Seawater samples from a variety of locations contained viable luminous bacteria, but luminescence was not detectable although the system used to measure light was sensitive enough to measure light from a single, fully induced luminous bacterial cell. When the symbiotically luminous fishCleidopus gloriamaris was placed in a sterile aquarium, plate counts of water samples showed an increase in luminous colony-forming units. Luminescence also increased, decreasing when the fish was removed. Light measurements of water samples from a sterile aquarium containingPhotoblepharon palpebratus, another symbiotically luminous fish, whose bacterial symbionts have not been cultured, showed a similar pattern of increasing light which rapidly decreased upon removal of the fish. These experiments suggest that symbiotically luminous fishes release brightly luminous bacteria from light organs into their environment and may be a source of planktonic luminous bacteria. Although planktonic luminous bacteria are generally not bright when found in seawater, water samples from environments with populations of symbiotically luminous fish may show detectable levels of light.