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FAQs about Caulerpa Algae 4

Related Articles: Caulerpas by Bob Fenner, A closer look at Caulerpa - Common aquarium species and their care by Adam Jenkins, Embracing Biodiversity, Green Algae By Mark E. Evans, Green AlgaeAvoiding Algae Problems in Marine System, Algae Control, Marine Maintenance, Nutrient Control and Export, Marine Scavengers, Snails, Hermit Crabs, Mithrax/Emerald Green Crabs, Sea Urchins, Blennies, Algae Filters, Ctenochaetus/Bristle Mouth Tangs, Zebrasoma/Sailfin Tangs, Skimmers, Skimmer Selection, Marine Algae, Coralline Algae, Green Algae, Brown Algae, Blue-Green "Algae"/(Cyanobacteria)Diatoms, Brown Algae

Related FAQs: Caulerpa Algae 1, Caulerpa 2, Caulerpa 3, Caulerpa 5, Caulerpa Identification, Caulerpa Behavior, Caulerpa Compatibility/Control, Caulerpa  Selection, Caulerpa Systems, Caulerpa Nutrition, Caulerpa Disease, Caulerpa Reproduction/Propagation, Other Green Algae, RefugiumsGreen Algae Control 1Marine Algae ID 1, Marine Algae ID 2, Marine Algae Control FAQs II, Marine Algaecide Use, Nutrient Limitation, Marine Algae Eaters, Culturing Macro-Algae; Controlling: BGA/Cyano, Red/Encrusting Algae, Green Algae, Brown/Diatom Algae

Caulerpa racemosa in N. Sulawesi. 

Death to Caulerpa! Hey all, Everyone here has seen my tank. It's a pretty nice tank, and I am proud of most of it. Well, perhaps I should rephrase that. I am proud of everything except my Caulerpa. Grape and Parasail dominate my tank. The grape hitch-hiked on my Ritteri's foot, the Parasail literally grew out of the rocks. I saw it as benign, and left it. Huge mistake. For several months now, I have not seen my rocks. The Grape really does not grow too much, but the parasail does. It covers the rockworks, and has smaller stems and tough roots, making it impossible to extricate.  <I lived through this same problem quite a while ago. Aggressive manual removal which included hand picking and a stiff bristled scrub brush along with dropping the temp allowed grazers to get ahead of it.   Eric Borneman wrote a phenomenal piece on the specific nutrient ratios that favor certain "algae", Cyanobacteria, dinoflagellates, etc. It is hard to find (I recently looked and came up empty). If you can find it, it has some very useful information that could be used to develop a strategy based on manipulating an easily controlled nutrient (Nitrate perhaps).>  It grows over my corals, imbeds its roots in their flesh, and starves them of light. It grows around 4 to 5 inches a day, and will not go away. Daily I pull out about this much:

I have just recently acquired a 6" Sea Hare from IslandReefs.com. The owner there, Tom, says he feeds them Caulerpa as they have run out of hair algae. Sadly, I have yet to see mine even notice the stuff! He just glides right over it without a second glance...eats my Ulva sp. Seaweed, my Nori, my Seaweed Selects, and my Hair Algae, but not my Caulerpa. Tom swears they do, but I have yet to verify that. <I have also heard the claim that these guys will eat Caulerpa, but I would try and find out which kind they actually did eat. With such a noxious battery of defensive chemicals, it is very likely that some might be more or less palatable. Also, it is likely that Caulerpa will only be consumed as a last resort. If other foods are offered or available, they would be eaten first. So, you may have to starve the See Hare into eating it.> What other means are there of naturally controlling Caulerpa? I do know that a specialized species of sacoglossan Slug, Oxynoe viridis consumes Caulerpa and Caulerpa only. I also know that no online vendor or local vendor sells them. Help! I HATE MY CAULERPA! Mike Giangrasso <You could take your cue from the loonies about San Diego bay and in Australia and put a big tarp over it... Oh, No! Even better.... blast it with bleach. Wait! Huge doses of Copper Sulfate delivered with a fire hose! OK, all of those ideas would kill everything in your tank, just like they killed everything in the immediate area they were applied in the wild. And for our next stupid human trick, we'll rid Hawaii of chameleons by exfoliating the whole place with Agent Orange (the herbicide, not the 80's Orange County surf-punk band). Sorry for the sarcastic rant. As for the O. viridis, try IPSF, Inland Aquatics and do a search on RC. Those are your best bets. Hope this helps.  AdamC.> 


ISSUE:  The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced it would consider two petitions requesting the addition of either (1) the genus Caulerpa or (2)the entire species of Caulerpa taxifolia to the APHIS list of noxious weeds. WHAT IT MEANS: If successfully listed as a noxious weed the trade of Caulerpa in the United States would effectively end as one would need a permit to transport it.  This also potentially means that the trade in live rock would also be banned as live rock might be considered 'infested' with Caulerpa.   WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:  Comments from the ornamental aquatics industry are needed now to ensure that the USDA does not ban safe algae as well as LIVE ROCK without a sound scientific justification.  See below on how to submit comments and what points to consider in your submission.  Comments are due by Dec. 27, 2004. BACKGROUND:  The International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) and Professor Susan L. Williams, University of California-Davis submitted two petitions to the USDA APHIS requesting the listing of either the whole genus Caulerpa or the entire species Caulerpa taxifolia to the APHIS list of noxious weeds. These petitions were also signed by 104 invasive species scientists and resource managers.   The USDA announcement at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/weeds/caulerpa/index.html contains copies of the key documents.  Federal Register Notice  http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppd/rad/webrepor/ppq.html. Petitioners argue that regulating (or, "listing") the genus Caulerpa or the entire species C. taxifolia is scientifically sound given the presence of multiple exceptionally invasive and highly variable forms in these groups; the difficulty in identifying the single, currently regulated strain of this species by eye; the frequency with which species are being co-mingled, sold, and distributed in the United States and the world; and evidence that many shipments of algae and other aquarium plants are neither identified correctly nor labeled accurately. They argue that allowing import of only those species deemed non-invasive (which in their opinion means no species of Caulerpa) is the only effective way to regulate these marine algae.   Exhibits accompanying the petitions indicated that several importers referred to Caulerpa as "Algae green/in bags," "Grape algae," Algae Red,"  -- in most instances the proper scientific names were included while some simply indicated "Caulerpa Spec on Scleractinia." Petitioners claim that most retailers had no idea of the species they handle and that "live rock" is a major pathway despite the fact that the only surveys conducted did not find any Caulerpa taxifolia on the live rock. It should be noted that the strain C. taxifolia (Mediterranean clone) or noted in the petitions as "C. taxifolia MC" is currently banned from import into the US as well as in the State of California which has the support of the industry.  8 other Caulerpa species are prohibited in California due to being "look-alikes" or species where some data indicated potential problems in California waters.  MAIN MESSAGE: Your comments to the USDA APHIS should state that they not approve either petition at this time.  Rather the USDA APHIS should work within the framework of the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force's inter-agency "National Management Plan for the Genus Caulerpa," currently in its final stages of approval.  

Other points are that the petitions fail to contain scientific or other evidence justifying wholesale listing of an entire genus or the species C. taxifolia and USDA should defer any action pending the receipt of reliable data.  As noted in the petitions C. taxifolia occurs as a native species in parts of Hawaii and Florida and is not considered invasive thus any contention that C. taxifolia is "naturally" an invasive species that wipes out huge areas of native species is clearly false.  

Secondly, again as noted in the petition, the C. taxifolia that is considered invasive in the Mediterranean "apparently underwent a genetic change while being maintained in aquaria" and "this change is hypothesized to contribute to its invasiveness."  If this is true, as claimed, then the chances of C. taxifolia from other areas around the World which have not been exposed to long-term aquarium conditions (meaning Caulerpa on live rock etc.) having undergone genetic change to become invasive is scientifically remote.  

Thirdly, as noted on the web page of Dr. Susan Williams ( http://www.bml.ucdavis.edu/facresearch/williams.html) species of Caulerpa commonly grow in many tropical marine waters around the world and remain in the understory of seagrass beds which can outcompete Caulerpa.  Thus, by her own admission Caulerpa is not a renegade species of algae bent on carpeting the ocean floor which is how her petition reads. 

Fourthly, peer-reviewed and published research has shown that the extent of the Caulerpa invasion in the Mediterranean has been overstated by an order of magnitude or more and the establishment of Caulerpa in a seagrass bed does not automatically mean the demise of the seagrasses.  All these points and more demonstrate that there is no scientific evidence to support the listing of the entire species or genus as a noxious weed.  More research is required as called for in the draft National Management Plan before listing.   DEADLINE: The comment period closes on December 27, 2004 ACTION: Submit written comments.  

* Mail: send four copies of your comment (an original and three copies) to Docket No. 04-037-1, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3C71, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Make sure to state that your comment refers to Docket No. 04-037-1.   * E-mail: Address your comment to < regulations@aphis.usda.gov >. Include your name, address,  "Docket No. 04-037-1'" in the subject line, and your comment in the body of your message. Do not include any attached files.

