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FAQs about Caulerpa Algae Non/Selection

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 4, Caulerpa 5, Caulerpa Identification, Caulerpa Behavior, Caulerpa Compatibility/Control, 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

Even herbivorous fishes may eschew chewing Caulerpa spp.

Question About Phosphate, Nitrate, And Control Via Caulerpa 9/23/10
Hi Crew,
<Hello John>
A bit of background leading up to my present question: I have a 100 gallon capacity mixed reef system (75g display, 40g macroalgae/LR refugium) that has been set up 18 months. Previously, most of the
inhabitants (some over ten years in my care, most over five years) were in a refugiumless 55g. A Turboflotor 1000 skimmer is run 24h/ day, chemical filtration is by PolyFIlter, activated carbon and
aluminum-based phosphate media. Water change of 10g (RODI with Instant Ocean), 4-6 times per month. Historically (the first 12 months after setup, roughly) the system ran about 10ppm nitrate, which I checked rather infrequently. I never kept tabs on the phosphate levels, but rather changed phosphate media according to amount of nuisance algae growth in the display. (Other parameters, for what they are worth: 10-12 dKH, 450-500ppm Ca, 8.0-8.3 pH, 35ppt salinity, temp 78F)
<Magnesium levels? Important for the corals ability to absorb calcium.>
About four months ago I acquired a Hanna 'Checker' phosphate photometer (neat little device),
<Yes, and pricey.>
which I started using to keep phosphate down to around .05ppm; my first test upon getting the
device was, if I recall, about .2ppm. I got the photometer to try to end a long standing (years) relationship with Cyanobacteria, which I ultimately sent packing with ChemiClean.
Nuisance algae quickly diminished (as could be expected from keeping a close digital eye on phosphate levels); so did the growth of Caulerpa (C. racemosa) in the refugium, which had previously been growing explosively. Within the last 6 weeks, I've noticed recession and individual polyp death on one Lobophyllia and one Acanthastrea in the display. I finally figured out I ought to test the nitrate level, and it was >50ppm (Tetra kit, so could be 50-100ppm)! I've started changing 10g water per day to remedy this.
<Mmm, I'm quite sure the Tetra Kit measures NO3-N which is total nitrogen.
NO3 is the level that is important to us. A 50ppm reading with the Tetra Kit would result in a NO3 level of about 11ppm...not too bad. As to your coral health, the use of aluminum based phosphate removers can/could cause problems here. With pH levels of 8 or below, aluminum can be released by the phosphate beads and corals do not take well to this. Best to use an iron based remover such as RowaPhos.>
Here are my questions:
On Caulerpa -- since, I assume, the rise in nitrate is at least somewhat related to the slack in Caulerpa growth, should I allow the phosphate level to rise in order to spur this growth?
<Oh no, and why would you want to spur the growth? The Caulerpa growth will be governed by nutrient levels.....isn't that what we are after, control?>
If so, should I reduce the nitrate through water changes before allowing the phosphate to rise (I ask this since I suspect there may be some optimal N-P ratio for Caulerpa growth -- any idea if there is, and
what this ratio might be)?
<No such thing. I'd test with a kit that measures NO3 such as Salifert's kit or a similar kit, see what you read on that.>
On ChemiClean -- I understand the position of many of the WWM Crew members on such products; I won't be hurt by any reminders of the possible harm that can be done with them. One of those harms, I
understand, is the rise in nitrogenous pollutants due to the death of the Cyanobacteria themselves; another is the rise in nitrates due to the death of denitrifying bacteria. I can't imagine that I killed >40ppm nitrate worth of bacteria (surely there would have been heavy collateral damage from an ammonia spike, yes?),
<Possibly, as ChemiClean is not bacteria selective.>
but I can imagine that the ChemiClean did some harm to the denitrifying microbes in the system. Do you think that the elevated nitrate is due mostly to the death of nitrate-reducers?
<First determine what your NO3 level is.>
If this is the case, am I correct to assume that waiting out their return would be the best policy (that,
and not killing them again, I suppose...)?
<If their numbers were reduced, reproduction is quite fast. Is best to go after the root of the problem rather than a band aid fix.>
For what it is worth, I attempted to take a water sample from under the sand bed (deepest past, about 5 inches deep of ~1-2mm aragonite) with a syringe to test for nitrate -- this sample contained exactly as much nitrate as did a sample from the water column (this could indicate either that the denitrification process is not working, or that I don't know how to get a sample from under a sand bed).
<Is a meaningless test. There have been positive results with nitrate reduction (if you indeed have high NO3 levels) by implementing vodka dosing (do not use Absolute, send that to me, use the cheaper grade) but care must be taken doing this as an over abundance of nitrate reducing bacteria can drastically lower
oxygen levels in a system. Better to read/understand thoroughly before attempting.>
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Best regards,

