Algae are simple plants and can be very tiny, which can only be seen under a microscope, or they can be large seaweeds, such as the giant kelp. The giant kelp can grow to over 100 feet in length. The main kinds of algae are green, brown, and red algae.
Algae can be grown in just about any kind of water. Most tiny algae grow through the process of photosynthesis, which is how plants make their own food. There are algae which can also grow in the dark using sugar, starch, or both.
In addition, algae can grow in soil, or even in the snow. There has also been some found growing in clouds in the sky. Algae reproduce very quickly and use the sunlight, or sugar, plus water, carbon dioxide and a few other nutrients to grow. Algae can reproduce extremely quickly, and grows faster than any other plant. There are thousands and thousands of species of algae.
Algae can be found everywhere on the Earth and play a vital role in the ecosystems throughout the world. They also provide the foundation for the ocean and other food chains, supporting all the fish in the oceans and inland in lakes and other bodies of water. Algae produces about 70% of the air needed for people and animals to breathe. Algae can help remove large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air.
Green algae use photosynthesis to make its own food. They are also known as the ancestors to land plants. They may be very small, even a single cell; or they can be large. The green algae are found in freshwater, the ocean, tree trunks, and damp walls.
Red algae were one of the very first living organisms on the Earth and have been found in rocks that are almost 2 billion years old. They are mostly marine organisms and include different types of seaweed. They can be single-celled too. The red color comes from pigments in the plant. Some of the red algae can also form coral reefs.
Brown algae is unlike the others and can range from very tiny, microscopic plants to multicellular organisms that can grow up to 164 feet in length. The chlorophyll for these plants have additional pigments which gives the algae its brown color.
The uses of algae are numerous. Red algae can be eaten, and seaweeds are a source for food additives, as well as agar, which is a type of gel used in the cultivation of microorganisms in science labs. Algae is also used in the production of biofuels due to the speed of their growth. The conditions for the algae to grow are simple, and they have low nutritional requirements. This makes for a low cost and efficient method of accumulating biomass for fuel.
In summary, even though algae are often simple and tiny plants, they can grow in just about any body of water and in light or dark locations. Algae can also grow in many different places. Most importantly, algae produce about 70% of the air needed for people and animals to breathe. Finally, the three types of algae are green, red, and brown algae and all have several uses from food additives to the production of biofuels.