Don’t want to get a dog, cat, or gerbil for your kids? How about a fascinating different kind of “pet” – one that glows in the dark? Dino Pet is simply a container of photosynthetic bioluminescing dinoflagellates. These dinoflagellates are single celled algae that produce their own food via photosynthesis just like plants and will produce blue light when disturbed at night. Since they function best with a consistent amount of exposure to light and dark conditions, they will flourish under a grow light or an aquarium light set on a timer for 12 hours exposure to light per day then 12 hours exposure to darkness. During daylight hours, they will photosynthesize (no bioluminescing), then during the night time hours they will bioluminesce when agitated. It is also important to keep them within a strict temperature range (65-75 degrees F or 18-24 degrees C), so they should not be placed in a window that receives direct sunlight which would increase the temperature within the container. Shipping is also tricky because of the temperature requirements and they cannot be shipped during excessively hot or cold weather.
Dino Pet is shipped with a clear apatosaurus shaped micro aquarium (6″ x 3″ x 6″), dino food, and dinoflagellates, none of which should be refrigerated when received. When they are shipped to you it is important to open the package of dinoflagellates right away and empty it into the aquarium which is sized to leave a little room to agitate them to create the luminescing at night. To extend the life of your dinoflagellates, it is suggested by BioPop that you feed them with dino food every four to six weeks.
You may order Dino Pet from BioPop for $59.95 which will ship on Mondays and Tuesdays. Orders placed after 12 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday will be shipped the following week.
If this seems a little pricey to you, you can order the bioluminescing dinoflagellates, Pyrocystis fusiformis, from Sunnyside Sea Farms or from Empco. Sunnyside Sea Farms will send you 3-50ml bags for $25. You will need to purchase some clear vials separately to grow them in. Please see University of California, Santa Barbara‘s website for more information about these dinoflagellates and some experiments you could perform using these fascinating organisms.