Most species of algae are microscopic unicellular organisms and are found in water. Similar to plants, algae use photosynthesis to produce energy. Many species of algae can be found in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Algae cultured in the hatchery are very small (2-30 microns). One milliliter of water can hold millions of algae cells.
Certain species of algae are known to be more beneficial for oyster larvae and newly settled oyster spat due to size and nutritional content. Several of these species are grown at the Horn Point Oyster Hatchery to feed oyster larvae and young spat. Generally at Horn Point Oyster Hatchery, adult oysters and older spat are not fed cultured algae due to the large quantities that would be needed. However, broodstock oysters are sometimes given supplemental algal feedings to enhance gonad production.