SOS Monitoring Equipment

SOS Monitoring Equipment

Download copies of the forms you need before you go stream-side.

NOTE: The instructions for physical monitoring are taken from the Creek Freaks training program and reference working with students. You follow the same steps working with adult volunteers.

Specific equipment is required to monitor streams using the Save Our Streams biological monitoring method. All items are available through outside vendors. Below is information about where you can obtain each piece of equipment for reasonable prices.

Rocky Bottom and Muddy Bottom Sampling Kits: Recommended equipment list for a kit includes one kick seine (rocky botttom) or D-frame (muddy bottom) net, one aquatic thermometer, one hand-held magnifier lens, one forceps, two large magnifier boxes and five small magnifier boxes. If holding workshops, you may want to consider purchasing extra forceps, magnifier lenses, and magnifier boxes to allow multiple users to work together.

Kick Seine Net - 1/16 inch mesh (volunteer) or 1/32 inch mesh (professional): A nylon mesh 3-by-3 foot net for collecting macroinvertebrates in stream riffles. Poles not included. Available from Nichols Net & Twine,, 800-878-6387. Ask for SOS kick seine with 1/16 in. mesh or 1/32 in. mesh. Or you can build your own! Learn more in our "how to" article (PDF link).

D-Frame Net for Muddy Bottom Stream Sampling: A 1/32 inch nylon mesh net on a D-shaped frame and 4-foot long pole. Ideal for sampling aquatic insects found on overhanging vegetation and in mud or gravel stream beds. Available from Ward's Natural Science,, 800-962-2660. Item #10 V 0620.  Replacement bag, item #10 V 0615, and replacement handle, item #10 V 0625, also available. Or you can build your own! Learn more in our "how to" article (PDF link).

Aquatic Thermometer: A Fahrenheit thermometer for recording stream temperature (range 0 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit). Enclosed in plastic case for safety. Easy to read. Available from Ben Meadows,, 800-241-6401. Item #111053. 

Magnifier Box (small - 1 in. x 1 in. x .75 in.): Plastic box with 4x magnifier lid. Fill with water and use to identify aquatic insects. Available from Nasco,, 800-558-9595.  Item #SB10304M.

Magnifier Box (large - 1 1/2 inch cube): Plastic box with 3x magnifier lid. Fill with water and use to identify aquatic insects. Available from Nasco,, 800-558-9595.  Item #SB10305M.

Hand-held Magnifier Lens: 4-1/2 x magnifier with a 1-inch diameter lens. Available from Nasco,, 800-558-9595. Item #SB18031M.

Forceps: 4-1/2" fine points straight forceps with guide pin. Serrated points. Superior grade. Now available from: Nasco,, 800-558-9595. Item #SB12628M.

Field Guide to Aquatic Macroinvertebrates (4 panel laminated brochure): This handy reference tool is designed to help volunteer monitors identify aquatic macroinvertebrates when conducting water quality surveys. The diagrams of the macroinvertebrate larvae and adults are grouped by biological type and display common features that characterize each animal. Symbols indicate the relative sensitivity categories (sensitive, less sensitive, and tolerant) based on the general Save Our Streams classification system. Now available from: McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company,, 800-233-8787.

Watershed Stewardship Action KitThis publication includes the instructions and data form for the Izaak Walton League's biological stream monitoring method. Fact sheets address stream and wetland ecology, water monitoring, and federal regulations and teach the reader to fundraise, organize watershed cleanups, reduce water usage at home, survey watersheds, and monitor water quality. Use this resource to start your own watershed stewardship projects or to teach others about the importance of water conservation. Available from McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company,, 800-233-8787.

Guide to Aquatic Insects and CrustaceansAn updated version of the original Save Our Streams Monitor's Guide to Aquatic Macroinvertebrates, this 64-page fully illustrated guide is designed to enable anyone to identify aquatic insects and crustaceans.  It includes a dichotomous key, detailed description of each organism, and tips for proper identification. Available from, 800-732-3669.

Many different types of equipment can measure the chemical parameters used by the Izaak Walton League’s Save Our Streams water quality monitoring program. Equipment costs, ease of use, and accuracy vary greatly. The League recommends the following equipment. You should also have stopwatch or watch with a second hand.

The majority of physical monitoring uses visual observations and requires only a data form and a pencil. If taking a measurement of stream flow, additional equipment is needed, including string or twine, a permanent marker, a whiffle ball, and a stopwatch that goes to hundredths of a second. Most cell phone stop watches will suffice. In addition, flow measurements require a yard stick and an open-reel 100-foot measuring tape (such as the one available from Forestry Suppliers).

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