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How to prepare shells?

When you want to observe shells you have to prepare them for your microscope. In most samples shells are scarce and hidden by a lot of accompanying debris and sand grains. There are some methods to get rid of most that. Some use air bubbles to separate shells from debris. A simple method was published by Todorov and Golemansky:

At the laboratory, the material was dried for one day in a thermostat at 60° C. Then, for the microscopic analysis, the material was soaked and mixed in chlorinated tap water for about ten minutes, after which was filtered through a sieve with 500 µmesh to remove large organic and mineral particles. The resulting filtrate was allowed to precipitate for two hours, the sediment was removed and the shells that floated on the surface were collected for examination. The study was carried out 12 hours after the flotation, when the gas bubbles inside the shells completely disappeared and the structure of the shells was well visible. The testate amoebae were determined and counted at 160x and 400x magnifications with an optical microscope.

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Matsakision

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Arcella lobostoma

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