For observing microscopic life forms
from freshwater habitats.

by Thomas H. Aungst, US.


I was never one to be satisfied with doing things the way the book said to do it. I was always trying to find a better way or, at least, a different way.

I was determined to find a way to view microscopic organisms in their natural state; or as close to that state as possible. At first I set up mason jars with water samples from streams, ponds, springs and lakes. Then I would remove the stage from my trusty, GILBERT microscope and with the feet held firm against the side of the jar I would look at what I could see; which was not all that much because the jar glass was thick and distorting to the images.

** I just want to say here that back in the 30s, 40s & 50s Gilbert made a microscope that gave fairly good resolution through 200x.

Even aquariums were frustrating because I could only focus on a very shallow area behind the glass. My first attempt at this design used two 8 x 10" window lights with a piece of 1/2" rubber, medical tubing sandwiched between the glass sides. The framing was made of light wood. This worked better but was unstable.

The design shown here works very well with stereo dissection microscopes and those telescope/microscope units. The great thing is that you can focus on specimens in their habitat and compare the different strata from the surface of the water down to and into the bottom debris. You can watch such a culture mature over a period of days, weeks; even months.

I can't take my 'scopes into the water but, I can almost bring the lakes and streams to my 'scopes. If you have the knack for building things try it and ENJOY.

Comments to Thomas Aungst welcomed.


Make ends and bottom of tank out of glass cut 3/4" wide.

Cement the tank pieces together with aquarium silicone glue.

Clamp 2" x 12" iron in position on 5" x 14" iron and drill holes as indicated with proper bit for 11/4" x 1/2" stove bolts.

Separate the two irons and redrill holes in 2" stock to 1/4".

Thread holes in 5" stock with 1/4" tap.

File 1/16" off of the end of the 1/4" x 1/2" bolts.

The upright supports & cross bar were welded on my units.You can weld or rivet or use small bolts/nuts.


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Published in the July 1999 edition of Micscape Magazine.

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