* On line comments can be submitted and viewed via the agency web site: Go to < http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppd/rad/cominst.html >

Send a copy to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, 1220 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036 or info@pijac.org.  For more information, call PIJAC at 202-452-1525

Caulerpa taxifolia - invasive plant Crew: <Mary> Did you see the recent Nova program on PBS? <Yes>   Caulerpa taxifolia is a very invasive plant. <Invasive, yes, plant, no>   You should be warning people to not grow or use it. <We have done so repeatedly... if you would have checked WWM and WWF you would see this is so>   If they have some now, they should be told how to dispose of it properly. <Sigh... this has been done so as well>   Here you are seemingly promoting it.  Now that you know, I am sure you will update: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caulerpaalg.htm Here are 3 google finds that might help you understand the issue.  It is clearly important for California. < http://www.bcs.gov.tr/dosyalar/executivesum.doc> Introduction File Format: Microsoft Word 97 - < xecutivesum.doc+%22Caulerpa+taxafolia%22&hl=en> View as HTML ... A consensus was reached that Caulerpa taxifolia was a serious threat, especially, against the ecological balance in the western Mediterranean. ... www.bcs.gov.tr/dosyalar/executivesum.doc - < http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=related:www.bcs.gov.tr/dosyalar/ex ecutivesum.doc> Similar pages  < http://jacobson.home.cern.ch/jacobson/sea/projects/corsica/corsica.html> SEA Project Corsica ... A particularly interesting issue, is the dispersion of the foreign species Caulerpa taxifolia. Caulerpa taxifolia is a tropical ... jacobson.home.cern.ch/jacobson/ sea/projects/corsica/corsica.html - 5k - < obson/sea/projects/corsica/corsica.html+%22Caulerpa+taxafolia%22&hl=en> Cached - < http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=related:jacobson.home.cern.ch/jaco bson/sea/projects/corsica/corsica.html> Similar pages < http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/environment/july-dec04/species_7-1.html> Online NewsHour: US Battles Invasive Species -- July 1, 2004 ... the lagoon. JEFFREY KAYE: That plant was Caulerpa Taxifolia, a hearty, fast-growing seaweed native to the tropics. When introduced ... www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/environment/ july-dec04/species_7-1.html - 28k - < nvironment/july-dec04/species_7-1.html+%22Caulerpa+taxafolia%22&hl=en> Cached - < http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=related:www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/en vironment/july-dec04/species_7-1.html> Similar pages Thanks Mary Feay <Thank you for your concern. Bob Fenner>

Re: Caulerpa taxifolia - invasive plant Bob: <Mary> Thanks for your immediate response - I feel a tiny bit better that you say you understand.  But the very top Caulerpa taxifolia google website find was http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caulerpaalg.htm.  And this is what I found on that page: "Caulerpa taxifolia, one of the best species of  the best genus of algae for marine aquarium  use." <It is indeed so> I looked for other references on your website and all I found were recommendations for how to use and even that you can ship it to Canada. <Some States can. As far as I'm aware, only California bars the sale, use of the family Caulerpaceae> I found only 1 reference to invasive - and it just talked about how invasive Caulerpa is in an aquarium.  The point is that even a tiny bit can be washed to the ocean and proliferate wiping out everything in its way. <Mary... take a few deep breaths... and take a look around you... likely you're surrounded by toxic, invasive species... Do you have a Dieffenbachia picta Family: Araceae in your home, garden? This is a toxic, invasive houseplant... how about Eucalyptus in the U.S.? A good many of the plants, animals are non-indigenous... ALL are trouble... my stock admonition: RELEASE NOTHING to the wild. And the standard routine for disposal... freeze (in your freezer) and dispose of on trash day... NOT down a sink, toilet...>   It is toxic, so as you FAQ noted, nothing eats it. <Mary... enough hysterics... MANY organisms DO eat these species. READ, and stop sensationalizing> It is not a native to anywhere, it is a human creation. <What? No... this is a general misunderstanding... that was further perpetuated by the PBS show.> At least people in California and other coastal areas should be warned not to use it.  I understand it is banned from importation, but the US did not require destruction of existing stock or sales.   <Actually... please read before... It's use, sale in California is indeed restricted by law> That is probably really the answer - this stuff is worse that killer bees. Thanks again. Mary Feay <What about the ill-effects of too many humans on the planet? Bob Fenner> Re: Caulerpa taxifolia - invasive plant Bob: If you send your snail mail address, I can send you a VHS tape as I TIVOed it, so I can easily make you a copy and mail it. <I appreciate your kind offer, but no thank you> Here is a PBS website - look at 1990 - in California. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/algae/chronology.html Thanks again Mary Feay <I've followed the development of this pest algae for more than fifteen years... It is not as large an issue as many folks make out, however, I do not use it, or condone people breaking the law in using same. Bob Fenner>
Re: Caulerpa taxifolia - invasive plant
Bob: Well, I don't have any dieffenbachia, nor would I plant a eucalyptus. I am trying desperately to rid my little 2 acre oak and shag bark hickory forest of invasives. <Ah, then you very likely understand my position>   OK, so I am a planet hugger, and we have no children, so we aren't adding to the people problem. <Outstanding. I too consider myself similarly inclined... and elected to not reproduce as well> Do you really take your aquarium water and freeze it before disposing of it in the trash? <Mmm, no. I actually only have two freshwater (African Cichlid) tanks... and toss their water change water onto my lawn and citrus trees out the back> That sounds pretty weird to me. <Mmm, sorry for the confusion. I was referring to encouraging people to rid themselves specifically of Caulerpa spp.> Better to not propagate an invasive species.  I am glad to hear that California prohibits Caulerpa. Bye! <Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Caulerpa\phosphate\nitrates Hi, <Hello there> I was reading some articles on reducing phosphate and came across Phosphate solutions 7/31/03 stating "I'll put some Caulerpa too for helping to reduce phosphates. <do consider a safer and more stable macroalgae like Chaetomorpha, Ochtodes or Gracilaria for this purpose> What are the problems with Caulerpa? <There are some folks here that believe that the likelihood of species of this genus going reproductive and thereby toxic (and unattractive mess) too much trouble... as well as Caulerpas being too aggressive growers... taking too much out of the water that reefers might want for other life's use... and that their growth discolors the water too much... and that it grows so quickly as to be a pain to keep harvested> My understanding is that Caulerpa, Chaetomorpha, Ochtodes or Gracilaria will help reduce phosphate and nitrate. <Yes> Is that correct? Is there anything else that they help reduce? <Most any, all nutrients, biominerals... if boosted (with light mainly)> I was unable to find a picture of Chaetomorpha, Ochtodes and Gracilaria due to my browser at work, is it possible to e-mail me a picture of what Chaetomorpha, Ochtodes and Gracilaria looks like? <Mmm, some of these may be presented on WetWebMedia, but you're likely to get them fastest by doing a Google search and looking through their "pictures" feature. Bob Fenner> Thanks Mohamed.

Controlling Caulerpa Hi folks, long time no write. Hope you are all well. My 5 x 2 x 2 is going well for fish and corals. Unfortunately it's also going well for a small feathery 'Caulerpa'. << That is great!  You want it to do well. >> All water parameters are fine ... no detectible phosphate, nitrate below 5 ppm, ph 8.2 - 8.4. << I'll bet that Caulerpa is keeping the phosphate and nitrate down. >> Bit of a problem keeping the calcium level up but it's within acceptable limits and the only really calcium greedy inhabitant (medium sized clam) is growing rapidly. 2 x 250W halides on for about eight hours a day. Regular water changes with RO water. About 130 lbs of living rock. I've been pulling handfuls of the 'Caulerpa' out for months (tanks is just a year old) but the d*mn stuff is winning, overgrowing all the living rock and smothering polyps. The only place it doesn't grow is under a huge leather coral and at the ends of the tank . lack of light I guess. So, my questions. * Can I do anything about this unsightly weed (other than turn the lights off for a long time  .. I put a piece of living rock covered in the stuff in the unlit sump and it took three months for the weed to even begin to disappear.)? << Yes, learn to love it!  I'd rather have Caulerpa than coral in my tank.  But if you want to get rid of it, then manually pull most of it out, and add a Kole tang. >> Try adding some herbivores if you don't have any already (i.e. tangs, lawnmower blennies, hermit crabs etc.) * If I replace my living rock with new fully cured stuff can I put the weed covered rock into the sump (now lit with T5s) and overflow chamber without worrying about the weed spreading back to the main tank. << For the most part, but it isn't a weed, it is a great addition to a healthy tank. >> Will this retain some of the benefits of the well cured, well established rock? << Yes. >> I would set up a refugium where the Caulerpa can grow separately.  There is no easy answer to the question.  In a nutshell "yes" it will spread back to the main tank.  Don't replace your live rock just yet.  Try and remove it by hand and then put some herbivores (vegetarians) in the tank. << I don't think it will return to the main tank. >> * Is starting again my only option? If so I hope to do a 'one day' change round using well cured living rock and retaining most of the water from the tank. By this time the established rock may be in the sump, depending on your answer to the point above.  I really don't want to give up any of my fish while I change over and my quarantine tank (3 x 1.5 x 1.5) really isn't big enough to hold them plus corals for more than a few hours. I estimate that about 25% of the current living rock has no 'Caulerpa' on it so can stay in the main tank. << I wouldn't do a starting over phase.  I would add herbivores and slowly replace rock, or do nothing at all. >> Don't give up just yet.  Remove as much as you can by hand and add some tangs to the tank.  Good Luck!!!     O.K. I just read your PS.  It is called Caulerpa mexicana.  Here is my recommendation.  Remove as much as you can by hand.  What kind of tangs do you have?  I find a Kole tang works the best.  Red and Blue legged hermit crabs will also help.  Don't give up.  Your tank is too big to go through the trouble to redo it in one day.  Keep me informed if you can. MikeB Thanks very much for your help. << Holy cow, MikeB already answered this, and I completely agree with him. >> Brian <<  Blundell  >>

