Today we will continue our discussion on the microscopic fauna of aquariums. These tiny creatures are often hidden from the average person’s sight, but play an important role in the aquarium’s biological system. In this part we will discuss Vorticella campanula.
What is Vorticella campanula?
Vorticella campanula is a microscopic single-celled organism that is as widely distributed in freshwater reservoirs as the previously described rotifer species, Philodina. Vorticella campanula belongs to the genus of sessile infusoria called Vorticella, which is part of the family Vorticellidae, comprising more than 100 species.
Although Vorticella campanula is not a colonial animal, like Carchesium, it can often be found in groups consisting of several dozen individuals. Its appearance resembles that of a cocktail glass, with a cup-shaped body and a long stalk used for attachment to the substrate. The front end of the cell is expanded like a funnel and surrounded by a row of cilia, which creates a waterflow, bringing nutrients to Vorticella’s mouth opening, also known as the peristome.
Due to its sedentary life style, Vorticella campanula does not need to expend energy on movement in search of food, as it waves its cilia, and waits for food to flow directly into its mouth. On the other hand, the animal cannot escape or swim away. In case of danger, the animal can contract its stalk into a spiral with enormous speed, avoiding contact with predators.
Although its sedentary lifestyle creates difficulties for its geographical distribution, Vorticella campanula reproduces through binary fission, where the daughter cell, that lacks a long stalk, separates from the mother cell and can swim in the water column for some time until it settles on a suitable substrate and becomes sedentary itself. Vorticella can also reproduce through conjugation, a complex process involving the uneven division of nuclei, resulting in the birth of seven non-identical daughter cells.
Dangerous to fish?
Vorticella is not dangerous to fish or shrimp, but it can attach to damaged areas of their bodies and cause skin irritation. Vorticella feeds on bacteria, single-celled algae, and suspended organic particles in the water column, contributing to the creation of a favorable habitat for aquarium inhabitants.