Pond | Deep Sea Vents| Pipe Slimers | Watery Desert | Sediment

Water World

Where there is water, there are microbes. Microbes, like other living creatures, require water to live and reproduce. All environments in this Zoo, including Water World, could be called Water World. However, some microbes prefer environments that have more water than the millimeters of water surrounding a particle of soil, or than is found in many foods. For this reason these organisms are grouped into habitats collectively known as Water World.

There are many types of watery environments. These range from freshwater ponds to salty seas with three times the salt concentration of the ocean. Microbes live in overgrown slime (biofilm) on pipes and in open oceans with few nutrients to support microbial life. Microbes thrive in aerated streams with lots of oxygen to murky bogs that have no oxygen. In this Water World are microbes containing tiny magnets and microbes that shine brilliantly in the night.

The attractions in this Water World are:

Ponds have a rich diversity of microbial life. In this pond, you will see many bizarre microbes including green and purple bacteria and algae, sulfate reducers, methane producers, and others.

 Deep Sea Vents
Want to explore a world that is as bizarre as anywhere in the solar system? Check out Deep Sea Vents where life is truly bizarre. Life thrives at the bottoms of oceans near these vents.

 Pipe Slimers
Ever noticed that black stuff on your shower curtain or the gunk in your drain? These are examples of microbes that have grown to become a biofilm.

 Watery Desert
Ironically, much of the ocean is a biological "desert". Although the ocean is obviously not dry, much of it is barren of life, supporting very little life. Only 1 - 100 microbes per milliliter live in some parts of the ocean compared to the 1,000,000 found in a milliliter of coastal water.

Many microbes live in the bottom of lakes and rivers in sediments.

 Salty Sea
Many microbes cannot survive except in the presence of high concentrations of salt. These organisms are called"halophiles."

 Diatoms and Chalk Makers
What do the White Cliffs of Dover and toothpaste have to do with each other? Both are made with the remnants of the microscopic shells of algae.

 Swamps and Bogs
What gas is produced in swamps? Swamp gas, also known as methane is produced by bacteria called methanogens.

 Magnetotactic Bacteria
Certain bizarre bacteria have tiny magnets in them. The magnets allow these magnetotactic bacteria to move along the Earth's magnetic fields.

 Luminescent Bacteria
Next time you go to the ocean at night, notice how the water lights up when you splash it. These are free-living luminescent microbes. Other luminescent microbes are found as symbionts of fish.

 Red Tide
The Red Tide is caused by billions of microscopic red algae known as dinoflagellates that bloom periodically in the ocean.


More about Our Water World


The largest watery place on Earth is the ocean. Oceans cover 71% of the Earth's surface and are responsible for producing about half of the world's biomass, which includes the weight of all plants, animals, fungi, and microbes. Most life in the oceans lives at the sunlit ocean surface. Below 25 meters there is little light in the ocean, and primary productivity falls off. In addition to little light, deeper waters are cooler, which supports less life. Below 50 meters, the temperature is less than 10 degrees Celsius.

Most marine bacteria are gram negative and motile. Most bacteria require or can tolerate oxygen (they are aerobes or facultative anaerobes). Few bacteria in the ocean are anaerobic. Pseudomonas and Vibrio are the predominant types (genera) of bacteria living in the ocean.


Many microbes live in ponds, streams, lakes, aquifers (underground lakes). Like their oceanic cousins, microbes and all living organisms contain between 70 - 95% water.