FlowCam® for Other Aquatic Applications

Plastic EPA 4X editedSince its development in 1999 at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, the FlowCam has evolved from its roots in the study of phytoplankton in the Gulf of Maine. 

The FlowCam has been used for many other aquatic applications from aquaculture to wastewater analysisballast water testing and research to paleolimnology, microplastic analysis and invasive species detection. The FlowCam is ideally suited to analyze microscopic and macroscopic organisms and particles in water.  The FlowCam combines microscopy, flow cytometry, and image recognition to analyze a myriad of microscopic particles and organisms. 

How will you know if the FlowCam will work for you? Send us a sample for us to analyze on the FlowCam. We will share the results and teach you how the FlowCam can be used for your intended application. 

The FlowCam captures high-resolution, digital images of particles suspended in a liquid medium. Over 40 physical parameters are measured from each image, and the data is processed using our image-recognition statistical analysis software, VisualSpreadsheet®. Use digital images to verify the size, shape, and identity of your organisms and particles. 

    Image and analyze particles 300 nm to 5 mm
    Measure 40+ physical parameters per organism/particle
    Count and calculate concentration of particles and organisms
    Measure size distribution frequency of particles and organisms
    Identify the organisms and particles by viewing high resolution digital images
    VisualSpreadsheet software performs image analysis by measuring 40+ morphological parameters including biovolume, coloration, shape and size

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 (minimum sample volume = 200 µL) 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 to Excel in CSV format.  


Download List of Published FlowCam Research


Visit Resources for Other Aquatic Applications page for guides, posters, articles, and more.


Customer Quote:

"The purpose of this study was to develop a new method for investigating sediment-inhabiting meiobenthos using the Flow Cytometer And Microscope (FlowCam)...These small benthic invertebrates are traditionally investigated by individually counting and identifying specimens under a microscope, which is labor intensive and time consuming. However, FlowCam, which was originally developed to semiautomatically analyze microplankton, has the potential to resolve these challenges.... We found the FlowCam system:

  • Enabled sufficient meiobenthic images to be obtained to allow the identification and classification of specimens at high taxonomic levels
  • Obtained comparable numbers of individual to traditional methods
  • Has the potential to rapidly process large the volumes of meiobenthos samples that are required when monitoring seasonal and spatial variation in ocean ecosystems and conducting long-term environmental impact assessments."

—Kitahashi et al., A new method for acquiring images of meiobenthic images using the FlowCam, MethodsX 5, 1330-1335 (2018). 



FlowCam 8000 Series

FlowCam Straight-On Desktop - Cropped - low res


For particles 2 µm to 1 mm. Several fluorescence detection options available. Compatible with FlowCam Automated Liquid Handler. 




Download FlowCam 8000 Brochure


FlowCam 5000

FlowCam 5000 rendering w. logo - transparent background

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 Macro

FlowCam Macro


For particles sized 300 µm to 5 mm. Uses an external peristaltic pump rather than an internal microsyringe pump. 



Download FlowCam Macro Brochure


FlowCam Automated Liquid Handler (ALH)

FlowCam Automated Liquid Handler for particle analysis and characterization fluid imaging technologiesFor  high-throughput, unsupervised sample analysis of up to ninety-six 1-mL samples. Compatible with the FlowCam 8000 Series. 

Wonder if the FlowCam ALH will work for you? Schedule a demo in the YFT Lab. 



Download FlowCam ALH Brochure


VisualSpreadsheet®  Software

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




Read about how customers are using the FlowCam for:

Microplastic Analysis 

Anaerobic Digestion for Wastewater 

Grit Particle Analysis 

Ballast Water Testing 

Invasive Species Detection

Visit Resources Page for Other Aquatic Applications for guides, posters, articles, and more.

eBook: Ultimate Guide to Flow Imaging Microscopy

FIM General Ebook Cover pic

eBook: Guide to Flow Imaging Microscopy

Poster: Imaging Flow Cytometry for Marine Microplastics Studies

OSM 2018 Microplastics Studies Poster

Download Poster: FlowCam for  Microplastics Research

List of Published FlowCam Research

Aquatic Papers List 1

Download FlowCam Research Papers List