Spirulina (rhymes with 'ballerina') is the common name for human and animal food supplements produced primarily from two species of cyanobacteria: Arthrospira platensis, and Arthrospira maxima.
This makes it a form of blue-green algae.
Spirulina is cultivated around the world, and is used as a human dietary supplement, available in tablet, flake, and powder form. It is also used as a feed supplement in the aquaculture and aquarium industry.
However it is expensive to cultivate and process and doesn't taste that great (leaves your tongue very green!) which has limited its appeal as a popular stand alone additive. You can get it from most health shops in tablet or powder form.
This algae whilst not a complete food in itself, ranks as highly as Cyclops-eeze as a super food. It is often used in the better quality fish food as a protein, vitamins, amino acid and pigment booster.
- Aquarists often when preparing their own fish food will sprinkle spirulina powder onto their recipe to enhance the food.
- The powder form is often fed to Brine shrimp to greatly enhance their protein potential in raising fish fry.
Spirulina contains unusually high amounts of protein, between 55 and 77% by dry weight, depending upon the source. It is a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids as compared to standard proteins such as that from meat, eggs, or milk. It is, however, superior to all standard plant protein as well.
Spirulina contains many pigments including chlorophyll-a, xanthophyll, beta-carotene, echinenone, myxoxanthophyll, zeaxanthin, canthaxanthin, diatoxanthin, 3'-hydroxyechinenone, beta-cryptoxanthin, oscillaxanthin, plus the phycobiliproteins c-phycocyanin and allophycocyanin.
- These bring out the natural colours of fish.
Essential Fatty Acids
Spirulina is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), and also provides alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), linoleic acid (LA), stearidonic acid (SDA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and arachidonic acid (AA).