Caulerpas & Copper? Which is better for a holding system. 7/1/2009
<Hi Matthew.>
I am in the process of reconstructing & redesigning my fish holding system.. It's a 150 gallons total system volume. Reasons for redesign are:
reinforcement of the stand with 2x4's, problem of high nitrates, insufficient space in the sump for a bigger better skimmer, and lastly overflow capacity when power shuts down was not enough.
I have ordered up modifications to my original sump to accommodate the new skimmer and have enough capacity for draining when/if power goes off and also space to put Fiji mud and possibly Caulerpas to export nitrates/phosphates and have healthier water for my fish.
<Sounds good.>
I have come across the debate of whether or not I will be running Caulerpas without copper or copper without Caulerpas. If I use copper, I will have the problem of slowly increasing nitrates without my Caulerpa and large water changes with constant adjustments using copper. I was told copper will kill the Caulerpa yes?
<Copper will kill any algae and invertebrate, essentially negating the refugium you just set up.>
Previously a Aqua UV sterilizer was being used, but after dismantling it I took a peak inside and saw how resinous the glass tube had become and realized its ineffectiveness against zapping pathogens.
<They do require regular maintenance to keep the inner sleeve clean.
Should be cleaned every two weeks or so.>
Being that the U.V. requires so much maintenance, I think this time I will not incorporate it since copper sounds more effective.
<Long term exposure to cooper is not good for fish either..>
If I don't use copper, my tank is not protected against ich/velvet but I will be able to keep nitrates very low.
<You can control Crypt and velvet using good quarantine and dipping procedures.>
Which method would you go with,
<Algae and refugium along with quarantine.>
Any suggestions for the long term success of this holding system are appreciated.
<Read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cutrbfix.htm >

Re: Caulerpas & Copper? Which is better for a holding system. 7/2/2009
<Hi Matthew.>
Sounds good, another person I know in the service biz recommended the same thing, Caulerpas and U.V.
I guess a 10 or 20 gal tank could be used to isolate and treat extreme cases with copper and freshwater dips.
One more thing, how much more susceptible do fish become to ich/velvet when nitrate concentrations are 50ppm and above?
<The water quality is poor at that level, which could stress the fish and make them more susceptible.>

Re: Caulerpa Chaetomorpha: The Best Macroalgae for a Refugium?  9/22/08 Many thanks for your advice, Scott <My pleasure!> Is Chaetomorpha the dark green, stringy stuff, that looks a bit like spaghetti? <It sure does...Actually, to me it looks like one of those pot scrubber things, but spaghetti is not that far off the mark.> If so, then that's not a problem, I got some of that too! Had no idea you could use this in a refugium though. <Yep- Chaetomorpha is an excellent macroalgae for nutrient export, with none of the potential bad effects of Caulerpa. It is also a good "substrate" for creatures like amphipods to grow on, so it has other positive attributes, too!> Great stuff, thanks again. <Glad to help! Regards, Scott F.>

Caulerpa verticillata; sel., beh.  12/20/07 Hi team, <Dave> I have Caulerpa Verticillata growing in my refugium. I have looked amongst all the algae and Caulerpa faqs but can't determine an answer to my question. Can you tell me whether this variety is likely to go sexual, and whether therefore, I should keep my lights on 24/7 (currently operating 14 hours per day RDP) to prevent this event? Cheers Dave <Mmm, no more than the other Caulerpa spp. commonly utilized by aquarists... Better by far to be very regular re harvesting, extracting, thinning bits... via their "rhizomes"... per what is posted on WWM. Bob Fenner>

C. taxifolia, hysteria test  -- 07/08/07 Hi there, I was referred to your site regarding C. taxifolia. <Okay...> You state that it is possibly the best for home aquarium use. It possibly is, but, it is the most invasive plant in the world, it is outlawed in many countries because of its horrific reproduction and its ability to escape and enter waterways and destroy them. <... along with?> A 1mm piece that escape will cause wide spread disaster. <Call in the government... they'll save you... Not> Many people use your site, and as I have looked at it I agree it is most informative, I ask of you to do a little research on taxifolia and possibly warn people against its use rather than its use. It is truly an environmental disaster waiting to happen. Carpe diem <Seize the carp?> Cheers, David <Release nothing to the wild... RMF>

