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Carl-von-Ossietzky University Oldenburg
Infrastructure Description

The experimental facility consists of 12 indoor mesocosms, so-called Planktotrons. The Planktotrons are custom-tailored units built of austenitic stainless steel, developed and established at the University of Oldenburg, Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM) in Wilhelmshaven. Each tank has a fillable height of 1.2 m and an inner diameter of 0.8 m, resulting in a volume of 600 L. The 2-walled tanks with pillow-plate technology allow temperature control independently in three vertical strata by circulating heating or cooling medium between the two walls. Temperature is measured using PT100 sensors mounted on the rotating paddle at three different depths. Each temperature zone can be adjusted between 5 and 35 °C.

During the experiments, rotating paddles with regulated speed can be used to avoid wall growth and for mixing the water in the Planktotrons in regular intervals with defined speed. The paddle itself can easily be disconnected and modified or shortened for other experimental setups. Sampling can be conducted from the top or at six different depths by connecting a sampling lance to one of the sampling ports. Additional ports allow connecting Planktotrons among each other, which enables meta-community approaches or the usage of automated water-pumping on-line sensor instrumentation. Two fully controllable LED lighting units assure light conditions with a near-natural light spectrum.


Planktotrons in temperature controlled room for indoor experiments. Photo: M. Striebel


Scheme of the Planktotrons

Facility Description

indoor (outdoor) – freshwater/marin – pelagic/benthic

  • 12 indoor mesocosms with 600 l volume (height 120 cm, diameter 80 cm) for marine or freshwater experiments and natural or artificial communities
  • 3 temperature zones: upper half, lower half, and bottom
  • Build-in rotor prevents wall growth
  • Six ports at different levels of the water column for direct sampling
  • Planktotrons can be connected for metacommunity approaches
  • Sediment inclusion possible
Organisation Address

Carl-von-Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM)

Schleusenstr. 1




Infrastructure Address


Schleusenstr. 1




Information Sources




Plankotrons in WilhelmshavenPlankotrons in Wilhelmshaven


Maren Striebel

Miriam Gerhard

Anika Happe

Controlled Parameters

Temperature: from 5-25°C for constant temperature (higher for heat wave simulations)

Light: LED-lights simulate daylight with different intensities

Research Topics

Phytoplankton, ciliates, zooplankton, food web, biodiversity, metacommunities

Experiment Years

started in 2014

TA Support

Services currently offered by the infrastructure: Users will have access to the full range of the facility, which. addition to the Planktotrons includes: fluorescence, stereo and inverted microscopes, autoanalyser for dissolved nutrients; multichannel probes for measurements of oxygen, pH, conductivity and temperature, probe for light intensity and spectrum measurements, Turner fluorometer; Beckman particle counter, FlowCam, elemental analyser to determine particulate CN, clean bench and a molecular-biology lab. Various climate chambers exist where cultures required for experiments can be pre-cultured.

Support offered under AQUACOSM-plus: Users will be given full access to the facilities at the ICBM University of Oldenburg, and receive all training and assistance necessary to operate instruments and facilities before starting and during experiments. Users will be connected to the aquatic ecology group providing opportunities for networking and large potential for scientific exchange. The ICBM as a whole (Wilhelmshaven and Oldenburg) provides an international working community, hosting several world-leading scientists.

TA Modality of Access

Modality of access under AQUACOSM-plus: A total of at least 600 person days will be allocated to external users through TA provided under AQUACOSM-plus. It is anticipated that AQUACOSM-plus will support stays of at least 6 persons for 50 days per year in two seasons between M22-45.

TA Accommodation

Dormitory with different rooms for up to 30 sleeping guests, kitchen facilities, auditorium that holds up to ca. 50 persons

Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. - Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei
Müggelseedamm 301 and 310
12587 Berlin, Germany