FAQ

 Question:  Can you tell me what type of spirulina it is? Is it the one in nutritionnal supplement? 

Answer: It is Arthrospira aka Spirulina. Yes, you can eat it, but I can not guarantee that it will grow for you in a food-safe way. Mass culturing facilities heat and dry to disinfect the product, which kills bacteria. I label the product for education and research, so, eat at your own risk! FDA approval for the product comes from how algae is dried and packaged- including a bacterial plate count (which is why I won't make any claims for food).  A lot of my customers seem to be eating it happily and healthfully- keep your pH at 10!

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Question:  Which countries have you sold to?

Answer:  Timely delivery is key, but international shipping of algae cultures is subject to a rules and slow shipping.  I have made lists below to describe the success at getting the cultures delivered while still alive.  

  • Good success:  United States, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Germany, Romainia, France, England, Australia, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Ireland, Bulgaria, Lithuania 
  • Moderate success: Italy, Turkey, Iraq, Turkey, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Russia, India
  • Not so good success:  Brazil
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Question:  Do you sell to schools?

Answer:  Yes, we provide cultures to elementary, high-schools, colleges, and universities.  We offer bulk pricing and council on how to set up projects.

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Question:  Can I use an aquarium air pump to add CO2 to my culture

Answer:  The CO2 in the atmosphere will provide some carbon for your culture, but you should use our alkali media for growing Spirullina.  Our salt package contains a large amount of dissolved carbon dioxide, as bicarbonate.  Algae can use both CO2 and bicarbonate as carbon sources.  Your air pump will provide great mixing for the culture and remove oxygen (O2 can become toxic in dense algae cultures).

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Question:  Can spirulina be used as a biofuel?

AnswerSpirulina can get up to 4-6% lipids. It makes a poor choice for biofuels. Try Nannochloropsis under nitrogen limitation it can produce 15-30% lipids by dry weight.

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Question:  Do you have to use distilled water?

Answer: We have written the instructions to use bottled water.  We include a bag of salts with each kit that has appropriate buffers and salts that make the perfect media for each type of algae.   

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Question:  Do you have drying tolerant algae?

Answer:  You want to find an algae that can survive being in a 'dry' state?  Without knowing much more about where you are going with the research question (space travel, I hope), I would recommend either an intertidal strain or a freshwater 'puddle' or soil strains of algae.  These have likely evolved the ability to tolerate long periods of prolonged lack of moisture.  

 Proposed plan:  

 

  1. Buy some nutrient media (link)  Make it down in fresh water at 1ml/L
  2. Take some samples from dried puddles, bird baths (search haematococcus), or above the high tide line in the 'spray' zone if you live close to an ocean.  
  3. Culture them indoors with a 12/12 hour light cycle with a 30-60W lamp,  not too bright... about 3-4 inches from the lamp.  Don't let them get hot!
  4. Shake daily or more often
  5. When the algae grows, filter some onto a paper towel, or filterpad.
  6. Let it dry... be patient here... no oven.   no direct sunlight.
  7. After a time rehydrate in the media from step (1) 
  8.  find out if it grows... and PROVE that that strain can tolerate the stress.

 good luck!

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Question:  What happened, the culture doesn't look good after two days?

About three days ago I received your spirulina starter kit from Amazon. That same day I prepared the growing medium and added the inoculum.

I did everything based on the instructions but I was extremely disappointed to see that only after two days the culture lost it's color. Can you tell me why did this happen? I'm really frustrated as I did my bst to follow the instructions.

I'm sending you some photos of the medium, one picture is made just after I added the inoculum and the other one is two days later.

Thank you for your time,

A.G., Lithuania

PS. I kept the temperature around 25 degrees celcius.

