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Diatoms Individuals or colonies of diatoms are generally free floating in the water column.  These photosynthetic organisms are prolific producers, and are one of the most important food sources for many aquatic animals.  One notable physical trait of diatoms is that most species display strong radial symmetry.  Although there are thousands of different species of diatoms inhabiting nearly every water body on the planet, this guide will focus on those that live in Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.