate what scope would be best. Motic and Swift brand scopes are good and very easy to use (and built like tanks). They have a good range of scopes and some are digital (digital camera in the scope) and some have rechargeable batteries which makes them easy to move around. Lots of options out there!!
     
  13. Mick1of10

    Mick1of10 Member R2R Supporter

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    For Christmas, my bride gave me an Omax 40 X 2000 microscope with all the goodies that go with it. Yea, Me
     
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  14. TheLadyCrash

    TheLadyCrash Active Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    So this means I can totally use the scope I bought my 9 year old daughter for Christmas to analyze samples from my tank?!?! Score!! :D
     
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  15. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Good tips!
     
  16. JonB

    JonB Member

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    You will be amazed what you can see even with a $9 microscope!
     
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  17. Ashish Patel

    Ashish Patel Valuable Member

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    Anyone using a microscope to inspect incoming or DT corals for pest, eggs, worms etc?
     
  18. dansreef

    dansreef Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I am not. I do use a big magnifying glass when I dip incoming corals. I also use a LED flashlight that has multiple color settings...and I will flip from one to the other... like that makes a difference... . My kids make fun of me... but hey... I figure I have time while the frags sit in the dip to give them a thorough inspection.
     
  19. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I have to think that an inspection scope or something else handheld like it is the only thing that would work for a case like that. Too many angles to observe on a coral for just a top-down view.
     
  20. TheEngineer

    TheEngineer Formerly icecool2 R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Showcase Editor Delaware Reef Club Build Thread Contributor

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