Re: C. taxifolia  7/10/07 Sounds like you really don't care. Means sieze the moment. <Nihil agis, nihil moliris, nihil cogitas, quod non ego non modo audiam, sed etiam videam planeque sentiam.... Don't stay ignorant your whole life. B> Carpe diem Cheers, David

Re: C. taxifolia-- 7/10/07 I don't understand, I am a commercial aquaculturist, and let you know of what I and most countries around the world to be a huge threat, and yet you resolve to sarcasm. <Mmm, the better part of valor?> Have a look at what happened to West Lakes in South Australia, and many other places around the world, and then tell me that your site promoting taxifolia is correct. Carpe diem Cheers, David <I have an advanced degree in fisheries... and am well-aware of the threat... The family is banned in our State (California)... we/WWM run a public service announcement, have links to agencies that warn folks re release... And I do apologize if ALL I'm coming off is as sarcastic... I would like to begin again as it were, and posit that humans are the greatest scourge on this planet... that their numbers and distribution should be severely curtailed... that they not be allowed to reproduce willy nilly, out of hand... After all, it's not the Caulerpaceans that are "getting around" but the human vectors responsible. Big government and apathetic, hysteria/faith/dogma driven populaces are much more of a threat to the environment... Let's see, what to finish up with this time...? I call on you to not have children. BobF>

Re: C. taxifolia-- 7/10/07 Ok Bob, you win, I try for learned discussion, you go for sarcasm. Sweet, be well. <Ubi dubi ex flagellatum... Where in doubt, I whip it out... It's a free for all. TedN> Carpe diem Cheers, David

Re: C. taxifolia-- 7/10/07 Carpe diem Cheers, David <Duke, duke, duke, duke of earl, duke, duke, duke of earl... (words from Idi Amin as he's leaving the gang plank... "Let's see, cut your head off at noon"...) duke of earl... As I go through this world, no one can touch the duke of earl... and you, you are my girl... and I... oh my... Oh my..... Ooooh oohh, oh oh... > Keep Caulerpa In My Display? - 02/14/07 Hello, <<Howdy>> I recently set up a 90-gallon reef aquarium, 1 week ago to be exact. <<I see>> My tank has a mix of Marshall Island LR and Tonga Kalani, and Tonga branch rock, and about a 2" aragonite sand bed that rises to three-inches in the rear of the display.  The rock was hand picked by myself and put in curing vats for 5 weeks with heavy circulation, a turnover rate of 14x an hour and heavy protein skimming. <<Excellent>> The display has no trace of ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates.  No Phosphates, calcium is at 450, dKH is at 12, <<Mmm, pushing the upper limits in both cases...I would let one of these fall a bit>> aquarium  temperature is kept between 78 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  The lighting system on this 90-gal tank (48 x 18 x 24) is 2 x 250 watt 14K metal halides that run 8-hrs daily and 2 x 96-watt power compacts 7100K that run 12-hrs daily.  I also run 4-watts white moonlighting on this tank every night.  The lighting  system is fully automated and the tank for all intent and purposes is running very smooth, there is quite a bit of life already stirring in it. <<Very good>> My big question for you now that you know most of the info on this aquarium is; On the  Marshall Island live rock there are a lot of sprouts of what appear to be Caulerpa sertularoides, or Caulerpa taxifolia, the only other photo on Wet Web Media that I saw that resembled what I have is Caulerpa mexicana but I have a feeling it's one of the two previously mentioned. <<Ok>> I plan on keeping SPS corals in this aquarium and I am worried this particular algae growth might become a problem. <<So am I>> Should it be left alone in the aquarium to grow and be pruned? <<Algae compete for space on the reef just as all the other organisms.  The Caulerpa species can be particularly aggressive/noxious...exuding growth limiting compounds and growing rapidly to the point of overgrowing sessile invertebrates.  Once established it can be a nightmare to eradicate through manual extraction and finding reliable biological solutions/predators can be difficult due to its noxious nature...I would take steps to stop its growth in the display if this were my tank>> It isn't terrible looking stuff.  Or should I strike now while it is in its infancy? <<Is what I think, yes>> Any advice you have on this dilemma would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you for your time. Brian  Crenshaw <<Quite welcome.  Eric Russell>>