 

 

 

Hi A.G.,

It is a bummer that the culture did not survive.  Here are my thoughts:

 

  • Did you have the culture in direct sunlight?  After a long trip, the culture may need some time to adapt to its new surroundings (lag phase).  Bright light is not good during this phase as the algae can not generally convert it to new biomass.  The energy must be dissipated by changing the way light energy is processed (less chlorophyll per carotenoid and an increase in total xanthophyll pigments) which is stressful for the colonies.
  • 25c (77F) is a bit cooler than spirulina likes, but should be OK for getting started.
  • Did you use bottled water?  Chlorine in water will have a similar effect.
  • How does it smell?  Does it smell anoxic (like a bog?)  
  • Be careful with how full you fill the bottle,  I recommend filing only to 30-40ml in these flasks.  It keeps the surface area to volume ratio healthy for the culture off gas oxygen.  There should be enough CO2 in the media in the form of bicarbonate.

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Question:  Storing Algae Culture How should I store the algae and for how long can it be stored?

 Answer:

  • If you are going to culture it,  start as soon as you get the package.
  • If you are going to do research on some part of it, storage may be an alternative.  
  •  If you MUST 'store' it, I would do it in a 4-L erlenmeyer flask in a the refrigerator.  I would say that a week is as long as I would feel good about it. The erlenmeyer is good because it has a good surface area to volume ratios when you do not fill it to the top.  Great for culturing cells.  
  •  Otherwise, I would try to keep it in a dimly lit place and stir it a few times a day, and It would be good for a month or better without actively trying to culture it.   
  • I would avoid magnetic stir bars, as they tend to break up the colonies (tricomes).

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Question: The spirulina is floating, is that good?

Answer:  If your culture is floating, that is a good thing.  Your culture is happy.  Spirulina is a colonial microorganism that creates small bubble of gas inside of their cells, called 'gas vesicles'.  These gas vesicles help it to stay on top of the water where (in the wild) they would be exposed to more sunlight.  Try and mix the culture down a few times per day, as the algae can form thick mats and dry out if it is not mixed down.

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Question: Can the algae grow in artificial light?

AnswerYes, they grow very well in artificial light. Full sunlight can be very bad for a thin (not very dense) culture. The sunlight can overload the algae's ability to process the solar energy, and it will crash (die). Also in a culture less than 20L sunlight can heat the culture too high also killing it. 

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Question: How long is the growth cycle?

Answer: Algae is one of the fastest growing organisms on the planet. There are a lot of ways to define growth cycle, cells can divide in hours to days. Practically speaking, the percent change in biomass per day is the probably the best way to define. The cultures that we sell should grow (depending on conditions) from 5% to 40% per day. Temperature, water quality, and light intensity and gas exchange are the reasons for the variability.

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Question: What kind of pump should I use to aerate the algae culture?

Answer:  For most algae, using a centrifugal pump is not a good thing.  The algae will get chopped into bits as the culture cycles through the pump.  An air pump is a good way to promote gas exchange and to add physical motion to the tank.  Simple aquarium air pumps work well.   You may wish to pay attention to the air inlet and make sure that the filter is clean.  If the algae culture is not a fast and aggressive grower (like haematococcus) then preventing airbourn cells from 'infecting' your culture by using a filter is good practice.  

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Question: How long can the culture last?

Answer: They should be opened and put into their culture vessel ASAP for best possible results. The stability testing in our lab has them at room temperature for two weeks. They will last longer in the refrigerator.
Regardless, crack open the bottles to allow for gas exchange at the very least upon arrival.

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Question: Is it ok to use distilled water and not drinking water, because i heard drinking water has chloride?

Answer: Chloride is found in just about every source of water. It is necessary for algal growth. Chlorine on the other hand is bad for algae (thus the no-tap-water specification). I like bottled drinking water because it is generally sterile and is a great starting point for a new culture. Distilled water will have very few minerals in it, it is essentially only H2O. That said, it is OK to use distilled water, as the salt and nutrient kit I provide will add all of the macro and micro nutrients that the algae will need to grow.