Other field microscopes just became obsolete

Fish expert, Bill Manci, Fisheries Technology Associates, Inc.

Fish expert Bill Manci tests ioLight microscope

Fish expert Bill Manci reviews the ioLight portable microscope

A new product has entered the aquaculture marketplace that, potentially, could revolutionize fish disease diagnostics and live feed identification in the field or tank-side.

As a longtime aquaculture consultant, I am very familiar with conventional approaches to collection and visual analysis of potentially diseased tissues, and viewing of microscopic live food organisms. In the past, samples were collected for later preparation and viewing in a laboratory. Opportunities to view samples at a microscopic level in the field simply did not exist. Clumsy and heavy microscopes are simply too large to be practical in the field, they require power to light the viewing stage, and are easily damaged.

A British company called ioLight has developed a new set of devices that make microscopic viewing in the field possible, and indeed very easy.

ioLight offers two field-capable microscopes that are compact and easy to carry into the field. Here’s the best part. These battery-powered units generate their own Wi-Fi signals that easily connect to your iOS (i.e., iPhone or iPad) or Android device for easy viewing of the magnified image.

There are two versions of the ioLight microscope—the so-called 1-mm and 2-mm units, which refer to the width of the field of view. The 1-mm unit offers resolution down to 1 µm, and the 2-mm version is used for larger target samples. In my case, I used the 2-mm unit, which provided excellent views of microscopic zooplankton such as daphnids and rotifers, as well as individual gill filaments and parasites that potentially inhabit those tissues.

The first thing that struck me when I held the unit was its look and feel. This is a substantial, high-quality instrument made with durable materials that will stand the test of time.

Folded for storage and in its cushiony waterproof neoprene case, the unit fit nicely in my hand (6.25” X 4” X 1.25”), and weighed less than 1 pound. The optics pivot and unfold from the base, and slide up or down by hand to produce a rough focus of the target image.

I then used the ioLight app that I downloaded to my iPhone to view the subject and achieve perfect fine focus. From the app, you can choose to light the subject from above, or below, or both. You also can activate a grid from the app to accurately measure the size of objects in your sample. I then easily snapped photos and videos and stored the images on my phone.

After the photos were captured on my phone, I was able to zoom in and out as with any other photo, and see additional details without pixelation. I was quite impressed with the photo quality, despite the small size of the optics—undoubtedly, a real breakthrough.

While I can envision a multitude of uses for these devices in a number of professions, anyone serious about aquaculture will want these new tools in their diagnostic and management inventory.

Without a doubt, the portability and ruggedness of these units and the high quality of the images are the innovations that truly wowed me. For me, this was one of those moments when you say to yourself, “How did I ever get along without this device?”

Interested in trying or buying one? As compared to much larger and “clunkier” conventional technologies, ioLight microscopes are a real bargain. The 2-mm general-purpose unit has a price tag of just $1,100, and the 1-mm cell-resolution unit costs $1,200, which includes the microscope and all shipping and taxes. Customers in the US must contact the distributor, AquaSolver, in southern California (760-518-8170). If you are not satisfied, you can return the unit for a refund within 30 days.

This is an every-day device for your every-day needs.

About Bill Manci

Bill Manci is the President of Fisheries Technology Associates where he specializes, since 1982, in fisheries management, characterization and evaluation of wild fisheries, and technical and economic feasibility analysis of fish farming and aquaculture facilities. Mr. Manci also specializes in fisheries industry and commercial fishing intelligence and statistics; wild fisheries and aquaculture investment due diligence; finfish and shellfish production technology, equipment, fish feeds, fish vaccines, and systems; development of integrated aquaponics systems; and aquaculture facility and production system design, management, and assessment. He manages a team of 28 technical professionals within the fisheries and aquaculture field. Mr. Manci has more than 42 years of experience, has published more than 300 articles, and writes an editorial column for Fish Farming News and contributes to other international publications. He also participated for six years in aquaculture and fisheries research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since 1991, Mr Manci has been recognized as a Certified Fisheries Professional by the American Fisheries Society.

Fisheries Technology Associates, Inc., is a Fort Collins, Colorado (USA)-based aquaculture, aquaponics, and fisheries consulting firm. They may be reached at +1 970-225-0150 or manci@ftai.com.

ioLight joins the Royal Veterinary College in CSI investigation

Royal Veterinary College calls ioLight for back up in CSI probe

ioLight has pleasure in inviting you to the Royal Institution, London, on Wednesday 11th October to see the Royal Veterinary College’s evening of Animal CSI: What, how, when?

pocket microscope

ioLight pocket microscope

The world renowned Royal Veterinary College will be using the ioLight microscope to help present the fascinating story of veterinary pathology.

