Sample Preservation & Shipment


Helpful Links:

analysis request form

ifcb analysis request form

data management and reports

Sample Packaging & Shipment

  • Dark plastic sample containers are highly recommended. All containers (plastic and glass) should be firmly packed with styrofoam, bubble wrap, paper, or vermiculite to avoid breakage and shipped with freezer packs (preferred) or ice sealed in airtight bags.
  • Label your samples with water-resistant labels or marker and include the required information (system, station, date sampled, depth) which is necessary for us to process your samples as accurately and efficiently as possible.
  • Samples may be packaged in a hard cooler, a disposable styrofoam cooler inside a corrugated box, or a corrugated box lined with styrofoam sheeting.
  • Specify if you want us to return your cooler on your analysis request form. Include a return shipping slip or your shipping account number
  • Put a copy of your Analysis Request Form in a sealed plastic bag in the cooler with your samples.
  • Securely tape all container lids closed.
  • Samples should be shipped to us via overnight service. Specify morning delivery when sending live samples for IFCB analysis.
We reserve the right to charge a $50.00 lab fee (handling, logging samples in, disposal of samples, etc.) for any samples which are sent to us that have not been properly labelled or preserved.

Our Recommendation for Sample Preservation

We strongly suggest that you preserve your samples in Glutaraldehyde, 0.25% final concentration for phytoplankton samples (see below). Regardless of which preservative you choose, we find that both Lugol’s Iodine and Glutaraldehyde preserve best when the preservative is less than 6 months old. Try to plan your usage so that you use the volume you purchase or make within 6 months. If you are holding samples for the season, please keep in a cool, dark place (less than 25 oC). We have find that Lugol’s Iodine works best on freshwater samples when acidified and used at a 3-5% final concentration versus the common guidance of preserving to the “color of light tea” which generally equates to 1-2%.

Sample Preservation using Glutaraldehyde

  1. Read the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and all instructions prior to the usage of glutaraldehyde (25% in water). Eye protection and gloves are required for the usage of glutaraldehyde. Glutaraldehyde is a toxic chemical and must be treated as such. Use glutaraldehyde only in a well-ventilated area or under a chemical fume hood.
  2. Pour homogenized sample into a 250 mL wide-mouth or amber poly bottle (or similar bottle) and leave 3-5 cm headspace from the top of the bottle mouth.
  3. Keep the sample in a cooler until the sample can be preserved. Samples can be held in a dark, cool container for several hours.
  4. Add 1.0mL of 25% aqueous general grade glutaraldehyde for each 100mL of algal sample which is to be preserved. The final concentration of glutaraldehyde in the sample should be 0.25-0.50%.
  5. Securely tighten the lid onto the sample bottle.
  6. Shake the sample bottle vigorously 5 times.
  7. Uncap the sample and check for a thin layer of white foam or bubbles on the surface of the sample.
    • If the glutaraldehyde is evident in the sample, tightly close the lid onto the sample bottle. The sample is now preserved.
    • If the glutaraldehyde cannot be detected in the sample, additional glutaraldehyde might be necessary. Normally, additional preservative is needed only for extremely dense bloom or tow samples or dense periphyton samples where you are dealing with an algal slurry. Add the additional glutaraldehyde (in maximum increments of .25mL of glutaraldehyde per 100 mL of sample) to sample bottle. Repeat steps 5-7 until sample preservation is achieved.
  8. Store the sample in a cool, dark place (cover with aluminum foil if stored in well-lit area with a clear bottle) until it can be processed.
Keep the glutaraldehyde bottle tightly closed and stored in a well-ventilated area when not in use! PhycoTech will not accept any responsibility for injuries or damage incurred due to the use, misuse, or storage of glutaraldehyde.