Spirulina is a type of algae rich in protein, vitamins, and antioxidants; some call it “the perfect food for the future.” All you need are a few supplies and a few tips before you can grow this at home. Spirulina is grown in water and not in contact with land. Instead, it requires a pool or container placed in the yard or on a balcony, window, or roof.
Spirulina, scientifically known as Arthrospira platensis, is found naturally in warm water alkaline lakes and is known for its nutritional supplement properties. It contains many vitamins, proteins, antioxidants, and minerals. Also, some people grow it in their homes in a controlled environment because of its toxin-absorbing properties.
Growing Spirulina from scratch
How do you start growing Spirulina?
To grow Spirulina, pour filtered water, Spirulina nutrient solution, and then live Spirulina culture into a transparent tank. For high yields with high protein content, temperatures between 30 to 35°C are ideal. It can survive in temperature levels between 22 to 38°C, but protein content and color will be affected. Bleaching of cultures occurs when the temperature is above 35°C and cannot survive below 20°C.
Cultivation of Spirulina for large-scale and commercial production should be done in regions with suitable climatic conditions. Tropical and subtropical areas are suitable places for Spirulina growth. It needs sun throughout the year. Spirulina’s growth rate and yield depend on various factors such as wind, rainfall, temperature fluctuations, and solar radiation.
What is needed to grow Spirulina?
Preparing culture medium – The culture medium provides Spirulina with the nutrients it needs. Spirulina is added when growing and after harvesting. Mix the water and fertilizer in the quantities. The amount of culture medium mainly depends on the amount of Spirulina and should be approximately 1:1. For example: For 20 liters of Spirulina, prepare 20 liters of a growing culture.
Fertilizers should be completely dissolved in water before adding to Spirulina. Movement can speed up the process. The culture medium can be prepared in advance in large quantities and used as needed but should be kept in closed containers and in the shade. The pH level of the culture medium must be 8-8.5. It can be tested with litmus paper. If the pH level is low, add sodium bicarbonate. A higher level is fine. After preparing the growing culture several times, checking the growing culture’s pH level will not be necessary, as the color of the solution will be a good indicator.
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How do you increase Spirulina production?
It needs sun throughout the year. Spirulina’s growth rate and yield depend on various factors such as wind, rainfall, temperature fluctuations, and solar radiation.
Increasing the quantity of Spirulina – Increasing the quantity of Spirulina is done with a Spirulina culture that is mature and dense. Under optimal conditions, Spirulina reaches this state within 24-48 hours. However, in less-than-optimal circumstances, this may take longer. Therefore, to increase the Spirulina quantity, mature and concentrated Spirulina is diluted with culture medium (water and compost) in a ratio that is approximately 1:1, thus increasing the amount several times.
For example, 100 liters of culture medium is added to 100 liters of mature and concentrated Spirulina. A new batch of 200 liters will be thinned out and thinned, but with proper care and about 48 hours, it will mature, become dense, and be ready for another multiplication. When increasing the Spirulina quantity, it is important to adopt pool or container measurements. It can be done in a pool by placing a board or other partition.
This divide acts as a dam, and Spirulina is grown in the small area it creates. When the Spirulina matures and is ready to multiply, the division is moved to form a larger and larger pool until it reaches its full size and amount of Spirulina. It is then ready for further volume growth (e.g., another pool) or harvesting. When growing Spirulina in a container, this can be done by moving the Spirulina to a larger container. Splitting the Spirulina and adding a growing culture will lower the pH level.
Due to the chemical changes that result in its metabolism, it will again reach an optimal level of 10-10.5. During this period, Spirulina needs to be handled the same way as during the first stage, i.e., agitation and addition of water to compensate for evaporation. The pH level is checked as was done during the previous step. When the pH level returns to 10-10.5, it is advisable to give it a week or so to strengthen further and stabilize, and then it is ready for another round of multiplication or harvest.
What are the requirements for the growth of Spirulina?