Dive into the world of veterinary pathology for an evening of mystery and intrigue, including a live-streamed dissection from the Royal Veterinary College’s laboratory and hands-on experiments and activities. Please note that due to the graphic nature of dissection, this event is suggested for ages 16+.

ioLight’s Co-Founder Richard Williams will be there to demonstrate the microscope. We would like to thank The Royal Institution and the Royal Veterinary College for the opportunity to present our microscope at this wonderful event.

The ioLight portable microscope has a similar resolution to lab microscopes, but it folds to fit in a jacket pocket or vet’s bag. Beautiful 1 micron resolution images and HD videos appear on your tablet or phone for simple sharing to the evidence dossier. At last vets and CSI forensic agents can carry out their work in the field rather than waste time and risk contaminating evidence by taking it back to the lab. The microscope is also perfect for teaching and outreach because everybody sees the same image on the screen, which gets discussions going. The ioLight microscope is now compatible with iOS and Android devices, so it is ready to get to the truth anywhere.

Friends of ioLight can find full details and get a 30% discount on ticket prices using the discount code ROYALVETCOLLEGE at Eventbrite. We look forward to seeing you this Wednesday evening.


Win a pair of complimentary passes to New Scientist Live

Hopefully by now you know that ioLight is on stand 607 at the greatest festival of ideas in the known universe! New Scientist Live takes place from Thursday 28th September to Sunday 1st October at ExCel in London docklands.

But how do you get free tickets for New Scientist Live?

Simple! All you have to do is to identify the household object below. To make it even easier, we have given you two pictures. They are both taken on ioLight’s new 2mm field of view portable microscope, which we are launching at the show.

The ioLight microscope is the world’s first lab quality portable digital microscope that fits in your pocket. The high resolution 1mm version has a resolution of 1 micron, that’s enough to display animal and plant cells clearly on the screen of your tablet. The tablet display means that everyone sees the same picture, so it’s great for education and training, and you can share your images and videos in a couple of clicks. At last scientists, engineers, educators and vets can analyse samples anywhere, without going back to the lab.

The new 2mm version has a wider field of view, which is ideal for cell counting applications and makes it even easier to use.

See the new 2mm microscope at New Scientist Live.

Win free passes to New Scientist Live

Win Free tickets to New Scientist Live

What is this? Answers on ioLight’s Facebook page.

To enter, simply go to ioLight’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/iolightmicro and post your answer. Don’t forget to Like our page as well.

Not so easy perhaps?

If  you are struggling to identify the image, you can still book tickets at https://live.newscientist.com/buy-tickets and use discount code EXHIBITOR10 to receive a 10% discount on any ticket.

We look forward to seeing you at New Scientist Live on stand 607.

Good luck!


New Forest Equine Vets use ioLight for worming at the stable

Vets use parasite testing at the yard to save money and protect horses

ioLight helps vets protect horses from parasites

New Forest Equine Vets use the ioLight microscope to diagnose worms in horses at the yard

New Forest Equine Vets are using the ioLight portable high resolution microscope to offer horse owners an on site worming service. Parasites like red worm and tapeworm are becoming increasingly resistant to drugs. If animals are not treated correctly the parasite eggs build up in the pasture and can spread rapidly. It is therefore important that owners get expert advice on worming. New Forest Equine Vets is the only practice in the area to be fully staffed by Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Advanced Practitioners in Equine Practice.

The ioLight microscope easily fits into a vet’s bag, yet still provides enough resolution to count the parasite eggs in faecal samples collected from stables. This allows the vets to manage the burden of parasites in the pasture by treating each animal with the correct worming regime.

ioLight launched the microscope in summer 2016 and has already sold it widely to animal health applications including sheep, cattle and fish. The image is delivered over a wireless link to a tablet and can easily be saved to client records or shared for expert opinion. The portability and robustness of the system makes it ideal for veterinary use. It is also very quick easy to use. ioLight has sold the product to Cambridge University, The Eden Project, The Medical Research Council and Bayer plc as well as vets.

ioLight offers a 30 day free return service to allow vets to try the product. Full specification and ordering details may be found in the ioLight web store. Contact us at info@ioLight.co.uk for more information.

Competition winner explains how he uses field microscope

Field microscope prize winner, Adrian Rogers

In February, Adrian Rogers won an ioLight field microscope in a competition run by Lab News. Adrian correctly identified all 3 microscopic images to win the competition. That’s not easy since when viewed through a microscope, even very familiar objects look nothing like they normally do. Adrian has a great Twitter feed  on which he explains his exploits with the ioLight microscope. So when I had to go to the North West I was really excited to meet Adrian and find out why he likes the ioLight portable microscope  and what he has been doing with it.

