Author Topic: Derek Tang's algae culture for rotifer or brine shrimp  (Read 2485 times)


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Derek Tang's algae culture for rotifer or brine shrimp
« on: August 05, 2012, 11:39:47 AM »
The main secret for successful algae and rotifer culture/brine shrimp is cleanliness. Any cross contamination with other species of algae or bacteria can potentially wipe out your current stock. You may get green water of some undesirable type.

I use the clear plastic 2 liter coke bottles for my cultures. The coke bottles are cheap and can be thrown away if necessary. I clean my bottles with bleach solution and rinse them thoroughly before each reuse. Brine shrimp needs bigger quarters for optimal growth and I use 4 gallon plastic totes.

Algae are particularly susceptible to crash if sanitation measure is not observed. The real serious hobbyist even build enclosures (clean compartment with positive pressure) to isolate their algae cultures from the outside world.

Lighting is unimportant as long as good enough illumination is provided for 16 to 18 hours. I just used a regular shop light with two 48 inches wide spectrum fluorescent tubes. A dark period of 6 to 8 hours is good to promote growth. I have used 24 hour light periods without seeing any harmful effects. My experience indicated that a dark period promote more intensive growth.

Light aeration is provided by a small air pump. Avoid heavy aeration since excessive froth will form and leave residual algae stuck at the bottle neck to dry. I also never fill the coke bottles to the rim for obvious reasons - splashing and misty water droplets are the main cause for cross contamination.

Fertilizer is necessary in moderation. I use the Micro Algae Grow from Florida Aqua Farm) for all my algae cultures. The recipe is 12 drops per 1.5 liter of solution. You can use any type of fertilizer (e.g. liquid plant food) for green water. Algae are a low order organism after all.

Most algae can grow in any water conditions. But the optimal growth is species specific. I found that the brackish water condition with specific gravity of 1.008 to 1.010 is suitable only because my rotifer is keep at that same level. The marine algae actually prefer a little heavier salinity for optimal growth (at 1.018). I use about 3 to 5 table spoonful of salt per gallon of water my cultures. Again, accuracy in salt amount measurement is not important. The only requirement for continue success is to keep up the awareness of sanitation.

Feeding of the rotifer or brine shrimp should be done in moderation also. Don't overwhelm the poor creatures with all your supply of Algae water. You may choke them by depletion of oxygen and crash the whole culture. If this happens and you do have patience to wait for about 10 days, the rotifers can sometimes make a comeback. The new generation indeed comes from the cysts that were laid when their parents were in stress before die off. Feed them often as soon as the water is all clear up and make sure you have to thin out the population often too.

I almost forget to mention seeding method and harvesting period.
I adopt a 7 day grow out period for the 2 liter bottles of algae.
Seeding is done by carefully decanting the top 25% matured algae water into a sanitized empty bottle. The initial amount of starting culture affects the harvest cycle time. Of course, there is no rigid rule on the maturity of algae solution. 20 million cells per cubic centimeter are considered to be quite dense in the home grown environment. At that population density, you can barely see through 1.5 cm depth of the liquid. Commercially prepared algae solution with centrifugal extraction can go 10 times higher.

You always maintain back up stocks in case of failures.
I ran 4 to 6 bottles at stagger time of a couple days apart so that at least some bottles will have different maturing time. In case of a major crash, I can still have some seed culture to fall back onto.

The harvested liquid can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 to six weeks depending on population density. They do get smothered at high density when sitting too long in hibernation.

Algae culture may not be difficult after all although initial failure is not uncommon for beginners. Anybody with a will and dedication can get it done after a few trial and errors.