Pond Water Under The Microscope

Ponds can be found in most woodland or forest areas, usually in a cool environment. They are smaller than lakes, and can be found in many sizes.

Whether they have occurred naturally or they were man made, ponds will eventually become inhabited by many living organisms, including animals, plants, bacteria, and much more. 

This makes them intriguing bodies of water to investigate, seeing as you never really know what you’ll find inside them.

Some living creatures in a pond are too miniscule to be viewed by the naked, human eye.

Pond Water Under The Microscope

Therefore, we need to use microscopes to truly examine what lives in the deep – or, not so deep – waters of a pond.

In this article, we are going to be looking at what pond water looks like under a microscope, and how many organisms can be found inside.

We will also give you a tutorial on how you can do this yourself, and will provide you with answers to what really lives in a pond.

So, let’s get into it.

The Two Main Types Of Ponds

Before we go any further, let’s take a look at the different types of ponds that you can find in the world, and how they came to be.

There are many different types of ponds, but there are two main varieties that are commonly recognized: fishponds and wildlife ponds.

Let’s look at the differences between these ponds.


Sometimes also known as ornamental ponds or Koi ponds, these are man made structures that were created purely to display different types of fish. 

They hold clear water so that the fish are clearly visible, and are lacking of any other type of wildlife.

Pumps are often used to keep the water artificially clean and clear, meaning that it is almost impossible for any other organisms to reproduce and survive inside the ponds.

Fishponds are popular in Japanese culture, and are often filled with Koi fish.

You will not find these ponds in the wilderness, as they are man made, and mainly created for aesthetic purposes, and only for fish to live inside.

Wildlife Ponds

Unlike fishponds, wildlife ponds are naturally occurring, and can be found in many areas around the world.

However, they can be man made specifically with the intention of collecting different organisms and animals.

The water inside these ponds is not clear: instead, the water is usually a cloudy, dark color, filled with many forms of wildlife.

Inside a wildlife pond, you will find a whole ecosystem of creatures that live underwater. 

Wildlife ponds do not require manufactured pumps to keep the water clear: instead, the wildlife itself works to keep the water healthy and clean for themselves. 

What Easily Visible Creatures Can Be Found Inside Pond Water?

Let’s have a look at what can be discovered inside a pond before we go into the details of what little critters reside there that we can’t see.

Aside from barely visible organisms that we cannot view without a microscope, there are several larger creatures that often make a pond their home.

You may be familiar with many of these creatures, whether you have seen them for yourself or not.

Here are some of the larger creatures that you can find in a pond.


This may be the most obvious creature that you would expect to find in a pond, or any natural body of water. 

As we already mentioned, there are specific types of ponds that are created specifically to hold different types of fish (fishponds).

However, this does not mean that you will not find fish in naturally occurring ponds in the wild. Fish can be found in most ponds around the world.


Natural ponds are often swarmed with winged critters, flying around the surrounding area. Some of these invertebrates can even swim and survive in the water itself, and therefore will make a pond their home.

It is not unusual to witness dragonflies fluttering around a pond, or to see water boatmen, pond skaters, and beetles swimming around. 


Alongside other forms of amphibians, the frog is perhaps one of the more well known creatures that will make a pond their home. 

Frogs can live on land and inside water, so you will most likely witness a couple of them hopping around the area if you were to go visit a pond.  


Depending on where you live, it would not be uncommon for you to see a couple of snakes slithering around a natural pond.

In fact, many types of reptiles often live inside or surrounding a pond, feeding from the smaller creatures that swim inside. In some cases, you may even spot an alligator!

Examining Pond Water Under A Microscope

Examining Pond Water Under A Microscope

Now that we have learned about some of the larger pond creatures that are visible to the naked eye, let’s find out how you can view some of the smaller critters that live inside a pond.

You Will Need…

  • A glass/clear jar
  • Pond water
  • A microscope
  • Blotting paper
  • Microscopic glass slides
  • Microscopic cover slips

Once you have all the equipment required for this experiment, you are ready to start!

Preparing The Pond Water For Examination

Now that you have all your equipment prepared, you can begin. Below, you will find a step-by-step procedure of how to thoroughly examine pond water to see what tiny creatures live inside.

Step 1: Stir The Water

If you haven’t already done this, pour the pond water into your clear jar. 

After that, gently agitate the jar containing the water sample with a clean stick to ensure even diffusion of organisms in the water.

Step 2: Place Water Onto The Slides

Next, insert two or three drops of pond water onto the center of a fresh, sterilized glass slide using a pipette or a dropper.

Note: If you don’t thoroughly stir the water sample beforehand, you may not collect enough microorganisms to view through the microscope.

Step 3: Cover The Slides

Lay a clean, hygienic cover over the glass slides with the water droplets on them. 

This can be accomplished by gently laying the slide on top of the water at a 45-degree angle to enable for uniform spreading of the sample taken and the removal of air bubbles.

Step 4: Observation Time!

To absorb any surplus water, carefully place a piece of blotting paper on one side of the slide. 

The slide can then be placed on the microscope stage for examination.

Observations Found In The Pond Water

You will be able to witness a variety of microorganisms from both the plant and animal kingdoms in this investigation, which begins with using a low power on the microscope.

While observing the organisms through the microscope, be sure to take note of what you can see.

Using images from a textbook or from the internet, compare what you can see with what creatures you know can be found in pond water.

You may be able to spot many different types of organisms through the microscope, including:

  • Algae
  • Arthropods
  • Bacteria
  • Hydras
  • Protozoa

How many can you identify while viewing the pond water through your microscope?

Take notes of what you can see, and using a guide, label and identity the microorganisms that you come across during your studies. 

Final Thoughts

Searching for microorganisms under a microscope is such a fun and interesting activity, especially if you know what you are looking for.

If you are unsure what you are viewing on the slides, use a textbook or references from the internet to identify the creatures. Who knows what you may find! 

We hope you found our step-by-step guide for viewing pond water under a microscope useful and educational. 

Good luck, and happy searching!

Jennifer Dawkins