Algae Problem Dear Bob, We have a Caulerpa prolifera problem, too much!!!!!! We have a small 75 liter Sea Horse tank with live rock and some coral. Are there any natural ways of dealing with this problem like tangs, crabs etc? We are concerned that the tank is too small for tangs. Are there any smaller species? Hope you can help...... Regards, Rod & Andrea Connock >>>Hello Rod, Your tank is indeed too small for any tangs, even the smaller Zebrasoma species such as the yellow tang. I assume, from the fact that you have it in your display, that you like the looks of it so long as there isn't too much of it. Going on this assumption, the only solution in your case is to manually harvest it. Letting it grow too much will also cause it to go sexual and crash, causing a massive influx of organics in the system. If you want to be rid of it, you can pull it all off manually, and keep with it every time you see it pop up. Introduce more grazers, crabs, urchins, etc and eventually you should be rid of it. Keep in mind too, algae needs light and nitrogen (or phosphates) to grow. It's growing because you are providing it with so much food. Lose the Caulerpa , and you may see other problem algae take it's place. Keep nutrient export in mind at all times. Right now, it's your Caulerpa to a large degree. Easing up on the feedings will help as well.   Cheers Jim<<<

Growing Caulerpa Thanks again Scott, <Glad to be of service!> Sorry to fire all these questions at you but it seems you have be the best source of information on marine life there is. <We're thrilled that you enjoy it!> I have to have my daily fix of WWM, as they say you learn something every day and this is most true with your site. <Sure is- we learn constantly, too!> Anyway, just a very quick question today. I have a load of Caulerpa racemosa in one of my two sumps (the one with the DSB in it). I wish to move all this algae to another more reachable, shall we say-sump. This sump has no sand or substrate at all in it. Does this matter for the growth of the algae for NNR? Many thanks again. Simon. <Well, Simon- sand is not a necessity to propagate this macroalgae. Nutrients are absorbed from the water column. However, you may want to provide some rock pieces for the runners to attach to. This stuff grows with very little encouragement needed on the part of the hobbyist! Have fun! Regards, Scott F>

Caulerpa articles? 8/28/04 Hello, I have found a couple of references to an article that Anthony was writing regarding Caulerpa and it's negative impacts when used in large amounts in refugium.  I have not been able to find the article.  Do you know if he ever uploaded the article?  Thank you. Brad J <I never did finish the article my friend... but do have a few dozen pertinent references you can run down if you have access to a good library (University type). I'll have to dig our these references if interested. Else I do hope to tackle that piece in the near future. Anthony>

Algae Problems, looking for a predator for Caulerpa sp. Hey guys!  You rock!! <We think you rock too DJ> I have a 75 with a DSB sump, fish and some polyps, everything is doing great except for some Caulerpa serrata in the display and it just grows and grows (not out of control mind you, there is a minimum of excess nutrients, all levels are zero with the DSB). <Sounds wonderful.> I prune a lot of it during each weekly water change to keep it away from the polyps, but I don't really like ripping it out as it has latched on to the sand and rocks pretty well and I don't like disturbing the inhabitants (the tank is about a year old, there are all sorts of Mysid and Gammarus running around this algae, the polyps have been spreading from rock to rock, so I don't want to move any of that).  <Sounds great actually.> Is there a natural predator of this type of algae that I could obtain or should I just bite the bullet and rip it all out from the display? <I do recommend pruning it and pulling most of it out as necessary if it begins encroaching on the other corals, but if its not harming anything what you are doing seems to be sufficient.> Any other suggestions would be welcome, obviously my tang and the urchins wont touch it. <I'm not sure what type of tang you have but my purples and Naso went wild on the stuff. The Vlamingi's also enjoy chowing down on it. In all honesty its one of the Caulerpas that lots of people wish to keep so you might consider pulling some of it and seeing if the local club members or local fish store might want to trade or purchase it from you. Good luck, MacL> Thanks for all the great advice!

Caulerpa and Xenia newbie <Hey Angela, Mac here> Ok so, I got the mix n' match special for IPSF.com which included 2 types of Caulerpa (Long and Short Feather Caulerpa), as well as their tang heaven. <Nice mix.> My question: I don't have a refugium and wanted to include these macroalgae directly in my tank for food, as well as some greenery.  <Sounds good.> I've been doing some reading on the site and so far most people with Caulerpa have it in a refugium with the lights on 24/7 to avoid the plant going "sexual"-which I assume can wipe out the tank. <It can be such a problem.> My lights are on 12 hours a day; will this cause an eventual toxic situation? <It possibly will go toxic, but you can watch it closely.  You watch for signs of it turning white and can clip off that portion, which will stop it from turning sexual.>  I don't have a reef tank just FOWLR. <The big questions is what kind of fish do you have in your tank.  Some tangs and larger angels will eat the Caulerpa.> Is there a particular type of Caulerpa that are more dangerous than others, or are the types I have ok? <Personal experience here, the grape went sexual very quickly on me.> If not I'll remove them immediately. On that note, as part of my IPSF.com shipment I got a "freebie"- a slow pulse which I believe is a Xenia.  <Sounds like it.> It was pulsing about an hour ago, but it was near the bottom of the tank and wasn't attaching to anything-it sort of fell to its side. Moved it near the top of the tank (good current but not too strong as its unattached). I think the move really stressed it out. It stopped pulsing and all the branches are open and drooping. I guess its dying. <Maybe not, it could be just traumatized.> The tank is a 90 gallon with 6-20 watt full spectrum fluorescents and 2-20 watt actinic blue bulbs. Ph is 8.4 during the day, ca 450, salinity 1.023. Thanks so much -Angela <Good luck, Mac>

Dead Caulerpa/Cyanobacteria Questions (5/21/04) Hello Crew, <Steve Allen today.> I have a 50 gal reef tank where I have been battling reoccurring plagues of Cyanobacteria. As of 2-3 weeks ago, I put a couple handfuls of Caulerpa into the tank, which started to do well. <Ugh. I know there is disagreement among the crew about the value of Caulerpa compared to other macroalgae. Caulerpa has some real pros, but I think all would agree that it should be in a refugium, not in the main tank. IME, it grows like a cancer in the main tank, with the potential to choke of all other algae and even corals.> 3 weeks ago it started to disintegrate. <The downside of Caulerpa.> My protein skimmer was producing a lot of smelly waste, about 1/2 to 1 cup a day. I removed as much of the dead Caulerpa as I could find. <Good> Apparently, much of the waste accumulated in between the rocks and the sand bed. <Yes> Lo and behold, the Cyanobacteria made an appearance and has not left. <Thriving on the byproducts of the decay.> Trying to get a handle on my problem, I have read a lot of info and performed a 15 gall water change with RO/DI water. I have come up with a plan to get this tank back on track and want to know if my course of action makes sense. The tank has 3-4" of Southdown sand, 96Watts of CF 50/50 and 96Watts of Actinic 03 all 1 months old, about 600 gal/hr circulation into a sump which is the source for a 2 1/2 ft high venturi PS built by myself, and about 20lbs LR and 15lbs of dead rock. No purple coralline has been able to grow in this tank, I believe due to high phosphates and low Ca levels. No corals are in the tank because of the cyan. Salt - Instant Ocean S.G. = 1.025 Alkalinity = 10dKH Nitrates = 10ppm Nitrites = 0ppm Ca - 120 !!! <Are you sure your kit is correct?> Mg = 1320 P = <.01ppm (Seems low but probably due to the test only measuring for inorganic Phosphate, while the organic Phosphate is taken up by the Cyano right? 4 fish = 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Azure Damsel, 1 Male and 1 Female Anthias I performed a water change of 15 gallons, cleaning under all the rocks, scrubbing them, and removing any traces of Cyano. Another change of 12 gallons was made 3 days later after siphoning any remaining Cyano. My plan is to first use Kalkwasser and SeaChem buffer to elevate the pH, Alkalinity, and all too low Ca levels. <Read carefully how to do this. Another good option is B-Ionic 2-Part supplement.> Could this have caused the Caulerpa to die off and thus release the organic phosphate? <Hard to say, Caulerpa can be touchy. If it crashes or goes sexual, it can wipe out your tank.> Meanwhile I will be keeping an eye on the skimmate from the PS to ensure it is operating optimally. I am hoping this will provide the proper water quality to re-introduce the Caulerpa for nutrient export. <I strongly recommend against putting Caulerpa in the tank. It's too risk. Much easier to tend and prune in a refugium. You should consider a CPR AquaFuge if no space is available in your sump. Personally, having experience with both, I'd say you're better off with Chaetomorpha. Mine grows like gangbusters in my 25" AquaFuge with 65W PC lights.> When should I reintroduce Caulerpa into the tank, water parameter speaking? <Refugium> Secondly, once the Caulerpa becomes established, start to change the LR with newer pieces to repopulate the microfauna diversity. <The stuff will completely cover your rocks & sand with a carpet of Caulerpa. It is a prolific marine weed, ivy-of-the-sea so to speak. It is useful if carefully tended in a refugium, but it's a big messy pain in the main.> At this point I hope to be in the position to start adding corals like I once did prior to starting over from a previous Cyano plague (different skimmer and bioload). Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Glenn Koenig <Buy and read Anthony Calfo & Bob Fenner's "Reef Invertebrates." It has a fantastic 100-page section on macroalgae and refugiums.> 