The production of Spirulina consists of four main processes,
- Culture – Spirulina is cultured under similar conditions in its native habitat, saltwater lakes, in the subtropical region. An alkaline culture solution with nutrients is poured into a wide shallow culture pond with gentle streams. It allows Spirulina to carry out photosynthesis efficiently and multiply itself.
- Filtration – Multiplication is in the form of Spirulina algae and is separated from the culture solution by filtration.
- Washing and dehydration – Condensed Spirulina that has been separated from the culture medium is placed on a vacuum dehydration filter and dehydrated by repeated washing with clean water.
- Drying – Dehydrated Spirulina is immediately dried with a spray dryer made into powder.
How can Spirulina be cultivated on a commercial scale?
Today, more than 22 countries cultivate Spirulina commercially on a large scale. Commercial Spirulina cultivation is usually carried out in shallow artificial ponds equipped with mechanical paddle wheels to agitate the culture.
How long does it take to grow Spirulina?
Harvest your Spirulina after about 3-6 weeks. Once your Spirulina has grown, you can start harvesting some to use. Most people find that about a tablespoon of Spirulina at a time is enough if you are eating it fresh.
What temperature does Spirulina grow at?
Temperature – The optimum temperature for Spirulina is 30-35°C. Spirulina can survive low (not below 20°C) and slightly higher temperatures (up to 38°C), but this is not ideal as its metabolism will suffer. Temperature can be measured with a thermometer.
How do you grow organic Spirulina?
It can be grown in a closed environment with the availability of water. The optimum temperature for growing Spirulina is between 30 and 35°C. Any concrete or plastic tank with adequate sunlight can be used to grow Spirulina. Farming can be profitable as the business offers high income compared to low investment. Buyers are available for production as the same is not readily available in the market. One kg of Spirulina can be sold for up to Rs.1000 per kg.
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However, investment depends on various factors like raw material, labour, packing, forwarding, etc., which vary from place to place. Spirulina grows on inorganic material and requires very little organic material. The term “Organic Spirulina” doesn’t make much sense. However, there are ways to feed Spirulina only with organic or chemical materials during cultivation. Most certification bodies do not specify “organic Spirulina” cultivation policies.
Spirulina farming requires high amounts of organic nutrients. The number of bacteria can be high because they feed on such nutrients. However, the final product may not contain bacteria because most producers use pasteurization, irradiation, and fumigation processes. An important component is a nitrogen which helps in the formation of proteins. Some fertilizers used for growing Spirulina are compost tea and some fertilizers.
Is Spirulina cultivation profitable?
- The Spirulina production in a month will be around 100 to 130 kg per month.
- Dried Spirulina powder in the market will fetch around Rs. 600/- per kg.
- A farmer can earn around 40-45,000/- per month.
What nutrients does Spirulina need to grow?
To thrive and grow, Spirulina needs access to sodium bicarbonate, potassium nitrate, calcium chloride, iron sulfate, magnesium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, and citric acid, along with plenty of sunlight. The best way to get it is from a kit specifically for growing Spirulina. Spirulina requires nutrients to grow and thrive. It’s probably best to buy a pre-mixed bag of minerals and nutrients with a live culture. Most places that sell Spirulina will also offer complete grow kits, including live culture, nutrient solutions, and more.
How do you start Spirulina farming?
Spirulina is grown in a culture medium made up of water and fertilizers. Due to the high pH level of this culture medium, Spirulina has almost no competitors. It means that it is not “fussy” about the water it needs: drinking water, brackish water, water from a natural body of water, or rainwater can be used. Almost all parasites, bacteria, and viruses cannot survive in Spirulina’s alkaline environment.
Is Spirulina hard to grow?
Fresh, live Spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria, a “blue-green algae.” It undergoes photosynthesis, but it differs from normal land plants in that it grows in water. With no need for soil or outdoor space, Spirulina is surprisingly easy to grow.
