Spirostomum Inquiry

This large ciliate was found in a saltwater aquarium.


  • The video shows two types of movement. Can you figure out how this critter manages to move? (One way of moving is easy to describe, but may be difficult to explain. But, try to come up with some possible explanations.)
  • For what reasons do you think this critter needs to move? Can you find any evidence from the video clip?
  • What does the critter use each of its ends for (the wider rounded end and the narrow end)?
  • Can you find any cycles in the video? How do these cycles compare to other cycles you know about?
  • What is the advantage to the critter for being tubular in shape? How does this critter use its tubular shape?
  • Can you find or think of other living or human-made tubular shapes and cycles that serve similar purposes to those of this critter?
  • What else can you find out about this critter?



spiro- means to breathe

stoma means mouth, opening

Spirostomum = mouth breather, which of course it doesn't do. It absorbs oxygen through its cell membrane.

More Information:

Go to the ciliates page for more information on these organisms.


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