Bioluminescent Aquariums

Light-Up Algae

Bioluminescent dinos are the glowing stars of BioPop’s aquariums—which are equal parts educational and eye-catching. The dinos are actually microscopic marine algae called dinoflagellates (or dinos, for short) that, with gentle shaking, softly glow at night.

Biologists Dean Sauer and Andy Bass were experimenting with sustainable
biolights when they were introduced to the dinos. But because the algae needs that gentle shaking to glow, it wasn’t a good choice for a light source. Instead, it sparked the idea to create these illuminating aquariums.

The California-grown algae thrive on moderate sunlight, water, and nutrients from the enriched seawater inside, which Biopop created just to feed the dinos. Whether you opt for the elegant, hand-blown glass sphere aquarium, or the dinosaur-shaped version for kids, both showcase the beauty of science.
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What are dinos doing in an aquarium?

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Grommet Launch Conversation

  • Dean

    Hello Grommetians, We are embarrassingly ecstatic to introduce y'alls newest luminescent friend, The Dino Pet. The Dino Pet hosts thousands of tiny marine algae (little plants) called dinoflagellates. Like you, these little 'Dinos' light up at night when disrupted. This natural light is called bioluminescence. The Dino Pet is 80% science, 30% magic and 0% math.

  • Patricia
    7/26/2017 10:25 AM

    Sounds like a very cool gift for a child that loves anything science and dinosaurs. How difficult is it to take care of the little critters? Thank you.

  • Dean
    Dean – Special Guest
    7/26/2017 10:32 AM

    @Patricia Taking care of a DinoPet is kind of like taking care of a houseplant. Make sure your Dino receives light during the day and ‘water’ with DinoFood once a week.

  • LAuren
    7/26/2017 10:34 AM


    So I guess they will eventually die off? How long does these typically last?

  • Lord Ezra
    Lord Ezra
    7/26/2017 10:52 AM

    @LAuren 1-3 months. So you're renting a toy at $20 a month.

  • Dean
    Dean – Special Guest
    7/26/2017 11:08 AM

    @Lord Ezra Hi Lord Ezra, taking care of a DinoPet is kind of like taking care of a houseplant. If you keep your Dino in the right light and temperatures, and give nutrients every so often, your Dinos can last for years!

  • Jana
    7/26/2017 10:29 AM

    One food container says to feed 10 mL/week and the other says 50mL/week. What is difference between the two? Also, 50 mL looks like about half the total volume of the dinosaur. How do you add 50 mL without pouring out your dinos?

  • Dean
    Dean – Special Guest
    7/26/2017 12:01 PM

    @Jana The DinoPet and DinoSphere are each different environments. One is open (DinoSphere) and one is closed (DinoPet). DinoFood and Dino Nutrients are specially formulated for each environment.

    Eventually you will need to pour off the abundant algae to make more room (like mowing a lawn). You may pour out the algae into a new clean and clear container or down the drain.

  • Debora
    7/26/2017 11:13 AM

    Once they are gently shaken, how long do they glow before you need to shake them again?

  • Dean
    Dean – Special Guest
    7/26/2017 12:03 PM

    @Debora The bioluminescence is transient. Dinoflagellates will only produce light during interaction. Once you put the Dinos they will stop lighting up until they are interacted with again.

  • Jennifer
    7/26/2017 1:36 PM

    I've seen these and have died to get one after having an instructor in college spend hours drawing dinoflagellates and talking about them. What a great way to showcase bio luminescence and the little eukaryotes that create red tides!! Google them sometime, they are truly beautiful creatures full of artwork. Cant wait to get mine!

  • Dean
    Dean – Special Guest
    7/26/2017 1:42 PM


  • Dean
    Dean – Special Guest
    7/26/2017 1:45 PM


    Ahoy! :) We are so glad to sea that you love Dinos as much as we do. Keep us posted with how your Dinos are adapting to their new home and send us a pick sometime! Best fishes

The launch day conversation has ended. Please direct further questions about this Grommet to our Community Experience Team.