Cyanobacteria (Spirulina) and Algae - Pond Grown vs. Naturally Grown
By Clayn; Co-Founder of Paradigm Fish Foods
Lets take a look at pond grown algae which is fed fertilizer and typically grown under ideal conditions as opposed to naturally occurring algae. I have done quite a bit of reading on the subject over the last few years and have come to the following conclusions.
The protein found in pond grown algae is roughly 50% higher than its naturally occurring counterpart. So our pond grown spirulina with 57% protein would have roughly 30% protein growing in the wild. The main difference being limited food in the form of nitrogen in lakes and rivers.
The fat found in pond grown algae is roughly 1% higher than its naturally occurring counterpart. This difference is not worth noting.
The fiber found pond grown algae is roughly 13% lower than its naturally occurring counterpart.
The minerals/ash found pond grown algae is roughly 2% lower than is naturally occurring counterpart. This makes sense because a lake for example would contain more minerals for the algae to absorb.
Lets assume the moisture content in both is 10%.
Using analysis from this Article on growing duckweed we can start plugging in some average numbers. Yes I know duckweed is not algae but aquatic plants use nutrients in the same way so it is relevant. In the past I have found algae analysis that bears this out.
Pond Grown Duckweed
23% Starch or Sugar *Assumed since this is what remains as no numbers were given
Naturally Grown Duckweed
28% Starch or Sugar *Assumed since this is what remains as no numbers were given
Note in the naturally grown duckweed the protein goes down significantly and the fiber and starch or sugar go up significantly. It is obvious that limited nitrogen changes the plant significantly.
Using these givens lets apply the same to spirulina.
Pond Grown Spirulina
Naturally Grown Spirulina
This extrapolation is not precise but does a good job of showing the difference in the same cyanobacteria being grown in different environments. As you can see limiting nutrients (fertilizer) completely changes the profile. In the Naturally Grown Spirulina the protein gets replaced primarily by starch and fiber.
I like spirulina because the fish's immune system sees it as a bacteria which in turn increases the fish's ability to deal with any real bacterial threats. For this reason and the color enhancement of the blue/green spectrum I include it in all of our foods. However pond grown spirulina or any other algae does not replicate the natural diet of herbivores. Creating a healthy diet for herbivores has been the most challenging task that I have run across. I have references to several studies that show that Tropheus from Lake Tanganyika and Mbuna from Lake Malawi eat cyanobacteria not algae as many believe. I can provide the references if needed.
To sum things up in regards to spirulina and algae in fish foods too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
OTHER ARTICLES BY THE AUTHOR
*Whats wrong with making Dough in Fish Food?
*Fish Nutrition 101
*Probiotics, Prebiotics, Soluble Fiber and Resistant Starch
*How to Read a Fish Food Label & Energy (Fat, Starch and Sugar)
FURTHER SUGGESTED RESOURCES:
Aquarium Fish Nutrition
Spirulina Algae as a Fish Food
POND CARE INFORMATION; Complete Steps
Freshwater Aquarium Care; Basics to Advanced
Paradigm Fish Foods
• Carnivore, • Omnivore, • Herbivore, • Grow, • Graze (compare to sinking algae wafers)
Aquarium Lighting Facts & Information