How to Grow Phytoplankton: A Complete Guide for Beginners


Phytoplankton are tiny, single-celled organisms that form the base of the marine food chain. These microscopic plants are responsible for producing a large portion of the world’s oxygen and serve as a primary source of food for many species of fish and other marine animals. In recent years, there has been growing interest in phytoplankton as a potential source of biofuels and other valuable products. However, cultivating phytoplankton can be challenging, and many people are unsure how to get started. In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to grow phytoplankton at home, including tips and tricks for successful cultivation.

Step 1: Choose the Right Type of Phytoplankton

There are many different species of phytoplankton, each with its own unique characteristics and growth requirements. Some of the most commonly cultivated species include diatoms, dinoflagellates, and cryptophytes. Before you begin, it’s important to choose the right type of phytoplankton for your needs. Diatoms are a good choice if you’re looking to grow phytoplankton for food or biofuels, while dinoflagellates are often used in aquarium settings to add color and movement to the water. Cryptophytes are another popular choice for their beautiful blue-green color and ability to thrive in a wide range of conditions.

Step 2: Prepare Your Culture Medium

The next step is to prepare your culture medium, which will provide the nutrients and other substances that your phytoplankton will need to grow. The specific ingredients you’ll need will depend on the type of phytoplankton you’re growing, but some common components include salt, trace elements, and a source of organic matter such as yeast extract or agricultural waste. You can either purchase pre-made culture medium or mix your own using readily available ingredients.

Step 3: Inoculate Your Culture Medium

Once your culture medium is prepared, it’s time to inoculate it with your chosen phytoplankton species. This can be done by adding a small amount of live phytoplankton cells to the culture medium or by using a prepared inoculum that contains pre-grown phytoplankton cells. It’s important to carefully follow the instructions for inoculation, as this step can have a big impact on the success of your cultivation.

Step 4: Monitor and Maintain Your Culture

Once your phytoplankton are inoculated, it’s time to monitor and maintain your culture. This involves regularly checking the pH, temperature, and nutrient levels in your culture medium, as well as providing the appropriate amount of light and other environmental factors that your phytoplankton need to grow. Depending on the type of phytoplankton you’re growing, you may need to perform additional maintenance tasks such as removing excess organic matter or adjusting the pH to maintain optimal growth conditions.

Step 5: Harvest and Purify Your Phytoplankton

After several weeks of cultivation, your phytoplankton should be ready to harvest. This involves carefully separating the phytoplankton cells from the culture medium using centrifugation or filtration. Once you have a pure sample of phytoplankton, it can be used for a variety of applications such as food, biofuels, or other industrial uses.


Growing phytoplankton at home can be a rewarding and educational experience, but it requires careful planning and attention to detail.