How Algae Grows: Know the Factors

 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.

  Fact Checked
 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.

how algae grows

People search for verdicts to determine whether algae is good or bad. But there is no definite answer to it. It is because algae are organisms crucial for the earth to meet its oxygen needs. But, at the same time, too much algae growth can make toxins and harm living organisms.

So, the good part of it isn’t something you can control, but you can avoid the negative aspects of algae growth. And you can do it by learning how algae grows in the first place.

The natural process of photosynthesis triggers the growth of algae. They use nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and sunlight as fuel for growth. However, there is more to the growth of algae that you must know.

So, here is a brief article to explain what makes algae grow and everything else that contributes to it.

Where Does Algae Originate?

Algae are simple plants that mostly originate in lakes, rivers, ponds, moist soil, and oceans. They are either made up of one cell and strands as a solo strand, while others can have many cells to build colonies or a bunch of strands.

They are different from other aquatic plants because they lack roots, stems, and leaves. Most algae species swim or drift on the water bodies, whereas some stick to the stones or other plants in the water.

Factors that Influence Algae Growth

The growth of algae doesn’t just revolve around one single factor, but many other environmental changes intervene to escalate it. So, to help you understand what factors help algae thrive, here is a brief explanation on them:

1. Light

Algae needs ample light energy to grow. The more the sunlight penetrates the algae cells, the higher the chances of it surviving and growing. Algae have the potential to absorb different light wavelengths based on the pigments that each light exhibits.

Some of the crucial pigments for algae are chlorophyll a & b, carotenoids, phycoerythrin, and phycocyanin. Most times, algae grow in water bodies with the help of natural sunlight. But researchers tend to grow it at their private farms or pools to study their properties and characteristics.

They choose specific light to grow algae. But make sure that the source you choose gives off the energy in the correct wavelength. Green lights are never used for growing algae, as they have a low wavelength and aren’t absorbed by the Chlorophyll a & b and carotenoids.

Some artificial sources of light that can help grow algae are LED, incandescent light, and fluorescent.

2. Temperature

Just like light, temperature also directly affects the growth of algae in terms of intensity and duration. Therefore, it’s stated that the normal temperature of 20 to 30 degrees Celsius is ideal for most algae species to grow healthily.

plant and thermometer

Algae likes to grow in hotter temperatures. Therefore, it’s advised for people with pools on their property to maintain a cold or normal water temperature. If the water temperature crosses the 20-degree Celsius mark, the warm water will prevent the water from mixing.

As a result, the algae will grow thick and develop colonies in your pool. When the water becomes warmer, the algae grows and moves to the top of the surface faster. As they absorb sunlight, they will warm up the water even faster, as a result, algae proliferation will take place.

Algae blooms are toxic when they build humongous colonies and grow thick due to the overconsumption of nutrients and hot water temperature. As a result, the small natural ponds start to lose oxygen due to the toxins, which makes it difficult for fish to survive.

Therefore, even for the researchers, it’s important to maintain an adequate temperature to ensure the balanced growth of healthy algae.

3. Turbidity or Water Clarity

High turbidity or water clarity influences the growth of algae. The naturally or artificially suspended particles in the water bodies affect how light travels to reach the algae cells. The clearer the water is, the more natural light will penetrate the water and will get absorbed by the water.

4. Nutrients

Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus influence the growth of algae. Apart from that, some of the other nutrients, such as silica, carbon, and other micronutrients for the healthy growth of algae. When warmer temperatures mix with the overabundance of nutrients, the thickness and intensity of algae increase to create blooms that have toxic properties.

5. Stable Conditions

The water body in which the algae grows should be stable without much turbulence. Hence, this is one important factor that influences algae growth. Apart from turbulence, all other factors, such as light, temperature, nutrients, and clarity, should be balanced to promote the growth of good algae that produces oxygen for the environment and helps it thrive.

How to Grow Algae At Home?

So far into the article, you know what algae needs for healthy growth. Now, it’s time to learn how to grow it in your home and create a healthy oxygen-rich environment for yourself. Moreover, some of the specific algae species are used as a source of food, used for producing biodiesel for trucks and others.

green algae

Here are the steps that you must follow to grow algae perfectly at home:

Step 1: Prepare a Container or Medium for Growing Algae

  • You should select a transparent and clear container that will allow the sunlight to reach algae cells. You can prefer to choose plastic or glass containers for the purpose. Depending on your purpose of growing algae, use a plastic bottle or a big glass aquarium.
  • Fill that container with sterilized water to support algae growth. Use salt water for microalgae and spring water for spirulina species. If you’re worried about bacteria hampering your algae growth, then prefer boiling it before filling it in the containers. You can also check spirulina cultivation.
  • Add nutrients to the water that you just filled out in the container. Take water from a pond or a fish tank to introduce other contaminants to the container for the healthy growth of algae. You can also add Walne medium, a nutrient mixture for adding nutrients to the water. Hence, it’s suitable for most algae.
  • Look for a place that receives ample amounts of natural sunlight. If you want to create artificial lighting for the algae growth, you prefer getting red or orange light. But simultaneously observe the maximum temperature of the water over time. It is because if the temperature crosses 35-degree celsius, then it might hamper the algae.