Ongoing... sand... Now, Caulerpa, other algae comp.   2/14/07 Bob, Thank you for responding so quickly. <Always include prev. corr. pls> I will do something about that sand bed. I had a couple more questions for you regarding the same  tank and algae. Is there another type of algae that resembles the structure of  feather Caulerpa, perhaps one indigenous to Marshall island? <A few...> You mentioned  engaging bio-warfare, using what? <Chemicals... akin to terrestrial plants... interfering with the germination, growth of others near, under them...> I am going to put a large yellow tang in this  aquarium, would it be able to take care of the algae without negative affects? <Likely to some degree... depends on the species of algae (some are unpalatable to noxious...) and the particular Yellow Tang... what else it has to eat...> I  am also putting in 10 Nerite snails, 10 Trochus snails, and 10 blue leg  hermit crabs. I read somewhere that Caulerpa algae is fairly toxic to the  animals that ingest it, <Some species, varieties... there are such properties in many other algae, species...> so I want to make sure that I take care of it before I  stock the tank with animals that might be hurt as a result of nibbling. Right  now the algae is only on one rock in the aquarium, and of course the one rock is  my favorite one! Murphy's law in effect! I am hoping I won't have to remove the  rock entirely from the display, it has a lot of other wonderful "Critters" on it  as well. Thanks again, Brian  Crenshaw <I would not be concerned at this juncture. BobF>

Caulerpa algae sel.   1/27/07 Im attaching a pic of the Caulerpa live stone Hi there <Hola Hector> Im starting in the reef aquarium hobby, y have a fairly good system and some friend sells me some live rock with Caulerpa algae on it. I've been reading about it, some people thinks it's like a pest that can infest your system, and some others says its helps to keep good quality water. <Tambien es posible> would you in your system seed Caulerpa, yes or no and why. <Leas por favor aqui: http://wetwebmedia.com/caulerpaalg.htm and the linked paginas mas alta> Regards and thanks for helping (its clear my mother language is not English) <No worries. Bob Fenner>

