Oscillatoria is a genus of filamentous algae that contains more than 70 species. It can occupy diverse habitats such as hot springs, marine habitats, and temperate, tropical, and polar lakes and ponds. Oscillatoria is a deep blue-green or brown color. It first forms dense, slimy, benthic (bottom) mats on mud or rocks. Sometimes these mats detach and float to the surface. Like other filamentous algal genera, oscillatoria reproduces by fragmentation.
Oscillatoria is so named due to the slow “oscillations” or rhythmic movements of the colonies. It is thought that oscillatoria can move using a mucilage sheath and sliding back and forth against other cells to propel themselves. They could also expel the mucilage from one end of the cell in order to propel themselves in the opposite direction. These colonies can move to orient with sunlight or with nutrient rich pockets of water.