Common Spirulina growing problems and solutions;
pH imbalance – After making up your medium in the tank and adding a live Spirulina culture, it will look quite thin and watery. But if you notice that your Spirulina doesn’t start to thicken after a few weeks, you should first test the pH using pH strips. You can pick up pH strips at a pet store. (Your dog, cat, bird, or guinea pig probably doesn’t have a pH imbalance, but people with fish need to check their aquarium’s pH periodically).
Spirulina has a comfortable pH of about 10. Generally, the nutrient solution should be sufficient to bring the pH of the filtered water to about 8 to 10, but problems can still occur. If the pH is still too low after adding the nutrient solution, try adding a little baking soda made of sodium bicarbonate. If the pH gets too high (up to 11), add some vinegar, which contains acetic acid, to your solution. Add a little first, and check the pH again.
Nutrient Imbalance – If your Spirulina culture produces too many bubbles, turn off your air pump. If it continues or you weren’t using an air pump, it’s probably due to an imbalance in the nutrient ratio. Add a little water and baking soda (note that this can change the pH, so monitor the pH later). If bubbles continue to form after a few hours, add more culture medium (water and nutrient mixture).
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Poor or slow growth – If you have followed the directions and measurements on the nutrient mix, followed the directions on the live Spirulina culture bottle and checked that the pH is above 8. However, the culture is still not thriving, possibly due to excess salinity. Salt is neutral in solution, meaning it does not directly affect pH. It makes detection difficult.
Try adding a little more water and live culture–this should dilute the NaCl present if salinity is causing the problems. If the problem persists, it is likely due to the quality of the Spirulina live culture. Contact the company you bought it from to see if other users have the same problem.
How much Spirulina can I eat per day?
Based on this, an average 20liters tank Spirulina farming business will produce 4-5 kg of dry Spirulina powder daily.
How is Spirulina harvested?
The culture is firstly pumped through a filter or centrifuge to harvest and then dried in sunlight or hot air. Mass-cultured Spirulina is currently cultivated through three stages of filtration, where the first screen filters pond debris, the next screen harvests microscopic algae, and the final filter thickens the Spirulina cells. Spirulina harvesting is a delicate process that requires attention, precision, and hygiene.
It should be done with minimal human intervention to avoid contamination. Although there are many ways to harvest and dry fresh Spirulina biomass, you must use the proper harvesting equipment. In the first stage of Spirulina harvesting, a 30-micron rigid nylon filter is used to separate the Spirulina biomass from the liquid culture.
To do this, many Spirulina producers attach the mesh to a wooden frame over their pond and draw the liquid through a framed filter until the top forms a thick green paste. The nylon fibers of the harvest filter ensure that no liquid is absorbed into the fabric. The tight density enables you to collect fresh biomass while regenerating some cultures after the harvest is complete.
What is the pH of Spirulina?
Spirulina thrives at a pH of 8.5 and above and at temperatures around 30°C. They are autotrophic, meaning they make their food and do not require living energy or organic carbon. Each concrete pond can be filled with water to the desired height, and the cultivation can be started after installing the paddle wheel. The right pH is added to the water and alkaline by adding the required salts at the required rate. Once the water has a standard micronutrient mix, the pond is ready for Spirulina seeding.
Ideally, 30 grams of dry Spirulina is added for every 10 liters of water for uniform growth and uniform harvest. A concentrated live Spirulina culture can be used as seeding the pond. In commercial farms, a pond is kept exclusively for rearing Spirulina as seed. It will reduce regular purchases, and the farm will become self-sufficient and will be able to sell live Spirulina seeds to other farmers. The algal bacterium begins to double in biomass within three to five days. Algae grow by utilizing the nutrients in the culture medium.
Farmers must constantly check the nutrient value and add fresh water regularly for good yield and high yield. In addition, farmers should be careful to control the environmental conditions as it prevents contamination of the culture medium. Cultures grow rapidly and perish when Spirulina cultures are not adequately cared for. Mature Spirulina turns light to dark green. Algae concentration and algae color are the deciding factors when harvesting Spirulina. Another method is using a Secchi disc to measure, which should be 0.5 g per liter of culture medium.
