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Dino Care

Dinoflagellate cells glowing. Photo by Andy Bass

Dinoflagellate Care


Keep your Mushlume UFO in partial sunlight or artificial room light (no direct sunlight or hot light bulbs). 

Give the Mushlume approximately 12 hours of consistent light and 12 hours of constant dark each day. 

Fun fact #3: It’s possible to change the circadian rhythm of dinoflagellates but they will take time to adjust to their new schedule (2-3 weeks to fully adjust). It’s like when we travel to a different planet time zone and our bodies must adapt to a new bedtime/wake-up schedule. 


The ideal temperature for the Mushlume UFO is 68°F (20°C). The temperature can range from 60°F to 80°F (17°C to 25°C) without harming the dinoflagellates. Sudden changes in temperature are not recommended and may be harmful to the dinoflagellates. 


As the dinoflagellates begin to thrive you may notice the liquid in the Mushlume become more turbid and yellowish in color (also brighter in bioluminescence). This is a sign of a healthy culture... 

If a less dense culture is preferred, dilute the dinoflagellates with VitaminSea™. 

Dinoflagellate life span: 

In optimal conditions Urbz® dinoflagellates will divide once every 7 days (via a process known as cell division where one cell splits into two cells). As the dinoflagellate cells divide and the culture becomes denser, the dinos will need VitaminSea to continue to grow. VitaminSea will give the dinos more water to expand into and the vitamins and minerals in the sea water will nourish the cells. 


Add VitaminSea™ to the Mushlume UFO every 2 to 3 weeks (or more frequently as needed). 

When the dinoflagellate culture is healthy and dense, replace 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 the volume of dinoflagellates with VitaminSea. 

Pro tip: Pour off the excess dinoflagellates into a clean container (like a water bottle). Use them for an experiment or purchase an extra Mushlume UFO aquarium to spread the spores of nerdy fun with a friend. 


If the dinoflagellates stop bioluminescing the culture may have crashed and will need to be replaced. Replacement dinoflagellate pouches are available here. The Mushlume UFO vessel can be cleaned and re-used. 

We guarantee that your dinoflagellates will arrive alive and healthy. Please contact us if you need support.


The dinoflagellates in the Mushlume UFO will only bioluminesce during nighttime hours, in the dark while in motion (swirling). The dinoflagellates will not light up during the daytime hours, even in a dark room. 

Fun fact #1: During the day, the dinoflagellates use light to make their own energy through a process called photosynthesis. 

The Mushlume UFO will become bioluminescent after being in the dark for about an hour into its nighttime phase (remember, it only glows while swirling). 

Fun fact #2: Dinoflagellates have a circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) just like us human Earthlings. These dinoflagellates are grown on a schedule of 12 hours of Light from 5:00am to 5pm Pacific Time (PT) and 12 hours of Dark from 5:00pm to 5:00am PT.