SPIDERS: A syringe pump system for in situ underwater dosing of benthic organisms

Mark Hatay, Neilan M. Kuntz, Forest Rohwer

Limnol. Oceanogr. Methods 3:38-45 (2005) | DOI: 10.4319/lom.2005.3.38

ABSTRACT: To determine how marine organisms respond to anthropogenic and natural stressors, it is important to treat these organisms with suspected ecotoxins in situ. It is also desirable to dose marine organisms with solutions for physiological studies (e.g., nutrients labeled with stable isotopes). The most appropriate tool for these types of studies is a syringe pump. However, all current syringe pumps use electrical motors and require a continuous electrical supply, which makes them unsuitable for most field deployments, particularly underwater. Here we describe a syringe pump that is powered by compressed air from standard SCUBA tanks. SPIDERS (Syringe Pumps Independently Deployable for Emission and Release of Solutions) allow the precise delivery of 20 independent treatment solutions. The rate that solutions are injected from SPIDERS can be adjusted from a couple of hours to 1 wk. Both the SCUBA tanks and treatment syringes can be changed underwater, permitting continuous and accurate dosing for long-term deployments. We also tested a variety of emitter designs that allow mixing of solutions with the surrounding water. SPIDERS are an adaptable platform for in situ treatment of benthic marine organisms that will allow ecotoxicology and other treatment studies to be moved from aquaria to the field.