Genus name Caulerpa confusing... like this title. Seahorse tank use   12/31/06 I am wondering if I could impose on you to clarify a seemingly endless argument on the use of Caulerpa prolifera.  Often I read about Caulerpa pros and cons. It seems there are several suggestions that Caulerpa prolifera is great for  a seahorse tank. <Mmm... remember the ancient Egyptian measure or moderation, "Ma'at"...> I remember reading that they have a slime that can be problematic to ponies. <Yes> I have been setting up a sea horse tank attached to my reef tank.  I have Caulerpa prolifera in my sump and tons and tons of organisms.  Can I use the prolifera in the seahorse tank? thanks for any info you can offer Cathy <I would seek out other algae to use here, OR be careful to keep this species of Caulerpa trimmed back (weekly) to just a few strands. Bob Fenner> Macroalgae In The Mix! WWM: <Scott F. at the keyboard this evening> I've been reading through your FAQs on the Ecosystem Mud filter approach. Since these are not dated, I can't tell what is the most current line of thinking, but did note that there seems to be mixed feelings on this even among your staff. That's fine and perfectly understandable. <Good, 'cause we do all have different opinions based upon our own experiences, which gives our fellow hobbyists an honest point of view.> New information comes along all the time. Can you give me an update on the following questions: <Will try!> 1. I see a lot of conflicting info on use of Caulerpa. Toxicity, etc. Is it still recommended? <Caulerpa is a great macroalgae that is prolific, easy to care for, and good at exporting nutrients if carefully harvested on a regular basis. Nothing is new here...It is prone to "go sexual" and release its cellular material into the water under the right circumstances, and some also theorize that it may produce substances which are potentially toxic to some corals. I prefer more "benign" macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha. In addition, it is actually illegal to keep in some areas, such as Southern California, where it has been released into the wild, to great disdain.>  <Editor's note: Under State law (Assembly Bill 1334), the sale, possession, and transport of Caulerpa taxifolia was prohibited throughout California in September 2001. Please see here: http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/rwqcb9/programs/caulerpa/caulerpa.html > 2. Is it okay to use a micron sock and prefilter sponge with this system? Do these remove the desirable critters? <In my opinion, using these filter socks is fine; you just need to clean them very frequently. Yes, it is certainly possible that some desirable organisms will be removed by such mechanical filtration, but I believe that the benefits of these "socks" far outweigh any disadvantages, as long as you pay attention to very frequent maintenance.> 3. Is 24 hour photoperiod still recommended? Noted FAQ that Anthony answered where he pointed out possible sexual crash, but then I also understand this is key to claim of keeping pH and oxygen levels more stable. <I have employed a 24 hour cycle with macroalgae with good results, but a "reverse daylight" (i.e. light the macroalgae when the display is dark). In actuality, the "reverse" daylight technique is a more natural system; I don't think that keeping macroalgae in "stasis" is really  natural> 4. I see a some refugiums that don't use the 'Mud'. They sometimes also use live rock in the sump w or w/o the algae. In these cases, is the 24 hour photoperiod detrimental to the live rock? <Well, it could be disruptive to the organisms which inhabit the rock, but the bacterial processes are probably unaffected.> 5. Are the bioballs that ecosystems recommends necessary? Will these become a maintenance issue down the road? <I don't think that they will become problematic. From my understanding, these are actually used to keep debris from the macroalgae from escaping the sump.> If you'll indulge me on one more issue I'm struggling with: I'm trying to choose my aquarium size and have option of 18', 24', or 30' height. I like the look of the 30' height, but understand that it will drive the lighting requirements. I haven't seen any quantitative numbers on this though. Is there a formula for determining difference in lighting level required to achieve same intensity as a function of water depth? <Good question. I'm sure that there are certainly some highly scientific studies on this, and some applications of the inverse square law and other principles that can apply. However, I am a simple guy and I like to keep things well...simple. Here's my take on it: I tend to favor the 24" high tank, because you can still utilize 175 to 250 watt halides for most corals. In a 30" high tank, conventional wisdom is that you will need 400 watt halides. This is not "scientific"; merely based upon the work of hobbyists and personal experiences. Of course, there are many hardcore reefers who believe that you need such intense lights even in 14" tanks! I guess it all adds up to the fact that there are no right or wrong answers to every situation. You just need to assess the needs of your animals and take it from there!> Thanks for your help. Bob. <Glad to be of service, Bob! Regards, Scott F.>

Caulerpa addenda Hi Scott, All, You answered a query regarding the use of Caulerpa, and mentioned that it is illegal in SoCal. I have taken the liberty of adding an editor's note regarding the legality of, specifically, C. taxifolia in the state, with link provided. I hope I haven't stepped on any toes, but I felt that it's important for people to be aware of this, because many of our archives do date previous to September '01 and I'd like to help ensure we don't encounter any legal issues regarding any advice to use Caulerpa spp. Call it "COA" (kind of like CYA, but covering more butts). If it's preferred, I will remove the notation. Marina <Well done Mar. BobF>

