Cyanobacteria Bloom Detection

  • Cyanobacteria Bloom Detection


The process of assessing the potential danger of cyanobacteria in a water body includes several steps. Step 1 focuses on how to detect a cyanobacteria bloom.


Step 1 | Bloom Detection  Step 2 | Field Sampling  Step 3 | Identification  Step 4 | Toxin Testing


  Step 1| Cyanobacteria Bloom Detection  


Potential signs of blooms

– Presence of surface scums (yellow, green, blue-green, bubbly)
– Colonies/filaments that are easily visible in the water (or against a light background) with the naked eye
– Frothy appearance at near shore areas
– If no direct scums, an olive color to the water
– Presence of dead fish or mussels
– Lack of larger zooplankton in tows

Physical appearance of cells/filaments/colonies

– Presence and location of heterocysts
– Presence and location of akinetes
– Presence of sheath
– Shape and size of cells
– Shape of colony (tangled filaments or a straight line)
– Physiological health of cells, are they healthy or degrading
– Composition of other taxa in the community


– earthy/musty
– sulfurous
– septic
– grassy (contributed by non-Cyanobacteria)
– fishy (contributed by non-Cyanobacteria)
– cucumber-like (contributed by non-Cyanobacteria)
– geranium (contributed by non-Cyanobacteria)

Fish Kills

– Extent and location
– Composition of taxa in the kill
– Lesions