Too much Caulerpa? 5/3/04 hi again crew. <howdy> first off, some good news.  thanks for the advice re: nicotine on the fingers from a couple of months back.  i think that was what was causing my sudden fish death syndrome.   <it's amazing how easily contaminants are carried into the tank... aluminum from underarm anti-perspirant, acetone from ladies (or men's - Doh!) painted fingernails, petrol products from under finger nails, etc> since then, I've bought a grabber and latex gloves, and haven't suffered any losses in quarantine (knocking on wood aquarium stand :) <excellent to hear... and it protects you from pathogens too!> I'm up to a Rabbitfish, 6 green Chromis, and a brittle star.  all seem to be healthy and happy.  well, i used to have 7 Chromis, but i think it got sucked through a pump (i was away on vacation). anyway, to my question.  I have tons of green grape algae.   <Arghhh... this is believed to be the most toxic/noxious of all the common Caulerpas. Do be careful> to the point where it's literally like a forest around my live rock.  i had figured that the Rabbitfish would have cut it back, but it seems to love prime reef (no veggies there).   <many fish will not eat this/other Caulerpas because of their noxious composition> it loves the formula 2 (basically, enriched Nori) i give it, but just doesn't seem to graze.  i think it's a baby and scared (it's about 3 inches, and has it's spines up and hides most of the time). i don't want to stop the formula 2, because i know it's a staple in their diet, and i don't want it to just eat the prime reef if it's so young. <correct> so, should i get another herbivore to "teach" it/trim back the algae?   <not likely or recommended> I know having too much Caulerpa is not the worst problem to have... <on the contrary... there are serious risks with it... toxicity, vegetative events, etc. We describe this at length in our Reef Invertebrates book and there is quite a lot on this topic in the WWM archives. Do a keyword search with the Google.com search tool from the home page for Caulerpa and see much> also, both the Chromis' and the Rabbitfish are listed in Scott Michaels book (500 marine fishes) as feed 2-3 times a day.  isn't that a bit excessive?   <good heavens no! These are fish that feed on plankton and algae, respectively, almost constantly in the wild. Small frequent feedings are best> i feed once per day, and think that's too much. <perhaps the quantity at one sitting os too much... but not the frequency.> thanks in advance-- rob <best regards, Anthony>

Reproducing Grape Caulerpa? Good afternoon, <cheers> I started out with a little clump of grape Caulerpa in my display tank. In a matter of months it has taken off into a ominous clump of algae that won't take no for an answer. <this is one of the things that makes this handsome macroalgae both a boon and a scourge> It looks pretty nice though, and has a great dark green color. I came home this morning and turned on the light to find that many portions of this plant had turned almost clear with a yellow tint. <yikes! Vegetative or sexual... dangerous (noxious and simply high volume organics/degradation. Be prepared with large water changes> Each of these portions were also spewing out a cloud of the same colored tint, and a lot of it! I assume these were only reproductive spores the plant was releasing. <rather common... and again, potentially dangerous. Do avoid this my actively thinning (never cut/prune... but simply thin friends ro reduce noxious exudations). This will interrupt its life cycle (4-6 months) and stave off such events>> I have never seen it do this before, and once the light was on for about a half hour the plant returned to normal as if nothing had happened. The clouds didn't seem to bother the fish much, but it did murk the water up pretty well. Heard of this before? <much has been written about this at length on the Internet, in hobby books (our "Reef Invertebrates" by Calfo and Fenner discusses this comprehensively), etc. Please do take the time to go to our home page at wetwebmedia.com and toggle key phrases (Caulerpa, sexual, vegetative, exudations, etc) in a Google search of our site with the tool provided (top left region of page)> Thanks very much for your response. ~ Stephanie <best of luck, Anthony>

Eliminating Caulerpa From A Display Hi, <Hi there. Scott F. with you tonight!> We have reef tank with an Ecosystem sump that we are changing from Caulerpa to Chaetomorpha.   <Yaaayyy!!! Good call!> The problem is that the Caulerpa got into the main tank (Caulerpa Taxifolia - or feather Caulerpa).  It attached itself to a 25lb piece of Marshall Island rock and we can't get rid of it.   We removed the rock and scrubbed with a toothbrush and it just came right back - stronger than ever.  Removing it all with tweezers is impossible as it has invaded the crevices of the rock.  This rock is at the base of our reef - so removing again would be really hard.  Will darkness kill the Caulerpa (dead enough so that it won't return)?   <Probably, but at potentially greater cost to the other photosynthetic plants and animals in your system> We could move all corals to the other side and cover that rock with black plastic for a month if it would work. <I suppose that would work. On the other hand, as long as you keep it "contained", that could be an acceptable outcome, too-right? If you can keep the stuff contained to the point where it won't threaten to overrun more desirable sessile life forms, than maybe you can live with the Caulerpa.> Our tangs and algae blenny won't eat this stuff.  Any reef safe way to destroy it would be appreciated! Doug   <Unfortunately, Doug, total eradication of this, or any macroalgae species is a difficult proposition at best. On the other hand, if you simply don't want this stuff in your system, you could either remove the rock entirely from the system and replace it with another rock, or you can remove it and "chip away" the sections of the rock "infested" with the Caulerpa, and then replace the rock into the display...But you never know-this macroalgae could come back if even a single holdfast or runner remains. In the end, you may be better off just learning to live with it. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>  

Caulerpa going sexual, and lighting 2/12/04 Howdy. <Hiya> I have heard that if Caulerpa in a refugium is lit 24/7, it will not go sexual. Is this correct? <not exactly... it helps, but does not guarantee against it> Also, if I lit the refugium 24/7, would this have a negative effect on the pods and other micro fauna I am attempting to produce there? Thanks. <I think so. Its unnatural if nothing else. And it handicaps your ability to keep other/better macroalgae which will not tolerate 24/7 illumination (only Caulerpa does so). Do consider using Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria in your refugium instead. They are much safer and more stable by far. Anthony>

Macro algae ID confirmation 1/28/04 Hey, I just got some macro algae from where I used to work the people there told me that it was illegal to sell because it was taking over the reefs, or something to that effect, <This is not accurate.  Some Caulerpa species are illegal to possess in California because they are non-native and have been found growing in local waters.  The same Caulerpas have been found in the Mediterranean and in Australia.  Some folks have argued that these Caulerpas have taken over habitat and displaced native species.  Others have argued that the Caulerpa only invades areas that have been badly damaged by pollution, and that its presence actually helps control the pollution and creates new habitat for other critters.  They also assert that once the pollution is controlled by the Caulerpa, it dies back paving the way for native species to re-establish themselves.  In any case, the type you have is not one of the illegals, and even if it was, there is no Caulerpa Gestapo going door to door looking for secret stashes.  As with any marine organism, please do dispose of any excess responsibly.  Please do not put it down drains or into the ocean.  Letting it dry out in your garden, compost pile or back yard or putting it in the trash are all fine.> so he just gave me a handful some people have told me that it is just razor Caulerpa , but I want to be positive enclosed is a picture of the algae, and I hope that you can make a positive id  btw....if you need a better picture, just let me know <The pic is fine.  This is what is commonly called "razor Caulerpa".  I would recommend strongly AGAINST allowing this to become established in a display aquarium.  Not many Caulerpas are very palatable to fish, and this is among the least so, making it very hard to control.  I have not found any fish that will eat it.  In terms of utility in refugia, I would consider this Caulerpa to be average in terms of growth rate and tendency to "go sexual" or crash.  HTH.  Adam>

Mystery Blob And Caulerpa Control! Hi guys, <Scott F. your guy tonight!> I'm unable to identify this strange black hard jelly like blob that has grown in my tank. It is approx  5" long and has grown down the back of the rock , with only a ? inch showing on the top , in the light. <Well, I don't have access to my reference library right now, but I'll go out on a limb and suggest that you're looking at some kind of sponge here...A glance at a copy of "Reef Invertebrates" by Bob and Anthony might yield some ideas here...> Also, is there any way to stop this leafy Caulerpa growing so wildly, despite my attempts to cut it back. It seems to grow very quickly. The tank parameters are almost zero nitrate, phosphate,   380 calc, 9 dKH.  Many thanks Mark  -  Scotland <Well, Mark, the absolute best way to limit Caulerpa, short of physical extraction by you, is to employ herbivorous fish, such as tangs or Rabbitfish. Of course, this "biological control" will only be appropriate if the tank is sufficient to support a tang! Unfortunately, there are no easy answers here. Your nutrient levels are low, but these macroalgae are resourceful! Really, manual extraction and herbivores are the two best methods, IMO. Good luck! Regards, Scott F> P.S.  I love your website , the more I read it the more I want to know more about my reef - and its all there to read.

