Ballast Water Analysis with Dynamic Imaging

Analyzing Ballast Water with FlowCAMBallast water must be treated in order to avoid pollution and the spread of some invasive species. The Ballast Water Performance Standard [IMO D2 Regulations] are set by the International Marine Organization’s international convention, and states that viable cells within certain size ranges must be detected and counted.

FlowCAM allows you to quickly and easily analyze your ballast water, either on-board the ship or port-side. Detect, image, and count microorganisms in either a discrete sample or a continuous flow.

Flexible and easy to use, you can customize the FlowCAM with various excitation lasers to accommodate specific detection work. Powered by our VisualSpreadsheet software, the FlowCAM offers the fastest, most intuitive ballast water analysis available.

Available as either a benchtop or portable model, the FlowCAM® can be used in the lab or in the field. That’s why it’s now used worldwide by scientists, researchers, and technicians to support their work in ballast water systems testing.

Measuring Cell Concentration for the Indicative Analysis of Ballast Water

Two concentrated algae samples were run through the FlowCAM. First a culture of the algae Cosmarium, and second, the same sample after being treated with a biocide to kill the algae. Screenshots of the overall results can be seen below.

Cosmarium Before Treatment

Before Treatment

Cosmarium After

After Treatment

In the Sample after treatment (filtration and biocide), the concentration of the Cosmarium dropped significantly, which is a primary indication of the efficacy of treatment.

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Testing Ballast Water for Zooplankton

The applicability of the FlowCAM for ballast water analysis of zooplankton was tested using the viability stain, fluoroscein diacetate (FDA), for detecting live cultured rotifers (Brachionus plicatilis).

Fluoroscein diacetate (FDA) is a compound that has been widely used in various biological systems as a vital stain for fluorescent microscopy, fluorometers and flow cytometry. As an electrically neutral or near-neutral molecule, the substrate freely diffuses into most cells. Once inside the cell, the non-fluorescent substrates are converted by nonspecific intracellular esterases into a green fluorescent product (two molecules of fluoroscein) that are retained by cells with intact plasma membranes.

The FlowCAM was used to analyze live samples (before treatment) and dead samples (that had been heat killed) to determine the effectiveness of the treatment. The number of viable (or nonviable) organisms in each was calculated. The live samples demonstrated a high FDA fluorescence and the majority of the culture appeared to be viable (80-74%) when compared to the dead samples, where very little was detected as viable (0.5%).

Live - Dead Analysis of Zooplankton in Ballast Water

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Application Note

FlowCAM® Use as a Portable Imaging Instrument for Indicative Analysis of Treated Ballast Water



Ocean Systems Ballast Water Article




FlowCAM Aquatic 4 Page Brochure




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