Living Material FAQs

Living Material FAQs

Living Material FAQs

Q: How long are my algae/protist/bacteria cultures viable and how to do I store them?

A: In general, bacteria cultures are viable for 2-3 weeks with caps loosened and stored at room temperature.  For algae and protozoa, the cultures are viable for 5-6 days with caps loosened and stored at room temperature. . There are exceptions, but customers should receive other instruction with those specific products.  For more information, check out the product Care Guide(s). 

For a complete list of our care guides, Click Here:  Product Support | Teacher Resources |


Q:  How many organisms are in a live culture of Bacteria, Algae, or Protozoa?

A: We are not able to provide organism counts on live cultures. We do advise that at least 30 students should be able to take a sample, place it on a slide and view the organism.


Q: How do I dispose of used microbiology materials?

A: The most effective way to kill microbes is to autoclave all materials. In the absence of an autoclave, materials can be covered in a 10% bleach solution or 70% ethanol overnight, placed in a sealable bag and discarded in the solid waste bin.


Q: My painted lady larvae/caterpillars have not made chrysalis yet and it has been over a week. What do I do?

A: The larvae will mature in 5-10 days, sometimes it takes longer than that. The growth process is highly dependent on temperature and also on what stage the larvae were when they were sent to you. As long as the caterpillars are growing and are not showing signs of drying out, they should reach the chrysalis stage soon. It is normal for all of the food to be consumed. We send more than enough food, calorie-wise, for the caterpillars to complete the chrysalis stage.

Check out the Painted Lady Care Guide: Care Guide: Painted Lady Butterfly |


Q: What kind of tadpoles did you send me?

A: We do not track which type of tadpoles go into a specific order. The type of tadpoles in each order is identified on the bag label.


Q: How long will it take my tadpoles to turn into frogs?

A: Depending on the type you have, spring peeper and toad tadpoles transform into small adults in 6 to 8 weeks. Other species, including Xenopus, take 10 to 14 weeks. Bullfrog tadpoles may take 4 to 18 months to metamorphose.

General guidelines on metamorphosis time are in the FAQ section of the tadpole care guide. Use this link to access the care guide:


Q: Why is my(Elodea) plant dark or brown?

A: Depending on the time of year and the location your plant was collected from, it may appear dark or brown in color. Unless the plant is also falling apart or mushy to the touch then it is perfectly healthy. Your plant will continue to turn more green given time and enough light.

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