The rotifers make up a phylum of microscopic, and near-microscopic pseudocoelomate animals.
There are a variety of different shapes of rotifer.
There is a well-developed cuticle which may be thick and rigid, giving the animal a box-like shape, or flexible, giving the animal a worm-like shape.
Most rotifers are around 0.1-0.5 mm long, and are common in freshwater throughout the world with a few saltwater species.
Rotifers may be free swimming and truly planktonic, others move by inchworming along the substrate whilst some are sessile, living inside tubes or gelatinous holdfasts.
About 25 species are colonial, either sessile or planktonic.
Rotifers get their name (derived from Latin and meaning “wheel-bearer”; they have also been called wheel animalcules) from the corona, which is composed of several ciliated tufts around the mouth that in motion resemble a wheel.
These create a current that sweeps food into the mouth, where it is chewed up by a characteristic pharynx (mastax) containing tiny jaws.
It also pulls the animal, when unattached, through the water.
Most free-living forms have pairs of posterior toes to anchor themselves while feeding.