Step 2: Introduced an Algae Sample to the Container

  • Select the type of algae among the 70,000 known species so far. Different algae species serve various purposes, such as producing biofuel and food sources. Depending on that, source and pick the type of algae and introduce a sample to the container.
  • If you don’t have any specific purpose, you can collect any algae sample to test out the natural phenomena. Collect any random algae samples from lakes, ponds, or other natural water bodies.
  • Now, add the sample to the container where you intend to grow your algae. Ensure that light is properly available for the algae to grow. You might not see algae with your naked eye for the next two weeks until they reproduce and increase their population. If you’re specifically growing kelp, then you might be able to see it right from the start.

Step 3: Monitor the Growth of Algae

  • Observe the growth medium and see if there are any changes in the color of the water. As the algae starts to grow, it will become compact within the water container. When the algae population starts getting dense, it will make the solution look more opaque.
  • Most times, the color of the water will be green upon algae growth. But, there are some species that can produce a different color. For instance, Rhodophyta algae grow with a red color.
  • Maintain a log of all forms of changes that you witness during the growth period of your algae.
  • Consider adding nutrients to the container for every new algae batch. Suppose you’re working on a short experiment, then the nutrients you added at the start will be sufficient. But, for the long-term experiment, you need to be consistent in adding nutrients to the container. The thumb rule is to add nutrients when you see the population growth of your algae.
  • If the algae population is too dense for the container you picked at the start, you might have to separate some of it and keep it in a different container.

How to Mitigate Algae Growth?

Well, as we have already helped the people who want to experiment with algae, it’s time to help our readers who want to mitigate or prevent its growth.

algae on a body of water

If you have a rainwater harvesting setup on your property or are working with some other water-based experiments, then you must prevent the growth of algae in them. So, here are some tips for you to learn how to mitigate the growth of algae:

1. Get a Tank with Light Blockage Technology

The best way to prevent or mitigate the growth of algae is by using a tank that can prevent the penetration of natural sunlight. When the tank sidewalls repel the light, the algae will be deprived of fuel and can’t grow within.

If you don’t want to invest in a tank with light blockage technology, you prefer keeping it in absolute shade or painting it black.

2. Use Bleach To Wipe Out Algae

If algae have already started growing in your water tank, you can clear them using a home remedy. Mix ¼ teaspoon of bleach to each gallon of water in the tank. Bleach will kill algae, as it consists of hypochlorous acid. When you mix it with water, it automatically kills the microbes and extracts the algae.

3. Use Chlorine or Dish Soap

Add four parts of chlorine to 1,000,000 parts of water. It’s a small ratio and won’t affect the safety aspects of the water. You can also clean the tank interior with the use of hot water and dish soap. Repeat this process one to three times a year to ensure that algae don’t grow in your tank.

Learn the Unmatched Importance of Algae: FAQs

plants and algae in water

What Leads to Pond and Lake Algae?

An overabundance of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in the pond, along with overexposure to sunlight, will trigger the growth of algae in the pond or lake. An imbalance in water is more likely to grow algae blooms.

Is Algae Harmful?

Algae is harmful only if it grows in overabundance or large colonies. When they become dense or thick, they start blooming and produce toxins that reduce the oxygen levels in the water and become unhealthy as food to consume. You can’t even use fertilizer made of algae if they are too dense or thick.

Can Algae Grow Without Sunlight?

Algae need sunlight and carbon dioxide to grow, without which they can’t survive. Just like any other plant, they follow the process of photosynthesis to grow healthily. But, some species of algae suck in sugar content from the water and can grow in the dark. It’s only possible if the algae have a special gene in them. Hence, this is how algae grows without sunlight.


So, if you intend to learn why is algae important and how it grows, this is the complete elaboration on different influencing factors and mitigating ways. If you’re a budding algae researcher, then you have the understanding of all the steps that you need to grow it safely. As per studies by scientists on algae, healthy growth is responsible for supplying ample oxygen to the environment.

Suppose you’re concerned about how everything around the world functions, then My Nutrigiene brings you such informative content on various critical aspects. Not just algae or any specific bacteria, but we help you understand better all the natural entities of the world.

Also check our post about muriate of potash.

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