Science Fair Experiment - how to grow Caulerpa algae Hello, <Hi there> I am a seventh grader and am doing a science fair project.  My project is to check and see how salinity affects the growth of Caulerpa algae.  I went to a marine aquarium shop and got the algae. <Do you know which species of Caulerpa this is? An important matter to identify this organism to species.> I first put one drop of tap water conditioner into 4 liters of tap water.  Then I made a saltwater solution by adding 150 ml of Instant Ocean Synthetic Salt to the tap water.  (I also am using water from the Dead Sea that I collected about 2 weeks ago). <Neat> My experiment was to put different concentrations in 4 cups.  The first cup had 400ml of the saltwater solution that I made.  The second cup had 200 ml of the saltwater solution and 200 ml of Dead Sea Water.  The Third had 200 ml of dead sea water.  The fourth had 200 ml of the conditioned tap water and 400ml of dead sea water.  Then I added one drop of Seachem Reef Complete.  Then I added 2 or 3 leaves of the green Caulerpa. <Not "leaves"... algae are made up of thalli, singular thallus> I also used a Sun Glo Neodymium Daylight Lamp (60W) in a small desk lamp and put it over the plants.  The leaves in all of them started to wilt.  Also, some looked like they had black spots, sort of like burn spots. <Maybe some sort of "bias" being introduced into your scientific model here by the move of the algae, something else. Perhaps using some of the water from the shop you purchased the Caulerpa from might give you valuable insight> Could the light be too hot?  Do I need to let the water sit out before putting the plants in?  If so, how long. <Good questions... possibly these are influences... You will need to investigate them> When I got the algae from the store, they put it in a little water in a plastic bag and put oxygen it and closed the bag.  I asked them if it was ok if I left the bag in the car while I did some shopping.  When I came back after a couple hours, the leaves looked wilted.  Did the cold affect them? <Possibly... plus the Caulerpa does not need oxygen to be moved... I would just seal the bag with some air and pack it in relatively more water (more stable this way)> In this experiment I need to measure and count the leaves on the algae, and see which salinity is the best.  Is this possible?  How long does it take to see growth? <Possible, yes... some time is needed for acclimation from moving, handling... You should be able to see growth in a few weeks (2-3)> Also, I bought a hydrometer to test the salinity.  It says to put water in it for 24 hours before using.  I did, but I put tap water in it, and it reads past the 4.0 ppt.  Will this change, or is something wrong? <Likely some air bubbles are stuck to the moving part of the hydrometer... you can gently "tap" the box on a table et al. and it should read close to zero with just the freshwater sample> Also, how could I test the salinity of the dead sea water.  It is way over the 40 ppt amount.  I think it is over 200 ppt. <Ahh, you can make a "serial dilution" of the Dead Sea water. Follow me here: if you dilute a sample with the same volume of freshwater your measure should actually be twice what the hydrometer reads... Does this make sense to you? Likewise you can dilute the sample by four times... and multiply the reading by four times.> Do you know of any inexpensive dissolved oxygen kits that I could use to test the levels? <I think Hach and Salifert are available. You should be able to find, buy these online. They are colorimetric assays (color comparison types)> At the store, they said the one they had wasn't accurate enough.  He said that the differences between the waters I was testing would need a more accurate test. <Possibly... but even a part per million difference is useful, significant> Thank you so much for your help.  If there is any other web sites also to find answers, please let me know. Nadia <Don't know of any, but would send your note around to the various BB's like Reefcentral and Reefs.org Bob Fenner>

Green Water & Caulerpa (1/19/04) Dear WWM Crew, I have been reading a lot on Caulerpa and its use in refugiums.  I understand why and how the Caulerpa can have a catastrophic outcome.  My question is once the Caulerpa has gone sexual and started to turn the water green, then what?  Is fish loss inevitable?? <Not necessarily.> Will the entire system need to be sterilized?? <No> Instead of me listing off a hundred questions, could you please list what steps need to be taken once this event takes place??  Thank You, so much!!  And I will certainly spread the word "Friends don't let friends buy Caulerpa"  Amen!! <There are still many who swear by Caulerpa (other than racemosa). There are ways of preventing crashing. These are abundantly discussed in the WWM FAQs on Caulerpa and other subjects. As for what to do if it is crashing, removing the dead stuff, performing large water changes and using PolyFilter and carbon will mitigate the consequences. If you are really worried about this possibility, then I would suggest Chaetomorpha instead.> Sincerely,  Jen Marshall <Hope this helps, Steve Allen>

Caulerpa Concerns I have a large amount of Green Grape Caulerpa (identified by picture in Marine Aquarist). Great book and should be every aquarist handbook! Felt real comfortable with water conditions and clear water. Algae came in on some live rock and has thrived. <I wish my rare Acropora would be so hardy!> Several days ago started noticing some die off (small section of algae turning clear) in high flow area. Bob's book states that most macro algae like more stagnant conditions. This coincides with running return line from tank to sump over Poly Filter. I assume I should introduce some nutrients since Poly Filter is probably eliminating some the algae had been utilizing. (have not started doing so). <Eliminating the nutrients, no doubt...> Also I was going to trim back areas that showed signs of die off since algae was growing out of control. This morning I checked tank and water was cloudy. Nothing in sump area looked out of whack, so closer look showed a couple of spots in algae shooting (for lack of better word) a greenish, cloudy stream. This is a fish and live rock tank and was curious if something in water parameters triggered this? Will it clean up itself through skimming and filtration? Main question, are the fish in trouble? <Sounds like the Caulerpa are going "sexual", releasing their reproductive products into the water. Many factors trigger this reaction, ranging from temperature to lighting, to water flow. The depletion of oxygen in a massive event can lead to problems for the fish, so do engage in some water changes and continue aggressive skimming> They ate normal this AM. I also run CO2 reactor (about a month) and inject ozone through skimmer controlled by controller.  Thanks for any help.  David Stanley <Well, David- as discussed above, just stick to aggressive nutrient export processes, and you should see things clear up...Regards, Scott F.>
Continued Caulerpa Concerns
Scott <Hello again!> Thank you for your reply. Things cleared up quickly. My skimmers overflowed a little and I am sure Poly Filter helped. Ran diatom filter in afternoon just in case.  <Both good moves on your part!> My plan is to prune back and keep it under strict control/boundaries. I would like your take on keeping Caulerpa at all. With fish and feeding, I thought might be food source for fish?/nutrient export benefits. <It can be a food source for many herbivores, and it can be a good nutrient export vehicle, if properly harvested and kept in check. As you now know, Caulerpa does have a "dark side", and can "go sexual" when conditions favor it. Also, Caulerpa can be very invasive to sessile inverts, often smothering or growing into them. It has the potential to release compounds which can be noxious to many corals.> It is not in there just to prove I can grow it. My coralline algaes are much better to look at. But being in main tank there will be day/night cycle with lights and from what I have read on your website, Caulerpa is recommended more for sumps or refugiums where lights can be left on? <Well, you'd usually run your sump or refugium lighting in reverse of the display tank's lighting. This helps keep stable pH values and provides an opportunity for proper growth.> Is this going to be on going problem? David Stanley <Well, David- Caulerpa can be problematic if it is not controlled. Many, many hobbyists use it every day with no problems. I like the stuff- I just don't want it in my tanks! I favor more "passive" algae, such as Chaetomorpha, and the challenging Gracilaria. Both excel at nutrient export, with none of the nasty potential of Caulerpa. And, Gracilaria has the added advantage of being just about the best food available for tangs! Well worth considering. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Waves And Weeds...(Water Movement/Caulerpa Control) Hi again,  a few other things to add, I've seen this advertised SCWD Wave machine. Tee shaped device that oscillates flow from left to right without electricity.. $39.99 Can you tell me more about it? <Well...It is a unique device that essentially "oscillates flow from left to right without electricity..!" Honestly, it's a great little device. I'd use it externally 'cause it's butt-ugly, and you don't want it in the tank, but the thing rocks!> I've seen the plans before about a device which was home made.  Using a clock motor to turn a bar with a hole drilled in it inside a housing.  As the bar turned water was directed to either one or the other outlet to provide a sinusoidal wave like out-put.  Does this device sold on the web have the same idea? <Not sure, to be honest. I've never personally used one or taken one apart (I'm a Sea Swirl man, myself) How good is it actually?  Can you tell me more?   <A really innovative idea. A number of my fish-geek friends use them, and really like the results> Also, I have some macro algae I believe to be green grape Caulerpa but no grazing fish.  As this sporulates and pieces die will this be a big problem by adding more phosphate to my system? <Well, I suppose that absorbed nutrients will be released, but it's usually the sexual products and cellular material that lead to degraded water quality following one of these events> Do you suggest I remove it?  I'd like to get a Tang to eat it, but I have some very very pretty red macro algae that grows on my rocks and I'm worried a Tang may eat all of my lovely algae while pruning the grape algae.  What do you think? <Well- you won't have much control over what the tang eats. Manual extraction may be the way to go...Not easy, but it may work> Another thing is about the lights.  I can't seem to find any glass shop here that knows about UV blocking glass.  If I home made a lamp how can I UV protect it.  I'm quite concerned and don't want to risk damaging my eyes.  Thanx again. Greg <Well, Greg- I'd consult the manufacturer of the light bulbs to see what to use here, if it is necessary at all...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Remedies for controlling Caulerpa racemosa? 1/11/04 Napalm or Flamethrower? <G> To Bob and/or Anthony: <howdy my friend> My name is Lucas Grathwohl and I have written to you before about the plague known as Caulerpa racemosa. <arghhh... a tough one. Allegedly the most toxic of its family. Very noxious and not readily consumed by the best herbivores (for good reason)> I inadvertently put some into my main tank, and it is know growing at epic proportions. <you mean like the vegetation in in the cinematic interpretation of Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"... the classic: "Apocalypse Now!". If so... we may need to re-enact the final scene with fighters and napalm. What's that I hear in the distance?... Wagner's "Flight of the Valkeries"? Oh, sorry... just a cell phone ring-tone.> I fear that it will soon overtake my entire tank, making the keeping of corals and inverts. all but impossible (due to the overgrowth and shading). I will get right to the point: can you give me a detailed list of remedies that could/will work on this pest? <yes: 1) manual extraction and a water change. 2) a water change, then manual extraction... then another water change. 3) napalm and a flamethrower> I have tried Elysia sp. sea slugs in the past (I believe they were the right species) but these did not work, disappearing in a matter of weeks. I have also tried the Tang approach, but this is not very practical, either. <it has been demonstrated to be mildly to very toxic to many grazers who knowingly avoid it. Prolonged grazing of it by some fishes leads to death> I know Bob has mentioned hermit crabs, but he did not mention any specific species that might work (I already do employ some "blue leg" hermits within my tank). <they only graze microalgae... not macros here> I do manually pull the stuff out, but this gets to be a BIG chore, not to mention the fact that the stuff grows right back in a matter of days, anyway. <persistence my friend> Is there some magic bullet that will work, or am I doomed to have to completely start over from scratch? <neither. Simply manual extraction, diligence and perhaps some large Turban snails and/or urchins> I don't really want to do this (seeing as this hobby is expensive enough already), but if I need to, then so be it. I have written to Bob Goeman's in the past, but all I get is the manual removal approach. <I agree... trust the words of wisdom/experience> If you can provide any remedies/answers, I can be reached at XXXX@mn.rr.com. If any biological avenues do exist, then could you by chance also direct me to some vendors who sell such specimens (and by vendors I mean people who will go through the trouble of positively identifying their livestock by species name, etc.). Thank you for your time. <best of luck> P.S.: I did add a Foxface Rabbitfish a few days ago (out of desperation and idiocy), and this of course has yet to yield any results (if any). Do you happen to know of anyone who could use a Foxface? <do look up your local or regional aquarium society. Many have forums on the big message boards like reefcentral.com  Anthony>

