Growing Spirulina at Home:
Introduction to Growing Spirulina:- What is Spirulina? Well, Spirulina is a type of naturally occurring blue-green micro-algae which can be grown in warm water alkaline water conditions. Spirulina can be grown in wild waters and at home / indoors. As algae can absorb toxins from the environment, most of the people showing interest to grow Spirulina indoors or at home under controlled conditions.
Spriluna is known as one of the superfoods and future food due to its excellent medicinal properties. Spirulina is fully loaded with proteins, antioxidants, and numerous vitamins and minerals required for a healthy lifestyle. Commercial cultivation of Spirulina is spiking up in India especially in Tamil Nadu state due to assured market and a regular income. The other reason for taking up this is most of the farmers thinks Spirulina is a safe bet as there are unseasonal monsoons and problems in marketing other produce. Growing Spirulina at home is an excellent idea as it requires low investment but higher profits. Apart from this, you are growing your own super food at home. isn’t amazing?. Let us discuss more advantages, health benefits, and uses of growing Spriluna at home. You can have a basic idea of growing Spirulina at home at the end of this article.
Spirulina Uses and Health Benefits:- Spirulina used in the manufacture of several medicines and cosmetics. The following are some of the health benefits of Spirulina.
- Spirulina strengthens the immune system.
- It improves the digestion
- Spirulina may prevent a certain type of cancers
- It is good for women and children since it contains easy to absorb iron supplements.
- It is an excellent source of beta carotene hence can consider this as a good anti-oxidant and good for eye health
- Good for muscle building.
- Spirulina possesses anti-inflammatory properties and good for arthritis patients.
- Good for heart health.
- Taking Spirulina can make you look younger due to its anti-aging properties.
Note: Don’t take Spirulina yourself without talking to your doctor.
Advantages of Growing Spirulina at Home:- One can assume the following advantages of Spirulina growing at home.
- It is easy to grow and maintain when compared to other food.
- It is one of the super foods (which can be used as food and medicine) that requires low investment.
- It is healthier and good for the environment when compared to dried, boxed Spirulina.
- Spirulina multiplies very quickly and it grows by 25% of its own weight every day.
- Spriluna has good market demand, so you can consider this an excellent source of income from home, of course, it is fun to grow Spirulina as well.
How to Grow Spirulina at Home:- Growing Spirulina indoors is a good idea for quality Spirulina.
Suitable Area for Growing Spirulina:- Growing Spirulina at home is nothing but growing fish in Aquarium. I can say, even it is easier than that. Where can we grow Spirulina? We can grow in any indoor /outdoor tanks/pools/basins/ aquarium tanks. The size of the growing area depends on your plan. If you really want to start in a small area, go for a small aquarium in front of a sunny window. In case of more area, you can start in a pool or pond or larger tanks in your back yard (warmer climates).
Requirements to Grow Spirulina at Home:- Well, there are certain things you must build/gather before start growing Spirulina at home.
- You must have a tank with your preferable size. It can be cement or plastic.
- In order to harvest and squeeze the water out of thick Spriluna, you must have some kind of harvesting equipment like fine cloth and mesh.
- You may require Thermometer, air pump (for agitation), water pump for circulation, pH meter, Electric water heater, and any LED lights.
- Plain water may not be a good option for growing Spirulina, so you need to buy minerals for better growth of algal. This food or cultural medium is mandatory for growing this superfood.
- Plain filtered water plus Sodium bicarbonate plus Magnesium sulfate plus Potassium nitrade plus Citric acid plus Common salt plus Urea plus Calcium chloride plus Iron sulfate plus Ammonium sulfate make the perfect cultural medium.
- Spirulina thrives best in warm temperatures and ideal temperatures for its growth is between 25 and 38 degrees Celsius. Though this can tolerate low temperatures, it is always better to provide warm climatic conditions. You can use water heaters to increase the required temperature.
- You need Spirulina seeds to start your culture or you can buy Spirulina starter kit in any organic store. Spirulina starter kit contains the mother Spirulina culture (algae) in the bottle along with medium (water). You must make sure to buy from a certified store.
