Today’s blog is written by Laurie Loftin, who has no background in protozoology or official Pokémon training.
Want to catch a Pokémon? You can find BILLIONS of Pokémon at our water reclamation facilities. OK, maybe they are not true Pokémon, but microorganisms are pretty close. Like pocket monsters, they are hard to see, but once you start to look through a microscope you realize they are all around you.
The water reclamation operators act as the microorganisms trainers. They help these little guys grow, thrive, and evolve into stronger and more experienced microogranisms. They use these “good” bugs to fight against “villains” lurking in our waters. The result is a collection of micro-monsters who do battle to protect our water.
Here are some of the real life mircoorganisms that could pass as Pokémon swimming in the waters at our water reclamation facility.
Type: Metazoa; Phylum: Rotifera
Rotifer “Pokémon” are the workhorse of the activated sludge treatment process. They are multi-celled animals that feed on things like bacteria and algae, helping to keep bacteria levels in check. Many have a corona near their mouth that looks like a spinning wheel. It gives the rotifer the ability to suck particles out of the water and into their waiting mouth. Pretty cool.
Type: Protozoa ; Phylum: Ciliophora
No, “paramecium” is not Latin for two mice. It is a slipper-shaped single-celled organism with a hairy coat of cilia that propels the paramecium through the waters in a corkscrew-fashion. This little guy may lack eyes, ears, and a heart, but it is a trainer’s go-to-bug for controlling algae, bacteria, and other protists it finds floating nearby.
It may be the most primitive single-celled protozoa, but don’t let this fool you. Its ability to transform its shape and color makes this would be Pokemon harder to catch than others. That is if you are another microorganism hoping to eat an amoeba. Operators like this guy for the information it can share about the water. If large amounts of amoeba are counted in a sample, it could mean a large presence of particulate matter, lack of oxygen in the water, or a shock load of BOD.
Type: Protozoa; Phylum: Ciliophora
These single-cell protozoa are one of the higher life forms found in our facilities. They have important abilities, like forming floc, removing floating particles from the water, and controlling bacteria levels. This stalked ciliate’s body is covered in cilia, which assists them in swimming, crawling, sensing, and eating.
Type: Metazoa; Phylum: Tardigrades
The water bear is by far the cutest of all the microorganism swimming about our flush waters. They are also the most bad-a**. They can survive being boiled, frozen, in a vacuum, or exposed to radiation. We all need water, but these little guys can go a decade without it and still survive! In our sludge, they help out by eating the microorganisms easily tempted to join a villain team.
I admit, the capture of these microorganisms won’t help you complete your Pokédex, but the water reclamation facility does prove to be the ultimate gym for these bug types to fight. And the best part is the battle ends with a better environment and clean water in both augmented reality and reality. Wishing you luck on your quest to try and catch ’em all.