Caulerpa in California I've forwarded you message to the WWM crew, many of whom are actually in California. They'll reply to you directly. Cheers, Lorenzo Can you give me any updates as to the Caulerpa ban in Calif.? I have seen some people selling Caulerpa on eBay.  What if the winner lives in California?  Is the seller at risk?  What, if any, are potential hazards for all involved? Thanks so much! -D <You'll want to check with the particular municipality (County) and/or California Fish & Game re whether the genus/family is banned for sale/use (are in San Diego). The potential hazard? DON'T release this or any other non-indigenous species to the wild! Bob Fenner>

Need advice finding a Caulerpa racemosa predator To Bob or Anthony:     What type of animal would you suggest to help aid me in keeping Caulerpa racemosa in check within my aquarium? I know it shouldn't be in the main tank in the first place, but I made a beginner's mistake, and now must try to rectify it. I have tried Elysia sp. sea slugs in the past, but they always seem to disappear mysteriously (perhaps getting sucked up into the intakes of my pumps). I remove it by hand, but I find I have to do this QUITE a bit! I also thought that a type of tang might be the answer, until I did some exploring on your website which suggests that this is not the case. Any thoughts or suggestion? <Actually... a Zebrasoma or Ctenochaetus species of tang would be my first choices> It is starting to get out of control, which has me VERY concerned. I do like to feed (to maximize the growth of "cryptic" organisms within my tank), using DT's phytoplankton (I intend to switch in the very near future to BioPlankton). Any thoughts or suggestions?  Thank you for your time. <Try a/the tang first here... And if this doesn't "do the trick", we'll discuss the next tier of controls. Bob Fenner>                                                                                                                                     Lucas Grathwohl

Bob, already have a Ctenochaetus sp. tang for Caulerpa control, but it doesn't help too much To Bob Fenner at Wet Web Media:     This is Lucas Grathwohl again. I read over your first email regarding Caulerpa racemosa control (about using several sp. of tangs in hopes they will eat it). <Most Bristlemouth tang species are more keen for filamentous types, even diatom scums... I would add a smaller (or much larger) Zebrasoma species if it will fit> Truth is, I already have a Ctenochaetus sp. (Kole) tang in my tank, but it doesn't seem to help in the control of this "weed". It will occasionally rasp at and chew on some strands, but buy and large leaves most of the Caulerpa alone. I don't think it would be wise to try another sp. of tang, seeing as I already have one in the tank. As you know from my previous email, I also tried in the past (on two separate occasions) a Elysia sp. sea slug, but these did not help either (seeming to disappear in a matter of weeks). In the past, I wrote to Dr. Rob Toonen about the problem (actually having more to do with Bryopsis), and he recommended a Sea Urchin, which I added (I believe it to be a Diadema sp.). It by and large has done its job well, with just a few patches of Bryopsis here and there. <There are a few algae eating urchins per se...>     As far as skimming and filtration go, I use a Remora skimmer by Aqua C, and in the overflow compartment I have hung with a lettuce clip some Polyfilter, which allows water to pass through rather than over the material. Lighting is a JBJ Formosa fixture with 4x65 watt lights (three 10k and one blue). Water current is provided by two Marineland 660 powerheads, one AquaClear 300 filter (with no medium or foam inserted), and the flow from the Remora. All equipment is plugged into a "Power Center" wavemaker/light-timer from Energy Savers, which provides for switching of the powerheads, a dawn/day/dusk/night cycle, and powering all other equipment. Trace elements are provided by "Balance blocks" by HBH enterprises (I use the big brick supplement and place it in the AquaClear filter). I also perform weekly five gallon or so water changes using Coralife sea salt and R.O. water. R.O. water is re-constituted by using Bacter Vital and "Funky Old Reed Mud". I also like to feed (to bring out the cryptic organisms within the rock). I have used DT's plankton, along with ChromaPlex and ComboVital. In the very near future I plan to switch over entirely to BioPlankton. <Of these I would definitely drop the "vital" products (they're not) as these are likely contributing much more to the Caulerpa problem than not>     Any suggestions? Thank you for your time P.S.: I also have some Halimeda algae in my tank, which is doing fine also, but it is not the plague that the Caulerpa is. Hopefully any other solutions you have will not do damage to this plant. <Do you have use for/tolerance for some hermit crabs? There are some of these that are good at picking out Caulerpas... but my first choice is switching out the tangs... or mechanical (groan) removal. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Caulerpa (12/23/2003) Hello Bob, <Steve Allen today, Bob's out of town this week.> First I'd like to express my gratitude to you for taking the time to hear all of our often annoying and ignorant questions. <All questions are ignorant, right? That's why we ask them--to be enlightened out of our ignorance. As for annoying, only rudeness or sarcasm are annoying. Very few such questions here. O, but you should see the spam we get.> I'm sure answering the old same questions over and over again can get pretty old. <Most do have some unique aspect.> I really enjoy the books and articles that you publish, I broke my teeth in the saltwater world on your book "Marine Aquarist" years ago and still use it today. <Both Bob's and Anthony's published works are wonderfully useful.> My question to you is; do you know what the minimum lighting requirement is for Caulerpa species, particularly saw blade and Halimeda? <Halimeda is not a Caulerpa genus species.> I have a 315 gallon fish only tank that I would like to add some Caulerpa to. <Halimeda is nice in a tank, but I am not a big fan of adding Caulerpa to display tanks. In my experience it breaks off too many pieces that clog filters and power heads. Far better to have it in a refugium where it is contained and easier to prune. If your goal is nutrient export, It's best to keep it in a refugium. Definitely stay away from Caulerpa racemosa, AKA Grape Caulerpa> I really don't want to sink a whole lot of money into lighting for a fish only system.  I have a VHO setup with only four 72" lights on the aquarium. <Run at 10-12 hours per day, this should be enough for Halimeda and Caulerpa.> I should have a medium level of phosphates, I never check them sense it is a fish only system. <If your phosphate level is even "medium," you will have a nuisance algae problem.> I use tap water in my water changes, which around here usually carries phosphates into the system.  My nitrate level is at a safe level but, is almost always readable on a test kit.  I do not do a water change but every month and a half or so as the nitrate level stays down in safe levels sense I have a thick gravel bed in which denitrifying bacteria can grow. <I suggest you read this article: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/scottsh2ochgart.htm> The tank also has a heavy bio load in it sense I have several big messy fish.  I have a Tesselata eel, a Maculosus angel, powder blue tang, Sohal tang, purple tang, sailfin tang, guinea fowl puffer, clown grouper, and a Miniatus grouper.  All of the fish are considered large for the pet trade but just babies in the wild.  I've gotten lucky so far with the mix, everyone leaves one another alone for the most part, except for the eel. <The operative words here are "lucky" and "so far." I hope your luck holds. I also hope you have a BIG skimmer.> The tangs and angel and grouper keep him at bay in his several caves and crevices.  I could add some metal halides to my aquarium but, more light just means more cleaning and wasted light and electricity. <You may want to get Anthony & Bob's Reef Invertebrates book and read the excellent chapter on algae. Also, read more about algae on WWM. I think that you can grow desirable algae in your tank with it's current lighting. If you add too much, you will a massive outbreak of nuisance algae, as I suspect your nutrient levels are rather high.> Thanks again for your time, <a pleasure> Jeff Oliver