Where does Spirulina grow?
Spirulina grows naturally in mineral-rich alkaline lakes found on every continent, often near volcanoes. The largest concentrations of Spirulina today can be found in Lake Texcoco in Mexico, around Lake Chad in Central Africa, and along the Great Rift Valley in East Africa. Spirulina is mainly grown in water, in containers or ponds that are relatively shallow. Containers such as aquariums can be made of plastic or glass (note that glass is less practical because it breaks easily).
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It needs sunlight, so a transparent container is an excellent way to increase exposure. Pools can be made using a variety of materials. They are usually made of construction – a frame that can be made of wood, metal, or even sacks filled with sand or dirt. And the lining – can be a greenhouse tarp, as well as any sheet of rubber or HDPE (high-density polyethylene). In general, polyethylene-based plastics are the best option as there are no health risks associated with their use.
Cement is not recommended. It is lined with a greenhouse tarp so that it does not come into direct contact with the Spirulina. The pool size depends on the number of people expected to consume the Spirulina: each square meter pool will provide about 10 grams of harvested and pressed Spirulina per day.
Spirulina needs a greenhouse to protect it from rain, as rain will weaken the growing culture and change the pH level. Also, as dust and sand get tangled in Spirulina which makes it heavy and sinks to the bottom where it gets less light from flies and insects; and from strong sunlight because direct sunlight can damage Spirulina, especially during its first stages, when it has not yet matured.
What is the cost of Spirulina?
However, the total cost is estimated at 5-7 euros per kg of Spirulina. The significant costs involved in the local production of Spirulina are labor, nutrients, packaging, capital, and administration. Of course, the costs depend on the local availability of the material. For example, in India, the cost of building a 18m2 tank is 166 euros, and the feeding program here produces Spirulina at 0.01 euros per child per day.
How do you take care of Spirulina?
To grow Spirulina, add filtered water, Spirulina nutrient solution, and then live Spirulina culture to a transparent tank. Spirulina has been on the planet for billions of years, long before most common plants and animals existed. Light intensity plays an important role in its development. Light directly affects Spirulina’s protein content, growth rate, and pigment synthesis. Culture medium and tanks must be protected from contamination by foreign algae, insects, and toxins.
Also, pond and nutrient levels must be maintained by regularly changing fertilizers and water. More temperature and pH need to be maintained. Details of how this is done can be found in the manual. It is useful to replace a small volume of the solution with a fresh volume to prevent deterioration of the culture medium. In commercial Spirulina farming, it is necessary to recreate the culture medium in which blue-green algae grow naturally.
Water is the primary growth medium for Spirulina. It should contain all the necessary sources of nutrients for the healthy growth of Spirulina. Ideal water quality should be maintained during the production of microalgamas by providing a controlled salt solution in the water. The water level in pits or tanks should be controlled. Water levels are important for the process of photosynthesis in all living organisms. The deeper the water surface, the less sunlight will penetrate, affecting algae’s growth.
In case you missed it: Growing Spirulina at Home Information
Does Spirulina need sunlight?
Spirulina needs sunlight. 350 microeinstein is the optimal level for Spirulina. Just like regular plants, Spirulina performs photosynthesis. Make sure you have a spot near a window for your tank so the Spirulina can soak up some sun. It is also important that the growing area can provide shade, as direct sunlight can damage Spirulina, especially in the early stages. A removable cover can provide the needed shade.
Spirulina is generally a type of blue-green algae packed with nutrients: protein, antioxidants, and numerous vitamins and minerals. It is a simple organism that grows easily in warm water. However, because algae can absorb toxins found in the environment, some people choose to grow their own Spirulina at home under safe and controlled conditions. The above tips help you to grow Spirulina faster and produce more.
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