Spirulina – The most produced algae on the planet


Spirulina, an edible blue-green algae, is said to be one of the oldest forms of plants that appeared on earth approximately three billion years ago.
When viewed through a microscope, Spirulina looks like a coiled spiral, which is said to be how it earned its name based on the Latin word “spira” meaning twisted shape or helix.
Spirulina is known as the “King of Superfoods” with more than 50 well-balanced health-boosting nutrients. Its superb balance of nutrients and other properties have attracted great interest and it is now the most produced algae in the world, being used in a variety of fields including:


Spirulina: Spirulina (Arthrospira) platensis. Scientific classification: Cyanophyceae (class), Nostocales (order), Oscillatoriaceae (family), Spirulina (genus)

The discovery and history of Spirulina

Spirulina’s history as food

1927 Spirulina is discovered and named by German algae scholar Dr. Turpin
1962 Attracted by its wealth of nutrients, a researcher in 21st century protein sources at the French Institute of Petroleum named Dr Clement, collects samples of Spirulina from Lake Chad to study as a protein source
1963 Investigation into the nutritional value of Spirulina begins in earnest
1967 Dr. Clement presents Spirulina to the world at the International Congress of Microbiology held in Mexico. At a meeting of the International Association of Applied Microbiology held in Ethiopia in the same year, Spirulina is introduced as a future food source that should be considered because of its high protein content, drawing the attention of researchers and prompting the UN to evaluate the nutritional value of Spirulina
1968 Spirulina comes to Japan as a food source

Eating Spirulina through the ages

Spirulina has a long history of being consumed as a food. The French researcher Dangeard and others reported in 1940 that Spirulina was being harvested from Lake Chad and sold in a dried form called “dihe” at a market in a village to the east of Lake Chad in central Africa.
In November 1967, the outstanding nutritional profile of Spirulina gathered attention at a meeting of the International Association of Applied Microbiology in Ethiopia. Research ensued into the potential use of Spirulina as food, and these days Spirulina is mass-cultivated under controlled conditions in manmade ponds. Spirulina is now a recognized health food, helping people in Japan, the U.S., Europe, Oceania, Asia and around the world to stay healthy.

Where does Spirulina grow?

Spirulina grows with strong sunlight under the special conditions such as high temperature and strong alkalinity which is almost inhabitable for many other animals and plants.
"Conditions for growing Spirulina"

  • 1) Strong sunlight
  • 2) Strong alkaline water
  • 3) Water temperature 30-35 ℃
Areas where Spirulina grows in the wild
Areas that grow in the wild

Microorganisms other than Spirulina have great difficulty surviving in lakes that satisfy these conditions and such lakes can only be found in very specific locations. This is thought to be why Spirulina remained undiscovered for so long.
To date, wild Spirulina has been found mostly in tropical lakes and ponds. Lakes that are known to meet the necessary conditions for its growth include lakes in Africa such as Lake Chad (Chad), Lake Yoan (Chad), Lake Arenguadi (Ethiopia), Lake Chitu (Ethiopia), Lake Elmenteita (Kenya), Lake Rudolf (Kenya), Lake Nakuru (Kenya), Lake Natron (Tanzania), as well as Lake Huacachina (Peru) and Lake Tezcoco (Mexico).
The very specific environment that Spirulina needs for growth is inhospitable to bacteria and similar organisms and is said to be one of the reasons why Spirulina has survived through to the modern day without dying out.

Animals love Spirulina too!?

In fact, similar to its effect on pink flamingos, adding Spirulina to feed for goldfish or ornamental carp is said to enhance the brilliant red of their scales and even reduce the mortality rates of juvenile fish. Spirulina is now considered to be an essential nutrient source for winning prizes at competitive exhibitions for ornamental carp.
These are some of the reasons whySpirulina is loved not just by humans, but by animals as well.