Microscopes, the most important tool for reefing.

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Ippyroy

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One of the cheapest tools you can purchase for reefing is a microscope. A microscope is an indispensable tool in the reefing hobby. You can get one as cheap as $10.00 up to thousands of dollars if you wished. The only thing you need the scope to do is have 400x magnification. The only other tools to use it are gloves, eyedropper, slides, and a phone with a camera. There are many groups on social media where you can post the photos and someone can and will help you identify the many fascinating critters in your tank. One of the most common questions asked by people is "Can you ID this." The follow up questions are "what's your parameters" or "take a picture without blues."
Having a microscope and using it is the only way to correctly identify many algaes and bacterias, especially dinoflagellates. Each species has different way to treat. Bryopsis needs to be treated very differently than GHA and they are treated differently than bubble algae. These types of algae are pretty easy to tell apart from each other, but another common type of pest algae, diatoms, can and does resemble dinos. These are two very different things, treated very differently. Cyano can also be confused with these two. The easiest way to tell them apart is with a microscope, A cheap "toy" microscope can work. This one will do the job just fine.
It is inexpensive and the only problem is that it is made of plastic and is easy to break. I would prefer to go up a step and get this one if the budget calls for it.
Both of the scopes will allow you to see what is growing in your tank be it an algae or bacteria. All you would have to do then is put your phone's camera up to the eye piece and take a picture and post in a forum or somewhere in social media, and someone will help ID it and possibly help you to fight it. It is absolutely imperative that you do this for dinos. There are many different species and the best way to combat them is completely different. The cure for one will not work for the other. Knowing the correct species will allow you find out the correct way to get rid of them.
To take a sample of whatever I want to look at, I use a turkey baster to collect them from the tank. I then empty the turkey baster into an empty container. I then use my eyedropper to collect the sample and remove as much excess water as possible. I use an empty jar from AlgaeBarn to hold my sample and place the slide on top of the opening. After removing as much water as possible, I put the sample on the slide and place the plastic cover on top of it.
This is the Microscope I chose for myself. I love the 3D Stage. It is an easy way to move the slide around without touching it. It has different eyepieces which allow for different magnification levels. I got a binocular type because I can easily hook up my phone to one part and look through the other.
Whichever microscope you choose to purchase, just remember that they are an invaluable tool for your reef tank. I find myself reaching for it more than I reach for my glass scraper.

I am far from an expert at microscopes. If I am wrong on anything or if you have more to add please feel free to let me know.
 
Lazys Coral House

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Thanks for the great write up.

It would help to have more things identified accurately. I was just joking with Jay H. we should require everyone get a Kholer Labs electron microscope to be part of the hobby.
One of the cheapest tools you can purchase for reefing is a microscope. A microscope is an indispensable tool in the reefing hobby. You can get one as cheap as $10.00 up to thousands of dollars if you wished. The only thing you need the scope to do is have 400x magnification. The only other tools to use it are gloves, eyedropper, slides, and a phone with a camera. There are many groups on social media where you can post the photos and someone can and will help you identify the many fascinating critters in your tank. One of the most common questions asked by people is "Can you ID this." The follow up questions are "what's your parameters" or "take a picture without blues."
Having a microscope and using it is the only way to correctly identify many algaes and bacterias, especially dinoflagellates. Each species has different way to treat. Bryopsis needs to be treated very differently than GHA and they are treated differently than bubble algae. These types of algae are pretty easy to tell apart from each other, but another common type of pest algae, diatoms, can and does resemble dinos. These are two very different things, treated very differently. Cyano can also be confused with these two. The easiest way to tell them apart is with a microscope, A cheap "toy" microscope can work. This one will do the job just fine.
It is inexpensive and the only problem is that it is made of plastic and is easy to break. I would prefer to go up a step and get this one if the budget calls for it.
Both of the scopes will allow you to see what is growing in your tank be it an algae or bacteria. All you would have to do then is put your phone's camera up to the eye piece and take a picture and post in a forum or somewhere in social media, and someone will help ID it and possibly help you to fight it. It is absolutely imperative that you do this for dinos. There are many different species and the best way to combat them is completely different. The cure for one will not work for the other. Knowing the correct species will allow you find out the correct way to get rid of them.
To take a sample of whatever I want to look at, I use a turkey baster to collect them from the tank. I then empty the turkey baster into an empty container. I then use my eyedropper to collect the sample and remove as much excess water as possible. I use an empty jar from AlgaeBarn to hold my sample and place the slide on top of the opening. After removing as much water as possible, I put the sample on the slide and place the plastic cover on top of it.
This is the Microscope I chose for myself. I love the 3D Stage. It is an easy way to move the slide around without touching it. It has different eyepieces which allow for different magnification levels. I got a binocular type because I can easily hook up my phone to one part and look through the other.
Whichever microscope you choose to purchase, just remember that they are an invaluable tool for your reef tank. I find myself reaching for it more than I reach for my glass scraper.

