How to sample your tank’s microbiome

  1. Sample microbes from your tank with our custom sampling kit.
  2. Register your sample online.
  3. Mail your sample to us in the prepaid envelope included with the kit.

Please read the whole page before you begin, and don’t open anything until instructed to do so. Sample your aquarium during the daytime and before any maintenance such as feeding or cleaning. Please contact us before you take your sample if you have any questions. 

1. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly. Open and put on a pair of gloves.

2. Remove the syringe from its package, remove the cap, and draw 60 ml of water from the upper surface of your aquarium into the syringe.

3. Open the filter cup, then attach the filter to the end of the syringe.

4. Slowly expel water from the syringe by gently pushing on the plunger. Go slowly (about 4 drops per second), so that it takes approximately 5 minutes to completely empty the syringe. Discard the water. 

5. Open the plastic shipping tube and remove a tube of fixative. Turn the lid of the shipping tube upside down to serve as a cup, and pour the fixative into this cup.

6. Remove the filter from the syringe, draw the fixative into the syringe, and replace the filter on the syringe. You will get air bubbles along with the fixative – this is normal and not a problem.

7. Preserve your sample by gently pushing on the plunger to slowly expel the fixative from the syringe. Go slowly (about 1 drop per second). Discard the fixative.

8. Open the sterile sample bag, remove the filter from the syringe. Please leave the filter inside of its protective case to avoid contamination. Place the filter in the sample bag. To seal the bag, hold the wire clips while folding the bag over the top twice, then fold the wire clips flat. 

9. Open the tube containing the sterile swab, and remove the swab from the transport tube using its handle.

10. To sample your tank’s biofilm community, vigorously swab the internal surface of an opaque pipe that is constantly submerged (for example, the return pipe leading into the display). Avoid sampling surfaces that are directly exposed to light. It is helpful, but not essential, to turn off the return pump before doing this. An ideal sample will have a visible discoloration on the swab.

11. Open the second tube of fixative, and briefly dip the swab in this fixative. Remove the swab, and allow it to air-dry for 2 minutes, then return it to the transport tube.

12. Register your sample in our online database.

13. Place both the filter (step 8) and swab (step 11) in the prepaid shipping envelope. Mail your samples back to us within the next 24 hours, or store your sample frozen until you are ready to ship.


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