Algal Identification Index - version one

Microcosm Consulting / Breck Bowles Development

7 Sykes Court Pakenham Vic 3810

tel 03 5941 4789




There is a shortage of algal identification material and data for the Australian water industry. The Algal Identification Index attempts to provide that material on CDR, and to keep adding to the data available. The CDR costs $100 in Australia, including post and GST.


short Anabaena circinalis filament at 40X (half resolution)

Zeiss neofluar objective

The CDR holds a photo-set of microorganisms found in bodies of freshwater in South-East Australia, centered around Melbourne. Most of these can be found farther afield.

A wide variety of browsers can read the ISO 9660 CDR, from DOS to Win 3.11 to Win 95 and upwards, to Mac to Linux.

There is no 'software interface' to learn. Just point your browser at 0index.htm in the ALGAE directory, and follow the appropriate link to any photo in the collection. The main list is an alphabetical picture sequence, with photos in selectable sizes. Tiny photos are used for quick name scanning. You will need large photos if you are finding a 'match' to something currently visible under the microscope. A link opposite the index photo takes you to high-resolution photos of the target organism, and similar ones. The 'usual suspects' are of course included, but no organism is too obscure for inclusion.

If you want to examine one photo carefully, the 'right click' option on most browsers will save the displayed image off the CD into a reference file. You can then load this file into your own image software.

The photo list is aimed at the Water Industry, and biased towards non-bacteriological organisms that have an effect on water supplies. Where known, short notes on toxicity are included. Other known hazards, such as taste and odour, or a tendency to block filters, are also covered. The photos are referenced by their standard biological names eg Anabaena circinalis. This is not a biological education CD, that goes into what species are members of what taxonomic groups, and why.

The main use is in quick species identification. You can also work backwards from algal count reports, to see what named species look like. There is a full section on how the photomicrography was done, and the illumination system used, in case you want to get deeper into the subject. These are not 'photo-paintings', and digital retouching has been limited to dust-speck removal, and contrast enhancement. One or two dirty water samples have had excess grot 'removed'.


Surirella robusta (large diatom) at 25X (half resolution)

Zeiss winkel objective

The photos may be extracted to use in reports, and we are happy to tolerate the 'odd copy' of the CD being passed-on. If you plan to write a book, say, using the photos as the illustrations, that goes outside reasonable use, and you will have to talk to us.

Week by week, new photos are added to the collection, and so there will be updates offered at intervals. If the demand is there (let us know) the sparse text coverage can be expanded.

The CD is sold in CDR form. Each CDR is unique, and has both a registration number and your registered name. This allows us to keep track of users, and let them know when updates are available, as well as respond to questions, or requests for changes in the content.

The Algal Identification CD is priced at $100, including post and packing within Australia, and GST. The CD is sold, and registered, to individuals, not to organisations. GST applies to all sales.

Updates are optional, and will be priced to registered users at $60 inclusive of post, packing and GST.




Likely questions


How useful is the Index outside South-East Australia?

There will be a gradual falling-off of relevance to local water supplies as temperature, climate patterns and water chemistry alter. Most of the 'usual suspects' in the blue-green category have a pretty wide range, but there will always be new 'locals' in a totally different area that we are unlikely to ever see. If you are in say Darwin or Broome, be sure to download the Short Index first. If what you can see under your microscope bears no relation to the Short Index photos, the CDR is unlikely to be of much use to you . River plankton, which we do not cover, are much the same the world over.


Are the photos from just one reservoir?

Certainly not. The reservoirs are all within about a 150 kilometre radius of Melbourne, and Microcosm Consulting has fairly regular live samples from about fifteen reservoirs or bodies of water. Anything new in the samples, or better versions of old subjects, is photographed, indexed and added to the collection. We have no current customers sending sewage lagoon samples, so the Index does not cover the organisms that prefer a 'richer diet'.


Will this Index allow me to use my own microscope, and discontinue algal counting services?

That is claiming too much. You can scan through the photos, and slowly associate them with what you see. An algal count is a skilled business. You can get an idea of increase or decrease of important algae. As time passes you will get more familiar with the Index, and your local water inhabitants. If your algae counting service is telling you nothing but the names and the numbers, you can refer to the names by the photos, and read up the comments. We have tried to comment anything whose effects are known.


Are there piles of obscure little whatsits I don't need?

In the Main Index, yes. There is an abbreviated index for Water Industry use, with any obscure organisms removed. Anything living and able to be photographed in the water sample has been photographed. We even have a few in the 'unidentifiable' category that we have not put a name to yet.


Is the Index an education tool?

It was not designed as such, but after scanning through it a good deal, this writer can now identify a majority of water inhabitants from this area. Most are now familiar, but if 'the name has slipped' a quick run through the Main Index finds it.


Is my version going to be out of date next week?

New photos are added to the Index every two or three weeks. The rate of photo addition has slowed markedly, and hopefully most of the principal organisms are now covered. About a year from your purchase date, there will have been much new material added. Inevitably as time passes, rarer species will make up the bulk of those added. If your CDR identifies most of what you need, stop where you are. You will not be penalised for coming back five years later.


When will the upgrades stop?

When Microcosm Consulting stops counting algae.



CDR contents

The Index CDR has at present nearly 200 Megabytes of content, including the section on photomicrographic technique. Each full-detail photo takes about 400 Kilobytes. The Index runs at reasonable speed on a high-speed modern CD drive, and considerably faster if you copy the whole CDR onto hard drive. At normal modem download speeds, we cannot make the main photos accessible. You are already running a browser to access this website, and you will be running the same browser to access the CDR, or the CDR contents on your hard drive.

The main photo-index is currently a 3.5 Megabyte file. Not all the species are in the photo-index. Species similar to those shown can be placed in the detailed photo section, and still be easily found through the index. This keeps the photo-index down to a manageable size. One photo-index picture may reference six or more detailed photos and data, where the species is important.

The main photo-index, minus the 140 Megabytes or so of detailed information, still provides a good quick reference for identifying algae. We call this the Short Index, and are making this available for free download. The current ALGDEMO.ZIP file is a little over 3 Megabytes. It can be unzipped into an empty hard disk directory using, for example, WinZip or even the original Pkunzip.exe 2.04g, which we still use. ALGDEMO.ZIP is a 'straight' .ZIP file with no additional directories inside it, and unzipping generates about 150 reduced resolution .JPG files of algae plus the access file 0index.htm which you can open with your browser. The main photo index opens up exactly as it does with the full product, and the photo resolution is good enough for basic identification. The links beside the photos are inoperative, since they lead to the 140 Megabytes of algal data that you don't have.

The Short Index is free, and has not been 'crippled' by the imposition of thirty day evaluation periods etc. If it is useful, keep using it, with our blessing. You are also welcome to pass on copies of ALGDEMO.ZIP, but please do not make changes to this file. We will try and keep the Short Index reasonably up to date, but since this entails uploading nearly 3.5 Megabytes, this will not be done frequently.

This is the download point for