7 How to Set Up
Before setting up, wash everything! Especially the items that will have direct contact with Spirulina; containers, airline, air stone, etc.
⚠︎ DO NOT USE HOT WATER WITH 3D PRINTED PARTS AS PLA WARPS AT 60-65 °C (140-150 °F) ⚠︎
7.1 Cover the Air Vent
• Use the filter cloth that you purchased for the harvesting funnel and use the small vent lid as a template, cut the cloth slightly bigger than the vent lid. Then secure the cloth between the vent lid and the main lid.
7.2 Attach a Bulb Holder to the Upper Lid
• Insert the bulb holder into the gap on the top of the lid and then screw the ring (or threaded part) tightly.
• Insert the LED bulb into the bulb holder and test that it's working.
7.3 Insert a Plastic Bottle into the Lower Lid
• Grab the collected bottle or the one you've purchased to mix the culture medium and cut the top part (aim for around 8cm diameter or so) then the bottom part (slightly smaller than your top part).
• Insert the top part of the cut bottle into the lower lid (just like how you normally close the water bottle); make sure that it's a bit loose, please don't twist it all the way to the end, if it's too tight then the 3D printed part could break.
• Put the bottom part of the cut bottle on top of the inserted part in order to prevent the LED bulb from the steam/splash.
7.4 Connect Parts with an Air Pump
• Cut the airline tubing into a length of 3-4cm then connect with the air pump.
• Then connect the check valve to the tube, make sure that you connect it in the right direction.
• Connect the tube to the check valve then connect the air control valve.
• [Optional for more than 1 container] Connect the tube to the air control valve then connect the tube connector (2,3,4 ways or more for multiple containers).
• Connect the long airline (length depends on the height of your container and the distance of the air pump) then connect the air stone.
7.5 Setting Up the Cultivation Container
• Place your cultivation container at the chosen/appropriate spot.
• Place the lower lid on top of your cultivation container.
• Position the air stone to the bottom centre (you can use the 'tube lock' in the middle of the lid to keep the tube in place).
• Make sure that your set up is safe! (see 2.2)
7.6 Pour the Culture Medium + Test the Air Pump
• Have your culture medium freshly prepared.
• Pour the medium into the vessel, leave the room for the live culture and the space between the surface and the lower lid.
• The medium amount depends on the capacity of the container and the live culture that you have. Just leave enough room for the live culture and some empty space to prevent overflow. You can start with the amount of 3-10L.
• Turn on the air pump to check if it's working (the small bubbles are visible).
7.7 Pour the Live Culture + Close the Lid
• Gently pour live Spirulina culture into the vessel. Only pour 3/4 of the total amount and keep 1/4 for the backup container.
• Close the lid.
• The culture will be very thin, therefore cannot be exposed to direct sunlight in this initial stage; the more it grows, the thicker it gets, the more you can expose the container to direct sunlight.
• You can also use the curtain to shade the container and use the LED bulb as the only source of light in the beginning.
7.8 Turn On the Light + Air Pump
• Turn on the light.
• Turn on the air pump.
• If the air pressure is too high (a lot of bubbles/splash) it can cause cell breakage, if the pressure is too low (too little bubbles) it will lead to stagnation.
Note: I will demonstrate the differences in the video.
7.9.1 Adjust the Air Pressure
• With Spirulina Society's tool, you can adjust air pressure by tightening up the screw in certain levels as the amount of air bubbles will be visible based on how tight/loose it is.
• You can also use a commercially available air control valve as depicted in the image below.
7.9.2 Adjust the Air Pressure Occasionally
• From time to time, the pressure will need to be adjusted as the culture thickens. As it grows, there is more Spirulina biomass. You’ll need to increase the pressure accordingly.
*If the pressure is too high, it can also increase the risk of water reaching LED bulb, so please be very careful!
7.10 Wait Until It Thickens and Dilute the Culture Medium
• If you have a large container that you can't fill it up in one go, you'll have to wait until it thickens to a darker green shade (culture density below 3-4cm), and then double the culture medium.
• Although, in this stage, there's no need to be precise. You can estimate the growth by comparing its colours.
• Repeat the process until the container is full.
Note: You'll learn how to measure the culture density precisely in the next step.
Voila! Now you play the waiting game until it’s time to harvest. Depending on the volume of the starting culture and medium, it should take about a week for small containers and a few weeks for large containers.
7.11 Setting Up the Backup Container
• Cover the threaded lid by using the same method as 7.1 since the size of both vent lids for the main lid and threaded lid are identical.
• Use the funnel and pour the culture medium into the bottle (leave the space for the live culture), then pour the rest of the culture.
• Slide the tube through the lid's hole until it reaches the container's bottom.
• Screw the threaded lid to the bottle, again just like in section 7.3, make sure that it's a bit loose, please don't twist it all the way to the end, if it's too tight then the 3D printed part could break.
• Connect the tube to the tube connector that is attached to the air pump, then adjust the air pressure.
• Leave the bottle on a windowsill, but beware of direct light, as the diluted culture is thin, and strong sunlight can cause cell lysis.
• Let it grow slowly as this is for backup. In case something happens to the cultivation container you can restart the process.
Note: You can also swirl the bottle manually a couple of times a day if you don't want to connect it to the air pump.