Growing Spirulina at Home – A Guide

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 by Dr. Steve Hruby
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Hruby

I am a chiropractor, father, husband, coach, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. Feeling good about yourself is a choice: My mission is to transform lives through optimized health and overall well-being.

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 by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT
Reviewed by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT

I’ve been called a Data Ninja, The Fact Checker, and a Human Search Engine. I’m an indie content curator who does research daily, and quizzes myself on the important issues of the day.

Growing Spirulina at Home

As simple a life form as this blue-green alga is, we see many people fail at cultivating this supplement. The reasons for this are many but often come down to not understanding the requirements of this microorganism.

With some knowledge, however, almost anyone can be successful in growing spirulina at home. 

Spirulina needs a warm environment to grow. It requires ample sunlight to make its food. Also, there should be dissolved minerals in the water. Proper PH is another critical requirement for successful spirulina farming.

Let’s take a closer look at how to nurture spirulina, the challenges you may face, and straightforward fixes.

Materials In Growing Spirulina

What does spirulina need to grow? To grow spirulina, you require both growing and harvesting equipment. Here’s a list of critical necessities.

  1. Transparent tank/ pool/ basin
  2. Strong light source
  3. Spirulina culture
  4. A pH test kit
  5. Thermometer
  6. Strainer
  7. Mineral mix
  8. Bubbler or aerator (optional)

Of course, clean water is necessary to provide the medium for spirulina growth.

Maintenance and Care

You can tell you have spirulina by appearance. So, what does spirulina look like? Spirulina is a microscopic, blue-green alga. Under a microscope, it appears spiral-shaped, as the name suggests.

Spirulina prefers warm, alkaline water with a pH of 8.5 to 9.0 when starting. Should the pH be lower than this, raise it with sodium bicarbonate. Adding vinegar lowers the pH when the water is too alkaline.

Spirulina tolerates temperatures as low as 13°C. However, it grows best at around 32°C to 37°C and not beyond 38°C. If the water is too cold, use an aquarium heater to get it to a desirable level.

spirulina

This alga requires a light source. It doesn’t need direct sunlight to grow but flourishes in such conditions. The ideal nutrient mix for spirulina has ample supplies of nitrogen and phosphorus. Also, spirulina needs filtered water without chlorine.

Finally, you need to ensure your spirulina has proper aeration. If you lack a bubbler, stir the water periodically to circulate the lower layers with oxygen.

Harvesting the Spirulina

It takes about three to six weeks before harvesting spirulina. By this time, the culture should be around the optimal spirulina harvesting pH of 10.

You can scoop some spirulina with a spoon if you only need a small amount. To harvest,

  1. Layer your fine clothing over the container.
  2. Scoop some water with spirulina from your tank.
  3. Pour the spirulina-rich water onto the fine cloth. The clothing filters out the supplement. By the end, you should have a thick, green paste motley containing spirulina.
  4. Estimate or measure how much spirulina you harvested. Add a similar quantity of the nutrient mixture into your habitat to replenish the nutrients.

Growing Spirulina Techniques

There are three popular ways to grow spirulina. These are indoors in a DIY container, outdoors in a pond, or using a machine like Bloom.

When growing spirulina indoors in a DIY container, you must set up the appropriate conditions. Outdoors, you can grow in a pond while ensuring you meet the requirements.

You can also use a machine like Bloom. This machine provides superb conditions for spirulina growth. It also allows you to harvest spirulina at the touch of a button. The Bloom machine comes with a mobile app that you can use to check on the status of your culture.

Consuming and Storing Spirulina

Spirulina is best on an empty stomach, a quarter an hour to your meal. But how does spirulina taste? Quality spirulina has a cheesy, slimy taste. You can take it with water or juice. You can also add it to smoothies or other recipes.

woman sipping green juice

You may wonder, “is spirulina free of gluten?” This alga is perfect for many people, including those intolerant to gluten.

Store spirulina in cool, dark places. Keep away from heat and light. Spirulina can last for several years if stored properly.

Typical Spirulina Cultivation Issues and How To Resolve Them

Most issues with spirulina cultivation arise from contamination and failure to provide optimal conditions. Here are the frequent cultivation concerns and how to make spirulina flourish at home.

  • Contamination: Ensure you use suitable water, a reliable culture, and nutrient cultures from reputable sources. Also, avoid containers that leach substances like metallic ones.
  • Poor Water Quality: Use filtered water with no chlorine to nurture your culture.
  • Nutrient imbalances: Add nutrient mix if the growth seems stunted. Add baking soda and water into your container if bubbles appear without an aerator.
  • pH Imbalance: Lower the pH with vinegar and raise it with sodium bicarbonate to a pH of 9.0.
  • Temperature Fluctuations: Raise the temperature with an aquarium heater if it drops too much.
  • Not enough oxygen in the water: stir the water every few days or use an aerator.

What Is the Cost of Growing Spirulina?

The biggest expense is the initial investment. The spirulina culture costs between $30 and $60 for 250ml. After that, the only other significant cost is for the nutrient mix.

So, for small-scale production, $100 is enough. This price also includes crucial supplies like the thermometer and reusable pH kit.

Is Fresh Spirulina Better Compared To Dried or Powdered?

Fresh spirulina contains more bioactive products making it more nutritious than dried and powdered. Growing your spirulina allows you to monitor everything. So, you won’t need to worry about toxins or fillers. However, it’s easier to carry dried and powdered spirulina when you need to pack light.

How Can I Stop the Growth of Spirulina if I Can’t Take Care of It for a While?

If you cannot take care of spirulina for a while, you should stop the growth of spirulina by doing the following:

  • Cut off the light: Spirulina needs light to grow. Place it away from the sun.
  • Change the temperature: Spirulina needs a warm temperature to grow. Lower the temperature by having the container in a cold place.

Can I Grow My Own Spirulina?

You can grow your own spirulina as this alga isn’t picky. Ensure you get a spirulina culture and nutrient mix from reputable sources. Then, provide suitable light, oxygenation, temperature, and pH.

spirulina in bottle

How Can We Grow Spirulina at Home?

We can grow spirulina at home by setting up an aquarium with a spirulina culture. We must provide the spirulina with the right conditions, including the ideal temperature and pH. We also need to offer spirulina food and oxygen.

How Do You Start Spirulina Farming?

You start spirulina farming by growing spirulina in an enclosed environment, like a tank. Source your materials from authentic brands and determine the scale of spirulina farming you want. Check the water regularly to ensure pH, temperature, nutrient, and oxygen levels are on point.

Can You Grow Spirulina in Freshwater?

You can grow spirulina in freshwater because it thrives in pH above neutral. Spirulina grows in either salt water or fresh water. However, raising the pH to weak alkaline provides optimal conditions.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a nutritious and easy-to-grow superfood, look no further than spirulina.

Spirulina is an alga with many health benefits. This blue-green alga has lots of protein, minerals, and vitamins. Did you know there are even acne treatments with spirulina?

With the right equipment and conditions, growing spirulina at home is simple. With some planning, you can have a constant fresh spirulina supply.

So, are you ready to start nurturing reputable superfoods at your place? We have quality spirulina and chlorella cultures that guarantee you non-toxic supplement harvests in no time. Try out our collection of supplement cultures. You won’t regret the outcome.

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