Filamentous organisms (bacteria, fungi, etc.) occur whenever the environment of the activated sludge favors their predominance. They are normally present in small amounts and provide the basic framework for floc formation. When the environmental conditions (e.g., pH, nutrient levels, DO) favor their development, they become the predominant organisms. When this occurs, they restrict settling, and the condition known as bulking occurs.
Note: Microscopic examination of activated sludge is a useful control tool. When attempting to identify the microscopic contents of a sample, the operator should try to identify the predominant groups of organisms.
Key Point: Microscopic examination of activated sludge that reveals a predominance of amoebas indicates that the activated sludge is very young.
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