Life in a pedestal pond
Hyderabad was once a city of beautiful lakes and ponds and to some it still seems so. Our place-names record long-lost water — Gachibowli (well), Nallakunta (pond), Patancheru (lake), Chaderghat (riverside), and many more. As we continue to lose our water sources to urban sprawls we experience the seamy side of the few struggling water bodies around us.
We ventured into local ponds and puddles which were icky, but we got some samples and viewed algae in them. Water from the neighboring rainwater tank looked healthier and once, to our delight, little crustaceans hatched out in it overnight. Under our old foldscope we saw some tiny plants and what could be sporangia. We did not spot any swimmers.
Then last Sunday our luck turned… it might have been be the new foldscope, the stp (see below) water, a thunderstorm the previous night, or just more practice in looking.
This was water from a concrete pedestal pond about a metre wide. Hold your breath now, this water comes from the sewage treatment plant in our apartment complex, and it supports some nice water lilies and other green stuff.
Filamentous algae grow around the rough concrete edge of the pond.
Here they are through our new foldscope.
We had a good look at the chloroplasts through the 45X objective of a compound microscope: most likely this is the filamentous algae ‘Oedogonium’. We were wondering about the irregular brown tufts which web images of Oedogonium show too. The ‘algalweb’ images show them at one end of the filament and seem to imply they are attachment discs, but we could not find them in any diagrams. Could someone comment please?
Around the algae there was a lot of activity!
Any guesses about these swimmers?
The filament below has empty cells, probably left after the zoospores are released.
In the next video we saw the swimmers spinning, tumbling, ballooning, or whizzing right past. The large green elongated swimmers are probably Euglena… under the compound microscope we saw their red eye-spot and pointed tail end. The large round green ones have a billowing ring of cilia around them. We wondered if they are zoospores of Oedogonium. And the long white ones moving with a twisty motion… Paramoecium perhaps? Do tell us your guesses.
But it was the bdelloid (leech-like) rotifers who stole the show.
Watch the large rotifer circling like an inchworm, in and out on the left of the frame. It anchors itself to a tuft of stuff and puts up a stunning performance with its two spinning rings of cilia on either side of the head. Enjoy!