Adrian works at Romer Labs  on food testing and has been using the microscope both in the lab at work and at home for pleasure. He uses the microscope with his iPhone making it a highly portable setup that he can easily pop into his bag and take anywhere. The microscope produces its images directly onto the iPhone, so the pictures are very easy for Adrian to post onto his Twitter feed.

In the video below Adrian explains why he has been using the ioLight microscope in his work at Romer Labs.

It is really fantastic that the person who won the microscope loves using it so much at work and play! Well done Adrian for winning the competition and thanks very much for sharing so many lovely microscopic images.

ioLight microscope design wins award

ioLight is pleased to announce that our design partners at Cambridge Industrial Design have won a European Product Design Award for their creative work on the ioLight portable microscope.

Thanks to Tim, Alex and Adrian for your hard work. The microscope is a thing of great beauty as well as its impressive functionality!

Full details here

ioLight wins grant to develop low-cost fluorescence microscope

ioLight is delighted to announce that today we have learnt that we have been awarded an Innovate UK grant to develop a Low-cost Fluorescence Microscope prototype and trial it with customers. The total project value is £88,994 which will be 70% funded by Innovate UK.

Fluorescence microscopes are used every day in biochemistry, medical research and drug discovery / development. They are used to detect fluorescent markers (beacons) that tag specific features or molecules that scientists want to look at. They allow researchers to look at molecules that would otherwise be too small to see and to watch processes in vivo by following the beacons through the animal.

The problem is that fluorescence microscopes are very expensive, starting from £15,000. This grant potentially allows ioLight to offer a product at a fraction of that price. Such a product could become an everyday utility for bio labs across the world, as well as being used extensively in education.

The image below was taken on ioLight’s proof of concept fluorescence microscope. It is the nematode C.elegans, which has been genetically engineered to produce yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) in its oesophagus. YFP fluoresces under ioLight’s blue illumination so that it looks green.

This grant will work with the crowd funding that ioLight is currently raising, by enabling us to bring forward the development of this valuable fluorescence microscope and thus ultimately launch a product years before it would have otherwise been possible. If you would like to see our investment pitch and potentially invest in this exciting opportunity please visit our page on Crowdcube’s web site – www.crowdcube.com/iolight

C.elegans nematode viewed with the ioLight proof of concept low cost fluorescence microscope

C.elegans nematode viewed with the ioLight proof of concept low cost fluorescence microscope

Portable Microscope for Fish Farming, Aquaculture & Aquariums


Fish suffer from a number of parasites which cause disease. This is a particularly significant issue when there are large numbers of fish kept together, such as on salmon farms in Scotland, Ireland and Norway or tilapia farms in the USA and Far East. The farmers and vets routinely monitor the health of the fish both for the welfare of the fish and to maximise their commercial value – disease limits the growth and value of the fish.

In aquariums, ornamental fish also need to be checked for parasites – some Koi are worth tens of thousands of pounds each and the good health of the fish is greatly prized by the owners.


Microscopes are used to examine scrapes from the fish skin – the vet will look at the mucus and see if any harmful parasites are present, and then be able to treat the fish accordingly. These fish skin scrapes must be examined very soon after they are taken from the fish, so currently vets have to take large, heavy laboratory microscopes with them – this is inconvenient, and since these microscopes are not designed to be frequently transported, they are regularly damaged by vibration from transport and dirt from continually being disassembled and assembled.

In addition to looking for parasites, microscopes are used to monitor plankton and algae in the water – this is important to maintain correct nutrition and avoid certain toxic organisms.

The ioLight microscope is perfect for both of these tasks – it is small and light and has resolution of 1 micron which is sufficient for most fish health tasks. Furthermore the images are displayed on an iPhone or iPad so they are really easy to email to an expert for a second opinion. The ability to record video with the portable microscope is also very useful since with some parasites the way they move is important to determining if they are harmful or not.

CEFAS and Fish Vet Group

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aqaculture Science (CEFAS) and the Fish Vet Group (part of Benchmark Holdings) have both tested the ioLight portable microscope – below are some images taken using the new wider field of view ioLight microscope (2 mm field of view). This microscope is great for fish work, including for use with the Sedgewick Rafter type counting chambers to count the numbers of plankton etc in water samples.

You can invest in the ioLight microscope at www.crowdcube.com/iolight

Fish gills under ioLight portable microscope

Fish gills under ioLight portable microscope


Plakton in Sedgewick Rafter counting chamber. Taken with the ioLight portable microscope.

Plankton in Sedgewick Rafter counting chamber. Taken with the ioLight portable microscope.

ioLight microscope used to investigate animal parasites in lab

What are the effects of animal parasites?

