Starting a Project


Start Project



Place your order.  


  • Place everything you will need for your project in your cart.
  • Salts
  • Nutrients
  • Cultures
  • Secchi stick
  • We ask a few questions about how you will use the algae.  
  • Complete the purchase.
  • Your order will ship in the next 1-2 business days.  



My order just came in. What should I do?


  • Bring the package inside as soon as you can.  
  • Open the bottle of algae just enough to let some air in.   Simply screw open the bottle by 1/16th turn, this will let the gasses come to equilibrium.  Remember the algae cells were probably in the dark during transit for a few while. In transit they consumed oxygen through the process of respiration.  Opening the bottle will let oxygen in and CO2 out.  
  • Place the algae in the light.  Just enough to read by.  Algae is photosynthetic, so they need light as a food source.  Do this while you get ready to do your culturing.  


Do your best to start your project in the next 24-48 hours.   The culture should be good for a week in the bottle, opened, and in the light-  but don’t tempt fate.  




Making Media


Water source:  

  • Use chlorine free water.  This means bottled water (our favorite is spring water), well water, or carbon filtered municipal water.  
  • Be careful- municipal water could be treated with chloramines (especially in the southwest of the US) will not be removed by most filtration systems, including regular activated carbon.


How much water:  

  • Each salt packet is pre-measured for a volume of media.  It will be printed on the label for each individual packet.
  • Order a little more than you need because you will likely spill some.  There is a reason it is called a wet lab.


Add Salts to the water:

  • Shake or mix to dissolve the salts in the water
  • Salts include a carbon buffer made of sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate to control the pH at the best range for your culture.    



  • Add 1ml/L of our media to make your cultures grow.
  • Exceptions
  • Starting up spirulina cultures (spirulina loves nitrogen and loves extra nutrients), after harvesting give 1mL/L for each liter you harvest.  
  • 5-gallon kits.  We add a bit more (50mL) for the 5-gallon bucket.  Generally it helps out to make subsequent batches, and allows for some harvesting.          
  • Our media does not become toxic to most of our strains until you reach the 30mL/L range, that is 30x the suggested dose.


Storing unused Media

  • In a dark cool place, like a lounge or disco.  Just kidding.  Refrigerator is good, in a closed dark bucket is good too.  


Disinfection of the media

  • No disinfection!!!  Favorite!   Our salts and nutrients while not sterile are effectively sterile. We have tested and after a month under ideal conditions nothing grows.  Most of our strains can actually take care of themselves while in captivity!  They grow well and will stay as monocultures as long as conditions are favorable for their domination.  Why - they are selfish, greedy, and do not like competitors (see siderophores).   We like our cultures because they are competitive.  
  • Autoclave-  For sterile cultures the autoclave will work. You will see some precipitation of elements out of the water- that is OK.  We start with a lot so that if you lose some the algae will grow just fine.
  • Filtration- 0.2uM filter will get rid of most bacteria.  Filter the media through one and directly into your culture container.
  • Ozone-  This will work too, but with two conditions (1) ozonated by products can be toxic, we have no idea how this will affect the algae or the project you will use with it.  (2) Ozone will absolutely result in the precipitation of some nutrients in the water, namely iron.  There should be enough still dissolved to grow.  If you want to use ozone, disinfect the water BEFORE and let it sit for 30 minutes then add the salts and nutrients.  
  • UV- Ultraviolet light- Big fan of UV.  It disinfects well.  Many different products here, but generally you need to get a dose of UV above 30mJ/cm2 for it to be effective.  Similarly to the ozone, some nutrients will precipitate out.  Clean the lamps with acid to remove precipitates on the quartz of the lamps.  


How much media should I add to my starter of algae culture?

  • The rule of ⅕.
  • Never dilute your algae by more than ⅘ into new media.  Why- the cells get lonely… sort of.  The cells work as a team to treat the water that they live. When they can maintain a concentration that is reasonably high, then the probability of a culture crash is reduced.  
  • 1 part algae to 4 parts new media
  • The 10% daily rule
  • Cells grow pretty fast, but if you add 10% new media each day, you will be adding new nutrients and pH buffers to your culture daily.  This makes the culture very happy
  • Watch the culture density with a Secchi Stick if the culture becomes less dense over time, you may want to add a lower percent of the total volume.  If the culture gets too dense, you can add more media in order to dilute and maintain your desired culture density.



Next Step ---> Measuring Growth