The need for nutritional sources safer than traditional animal products has renewed interest generally in plants and particularly in microalgae. Microalgae have diverse uses in aquaculture, their applications are mainly to provide nutrition and to enhance the colour of the flesh of salmonids. The larvae of molluscs, echinoderms and crustaceans as well as some fish larvae feed on microalgae. Several studies have confirmed that a live multi-specific, low bacterial and microalgal biomass remains essential for shellfish hatcheries. Major advances are expected from new production system, designs and operations from batch run open tanks to more sophisticated continuously-run and closed loop reactors. Currently, studies are underway to examine the cost-effectiveness of the on- and off-site microalgal production systems which can only be achieved by substantial scaling-up and improved quality control. In order to attain sustainability in the usage of microalgae, a systems-based approach is required which integrates different fields such as biotechnology, bioprocess and management procedures. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.