I am far from an expert at microscopes. If I am wrong on anything or if you have more to add please feel free to let me
 
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Ippyroy

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Thanks for the great write up.

It would help to have more things identified accurately. I was just joking with Jay H. we should require everyone get a Kholer Labs electron microscope to be part of the hobby.
The more hobbyist using microscopes and taking and posting pics would help. The more we can ID in our tanks, the better. It might even help with figuring out when and why a tank is mature. Then again, it might creep people out and make them burn their tanks with massive amounts of fire.
 

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After removing as much water as possible, I put the sample on the slide and place the plastic cover on top of it.
Is it really that easy? I have 2 cheap plastic scopes and can’t get either one to focus. Wasn’t sure if it was me or the scope. Not much experience using one.

If it is really that easy, then it must be the scope I have. I have heard great things about the amscopes. I need one!!!!

Been looking at this model.
 
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Is it really that easy? I have 2 cheap plastic scopes and can’t get either one to focus. Wasn’t sure if it was me or the scope. Not much experience using one.

If it is really that easy, then it must be the scope I have. I have heard great things about the amscopes. I need one!!!!

Been looking at this model.
Is the specimen directly under the lens? The problem with plastic scopes is it’s hard to not break them. Dropping them can easily dislodge the lens. The model you are looking at is a good metal one that o would personally recommend.
 
Lazys Coral House

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Is it really that easy? I have 2 cheap plastic scopes and can’t get either one to focus. Wasn’t sure if it was me or the scope. Not much experience using one.

If it is really that easy, then it must be the scope I have. I have heard great things about the amscopes. I need one!!!!

Been looking at this model.
I have that one and it works well.
 

Aqua Man

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problem with plastic scopes is it’s hard to not break them. Dropping them can easily
One is new and the other slightly used. I can almost see things at 400x Some is also me not setting up the slide properly? Have a couple pre made slides of bug wings and a feather. Can kinda see those.

Is there a place to learn proper techniques for slide prep? (YouTube)
Any recommendations?
 
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One is new and the other slightly used. I can almost see things at 400x Some is also me not setting up the slide properly? Have a couple pre made slides of bug wings and a feather. Can kinda see those.

Is there a place to learn proper techniques for slide prep? (YouTube)
Any recommendations?
This is the one I used.
 
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Ippyroy

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This brings me back to Biology class in HS. haha. Great idea though.
The amount of things they tried to teach us in HS that we didn't learn and would be so helpful in this hobby is astounding to stay the least.
 
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I just got mine yesterday. This is the first pic thatI took. Critters that I got while dipping a Duncan prior going into the tank.
 

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Ippyroy

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I just got mine yesterday. This is the first pic thatI took. Critters that I got while dipping a Duncan prior going into the tank.
That's a little creepy looking. The main thing my scope did was make me wear gloves when my hands go close to my tank. Is that a pod?
 

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Nice post!

does your scope take pics to a computer or something? I was putting my iPhone camera up to the eyepiece to take a picture but was thinking that modern technology has probably solved this issue...
F3743CD3-40A6-4B35-887E-03156FC3621F.jpeg
 
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Diatoms. That works just fine. With time and practice you will get better. I have this nifty little gadget. I will soon be getting the mount for my DSLR. I do have a little digital macro camera that I am going to try out tomorrow. I am not expecting it to work, but it might be worth trying.
 

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Diatoms. That works just fine. With time and practice you will get better. I have this nifty little gadget. I will soon be getting the mount for my DSLR. I do have a little digital macro camera that I am going to try out tomorrow. I am not expecting it to work, but it might be worth trying.

thanks! Yes this pic was from the start of the tank when the entire rock was covered in diatoms and was taken with my 6 year old son’s scope! Think you’ve influence me to buy some nicer scopes!
 

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That's a little creepy looking. The main thing my scope did was make me wear gloves when my hands go close to my tank. Is that a pod?
I do not know what they are. Yes, they look like pods, but guess with the microscope I know “need” to know exactly what I am looking. This was with the 400x magnification, so I agree with others saying there is not a lot of magnification power needed.

I took the picture with my cell phone, by just putting the camera over the eyepiece. Needed a couple of tries, but was not that hard.

I think the next challenge will de the identification part.
 
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thanks! Yes this pic was from the start of the tank when the entire rock was covered in diatoms and was taken with my 6 year old son’s scope! Think you’ve influence me to buy some nicer scopes!
Get a binocular one if you happen to own a DSLR. You can get the attachment to connect it. I will be ordering one in a week or so. It will be nice to take better pics and videos.
 
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I do not know what they are. Yes, they look like pods, but guess with the microscope I know “need” to know exactly what I am looking. This was with the 400x magnification, so I agree with others saying there is not a lot of magnification power needed.

I took the picture with my cell phone, by just putting the camera over the eyepiece. Needed a couple of tries, but was not that hard.

I think the next challenge will de the identification part.
That is my goal with this post. I want to have a sub forum on here for microscopes. How to use them and build a library of photos and videos to help us ID the things we find.
 
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