Get Back, Jojo: Errors in Jojo Cafe Home-Grow Spirulina Instructions

the bristlenose catfish loves Spirulina!

Plug “grow Spirulina” into Google, and among the top sites listed will be “Growing Spirulina at home, made simple”.

This blog post presentsa fairly detailed description of an attempt to grow Spirulina to feed a pair of bristlenose plecos.

Of course sharing this kind of information is what AlgaeLab is all about; this article contains several errors, though, that have caused problems for budding algae farmers. I have tried to contact the author of the blog, with no success. So, to help algae farmers everywhere, here are some corrections I would suggest to statements in the article, based on my experience as an algae professional:

It seems as though no other algae will grow above a pH of 8.5.
This is definitely not true! In fact, many other strains of algae will grow well above 8.5 pH. It is the combination of extremely high pH (10+) with high alkalinity (16 g/L baking soda) that tends to exclude other organisms from a Spirulina culture. Even then, it is not absolute protection – cover you tank carefully and wash your hands before contacting it, use only clean equipment, check it with a microscope if possible, and do not eat your Spirulina if anything unusual is happening with the culture! And only eat your Spirulina if the pH is 10+.

No test strips are available for public sale above 8.6.
pH test strips are publicly available for a wide range of values, including well above 8.6. We sell (and include in our kits) a special type of pH strip optimized to measure the key pH range around 10.

Spirulina grows best at 86 degrees F. Above 92, the algae cannot photosynthesize sun light and becomes weak and loses vicosity.
The optimum growth temperature for Spirulina varies with strain, but it is usually well above 86F, and often it is above 92F. They will become stressed above about 102F, though.

I found 2 solutions used in labratories for growing spirulina. Solution A & Solution B.
The author is probably referring to this sort of algae nutrients mix. While these do contain some key algae nutrients, these solutions are designed to be added to sea water, so they are deficient in key ions that are present in sea water. It is probably these deficiencies that is the reason it took 90 days for the author to grow up the Spirulina; here at AlgaeLab we harvest our cultures every day or two…

The use of distilled water:
At AlgaeLab, we recommend the use of filtered tap water for algae growth; this is convenient, as such water contains natural minerals that promote algae growth. The only reason to use distilled water is if you want your medium to be highly exact, for research, for example.

For more information on growing Spirulina, please check out our FAQ.

From the heart of the chloroplast,
Dr. Aaron Wolf Baum

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