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Algae vs fruits and vegetables

Discussion in 'Research' started by caters, Jul 3, 2017.

What should the aliens grow on the generation ship?

  1. Algae

    3 vote(s)
  2. Fruits and Vegetables

    2 vote(s)
  1. caters

    caters Sage

    This is 1 thing that I really think is obvious, whether my aliens should grow algae or fruits and vegetables. But here are the pros and cons:



    low maintenance for hydroponics

    Aliens don't eat algae
    Most humans would be grossed out just from seeing algae
    Very few if any humans would like the taste of algae(in fact it wouldn't surprise me if most humans got nauseous after eating algae)
    Algae production would not be stable(blooms followed by massive die-outs)
    Algae do not produce flowers so the bees wouldn't have anything to pollinate

    Fruits and Vegetables


    Humans love it as do aliens
    Soil is overall easier to maintain than hydroponics. Mixing compost with regular soil is about all you have to do to keep the soil nutrient rich.
    There is 1 species of earthworm that survives on anything that can be decomposed, even human and carnivore poop.
    It would benefit the bees in the aviary

    I don't really know of any

    So I think it is obvious that they should grow fruits and vegetables because the bees having something to pollinate far outweighs the difficulties of growing algae and the fact that both humans and aliens love fruits and vegetables far outweighs the grossness of algae.

    But what do you think?
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    I've eaten algae and it tasted fine. It was dried and processed so it looked and acted a lot like soya chunks and it was in a faux-chicken stew, but it was a lot more than tolerable [real chicken would have been nicer]. Properly maintained algae is an almost constant high efficiency source of food.
    At least one con for F&V is that you might have to wait months if not years to get anything to eat. And I don't do enough gardening to be certain but from the TV shows I've seen looking after soil seems a lot more complicated than just adding compost [making compost can take months in not years to make].
    But if none of the recipients will eat it, it doesn't matter how good a food is.
  3. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

    They'll eat it. No matter how awful they think it is, it still beats starving to death.
    chrispenycate likes this.
  4. Vaporo

    Vaporo Inkling

    It seems like you've made up your mind already. You think that eating algae is bad for morale, it can't be eaten by everyone on board who needs food, and you seem to have the space and resources to do otherwise. I'll comment on a few of your points, though.

    -low maintenance for hydroponics
    Technically, I don't think that an algae production facility would be considered "Hydroponics." In reality, algae would probably be grown in large well-lit "beds" filled with nutrient-rich shallow water. That's just semantics, though.

    -Algae production would not be stable. (blooms followed by massive die-outs)
    This is not true in the environment that you'd be creating. The algae production facility would be carefully monitored and maintained, plus there would probably be little to no interaction between individual algae production beds. If one bed had a bad batch bad, it would just be scrubbed out and they would start again. I believe that an algae "bloom" is caused in the real world when some additional nutrient becomes introduced to the water, causing the algae growth to spiral out of control. This is what your algae farmers are trying to do anyways. Induce algae growth as quickly as possible. The would induce each bed to "bloom" and then immediately harvest the algae at the bloom's peak.

    -Algae do not produce flowers so the bees wouldn't have anything to pollinate.
    This isn't wrong, but it seems odd, to me. If your ship is so resource-limited that you're considering growing algae as a food source, how do you also have a fully functioning apiary?

    -Aliens don't eat algae
    This doesn't make much sense, to me. Realistically aliens would not be able to eat very much of anything from earth. Their biochemistry would be so totally different as to likely be totally incapable of processing earth's food, and vice versa. However, this issue is often ignored for fiction. As I understand it, algae is pretty much just basic plant matter. It your extraterrestrials can eat other earth plants fairly freely, it doesn't make much sense that they can't eat algae, especially after its been dried and processed. You could have some in-world explanation as to why they can't, but I'm just pointing it out.

    The primary reason algae is considered as a food source for long-term space missions is because it's easy to grow quickly and in a small area with very few resources. If your starship has a functioning apiary, they're obviously not wanting for space or resources, so having algae be their primary food source doesn't seem necessary. However, they may want to have a few algae beds ready to go, just as a backup in case something happens to their primary food source.

    Also, you talk about eating algae as though they're scooping it directly out of the tank onto their plates. This would probably not be the case. They would probably dry it out, store it, then use it as an ingredient in other dishes when possible. They'd only eat straight algae if they had no other choice.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
  5. Russ

    Russ Istar

    IF the culture is space faring I suspect that there would be no great difficulty in changing the taste o algae into something appetizing.
    TheKillerBs likes this.
  6. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

    There are different types of algae. You seem to have a narrow view of what algae is. There are green, brown, red; single celled individual, single-celled colonies and even multicellular.
  7. valiant12

    valiant12 Sage

    What's wrong with scoping it from the algae tank? Why should aliens prepare their food in a human manner?
    For an aquatick or amphibian specie eating raw algae is the eqivivalent of a human eating raw fruits.

    Why do you need bees on a spaceship?
  8. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Maester

    Monoculture is always pretty much a bad idea. I would want more than one food source. If the algae all died, the vegetables would still be there and vice versa. Redundancy is safer.
  9. chrispenycate

    chrispenycate Sage

    Why is this an 'either or' choice? Algae are more like part of the ship's life support system, sealed tanks with CO2 rich used air forced through them, and the outcoming oxygen rich air scrubbed clean of aromatics before being pumped around to breathe. Several isolated tanks - monocellular organisms tend to mutate easily, and breed fast - any tank must be able to be cleaned and sterilised without the 'infection' spreading. Shrimps and even fish can be raised in the same tanks, and beds of harvested algae could act as substrates for fungi and yeasts.
    Multicellulars, whether aquatic or land based, are more difficult to organise, but the variety of flavours and nutrients are probably worth the extra work. Root vegetables are the least seasonal, while fruits woulsd require either long storage (preserves, pickles, freezing) or a considerable lead time to convince specimins the bit of the ship they were growing in was undergoing autumn, ir summer - this region to be cycled round the different growing regions. Grasses (rice, wheat, corn) fall somewhere between the extremes, and generally store well. It would require quite intensive farming labour, but what else have the migrating aliens got to do with their time?

    Either solution requires constant monitoring, and a stock of frozen seeds or spores to be able to start again in case of poisoning - and there would have to be stores of canned or frozen foods, a CO2 absorber chemical and tanks of compressed/liquid oxygen to cover emergencies.
    valiant12 likes this.
  10. Robert hildenbrand

    Robert hildenbrand Acolyte

    Depending upon the technological advancement of the species, you can make their algae based food stuff taste just like their normal foods from a planet. Remember that space on a ship of any kind will be limited, and algae food stocks would be compact when compared to any other form of food production. You can even obtain meat not from live animals, but from stem-cells grown from the animal's meat (growing the meat in a lab).

    Algae based foods are the way we humans here on earth are being forced to embrace, especially as land becomes damaged by our current methods of food production, climate change, and population density. By the time we are ready to explore the universe, we will not know what a carrot grown in the ground looks like.

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