Caulerpa keeping ... the good side ! Hey guys it's Klay from N.Z. .... <Hello from not-so-sunny Southern California... where Caulerpaceans are outright banned, sigh, as "noxious potential weeds"> regarding comments about Caulerpa pro's and con's .... thru my various trials with this and native sea weeds ( macro algae's for the purist ! ) ... I have found that running an actinic 24/7 as a night light helps stop the dreaded spawning/self destruction that plagues reef garden tanks , <Good> this is based on 8 months of trial. ( and error). <Heeee!> ,1st system... 1 tank ( 3 ft) 200 ltr with usual lighting ( 2 x actinic, 2 x full spec, 12 hours  .... plus  1 x 14000 k halide, 6 hours ) ...( invert tank , soft/stony corals (11 species), hermits, conch's , cowries, urchins , starfish ( 5 types) ,tritons, banded shrimp, 5 x cleaner shrimps , whelks , Turbos ( and odd snails cant find I.D's for) + numerous micro life forms...fish being mandarin , scooter, "who are bluddy fat" , percula x 2 , flame, ( 4 x Caulerpa spec.. mexicana , grape , + ?? , buttercup) ... filtration .. side overflow thru media back to tank , no "skimmer" ( I know, but this is a natural system of sorts based on live rock etc.)... monthly water change of 60 ltrs ( 30 %) no additives!. <Okay> 2nd system ... 3 tanks  4 ft 350 ltr running (each) 1 x actinic , 24 hours , 1 x full spec , 12 hours )........ ) ditto above plus used as seeding tanks for live rock .......... filtration , all connected to main overflow to sump " no skimmer" ..live rock "filter",  debris trap for organic feeders  ( another type of natural system using NZ native species 4 filters !! ) will explain if needed.... you'll be surprised.! ;) <Looking forward to it> 3rd system ... 1 x 3 ft 240 ltr ( 1 x actinic ( 24 hours ) , 1 x full spec ( 12 hours) , 1 x14000 halide ( 4 hours ) + 3 hours full sunlight .... ( 1 x Malu anemone  13 " dia ... 2 Clarks clowns, blue tang , leopard wrasse ,  8 soft/stony corals  , 4 x Caulerpa spec's .. ) ... filtration  enclosed system ( 3 x powerheads , 1 x " box filter ,absorbent packed " ... weekly water change of    50 %  ( 120 ltr )... no additives!. ( planned Jaubert system for this one ). results ........ introduced 4 x Caulerpa to  tank system 2 .... month later handfuls of "cuttings" ( pinching edges )  to other tanks ...  system 1 , experienced periodic spawning/die off of donored colonies ... grape sp. all gone...overall ,average    life span!  ... red algae( macro) showed lightening of edges but still showed accelerated growth.   .... system 2 , massive growth ( water quality ++ ) , gave away numerous " cuttings"  ( no die off ).    ... system 3 , massive growth ( to the point it was pissing off the anemone )  .. same as system 2 .. red algae same as system 1 this is by no way a scientific research , just a result of a layman playing around with macro algae's , my conclusions are that as long as there is light in the tank 24/7 Caulerpa will refrain from the " die off " plus with a very healthily growth ( read forest) the water quality is kept good ... only a guess but all debris+ organic nutrients helping macro along !? <Yes, likely so>    ........   plan to morph all tanks into one 8 ft system using a combination of Jaubert with separate refugium ( so to restart after toxic gas build up ... sulphur blah blah )... minimal fish , heaps of inverts ( as they are more interesting and not mainstream,  then lets see the forest turn into the jungle. hope this helps the novice/average aquaculturist/aquarist with some alternative info !? .... no responsibilities for said info thou. ... I'm sure there will be others who have played with these " nasty" weeds and have different conclusions and will dispute my findings , but , hey !  good onya , I think they look so damn good in a reef tank that they deserve a better cred........ anyway cheers Klay. <Thank you for your input. Bob Fenner, one of the remaining "pro-Caulerpa" types>  