In Need of Weed? >I currently own a 20 gallon tank with an ecosystem hanging on the back with 5 pounds of "miracle mud".... >>Ok. >Here are the contents of the tank: 30 pounds live rock clown fish banded coral shrimp 10 hermit crabs 4 snails I can't get Caulerpa to live in the ecosystem...it keeps dying..... is there not enough waste for it to survive on yet?   >>I couldn't tell you that, as I don't know how long this has been set up. >I want to start adding some reef contents such as mushrooms and maybe a xenia....but I wanted to wait for the Caulerpa to live? >>Honestly, I've never had a problem growing it.  You haven't mentioned lighting at all, and if you wish to keep other photosynthetic organisms, this is of utmost importance. >My measurements seem to be ok.....I have only measured ammonia nitrate nitrite salinity pH >>And...?? >All of those are ok.... >>That tells me nothing, my friend. >The tank is about 3 months old now and water looks great? >>Ah, very new setup, you're not sure of how the water "looks"?  Looks can be deceiving, as I know of no one who can see nutrients, ammonia, etc., in the water just by looking at it. >Why is the Caulerpa dying...isn't it basically a weed?   >>It can be when its needs are met (light and nutrients). >Does it feed strictly on the waste in the water?   >>No. >That is all I can think of.... >>I can't be of more help without knowing more about your setup, filtration, LIGHTING, test results, kit brand (more important than most folks think), LIGHTING.. did I mention lighting?  I grew MUCH C. taxifolia in my first reef using a homemade bank of mixed fluorescents.  It took a good deal of research to determine lumens and color temperature, though.  Sometimes, some folks just CAN'T get this stuff to grow for them, though, no matter how they try.  Marina     

Caulerpa finesse/control 11/11/03 I have had the pleasure of listening to Anthony Calfo speak at the Rocky Mountain Reef Club meeting. <it was a wonderful time for all... I had a lot of fun and saw many beautiful things> I did not ask how to get the C. serrulata with minimal damage. I have had it about 8 months an do not want it to mature. Garie <no worries... Caulerpa is just as easily a boon if it is duly maintained. Conduct regular water changes to both dilute and reconstitute the seawater in your system (weekly 10-20% is much better IMO than monthly 30+%). Use carbon or other chemical media (Like PolyFilters) faithfully to maintain proper water clarity and to also temper the noxious accumulations of various organisms in your display... and lastly, be sure to systematically thin fronds of your Caulerpa to interrupt its life cycle (3-6 months for 40+ species in the genus) and hopefully stave off acts of sexual reproduction (you can also help this by running lights 24/7 over your Caulerpa in refugia to keep in stasis). The thinning will also encourage more growth and utilize the macro as a good vegetable filter for nutrient export). With kind regards, Anthony>

Moving Towards Success...  I have a marine 55 gallon setup and have had little success in keeping up with everything.  <Not to worry...It's all part of the fun and frustration.. er- challenge- of reef keeping!>  Essentially I can't seem to keep the Caulerpa alive in my ecosystem 60 without getting a huge green algae bloom. I'm also finding that when I leave the light on it creates more heat causing more evaporation and the final chamber drops down to lower than the Rio powerhead pushing the water back into the tank. That usually happens anywhere between 1 and 3 weeks.  < It sounds like this is more of a problem with the mechanics of your system than with the Caulerpa itself. I'd try to maintain a slightly higher water level to begin with, which might help. Maybe you could also move the light up a bit to try to lower the heat level. I've also read of some people sealing the opening on the sump to encourage C02, but I'd try plan "a" first. And, if Caulerpa doesn't thrive for you- well, not the end of the world, IMO. There a lot of other, more desirable and useful macroalgae to culture, like Chaetomorpha, which are virtually "bulletproof" with regard to propagation, and don't have some of the same drawbacks as this algae.  Could you point me to a good article on the proper way of curing live rock?  <Start with this set of FAQs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm You can also find lots of good information about curing live rock in Anthony and Bob's "Reef Invertebrates" book>  I'm thinking of setting up a tank in my office and was hoping to do a reef tank but I'm really gun shy after what little success I've had with my 55 gal. at home. I have what I consider to be a very unhealthy amount of bristle worms and brown algae everywhere. I just want a very healthy, relatively low maintenance setup. Any thoughts.  <Yep- just find some good basic methods, as found in a variety of WWM and other sources, and stick with them. Combine a good technique with fundamental husbandry techniques, such as aggressive nutrient export practices, and you'll be fine. A great book to start with would be John Tullock's "Natural Reef Aquariums", which is loaded with information on simple, sound practices to help establish successful systems!>  Thank you. I've found your help very informative in the past.  Jeff Longmore  <My pleasure, Jeff! Good luck and have fun! Regards, Scott F>

Caulerpa Source 10/12/03 Hi: <Hey there!  Phil with you today.> I was reading your articles on Caulerpas.  I am a person with a small reef style aquarium.  Would like to know what is a good source for purchasing Caulerpas.<Well... your LFS probably has a good selection of Caulerpas in stock.  You can try a few places online, Drs. Foster/Smith, Pet-Warehouse, etc.>    Preferably a source with variety if you know a place let me know please.<Try the above places.> I have had maiden hair and also needle Caulerpa.  Was only successful with needle Caulerpa.  The beautiful maiden hair blew away in my water current.<Hmmm did you just put the maiden's hair in the tank?  Or did you attach it to the live rock?  Also what kind of lights are your running?  Hope this helps!  Phil>

Caulerpa Suddenly Dying (and Killing Fish) 10/3/03 I recently had a major problem involving the Caulerpa dying in my Ecosystem mud/Caulerpa filter and I'm hoping you can shed some light on what might have caused it and how to avoid a similar disaster in the future.   <this is a common problem/story heard... much of it repeated in our archives at wetwebmedia.com Please do take the time to read the FAQs for information beyond which I can provide here> I've had my Ecosystem Hang-on 60 filter up and running for 2 months now. Everything seemed to be going very well.  The Caulerpa (grape variety, C. racemosa I think) was growing nicely and I had removed all of my previous filtration (canister and skimmer) and relying solely on the Ecosystem filter.  The animals all appeared to be very healthy and I hadn't suffered any losses for many months. <you should know that Caulerpa is not your only option for refugium algae for vegetable filtration. Chaetomorpha and Gracilaria are far better choices (stable, efficient, utilitarian, etc.) without all of the baggage associated with Caulerpa. You should know that Caulerpa can be a blessing or a curse... it is very efficient (as a vegetable filter medium) yet very precarious and labor intensive. It is also one of the most noxious/toxic genera of macroalgae to other desirable life in the tank as you have learned. What's more... C. racemosa has been demonstrated to be one of the most toxic of an already noxious genus. Really... do read more on the subject my friend. Perhaps you would enjoy the comprehensive coverage my good friend Robert Fenner and I provide in our newest book, "Reef Invertebrates". Truly the most up to date coverage of refugiums, plants, algae, live sand, etc> Then suddenly Friday morning (9/19) a problem occurred.  My damsel was belly up dead at the bottom of the tank and my tang and clown were lying on the bottom breathing very rapidly, looking like they would soon follow the damsel.  The motile inverts (shrimp, crabs, cucumber, and snails) were alive but behaving strangely.  The sessile inverts (hard and soft corals and clam) appeared normal.  I checked the Ecosystem filter and found that all of the Caulerpa had shrunk back and was dying or already dead.  When I picked the Caulerpa up it was stringy, limp, and fell apart. <this colony went "vegetative", either by improper pruning (never cut or break Caulerpa fronds... but pull entire strands out and thin the colony only. They are single-celled organisms that sap and leach their contents (yikes!) if pruned harshly. Otherwise, it may have gone vegetative by lack of pruning... Caulerpa species have varying life cycles of 3- 6 months... after which time they reproduce and give up the ghost so to speak. Often results in minor catastrophes as you have experienced> The algae growing in the main tank, however, appeared fine, including a different species of Caulerpa (sawtooth variety, I don't know the species).  All of this happened over night in less than 8 hours as everything appeared normal the night before. <yes... a common albeit undesirable occurrence> I moved the tang and clown to my quarantine tank, and within 10 to 15 minutes they had perked up and were swimming around.  They are now doing fine.   <ahh... good to hear> I removed the Caulerpa from the Ecosystem filter (it had all died) and added a bag of carbon to the filter path in case the problem was caused by some kind of toxin.  All of the inverts survived without being moved, but my Coral Banded Shrimp lost his two large legs. I have no idea what triggered this event.  It had been two weeks since my last water change.  I haven't changed anything (source of water, type or brand of additives, type or brands of foods) since long before I changed to the Ecosystem filter.  In fact, all of my top up water, additives and food for the last month have come out of the same bottles/batches/containers.  We did not have any power outages or any other interruption of the filter pump or lighting, which has been on 24/7 from the beginning.  What happened here?  Why did the Caulerpa die?   <a vegetative event by the Caulerpa. I must admit that I am somewhat of a critic of Caulerpa because it is too easily promoted and embraced by aquarists without proper information/education on how to handle it> What was killing the fish: low oxygen, pH crash (I didn't think to check this at the time), toxins released by the Caulerpa?  Please help. <low oxygen from the sudden decomposition of its mass... and some toxins from the Caulerpa no doubt. I have about 30 pages on my desk regarding experiments done using toxins extracted from Caulerpa used to kill fishes!> Sorry for the length of this email but I wanted to be thorough enough for you to provide me with some useful information.   Thanks, Scott Ginaven <this is a well-documented occurrence... read on/abroad my friend. I also will take this opportunity to state my regret that proponents of mud systems do not better educate consumers on the merits and dangers of using Caulerpa, while offering other alternatives. Caulerpa can be a boon or a scourge. I personally find it to be too demanding for casual aquarists. Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Caulerpa Crash Question - Get it to Grow? >Hello WWM Crew, >>Greetings, Marina here. >About 3 months ago I had the Caulerpa start to crash in my ecosystem sump due to me messing around with the light quantity.  It has been declining now and it is down to a few sprigs on the bottom.  Is there a way that I can get it to start growing again?  Should I remove it all and go buy a fresh handful? Thanks! >>I would prune it to only what's actually growing/living well.  Then I would address lighting issues, which shouldn't be all the important since I've had no trouble getting it growing vigorously under normal output fluorescents.  Marina

