Diatoms are unicellular photosynthetic algae that autonomously fabricate a porous organized biosilica shell refined in billion years of evolution. They represent an inexhaustible source of low cost, biocompatible mesoporous silica. Despite the major advances in the genomic field, studies on diatom cell biology are still hampered by a lack of cellular tools. In particular, cell staining assays of diatoms viability are still limited or not well performant. Here we provide a phosphorescent organometallic iridium complex (Ir-Fcx) suitable to act as staining agent to detect diatoms viability.