Information provided by
Aquatic Biology Associates, Inc., 3490 NW Deer Run Rd., Corvallis, OR 97330.
Phone 541-752-1568 FAX 541-754-9605 email

Sources for supplies & equipment used in field sampling of macroinvertebrates are listed below. Please let us know if you encounter other sources that are cheaper or more convenient.


Technical grade (99+%) Isopropyl Alcohol is probably the cheapest alcohol preservative available. Most local chemical & scientific supply houses will sell & ship 5 gallon metal cans (about $75). Drums (55 gallon) of alcohol are the most cost effective (about $250/drum). In emergencies, isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol from grocery or discount stores can be used.

Denatured ethanol can also be used. Denatured means they have taken drinkable grain distilled ethanol, and combined it with some solvent that stinks, so people won't drink it. It is usually more expensive than isopropyl, plus the denaturing solvents are usually obnoxious and toxic.

Sample Bottles

"You get what you pay for" when it comes to plastic sample jars. Strong, leak-proof jars, with lids that won't vibrate loose are expensive. However, they can be recycled enumerable times. 

ABA prefers to use 1 liter or 500 ml., wide-mouth, polypropylene, Nalgene jars. They are leak-proof, and when screwed on tightly, lids will not vibrate loose during transport. These jars can be rented from ABA, or obtained at scientific supply houses (e.g., Nurnburg or even Forestry Suppliers). The 1 liter size is about $4.75/each, and the 500 ml. size about $3.00/each.

The client is responsible for making sure that samples arrive at our lab in good condition.

Coolers for Shipping

ABA rents coolers & sample jars to our clients. Coolers can be bought at many retail outlets. Be sure that the length/girth of the cooler is less than 130" for shipping by UPS.

Surber Samplers

Available from Research Nets (best design and price), Wildco, and some Scientific & Forestry suppliers. Make sure the mesh size is what you want ... e.g. 500 micron.

Net Repair & Replacement

Small holes in Nitex nets can be repaired with "Aquaseal" or "Shoe-Goo 2". This glue is available at many sporting goods stores, and at dive shops. Larger holes can be repaired by sewing. Use a nylon thread. Replacement nets for the ABA kick-net or Hess Sampler can be obtained from ABA or Research nets.


Dredges can be used to sample the invertebrate communities of soft substrates in lentic waters, or slow moving streams/rivers. Ekman and Petite Ponar dredges are commonly used. These are available from Wildco or Forestry Supply catalogs. They are expensive. ABA can rent or loan a Petite Ponar.


A sieve is needed to concentrate samples in the field. Sieves are also available directly from the Gilson Company. Ask for U.S.A. Standard Testing Sieves. These are available in a variety of mesh sizes, diameters, and in brass or stainless steel. A standard height, 8" diameter sieve is best. The 500 micron sieve is No. 35. The 250 micron sieve is No. 60. Stainless steel will hold up better in the field, though it is more expensive.

OR DEQ Subsampling Tray (for sample splitting in the lab or field)

This is a 250 micron mesh, rectangular, stainless steel, gridded sieve that nests in a plastic tray. Samples are suspended in water and dispersed evenly across the nested sieve & tray. The sieve is then lifted out of the tray. Any desired fraction of the total sample can then be sectioned off and scooped from the sieve. Available from Larry Caton, 7024 SW 52nd Ave., Portland, OR 97219. 503-246-7986

5 & 1 Gallon Plastic Buckets

Paint stores usually have these for sale.


The Rubbermaid Vegetable Scrubber with a short handle has the ideal brush stiffness for brushing invertebrates off rocks while sampling. The model with a short handle is ideal, but apparently is no longer manufactured. Dish & pot scrubbing brushes with 6-8" handles can also be used. These are available at most grocery or variety stores. Brass or wire brushes will mangle invertebrates, and should not be used.


Dental forceps are ideal for field work. These are available from Carolina Biological Supply, other scientific supply houses, and probably in forestry supply catalogs.

Sorting Tubs

Sorting tubs are used to clean large debris from samples before concentrating in a sieve and transferring to a sample bottle. White dish tubs are ideal, and are available at grocery & variety stores.

Specimen Vials

ABA recommends the following vials for storing invertebrate specimens. These are a snap-cap vial with a positive seal. They are cheap. When filled with alcohol & properly sealed, they are will not dry out for 5-10 years. Vials should be checked every few years for loss of preservative.

Miniature glass scintillation vial

125502 or 125502BP 5ml soda lime glass 15mm dia. X 45mm, natural polyethylene stopper 1728/short case $78 or 3456/BP case $125

Research Products International, 410 N. Business Center Drive, Mt. Prospect, IL 60056. Order Toll-Free 1-800-323-9814, FAX 1-708-635-1177.

For critical specimens, or for long-term archiving in museums, "patent lip" vials with neoprene stoppers should be used. These are very expensive. They can be obtained from most scientific supply companies.

"Rite in the Rain" paper & field notebooks

Field notebooks and reams of paper for copying field forms are available directly from the J.L. Darling Co., or through Forestry Supply outlets.

Write-on Label Tape

This is special laboratory tape that will stay on sample jars, but can be peeled off cleanly, so jars can be recycled. Permanent inks will "bleed" when exposed to alcohol. Writing with permanent ink on this special label tape will bleed some, but still remain legible.

Label tape is available from many scientific supply houses. When ordering, ask for: Bel Arts Products, Write-on Label Tape. The 1" wide white tape is best. It is also available in other colors & sizes.


Forest Service or BLM District maps are good for determining transportation access to sampling sites, obtaining Township/Range/Section coordinates, and for describing the general site location & basin. However, they usually don't have elevation contours. Maps for many Northwest Forests and BLM districts are now available at most forest supervisor's offices, university & other bookstores, and outdoor recreational equipment stores. Individual Forest Service or BLM districts usually stock larger scale district maps with elevation contours. The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) apparently has a map outlet store in the Portland area.

Delorme Mapping has put together state atlases & gazetteers for [all] states. These are 1:150,000 topographic maps. These are very handy.

More detailed topographic maps are supplied by the USGS of course.

Aluminum Site Tags

ABA uses 3 X 4" double face aluminum tags to mark biomonitoring sites. These are available from Forestry Suppliers.

Contact the SalmonWeb at Thursday, 06-Aug-1998 20:14:45 PDT