The majority of microalgal species reproduce asexually, yet population genetic studies rarely find identical multi-locus genotypes (MLG) in microalgal blooms. Instead, population genetic studies identify large genotypic diversity in most microalgal species. This paradox of frequent asexual reproduction but low number of identical genotypes hampers interpretations of microalgal genotypic diversity. We present a computer model for estimating, for the first time, the number of distinct MLGs by simulating microalgal population composition after defined exponential growth periods. The simulations highlighted the effects of initial genotypic diversity, sample size and intraspecific differences in growth rates on the probability of isolating identical genotypes. We estimated the genotypic richness for five natural microalgal species with available high-resolution population genetic data and monitoring-based growth rates, indicating 500 000 to 2 000 000 distinct genotypes for species with few observed clonal replicates (<5%). Furthermore, our simulations indicated high variability in genotypic richness over time and among microalgal species. Genotypic richness was also strongly impacted by intraspecific variability in growth rates. The probability of finding identical MLGs and sampling a representative fraction of genotypes decreased noticeably with smaller sample sizes, challenging the detection of differences in genotypic diversity with typical isolate numbers in the field.