Biofilm formation is discussed in terms of the ecological processes involved in their formation. It is emphasised that any cell responds to its environment i.e. to the composition of a liquid layer a few microns thick adjacent to the cell surface. The concept of multidimensional habitat domains defining the growth limits to every species is introduced, and put into the context of competition between different organisms. Activity domains of organisms are discussed and a definition for the niche of an organism introduced. The development of a biofilm on a clean surface is described. The constant depth film fermenter is introduced as an appropriate tool for investigating spatial and temporal sequence in biofilm formation. Finally, nutrient concentration is considered and the effects of diffusion limitation on film structure explored with the aid of a cellular automaton model.