Dinoflagellate produces this light through metabolizing luciferin and light up water bodies as a defense mechanism. The lights startle the predators and also attract high trophic level organisms that feed on dinoflagellate’s predators.
The phenomenon is considered ascetically pleasing and very rare, this is why many have started to grow dinoflagellates at home and observe this beauty. There are different types of dinoflagellates that are grown at home.
What do bioluminescent dinoflagellates eat?
It is no doubt that bioluminescent dinoflagellates are of marine origin and their life cycle is bounded within the sea. Therefore, within the sea life majority of the micro-organisms like bioluminescent dinoflagellates are independent of their need for food on a single source or on other organisms alone.
Therefore an answer to the question, What do bioluminescent dinoflagellates eat? is much simple in the case of marine life.
Majority of Dinoflagellates are photosynthetic while some of them are mixotrophic meaning that they possess the photosynthetic as well as phagotrophic property. Dinoflagellates are found in marine water and could also be common in freshwater. Non-photosynthetic dinoflagellates mainly feed on the diatoms as well as other dinoflagellates while Pyrosystis Noctiluca size ranges from 200-400 micrometers and feeds on zooplankton and fish eggs.
Some of the most common species of Bioluminescent Dinoflagellates that can be grown at home are:
1. Pyrocystis Fusiformis
Pyrocystis Fusiformis is a dinoflagellate that has the ability to makes its light through a metabolic process involving oxidation of luciferin. These dinoflagellates impart blue-green light when disturbed, whatever the disturbance may be ranging from a swimmer’s hand to breaks due to waves. It is hypothesized these dinoflagellates glow as a defense mechanism against their predators and to attract their mates.
Pyrocystis fusiformises lose their flagella as they mature and are thus non-motile dinoflagellates with tapering ends. They have a life cycle of about 5-7 days and they reproduce asexually during this time frame. This species has been an interest to humans as they are easy to cultivate and can be grown easily in a controlled environment at home.
2. Pyrosystis Noctiluca
Pyrocustis noctiluca is marine plankton that has the ability to produce its light. It commonly produces blue light in response to movements or disturbances in the water which can be usually accounted to waves, animals, or ships. The main use of bioluminescence by pyrocustis noctiluca is startling predators and highlighting the movement of the predators to make them vulnerable to secondary predators.
These unicellular dinoflagellates are spherical and are about 200-400 micrometers in size. They have a specialized organelle in their body called scintillations which oxidize luciferin to produce light. This species of dinoflagellate is very beautiful but is usually very tricky to grow. Constant attention and frequent adaptations in their environment are required to grow them.`
3. Pyrosystis Lunula
Pyrosystis lunula is a photoautotrophic dinoflagellate. It is a marine organism that can impart light. They have a white half-moon shape in their body. Lunula is the topographic marker of their distal part which has the ability of nail production. They impart blue-green light as other bioluminescent organisms in their phylum. It is usually grown at home for experiments or aesthetic purposes. This species is hardest to cater to as it requires much more attention than other species and also sticks to the walls of the container.
These aforementioned dinoflagellates are often chosen to grow at home for aesthetic purposes or out of curiosity. Growing dinoflagellates require care as growing a house plant. They need an appropriate amount of sunlight, food, temperatures, and environmental stressors.
Below are methods to grow dinoflagellates at home and the materials they need to survive :
1. Dinoflagellates need a proper container to grow at home. The container has to be transparent which allows proper distribution of sunlight. The container should be lidded.
2. Dinoflagellates need proper growth solutions. These growth solutions are preferred to be made with real seawater rather than synthetic water. These growth solutions are easily available at places where you buy your dinoflagellates.
3. They require plenty of sunlight every day so it is a safe bet to say that they need a grow lamp. These lamps are an alternative to sunlight. The intensity and regularity of sunlight are uncertain, so these grow lamps will ensure to give the dinoflagellates enough sunlight. These grow lamps usually are 40-watt lamps.
4. Dinoflagellates also require to be placed in a good corner at your home. The description of good for this organism is an area that remains at a moderate temperature. The preferred temperature range is 22 to 25 degrees Celsius. If using a grow lamp, a closet is a perfect place to place the dinoflagellates.
How to grow dinoflagellates at home?
Once the required materials like the species, proper solutions, lamps, and the container are collected the below-mentioned steps and tips can be followed to properly take care of these dinoflagellates :
1. Properly sterilize the glass or plastic container to ensure nothing will hinder the growth of the dinoflagellate but make sure to not use too much soap while doing so.
2. After cleaning and drying the container, the next step is to pour an inch of algae growth solution and a few inches of the dinoflagellate culture.
3. Setting up a proper light cycle for these organisms is very important. The grow lamps should be placed about three feet away to avoid heat damage and should light for solid twelve hours. The timing of light on and light off should be strictly followed.
4. As the dinoflagellates multiply, transfer them to other containers.
5. The life span of dinoflagellate depends on the amount of sunlight it receives but the average lifespan is about 2-4 months. Therefore change the culture after this period.
6. These dinoflagellates are photosynthetic and have timely nutrients needs to synthesize their food. They require nitrate, phosphate, trace metals, and vitamins which are prepared in sterile conditions. These mixtures are easily available to buy.