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spirulina growing

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Is it possible to start a culture with the spirulina pills sold in the store? silly question propably but would be a rather cheap sollution..
Posts: 38
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from my best knowledge, not the one from the stores, but fresly harvested spirulina and then air dried should be viable for 3 days. By the way, if you already have or know someone who has live spirulina could be so kind to share? I'm asking for health reasons. Already got aquarium, nutrients and iron solution. Look forward to your relly. I pay all expenses, you have nothing to lose.
Jorge Fonseca
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Aleluia, finally got it... cost me almost an arm and a leg but finally got it.

I've been looking everywhere in the forum for many months and even bought many times before spirulina delivered in the mail but always arrived dead and smelling like rotten eggs, this time had to do a long, time, money and effort consuming trip into unknown lands to to meet a spirulina grower in person and then carry a 5 liter bottle in my lap back home as fast as possible to put it quickly into the growing medium in less than 10 hours. Also tried growing a batch that I harvested myself two days before departing but was nearly dead when I arrived home and also placed it in the growing medium.

My first goal now is learning how to keep it alive and I am still experimenting with different kinds of nutrient solutions at different concentrations with different environments, etc, etc...

like mr. Van den Berg mentions:

Bart van den Berg wrote:Is it possible to start a culture with the spirulina pills sold in the store?

I also tried to grow from freshly harvestted spirulina dried under the sun only 3 days old and zero results... only a rotten smelly bottle of brownish ooze.

But despite the failures, I already found 2 kinds of nutrient solutions that are producing well and everyday I harvest half of this floating layer on a daily basis and next day is full again

I use two bottle like that to start new cultures and to compensate for the ones that die by mistake of mine and this next one I started yesterday and today it is already visible around the borders a layer of spirulina growing thick:

And for what I've seen I'm getting approximately 10 per cent of straight filaments... so, it is not so hard to harvest

Tomorrow or maybe after tomorrow when I have time let's start the excavation of a pond for growing spirulina.


Ufff... finally...

it was almost 1 year that I spent running around to catch this green thing.
Jorge Fonseca
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The outdoor pond was constructed two days ago, the growing medium yesterday and the seeding is today... for that, I have been using those batches from the bottles in the previous pictures...

Now while harvesting today I came across some interesting things and also some problems...

I encountered in one batch the same floculation effect that Mr. Hatfield photographed before.

spiritrancho Hatfield wrote:

And also came across some contamination problems, because, you see, a normal spirulina culture is a pure dense bunch of straight and spiraled filaments that looks like the picture on the left but while looking around I come across this little guy on the right side:

While that is nothing to be worried about I became alarmed when I noticed a batch turning yellow and I go take a look at it and see this:

Loads and loads of chlorella growing while the spirulina is dying... the funny thing is that the spiraled filaments seem to be more affected than the straight ones... especially since they only accounted for 10% of the total culture... that shows how dramatically the spiraled ones were affected.

Now, the funny thing that I still don't understand is that these two cultures from the pictures were both started side by side with different culture mediums at the same time in the same place so they must have been subject to equal amounts of contamination, however the culture with a pH of 9 shows to be much more pure than the culture with a pH of 10.5 that became quicly contaminated... which is totally counter intuitive... I'm still puzzled by this one... anyone mind explaining, please?

But anyways, time to stick the nose in the manuals and burn some eyelashes... here are some highlights worth looking into:

Jorge Fonseca
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So, I've been dealing with pond overflow, contamination, pH balance, processing, pests, etc, etc, and something curious happened...

I grabbed a healthy culture at pH 9 and divided it. The ones that get most sunlight all rose pH to 10 and changed color to light green with a tint of yellow and grow at 5% with 90% straight filaments and mild contamination, while the ones in partial shade remained at pH close to 9, around 9.5, and dark green color with a tint of metallic blue and grow at around 40% with 95% spiraled filaments and no contamination... I think now I know why the cells were breaking down.

I have been also trying to deal with those odd looking skins that sometimes are brown, other times green and I've even seen them pink and usually float to the top when the culture gets vigorously agitated after the temperature has risen enough around the middle of the day, but alas, when the night falls they sink back again... they do not compromise the culture, but better agitate only the surface.

Beyond that I was also testing yesterday at sunset the viability of some five year old kefir grains and decided to put a bottle in the garden with fruits, minerals, water and the respective kefir and in the morning at sunrise when I go to grab the bottle, the grains not only became totally rehydrated but they were also working at full speed and when opening the bottle it had become a naturally carbonated drink full of bubbles like this:

So, at the moment I have the fish and animals already being fed fresh and dried spirulina, respectively, and they actually like it. I extrude it with some kitchen utensils in the shape of a rod, kinda like spaghetti, dry it under the sun and the animals eat it like that, and even call it a snack and ask for more...

But the thing is that, even though spirulina does not have that thick cellulose-like cell wall that you see in chlorella and others making it hard work to digest and extract the nutrients, it still would be better to let the bacteria in the kefir do that work so that later it would be easier for me to digest, therefore resulting in a much higher nutrient extraction.