Algal Bloom, Excess Nutrients, or Sexy Caulerpa? >Hi crew, >>Greetings Robert. >My tank has been cloudy (white on top, yellowish green on bottom) for about 2 weeks now.  I've been perusing articles and concluded that it's either an algae bloom or some Caulerpa gone sexual. >>Well, my own initial reaction (assuming you have Caulerpa in situ) is that it could be.  If it's gone sexual the "plants" themselves tend to die, dumping lots of nutrients in the water, which can in turn cause a micro algae bloom. >Don't have a phosphate test because my LFS is out.  Other parameters are normal (pH 8.2, SG 1.022, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate all 0).  Tank is 120 gals with 100lbs live rock, wet/dry, skimmer (filling up the collection cup in about 2-3 days with good coffee colored foam).  1 Rabbitfish in tank, who has pretty much eaten all the Caulerpa that hitchhiked on the LR. >>If the fish has eaten it, then there's little chance it's gone sexual. >My question is how do I get rid of the stuff?  Read lots of articles about how to prevent it, but none about how to get rid of it.  I've been running with activated carbon (yes, phosphate free) for a week now, no improvement.   >>Have you performed a few VERY large water changes?  That would be my FIRST move, as carbon tends to become saturated very quickly in a saltwater environment.  Then, I would CRANK up that skimmer, it's performing well for you, so just bump it up a notch along with water changes.  Also, I'd go for something like a Polyfilter before carbon, just in case you do have phosphorous present. >I was running 12 hours full light (with an extra hour before and after just running actinics).  I've dropped it (today) down to 8 hours (and no actinics).   >>The presence or lack thereof of actinic lighting will make little difference here.  Reducing the full spectrum photoperiod is a good idea, it just might give you enough bump, along with the large water changes, to get a handle on whatever nutrients the algae is fixing. >I did a 10% water change a couple of days ago. >>Pardon the phrase, but that is like pissing in the ocean.  50% or better.  I'd do 50%, three times, every day or every other day, and see what I get.   >Any other suggestions? >>If you haven't already, consider a refugium as well. >As to the source, I think it was overfeeding, plus I started using frozen Formula 2.  I defrosted it at room temp for about a half hour before feeding, so I figured that would work to keep phosphates low.  Am I wrong?   >>Well, I'm not really sure how defrosting would address phosphorous issues, I really don't think they're temperature dependent.  Overfeeding could be an issue, a balance must be found between ensuring your fish get plenty to eat and addressing nutrient export issues. >It is odd how the tank was fine until I used the Formula 2,  but once I get a phosphate test kit I will check source water too (I use RO from one of those aquarium Pharm-tap water conditioner tube things, thinking about going to a real RO/DI source, any suggestions?). >>I believe LifeReef makes good units, but I am not the best source of that particular information.  I suggest posing the question on our forum, http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk  Also, do a search on our site for "Marine algae control". >Thanks in advance, Rob >>You're welcome.  Marina

Racemosa collection - 9/5/03 Dear Mr. Fenner, <Paul in his place this morning> I have just collected C. racemosa species from Turkish Coastline. <Interesting> I filled up my aquarium with sea water. and I planted the C. racemosa. <OK. Is your system set up to sustain this algae? Heat? Filtration method? Is there a reason for this collection? Just curious. =) > What do you recommend me to add mineral or anything else? <No.....I would think that natural seawater from the collection area should be sufficient. Try to maintain the same water temp as the collection area. Change the water 10% as frequently as necessary (depends on other inhabitants in the tank, size of tank, etc) If I remember correctly, racemosa enjoys high nitrates. Easily attained by adding a flake or two. Depends on your filtration method and inhabitants, though. Let me know so that I can better answer you.> I am looking forward to hearing from you, <the same -Paul> Kind regards, Levent

More Caulerpa taking over 8/27/03 Hello again, I have a 215 mixed reef/fish with a 55 gallon refugium. the refugium has a 4-5 inch sand bed with a plenum and is filled with Caulerpa. I have read through the FAQ's and decided to try and remove it since due to its negative potential. Can I pull it out all at once. My tangs would eat it all) <yes... but do a large water change or two in the ensuing week to dilute any potential exudations. The first one right after the extraction> What type of macroalgae do you recommend using. <Gracilaria or Chaetomorpha are excellent. Ochtodes is quite good too> I mainly use my refugium for nutrient uptake and somewhat for providing phytoplankton. <Hmmm... the phyto is not nearly so helpful as zooplankton for feeding corals. You will get more zooplankton with Chaetomorpha spaghetti algae> If you could recommend a few safe types of macroalgae that are readily available, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks Steve <do check out our coverage on refugiums and macroalgae in our new book Reef Invertebrates. Quite extensive. Kind regards, Anthony>

Sawblade Caulerpa overload 8/27/03 Dear Sir's : Thanks for you great web site. The information you impart is invaluable. <always welcome> I have a 80 gal reef that is overgrown with Sawblade Caulerpa. I'm upgrading to a 150 gal tank. Many of my corals are attached to live rock which is invested with the Caulerpa. I will be removing all rock and placing it in 30 gal can with no light until the Caulerpa is gone. <yikes... its not necessary to be so extreme. Caulerpa can be controlled by limiting nutrients and raising Redox... no need for you to kill other desirable symbiotic life forms with light deprivation> The rock with the corals will be picked as clean as possible before being put into the new tank. <too laborious... but if you wish> Is there a way to control the growth of the Caulerpa in the new tank? <as per above> Are there species of fish or invertebrates that will eat it and control its growth? <not many... Caulerpa are quite noxious. Grazing predators are rather hit or miss. A few snails eat it well (some Turbo species)... and really one of the very best creatures is the Diadema urchin. Fishes are unreliable... or at least, pot luck> I've read that the Foxface Rabbit fish is a good choice for this. <they are good algae grazers overall> I have also been told there are Nudibranchs and Sea Urchins that will also control the Caulerpa. Is this true and if so which species? <yes... the latter being excellent, the former moderate - Elysia crispata - the lettuce nudibranch> I was planning a deep sandbed sump with Caulerpa for filtration but after reading your articles I'm not so sure now. What would you suggest? <Gracilaria or Chaetomorpha instead> I have used live rock with Caulerpa in my sump in the 80 gal tank with great success as far as water quality goes. My local fish man suggested the sand bed for the new tank. <agreed... many benefits to a DSB> Thanks for any information, and for your great service to the aquarium community. Sincerely: Paul Clampitt <best regards, Anthony>

Growing The Green Monster (Caulerpa) Hi, I asked about have Caulerpa in my 80 gallon ,but I wondered if it were possible to put Caulerpa in my empty 135 gallon fish tank. Right now there is nothing in it and the lighting system is actually 2 Shoplites with regular daylight 40 watt tubes at around 6500Kelvin and around 2300 lumens. <Well, we used to grow Caulerpa in the late 80's with standard fluorescents, so I would think that it's possible. More light would be better, but I suppose it's worth a shot in your current setup. I've become rather anti-Caulerpa in recent years, but in the setup that you are proposing, it's workable, IMO.> I also have the tank near a window that gives it some morning sunshine. Will this set up be enough for the Caulerpa to grow very rapidly and healthy for the use of feeding future inhabitants and for decoration to a fish only tank with bare dead coral skeletons. <Well, the "rapidly" part is the question...Give it a shot and see what happens! Regards, Scott F>

Laterite addition to marine substrate for Caulerpa sump (07/25/03) Dear Reefers, <Hi! Ananda here today....> Can someone please tell me if it is safe to add aquarium grade laterite to the substrate in a marine sump? <You are considering adding this for the iron content of the laterite, I presume....> Why would one want to? - Well, the Miracle Mud substrate, which appears to work so well in a 24 hour illuminated sump with Caulerpa growth, when analyzed shows the same mineral composition as a mixture of silica sand and laterite. <When I helped a friend tear down her tank prior to a move, we took a look at the Miracle Mud from her refugium. It seemed to have flecks of gold in it -- or iron pyrite.> I am setting up an experimental reef system sump with a mixture of aragonite sand and laterite instead. However, there is evidence of adverse effects from an increased concentration of aluminum in reef systems, and laterite of course contains aluminum bound up in the clay particles. <Yup, definitely something to be concerned about. Another item you might try instead of the laterite is Seachem's planted tank substrate, called Fluorite. If you write to Seachem, they should be able to tell you if there is any aluminum in it. I believe it is primarily clay-based, but it does contain quantities of iron. If you have a friend with a planted tank, ask to get the dust that comes off of the stuff when it is sifted. You can get several cups of the dust from a single bag of the stuff, especially if you rinse it.> Hence the appeal to see if anyone else has tried this before I subject living creatures to the test. <I have not. I would suggest two things: first, post on the WetWeb chat boards at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk to see if anyone has thought about this. Second, if you decide to try it, set up a small, isolated system for it. I would try a system with only your substrate and Caulerpa initially. You might consider adding some live rock later. When you have enough algae, add a snail. Another good test critter would be ghost shrimp. They are sold as freshwater feeders, but can be acclimated (slowly!) to full saltwater. Assuming those fare well, the next creature I would try is a mushroom coral. Do keep us posted on the progress of your experiment!> Thanks and best regards, Eric Brightwell FZSL <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

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