A heterotroph is an organism that eats other plants or animals for energy and nutrients.
Paramecia eat microorganisms that are smaller than them, like bacteria, algae, and yeasts. A single paramecium has the ability to eat 5,000 bacteria a day. As the paramecium moves forward, rotating around its own axis, food materials (like bacteria and algae) flow closer to the opening of the oral groove. To gather the food, the paramecium uses its oral cilia lining the oral groove to sweep the food along with some water into its cell mouth. The food goes through the cell mouth (cytostome) into the gullet (cytopharynx). Through a process known as phagocytosis, the food is packed into food vacuoles for digestion.
Paramecia are attracted by acidic conditions since they feed on bacteria, which often slightly acidify their surroundings. They are an important link in the food web of aquatic ecosystems, feeding on bacteria. The dead organic matter often associated with these bacteria, which are preyed upon by other protists and small animals.
[In this figure] Food web of the aquatic ecosystem.
Every member of the ecosystem is essential. Protozoa like paramecia feed on bacteria and algae. Then, zooplankton and small crustaceans (for example, copepods and daphnia) prey for paramecia.
This article covers
- Where to find paramecia? – Their natural habitation
- How to find paramecia for your microscopic project?
- How to culture paramecia in my laboratory, classroom or at home
- How to observe paramecia under a microscope
- Premade slide set is a good alternative to look at paramecia
- Scientific discovery with the aid of paramecium – the competitive exclusion principle
- Predator and prey – the relationship of Didinium and Paramecium