Many customers have had occasion to employ a pipette tip box lid as a reagent reservoir. They are quick, easy and cheap! However, several serious limitations become immediately obvious—especially when automation equipment is involved in your process.


  • They are not sturdy enough to be picked up by most automated grippers
  • They are not ANSI/SLAS standard footprint; that means that they will not locate sufficiently for repeated access by automated pipettors
  • They are very light weight and are easily spilled by light contact with pipettor tips and hands
  • Dead volumes can be large because the filling solutions pool in corners
  • Manually tilting the container to minimize dead volume generates risk
  • Automation of the tilting process is difficult

In the world of manufactured reagent reservoirs, there are categories of reusable and disposable.

Disposable Reservoirs

Disposable reservoirs are generally targeted at small volumes, they are constructed of very light weight materials, and they are frequently not standard dimension, nor are they easily addressed by automation equipment. This combination of features can create a vessel that is easily knocked over or moved while in use. Laboratory personnel are trained professionals, adept at delicate manipulation, but stuff still happens. Disposable has the advantages of minimizing cost/unit and cost of upkeep, plus they can be supplied sterile. Depending on your process, these advantages can be worthwhile but, by nature of the category, disposables are not good for the environment.

Reusable Reservoirs

Reusable reagent reservoirs are sturdy containers that, for many applications, can be in use for years! In addition to being supplied sterile or non-sterile, they can be autoclaved and exposed to other harsh temperature and chemical conditions. Reusable reservoirs comply with ANSI/SLAS standards for dimensions, are usually heavy enough to present a very stable container for manual access, and they can be filled and then stacked vertically to minimize footprint on automated platforms or within hoods. Multi-chambered reagent reservoirs provide a means of storing an assortment of assay solutions while minimizing footprint. Reservoirs with small segmented chambers provide a right-sized volume for scarce solutions while offering a bottom geometry that minimizes dead volumes. The orientation of the chambers within a segmented reservoir can be leveraged to optimize transfers with 4-, 8-, 12-, 16- and 24-tip manual pipettors. Segmented reagent reservoirs are also useful in “printing” reagent combination patterns for design of experiment (DOE) assays using automated 96- and 384-channel pipettor heads.

Get the Right Tool for the Task

It is always best to have the right tool for any task! Assay processes can be easily optimized by careful selection of a microplate reservoir geometry. Seahorse Microplates offers the world’s largest and most diverse array of reusable microplate reservoirs. Our website provides a Product Selection Tool for choosing the perfect reagent reservoir for your application. You can select optimized plate heights, number of chambers, well volumes, bottom geometries, and chamber orientations. The tool will generate a list of reservoirs that meet your requirement criteria and you can then review a technical drawing of each selection to insure a superior fit.

Seahorse Microplates manufacturing processes allow assembly of a wide range of the variables within the Selection Tool categories that are not listed in the catalog. Contact us to request a free sample, request an estimate, schedule a consultation, or ask a general question. We’re happy to help you obtain an optimal reagent reservoir solution for your next pipetting project.