- Though it can be grown in any size of the tank, the preferable tank size is about 10 feet x 5 feet x 1.5 feet. Fill this tank with 1000 liters of water to a height of about 1 – 2 feet. This tank size requires about 1 kg of Spirulina mother culture. This Spirulina culture along with required minerals should be released into the tank. The minerals required for this scenario is 8 grams of sodium bicarbonate plus 5 grams of sodium chloride plus0.2 grams of urea plus 0.5 grams of potassium sulfate plus 0.16 grams of magnesium sulfate plus 0.052 ml of phosphoric acid plus 0.05 ml of ferrous sulfate. These measurements should be considered for 1 liter of water. After releasing the mother culture and minerals into the tank, the water should be agitated every day for 1 week using a long stick for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Drying racks needed in case of more production to dry the produce and preserve it.
Parameters to Consider Growing Spirulina at Home:- There are some things need to be considered for growing Spirulina at home.
- Light: Growing area (tank/pool/basins) should have proper sunlight as Spirulina is like a plant and need light to survive.
- Temperature: Requires temperature maintenance in tanks for maximum yield.
- The agitation: Frequent agitation should be carried out to ensure all the Spirulina filaments have access to Co2 and light.
- The Cultural Medium: Ensure to have the right culture medium and perfect water for better growth and high yield.
Harvest and Post-Harvesting in Spirulina Growing:- After 2 to 3 weeks, Spirulina will be ready to pick. Use any small and clean plastic buckets or a mesh to collect the algae and pour the algae into a mounted filter. This can squeeze/drain the excess water from harvested algae. Subsequently, the drained Spirulina should be wrapped in a clean muslin cloth. Press the drained material under a weight of 40 to 50 kg to further drain the moisture from material. Now you can put in like noodle manufacturing machines and squeeze in the form of noodles on a dry, clean cloth under the sun. Allow this to dry further for 2 to3 hours after which it should be ground in a machine (like a flour machine). The ground Spirulina powder should be sent to the lab for testing. Once everything is fine, then it should be packed in small airtight plastic covers and is ready for market and consumption.
Profit in Growing Spirulina:- With the tank dimensions mentioned in the above paragraph, you harvest 1 kg of Spirulina from each tank per day (if you have multiple tanks with the same dimensions). The market price for Spirulina powder is about Rs. 1,000 per kg. After all the expenses, one can easily get Rs.30,000 per month profit.
What Kind of Problems Can We Face in Growing Spirulina?
Well, you can find some issues in growing Spirulina at home tanks.
- Problem: If you are starting a new tank, Spirulina may turn into yellow or brown and clumps at the bottom.
- Reason: Bad water is used or water temperature is high or low or wrong mineral/nutrient proportions being used.
- Problem: If the Spirulina culture does not grow and stays pale green.
- Reason: Not enough sunlight passing through culture medium.
- Problem: If the Spirulina culture suddenly turns yellow and thin and clumps appear.
- Reason: Medium is too old or imbalanced and needs to be replaced as soon as possible.
- Problem: If the Foam farming starts at the top.
- Reason: You can add more ash water.
- Problem: If the Spirulina culture groups like gelatine and causing problems in mixing.
- Solution: Probably, you need to add more urea (to increase nitrogen percentage).
- Problem: If the Spirulina culture looks like lime green.
- Solution: Add more nutrients (it might be due to more light).
- Problem: If the Spirulina culture becomes thin and sits at the bottom of the tank.
- Solution: It seems, mixing (the agitation) is not done properly.
- Problem: If Spirulina culture looks like very thick and jelly format.
- Solution: You need to harvest more frequently.
- Problem: If Spirulina culture smells like ammonia.
- Solution: Add more fresh water (maybe 1 cm) and mix it well.
Training for Growing Spirulina:- For training in Spirulina growing, you can reach the following address.
Mr K. Retna Raja Singam, Programme co-ordinator can be reached at Nallayan Research Centre for Sustainable Development, Navallor village, Kanchipuram district, Tamil Nadu, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 044- 28193063(office), mobile: 98840-00413 and 98840-00414(farm).