Structural parameters of periphytic ciliate communities on a modified substrate were studied in Korean coastal waters during the period August–November 2007. In order to reduce the strong disturbances from tidal current and circulation in marine ecosystems, a modified slide method, named the polyurethane foam enveloped slide (PFES) system, was used to host ciliate communities. A total of 37 ciliate species, about half of which belong to the orders Hypotrichida and Cyrtophorida, were identified using living observation and silver impregnation method with this system. The sessile ciliates belonged to the orders Peritrichida and Suctorida, while the motile forms were represented primarily by the species of the orders Hypotrichida, Cyrtophorida and Pleurostomatida. The species diversity and evenness were significantly higher in the PFES system than those on the conventional slides (paired t-test: t = 2.384, 2.415; P < 0.05). Multivariate analysis revealed that the ciliate communities from both sampling systems had similar species composition, but represented significant differences in species distribution and temporal dynamics mainly due to the most dominant peritrich Zoothaminium duplicatum, which overly colonized the conventional slides. Results suggest that the PFES system is more effective than the conventional slide method for periphytic ciliate colonization with high species diversity, evenness and sensitive temporal dynamics mainly due to the reduction of disturbances from tidal current and circulation in marine ecosystems.