So, that's what I'm gonna try to do... I'm gonna try to mix the kefir and spirulina tomorrow.

Now, as a side note I just wanted to mention that this stuff that looks like pond scum has a prodigal growth rate... every day that passes is 40% bigger than the previous day and each square meter gives a teaspoon a day.

Now, I know that looks like nothing, but let's do the math to be sure...

I grow many plants for food and none grows that fast... for instance, one soy bean that I stick in the ground today gives a beanstalk with around 5 pods with 2 seeds each, four months from now and needs watering every day... the spirulina after making the nutrient solution and waiting one week to stabilize and grow, I harvest daily the top layer and get 5 grams per square meter a day, which after pressing and drying should reduce it to half.

If my math is correct, 36 beanstalks per square meter × 5 pods × 2 seeds × 0.15 grams per seed ÷ 4 months × 37% content of protein = 0.17g

and 2.5 grams of spirulina × 65% content of protein = 1.62g

So, from each square meter in my garden I am getting daily 0.17 grams of protein from the soy and almost 10 times more from the spirulina.
Jorge Fonseca
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So, just wanted to point out a few assorted uses for spirulina...

I'll start with the animals, who eat it fresh by the mouthful and cry for more:

And it's also very useful to reduce mortality in newborns by supplying extra protein, vitamins and minerals during the first days of life of fish hatchlings or cubs where mothers do not give milk and fathers do not give heat.

For instance, from two twins, the first died during the second night after being born of hypothermia without milk or heat from an adult, while the other twin, after two weeks, is still growing strong even without the help of the parents just by eating spirulina.

And not just for the animals, but also to put at my table:

a slice of bread with a thick layer of freshly harvested spirulina also fills my stomach at every breakfast. In terms of texture it's kinda like a spongy and very light thick cream... almost reminiscent of butter... very bland pleasant smell and very bland taste. But I like the smell... it smells like nutrition and it definitely smells like freshness... and the ants agree with that too and the stock needs to be tightly closed.

The mix of the kefir and spirulina also went well:

I already liked kefir as it was, but now it fills much more the stomach and I usually drink it evenly spaced throughout the day and have to say that fermented spirulina is actually a nice carbonated drink filled with fizzling bubbles:

bottoms up.

And lastly, thank you to all the people who participated and got me interested in this topic... I definitely did not regret it.
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Hi ,

I am facing the problem of Spirulina clogging in my filters . After three tenth day . I am using the 50 micron mesh . Three of these placed in a wooden frame .

I have order 40 micron mesh / 25 micron and a 15 micron mesh to try and filter .

My other tanks seem to be doing well for now .

My ph shot up to 10.7 from 10.1 the day before .

My outside temperature is above 35 but within 40.

/any other suggestion??

Daerk Denelith wrote:

spiritrancho wrote:
The spirulina I started growing came from Wards Scientific.  It originally clumped together and was easy to harvest with a fish net.  Now it will only stain a 50 micron strainer, even tho it is dense ( sieche 1-2).  I keep the solution above PH 9.5 to insure it is not cross contaminated. 
I regularly use a cream seperator for goat's milk, making cream for butter.  Has anyone experimented using a cream seperator for harvesting algae.  Seperators from the urikrane are listed on ebay for as low as $72, $35 shipping.

Clumped together Algae is a sign of a bad environment. Likely due to the heating element you had in direct contact with the culture in the first place. When Algae is directly heated some of the cells die from being overheated and their polysaccharide content "thickens" the immediate water around it. When this happens enough times it causes a gel-like effect where dead and living algal cell biomass is caught and held in place. In addition, this "gel" layer of polysaccharide reduces the surface area contact the algae has with the medium, meaning it cannot absorb as much nutrient from the medium as quickly as it used to. This also can block some of the light wavelengths intended for the algae's photosynthesis. Specifically the red spectrum light which is converted into chlorophyll type "A" (the photosynthetic process primary workhorse).

Spirulina grown in such an environment is less nutritious, grows slower, and generally has a strong unpleasant seaweed flavour.

You need a graduated straining filter. Essentially:

One 5 gallon bucket with a few 1/4" holes drilled into the bottom.
One unaltered 5, 6, or 20 gallon bucket.
One 73 micron filter bag sized to fit into the 5 gallon bucket.
One 45 micron filter bag sized to fit into the 5 gallon bucket.
One 25 micron filter bag sized to fit into the 5 gallon bucket.

Place the unaltered large bucket on a flat surface.
Place a wooden or metal support grid over the top of the large bucket. (You can use 2 separate 2"x4" studs, a metal grill, etc)
Place the 5 gallon bucket on top of the supports. Ensure the holes are unblocked and fluid can pass from the holed 5 gallon bucket into the larger bucket unhindered.
Place the 25 micron filter bag into the 5 gallon bucket first.
Place the 45 micron filter bag into the 5 gallon bucket next (directly on top of the 25 micron filter bag).
Place the 73 micron filter bag into the 5 gallon bucket last (directly on top of the 45 micron filter bag).

