Paramecium

Paramecium (genus)

There are many different species of paramecium. They are difficult to tell apart.

Paramecium, like all protists, are single-celled organisms. Cells are the building blocks for all life forms. "Single-celled" means that a paramecium has only one cell for its entire body. Most plants and animals have more cells than you can count.

The inside of a paramecium is a jelly-like fluid called protoplasm. Bits of food and other materials float around in the protoplasm.

Paramecium are so tiny that you need a microscope to see them. They live in water, including lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, and puddles. Some can even live in the bodies of animals or in moist soil.

Pratt

It may be difficult to see in the pictures, but Paramecium have tiny hair-like things, called cilia, all around the outside of their cell. Cilia are important, because they are how Paramecium move. By beating the cilia back and forth, the Paramecium can move through the water. Protists with cilia, such as Paramecium, move much faster than other protists.

Like other protists, Paramecium usually attach themselves to the bottom of the pond or stream, or to a plant. Sometimes they "swarm." That means they all let go and swim around until they find a new place to attach.

Paramecium reproduce by a process called binary fission. This means the Paramecium can split in half and become two new Paramecium.

Paramecium eat algae, bacteria, other protozoans, dead plant and animal matter, and other tiny animals. They have something similar to a mouth, called a cytostome, to let food items into their bodies.

Some types of green algae can live inside the protoplasm of a Paramecium. Here, it takes nutrients from the Paramecium, but it also gives important nutrients as well.

Copyright, Biology Learning Center, Grand Rapids Community College

Y. Tsukii

Paramecium are eaten by other protists, as well as animals that eat plankton (microscopic organisms in the water), such as water fleas and mussels.

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Paramecium
Video
Nikon Microscopy U
Download Quicktime if you are unable to play video.

Relationships in Nature:

PREY/FOOD
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Green Algae

Amoeba

Yellow Pond Lily

Green Algae Mu

Amoeba

Water Flea

Common Duckweed

Bacteria

Eastern Lamp Mussel

Pickerelweed

Euglena

Golden Shiner

Common Cattail

Euglena

Hydrilla

Greater Bladderwort

Long-leaf Pondweed

Black Crappie

Greater Bladderwort

Rotifer

Copepod

Scud

Predatory Nematode

Flatworm

Relationship to Humans:

Paramecium are helpful by controlling algae, bacteria, and other protists. They also help clean up tiny particles of debris in the water, and they feed small animals. Paramecium can also live inside human bodies, and some can cause illness.

KINGDOM
Protist
PHYLUM
Protozoa
CLASS
Ciliata
ORDER
Hymenostomatida
FAMILY
Parameciidae
GENUS
Paramecium
SPECIES
Paramecium (many species)

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