Algae Culturing Vessels

Choosing the correct vessel for your algae culture is key to meeting the goals of your project.  

  • Material of construction
  • Type of container
  • Volume of culture



Materials of construction


 Most glass used in a laboratory for spirulina farming and algae culture in general is borosillicate glass


Polycarbonate is often used for culture flasks, as the material is versatile and can attract or repel cells based on charges on the plastic surface.  

polycarbonate culture flask algae

Plastic Water Bottles. We actually really plastic water bottles for algae cultures.  They are inexpensive, readily available, and the water inside is almost sterile!   Here is a link to the materials that make up plastic bottles.  All over the world people are re-cycling these bottles and using them to culture algae.  

Algae culture in a water bottle

Image:  Algae experiments being done in a water bottle.  This experiment was used to demonstrate that a pond was phosphate limited.  When phosphate was added to the pond water, an algae bloom resulted.  


EPDM pond liner

The thickness of the pond liner you need will depend on your substrate, depth, and the material.  Usually 45 mil works for most medium farms.  Consider using a geo-liner under the EPDM, it will prevent damage to the material while walking or driving over it.   I have always used Colorado Lining, they have good prices and will make sure to get you the right product for your project.  Ask for Andre Harvey, here is a link to his Linked-in profile.  Tell him Algae Research Supply sent you.  

EPDM algae pond image

Poly urea pond liner





Types of growing containers

Erlenmeyer flasks

Erlenmeyer flasks are used in algae culturing.  The shape of the bottom of the Erlenmeyer flask allows for a high surface are to volume ratio.  With a small opening at the top of the flask, we can limit the amount of dust and allow for gas exchange to take place.  These are often used to maintain a pure culture in a laboratory.  

Erlenmeyer flask

Beakers for growing algae

Beakers are less ideal than Erlenmeyer flasks because the top of the lid is much larger and exposes more of the culture to the atmosphere.   The risk here is exposure of foreign algae, bacteria, or fungus.  We do not recommend using beakers for experiments, but they are great for preparing media and measuring volumes. 

Beaker for growing algae

Tissue Culture flasks

Tissue culture flasks are among any algae growers go-to vessels.  These vessels often have a built in filter in the cap that will filter to 0.2uM, preventing nearly all weed algae, fungus and bacteria.  

 Glass Fish Tanks

This is the best method for growing culture that are greater than 10L of total volume.  You should consider a lid to prevent water evaporation of the culture media.  If your culture loses too much water, the culture will become more and more salty.  Always consider measuring the salinity on a regular basis.  

Glass fish tank for growing algae

Raceway Pond

These are great if you are going to get into mass culturing of algae.  They often cost from $0.65-3.00 per square foot.  The lifespan of the EPDM material is around 30 years, however Teflon liners would have a 1,000 year life-cycle.  

Earthrise raceway ponds



These highly automated highly sensored chambers can help researchers dial in exactly how to best grow algae.  They often use an impeller or a bubbler to mix the chamber.  All of the variables for life can be manipulated inside:  temperature, mixing, gas mixture, salinity, pH.  

Algae photobioreactor