Floscularia ringens is king of its castle. Brick by brick, this microscopic rotifer – or “wheel animal” – builds the tube it inhabits. To make its home, the rotifer gathers organic debris from the water it lives in through a socket in its head. This detritus is formed into round, reddish pellets inside its body. Here you can see a rolled “brick” inside the rotifer, ready to be deposited on the wall around it.
This species of rotifer lives submerged in freshwater near plants, attaching to surfaces like the underside of the leaves of water lilies. They’re no bigger than 2 millimetres long and their Mickey-Mouse-style lobes are lined with fast-moving hairs called “cilia” which give the illusion that their round protrusions are spinning. The cilia propel food from the surrounding water into the rotifer’s mouth.
Charles Krebs of Issaquah, Washington created this portrait of the tiny creature using a special flash to freeze the cilia’s rapid motion. He has also produced a video that shows the cilia moving and the Floscularia ringens depositing debris pellets onto its surrounding tube.