FlowCam® for Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring

HAB pic 2Use the FlowCam imaging flow cytometer to study and monitor both marine and freshwater harmful algal blooms (HABs). Verify if organisms capable of producing toxins are present and quantify them. 

Freshwater HABs containing cyanobacteria can be differentiated from other algae based on the analysis of fluorescing pigments.

Estimate biovolume, count cells and calculate the abundance of each taxonomic group.

Use the FlowCam to:

  • Analyze particles sizes 2 µm to 1 mm
  • Identify, count, and measure phytoplankton
  • Process a 1 mL sample in 6 minutes
  • VisualSpreadsheet® software performs image analysis by measuring 40+ morphological parameters including biovolume, coloration, shape, and size to classify taxa
  • Identify and enumerate HAB organisms, including cyanobacteria, diatoms, dinoflagellates
  • Calculate biovolume and concentration
  • Count cells in colonies and filaments
  • Analyze population dynamics 
  • Forecast HAB events
  • Export Data to CSV Format

Download List of Published FlowCam Research


Visit HAB Monitoring Resources Page for case studies, algae guides, posters and more.


How Does the FlowCam Work?

  1. A live or preserved sample is introduced into the top of the FlowCam
  2. Imaging and flow settings are adjusted to optimize organism and particle analysis
  3. A microsyringe pump draws the sample (volume 1 mL and up) through a cuvette and a camera photographs each organism/particle as it flows, recording count and concentration in real time
  4. Image recognition software, VisualSpreadsheet, measures 40+ physical properties from each image
  5. Data are analyzed using VisualSpreadsheet, either on the FlowCam or a personal computer. Image libraries and statistical analysis techniques enable identification and classification of taxa.  Reports can be exported in CSV format.  


Customer Quotes: 

“ It used to take us 3-4 hours to do algae counts in the summer. Now it takes 15 minutes. We use the FlowCam because it’s quick and easy.... Using the FlowCam as part of our integrated strategy has prevented larger outbreaks, compared to previous years...."

—Hunter Adams, Water Laboratory Supervisor for the City of Wichita Falls, TX

“HABs move quickly. The ocean is an ever-changing environment; for us it is not a matter of if we see HABs, but when. HABs can have an impact on our stocks causing reduced feed rates and even mortality. As climate change identifies increasing algae species, we need to adapt to this new environment more quickly.”  

—Dean Trethewey, Seawater Production Director at Grieg Seafood. Read more about Grieg Seafood and their use of the FlowCam here. 



FlowCam 8000 Series

FlowCam Straight-On Desktop - Cropped - low res


For particles 2 µm to 1 mm. Compatible with Automated Liquid Handler. 

Applications: HAB monitoring, phytoplankton and zooplankton community composition



Download FlowCam 8000 Brochure


FlowCam Cyano

FlowCam Cyano - square

Differentiate cyanobacteria from green algae using chlorophyll and phycocyanin fluorescence data. Compatible with the FlowCam Automated Liquid Handler. 

Applications: cyanobacteria monitoring, phytoplankton and zooplankton community composition, taste and odor algae, nuisance algae monitoring. 

How does the FlowCam Cyano work? 


 Download FlowCam Cyano Brochure


FlowCam 5000

FlowCam 5000 Streamlined for rapid data acquisition and analysis, the FlowCam 5000 analyzes freshwater and marine samples, calculates cell counts, concentration and biovolume, and provides semi-automated classification of taxa; all at an affordable price that now puts the FlowCam technology within reach of smaller non-profits, facilities and government institutions. 


Download FlowCam 5000 for Aquatic Research Brochure


FlowCam Automated Liquid Handler (ALH)

FlowCam ALH for particle characterization analysis For automated, high-throughput, unsupervised sample analysis of up to ninety-six 1-mL samples. Compatible with the FlowCam 8000 Series and FlowCam Cyano. 

Applications: Analysis of large sample quantities 

Will the FlowCam ALH work for you? Schedule a demonstration. 


Download FlowCam ALH Brochure


VisualSpreadsheet® Software

VisualSpreadsheet FlowCam Aquatic Sample RunOur proprietary software VisualSpreadsheet performs image recognition, particle measurements, statistical analyses, data collection, and enables data manipulation. With VisualSpreadsheet (ViSP), which is included with every FlowCam, you can create image libraries, digital filters, and use machine learning for auto-classification.  View data in ViSP or export to Excel in CSV format. Visit the ViSP page for more information.




Visit HAB Monitoring Resources Page for case studies, algae guides, posters and more.

Top Cyanobacteria Research Papers


Top Studies on Cyanobacteria Research

Case Study: HAB Monitoring at Big Bear Lake, California

Big Bear Lake Cover page

Download Case Study: HAB Monitoring at Big Bear Lake

App Note: Enumerate Microcystis & Other Colonial Cyanobacteria 

Cyano enumerating cover pic

How to Enumerate Microcystis Colonies Using FlowCam