All animals carry parasites, such as intestinal worms (or helminths). The parasites cause several diseases including gastritis and enteritis, which prevent the animal putting on weight. Some pathological parasites can even kill livestock.

The cost of parasites to farmers is large. The Animal Health drugs market is reported to be worth more than $7.5BN and many of these drugs are targeted on parasites. Companion animals, such as dogs and cats, are wormed regularly by their caring owners. However, parasites such as canine lungworm are killing increasing numbers of pets. This is why Bayer is using ioLight microscopes to promote Advocate®, which prevents infestation.

Reducing drug use

Governments worldwide are now introducing regulations to reduce the use of drugs in the food chain. Vets now have to diagnose intestinal parasites before treating farm animals. This is done by collecting a fecal sample from the back of the animal and sending it off to the lab for microscopic analysis to detect parasite eggs. This usually takes two days after which the vet returns to the farm to treat the animals if required. The ioLight portable field microscope is highly portable and has a wipe clean surface (which is important to vets working behind animals). It is also less expensive than a lab microscope and produces images on a tablet that can easily be shared with the vet’s clients, building that crucial trust between vet and farmer.


Moredun are one of the UK’s foremost labs working on animal parasites. They work with their member farmers and government to devise practical methods of controlling parasites. Moredun carry out standard faecal egg counts as described in a previous article; however they also study the life cycle of the parasites with the aim of increasing understanding to help to devise new methods of control.

Sheep nematodes have a fascinating life cycle – nematode eggs are laid inside sheep and leave the animal in the dung where they hatch into first stage larvae. They then shed their skin and become second stage larvae, remaining in the dung. Their skin is shed once more and they become third stage larvae at which point they leave the dung and move on to the grass where they are eaten by the sheep and the life cycle begins again.

Below is an image taken by Thomas Tzelos of Moredun using the ioLight field microscope. This image shows a sheep parasitic nematode, the brown stomach worm (aka Teladorsagia circumcincta, to give it it’s proper name!) The nematode is in the process of shedding its skin for the second time and becoming the infective third stage larvae.

Sheep nematode worm shedding its sheath. Taken with the ioLight field microscope

Sheep nematode worm shedding its sheath. Taken with the ioLight portable field microscope

The ioLight microscope provides a really convenient and easy to use way of imaging these larvae in the lab without all the complexity and cost of a conventional microscope.

ioLight portable microscope used in cancer research

Cancer Research at Birmingham University

Birmingham University is ranked third in the UK for biosciences and has many great research projects including the cancer research of Dr Farhat Khanim with Prof Chris bunce. Yesterday at the School of Bioscience, Dr Khanim tested the ioLight portable microscope for use in her work trialling potential cancer therapies in a project called The Centre for Accelerated Drug Redeployment.

ioLight portable microscope used in cancer research

Dr Khanim using the ioLight pocket microscope

The clinics in which Dr Khanim is running tests are in remote places, don’t have lab facilities and are staffed by less experienced people. Conventional lab microscopes are too large, fragile and difficult to use in this situation. Portable microscopes are ideal for this work because they solve these issues. Other portable microscopes lack the image quality (resolution) to see inside the cancer cells, and many lack internet connectivity to automatically upload the images to the cloud. This feature allows researchers in Birmingham to immediately examine the images taken in the remote clinics. ioLight’s field micoscope is the perfect solution for Dr Khanim’s work because of the image quality (1 micron resolution) and internet connectivity.

Why is image quality is so important in Dr Khanim’s work?

All cells in our bodies go through a life cycle:  growth – specialise to perform a function – carry out that function – die. It is very important that the cells die, otherwise the body quickly becomes unhealthy. Cancer cells cause harm because they start to grow but then don’t specialise and so don’t  go on to die, but instead keep growing causing a wide range of problems – this is the basic feature of all cancers. Dr Khanim’s research uses the microscope to look at the cancer cells and then exposes the cells to different potential drugs to see if these drugs can induce the process of differentiation in the cell. If the differentiation process can be started, then the cells will ultimately die and so help to ‘heal’ the cancer. The onset of the differentiation process is signified by a change in shape of the cell nucleus – a growing cancer cell has a smooth, round nucleus, but when the cell is stimulated to differentiate by the drugs, the nucleus develops lobes and loses its circular shape.

Using the ioLight handheld digital field microscope, Dr Khanim took the image below of leukaemia cells and you can clearly see that some of the cells have started the differentiation process because the nucleus is starting to develop lobes – this clearly shows that ioLight’s portable microscope is suitable for use in cancer research.

Leukemia cells viewed with the ioLight portable microscope

Leukemia cells viewed with the ioLight portable microscope. A handheld digital field microscope

You can invest in ioLight at www.crowdcube.com/iolight