Build-Your-Own Macroinvertebrate Discovery Tank

A crane fly larva hiding in aquatic plants in the touch tank.

Not Everyone Can Access a Stream to Discover Aquatic Life, But Now the Stream Can Come to Them!

Stroud Water Research Center is Making This Possible Through an Experiential Learning Tool: The Macroinvertebrate Discovery Tank

Stroud Center’s Education Department designed the discovery tank to allow observers to see freshwater macroinvertebrates move freely through creek water in a simulated stream environment. Participants use tools such as paintbrushes and plastic spoons to gently maneuver the macroinvertebrates into Petri dishes. They can then observe and identify the insects under a microscope while discovering how they indicate water quality and support a healthy freshwater ecosystem.

The well-being of the animals is also key to the tank’s design, which includes the providing of natural habitat and ways to maintain temperature and oxygen levels. At the conclusion of an education program, the animals are to be safely returned to the stream or river where they were found.

Using accessible, low-cost supplies, educators can build their own Macroinvertebrate Discovery Tanks for both indoor and outdoor classrooms, community events, conferences, educator professional development, and more.

The Stroud Center gratefully acknowledges the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for supporting the discovery tank’s development and use through the Environmental Education Grants Program. While some of the Stroud Center’s work is funded by grants, we also rely on the generous support of donors. You can support innovative work like this by donating today.