To use, simply pour your algae culture into the 73 micron filter bag. The 73 micron filter bag will effectively filter out the clumpy dead zone sections of your algae culture. This is the lowest quality harvest you have just captured.

The 45 micron filter bag will collect a much better and more nutrient-rich harvest of live spirulina with less ratio of dead cells or clumps. This is your mid-grade quality harvest.

The 25 micron filter bag will collect a significantly more nutrient-rich harvest of living spirulina. This is the top notch grade. Doesn't get better than this.

Concerning the cream/milk separator... save your money. Those separators are around 250 micron density filter material. Anything over 60 micron and you won't be harvesting your spirulina unless it's dead colony strips or clumps.

Here's a source for relatively cheap 5 gallon filter bags: http://www.freshheadies.com/catalog/bubble-bags-singles-22/5-gallon-replacement-bag-38.html

Hope this helps...

Jorge Fonseca
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Hari Shankar Thivakar wrote:
I am facing the problem of Spirulina clogging in my filters. After three tenth day. I am using the 50 micron mesh. Three of these placed in a wooden frame. My ph shot up to 10.7 from 10.1 the day before.

Hi Hari, I'm not entirely familiar with your setup, but if you have a pump and the filter you mention is in that pump, I usually just remove the filter. I had a brushless pump in one of my tanks a few months ago and I stopped having clogging problems by just removing the filter. The pump breaks the clump of spirulina into many small pieces and pumps it up into the harvest mesh and I feed the lowest quality (from the first filter) to the animals, the second one for skin and beauty products and the third one for human consumption.

If, however, the filter you mention is the harvesting filter/mesh, I usually just scoop it out, crumble it to pieces and drop it again into the tank to be harvested next time.

This is the best advice I can give since I rarely ever had clogs or clumps in my tanks since I started growing spirulina.

In terms of pH, I aim towards 9 or 9.5 when I begin a culture and naturally expect it to rise to 10 and 11 over the period of many months before it becomes too alkaline for the culture and I have to remove half the growing medium and replace it by fresh new one.

However an abrupt change from 10.1 to 10.7 in less than 24h is reason to be worried about, so please monitor the culture carefully for the next few days, and start preparing a backup culture in case something starts going wrong with that one.
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Location: Finland
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Some advice that (might) help:

Dont use the airing all the time. Instead use the airpump in cycles.

4 watts aquarium pump is suitable for hundreds of liters. The bubbles can break down spirulina, as it happened to me.

Instead, offer the spirulina the CO2 from normal baking soda = natrium bicarbonate. Atmospheric air does not have enough CO2 for spirulina growth.

Airing the culture is mostly couse it will mix up and stirr it, but also it will release the oxygen from the water that spirulina is produced: the algae does not like much oxygen and can also inhibit growth, and you want to get the oxygen away from the water which it has been dissolved.

You can do this manually by carefully mixing the culture once or couple times a day.

Spirulina has gas vescules, and it can float in water itself and adjust its position like submarine: if the algae is healthy. Usually it will float to the top since there is most light but if light is distributed to the aquarium at all sides, I have noticed that the spirulina will distribute itself evenly in the culture but tends to fall to the bottom also then, maybe it takes energy to use the gas vescules and if there is light also in the bottom: it will just lay down there and enjoy the good weather.

The yellow colour can appear from various reasons for example, too little CO2 and too much light.

Also too much light is bad (called photoinhibition), if the temperature isnt  25-30 celsius or not enough of nutrients is available or pH is not right.

Even of everything else is right, too much light (even if the temperature would not rise too much) will cause photoinhibition and can damage the algae.

If everything else is good, a basic rule is that the light should be about as bright as full sunlight at summer (just by measuring with your eyes).

Bad colour can happen various reasons, if some of the parameters is wrong.

Good method to raise pH is use wood ash and make lye from it.

Just wood ash, mix it with plenty water, and mix again, and leave overnight: so the water will clear up.

It can go as high as pH 12 with this. Also when you leave it stand for a day or two, it will absorb CO2 from the air.

If you have contamination, raising the pH over 10 will kill everything. Raise it about to pH 11 and leave to this about week: this might make the spirulina go into hibernation, and it will sink to bottom, dont worry but then give only about 10% of the light normally and it will survive.

Then lower the pH to about 9 and provide nutrients, and it will resurrect and the culture should be now sterile again.

Here is one video where contamination is used to grow spirulina. The smaller algae (prob chlorella) is eaten by zooplankton. But the zooplankton cannot eat spirulina, since it is too big for it! The zooplankton will make C02 for the use also to spirulina and also take away the O2 from the water and they will also stir the water: as you can see, they move very much so we dont need energy for stirring/mixing the water.

Also the zooplankton will poo the chlorella and the zooplankton poo will is nutrient for spirulina also.

In the end we raise the pH and the dead chlorella/zooplankton will die and will become nutrients for spirulina and the spirulina will now explode to grow.

Here is video about this experiment:

This is my basic setup (only spirulina) and new LED light I made:

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