FlowCam® For Phytoplankton & Zooplankton Analysis

Phyto and Zoo picStudy phytoplankton and zooplankton with ease. The FlowCam provides a fast, accurate, and easy-to-use alternative to manual microscopy for monitoring phytoplankton community composition.

The FlowCam combines the functionality of an imaging flow cytometer and a microscope in a single, powerful research tool: fluorescence analysis, digital images, physical measurements, biovolume calculations, robust statistical analysis, and semi-automated classification of organisms. 

Since its inception in 1997 at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, the FlowCam continues to advance imaging flow cytometry with improved optics, more robust analytical software, and faster throughput for rapid, more reliable, more accurate phytoplankton & zooplankton analysis. 

Use the FlowCam to:

  • Quickly count, capture, and save images of plankton — Process a 1 mL sample of organisms <100 µm in 6 minutes
  • Obtain size, shape, fluorescence, and concentration statistics in a fraction of the time required by traditional microscopy, typically up to 10,000 images/minute
  • Use fluorescence to identify and characterize organisms
  • Calculate biovolume, concentration of organisms, and community size distribution 
  • Sort, filter, and classify organisms using semi-automated image recognition techniques 
  • Identify & enumerate phytoplankton and micro zooplankton
  • Monitor cyanobacteria and nuisance algae
  • Characterize particles with fluorescing probes
  • Ecosystem Analysis
  • Monitor culture contamination 
  • Analyze sediment: tephra, foraminifera, paleolimnology 

Download Top Plankton Paper Synopses


Visit FlowCam Phytoplankton & Zooplankton Resources Page for customer profiles, case studies, published papers 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 200 µL and greater) through a cuvette and a camera photographs each organism/particle as it flows, recording particle 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.  


Download List of Published FlowCam Research


Customer Quote:

“For the first time, we were able to see how the kind of phytoplankton influenced the optical properties of the seawater and could immediately examine whether an unusual community was related to the seawater or to the satellite images, thanks to the FlowCam. The FlowCam technology allows us to achieve high-resolution maps of phytoplankton that can be related to satellite data in more meaningful ways than possible before. I think the role of the FlowCam will expand significantly." 

--Prof. Joaquim Goes, a biological oceanographer from Columbia University, on the FlowCam's use in NASA's open ocean phytoplankton ground truthing study



FlowCam 8000 Series

FlowCam Straight-On Desktop - Cropped - low res


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

Applications: Phytoplankton and zooplankton community composition, microplastics analysis, cell vitality analysis



Download FlowCam 8000 Brochure


FlowCam Cyano

FlowCam Cyano - square

Equipped with a 633 nm laser, the FlowCam Cyano captures images of organisms containing phycocyanin and chlorophyll for analysis of cyanobacteria and other algae, including diatoms, green algae, golden algae, dinoflagellates, and more. The FlowCam Cyano can also be used for other freshwater research, including phyto- and zooplankton community analysis and monitoring. Compatible with the FlowCam Automated Liquid Handler. 

Applications: Cyanobacteria monitoring, phytoplankton and zooplankton community composition

Download FlowCam Cyano 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 microorganisms sized 300 µm to 5 mm. 

Applications: Zooplankton analysis, large particle analysis  



Download FlowCam Macro 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: Population monitoring, high sample volume analysis, batch testing

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 semi-automated classification.  View data in ViSP or export to Excel in CSV format. Visit the ViSP page for more information.




Visit the FlowCam Phytoplankton & Zooplankton Resources Page for customer profiles, case studies, published papers and more. 

eBook: Fundamentals of Flow Imaging Microscopy

FIM General Ebook Cover pic

Download eBook: Ultimate Guide to Flow Imaging Microscopy

Peer-Reviewed & Published FlowCam Research

Aquatic Papers List 1

Download FlowCam Research Papers List

FlowCam for Aquatic Microorganism Research 

FlowCam Straight-On Desktop - Cropped - low res

Download FlowCam 8000 Brochure