Caulerpa Suitability 8/9/05 Hi guys! Thank you for your helpful FAQs, you guys have done a great job.  I have a 2x1x1 feet tank, protein skimmed, aeration pumps, undergravel filters, cooling fan and live rocks. I have 2 feather dusters, 4 diff. clown species, 1 domino and 1 yellow tail damsel. All of them are small and doing fine. The lighting is a bit confusing because I place the aquarium outdoors under a shade where there's no direct sunlight but still the daylights outshined my 220 watts twin fluorescents (white and blue actinic). Is this ok if I take in polyps into the sys.? <If you are talking about Zoanthids, then yes.  I wish we could all use natural sunlight!> I'm thinking off adding Caulerpa (grape) so as to help with the heavy bioload besides adding color and oxygenating the system. Do you think it will work? <I would not recommend adding Caulerpa to the display.  It is fine in a separate sump or refugium, but there are many problems with placing it in the display. First, it will likely overgrow all of your rock.  This is only a problem if you find it unattractive.  Second, it only oxygenates the water during the day.  At night, it consumes oxygen and could actually deplete oxygen at night.  Last, if you plan to add polyps or other corals, the Caulerpa will probably overgrow them and the chemicals produced by the Caulerpa may inhibit their growth.  If you can add the Caulerpa to a connected tank where it can be controlled, this may be a better option.  This also allows it to be lighted at night so that it is producing oxygen when the display is not and vice versa.> How do I place them (i.e: aeration, lighting, depths, substrate burial)? Lastly, what would I feed them with? Thank you in advance.  Sam (Malaysia) <Simply dropping some fronds of Caulerpa into the tank will usually get them established and no special care is required. Best Regards.  AdamC.> Caulerpa/Cyano in refugium 11/16/05 Hi Crew, For a group of volunteer experts, you guys should be commended for keeping this site so informative and assisting more novices to succeed.  <Glad you have found the site helpful!> Parameters: 250 gal. FOWLR with large wet/dry, refugium with live rock rubble/Caulerpa, protein skimmer (producing lots of daily skimmate), 40 watt UV sterilizer, trickle filter box with media pad, activated carbon, and PhosBan. Main display has ~250 lbs. of Tonga live rock, live fine aragonite DSB. On top of the refugium I have mini PC's that run 24/7.  <All sounds good. Do consider that in order to thrive, Caulerpa needs about the same amount of light as moderate light corals.> I have a couple of questions: First question is that I seem to be having trouble getting my Caulerpa to thrive or grow in the refugium. The refugium is a section of my wet/dry whereby there is a small power head that pumps water from the main pump section of the wet/dry into the refugium section and the water level weirs over into the skimmer section. The flow seems low but is there none the less. The Caulerpa has been in the refugium for about two months now, and if anything it looks like the "clump" of Caulerpa is shrinking.  <I would definitely consider current as a culprit. Just like any other marine organism, Caulerpa depends on water movement to deliver nutrients and carry away wastes.> Concurrently, I have been having a slight amount of Red Cyano forming on the fine DSB in the main display that I seem to have under control but occasionally it reappears. I seem to be an "over feeder" so nutrient export is important to me, hence Caulerpa in the refugium. I thought initially that maybe the Caulerpa did not have enough to thrive on; however with the Cyano forming, and the high fish load, I can't imagine that the Caulerpa wouldn't thrive.  Last night I went into the refugium section to remove a small amount of red Cyano that formed on top of a section of the Caulerpa and noticed that the Caulerpa was very flimsy and slimy, almost as if I could have agitated the water enough to eliminate the clump. Also it did not seem to have set any hold fasts onto the live rock, but yet it wasn't floating either and there are a few small clumps of it that did attach to the sides of the refugium. I tested Phosphates and the reading was .2 so I am perplexed. <Obviously, the Caulerpa isn't healthy and growing, so it isn't exporting anything. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries to get it established, so I would suggest trying again and increasing the light and current a bit.>

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>



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>

DSB & lightly stocked FOWLR tank Hi guys/gals- <<And hello to you, JasonC here at your service.>> I was hoping you could answer a question or two for me. After I give you the specs. <<Shoot...>> I am in the process of upgrading from a 4 year old 55 FO tank into a 125 FOWLR tank w/ 40 gal refugium and 20 gal sump. The "gang" consists of: 1- 6" Naso tang 1- 4" Regal Blue Tang 1- 4" Sailfin Tang 1- 4" Yellow Tang assorted 1"ish original set-up damsels 1- arrow crab - 55gal FO "clean up crew" from F.F.E. (lots of crabs and snails) - 130lbs of live rock Equipment for new 125 FOWLR: -Berlin Turbo Classic skimmer -2 - Mag12 pumps for circulation -500w of compacts- 6x65 8000k daylights and 2x55 actinic blue I was planning on some sand and Caulerpa of some sort for the refugium. <<Any chance I can encourage you to try another macro algae besides Caulerpa? There are some other, more predictable options.>> Would this amount of livestock be ok for a DSB of 4-5"? Or should I go with the 1" or less idea in the main tank and have a DSB in the 39gal refugium? <<Yes, 4-5" would make a good sand bed, but an extra inch would help. You won't be able to accomplish an equivalent DSB in the refugium compared to the 125 because of the reduced surface area. If it were me, I would put a DSB in each.>> It sounds like the livestock will eat much of the cool stuff off of the live rock so I was considering having some of the live rock and the DSB in the refugium and skip the Caulerpa. <<Or you can rotate rock between the two so that you can offer that army of tangs something fresh and new every so often. Picking algae from the rockwork is what these fish do constantly in the wild - constantly. If you want to have showcase tangs, I'd do my best to offer them something as close to natural as possible.>> The refugium is mounted underneath the main tank and will be a display tank also. So I was hoping I could keep some of the live rock full of "life". <<Think about moving rock between the two systems - I think this would take you a long way.>> I have an extra Magnum 350 canister filter. Could it be useful somehow with the new tank? Maybe for calcium or something? <<For calcium? Heavens no... I'd use one as a substrate cleaner, or perhaps a ways to run activated carbon on the system... that's about it or perhaps EBay fodder.>> Thank you again. All of you are making me feel much more at ease about the upgrade. <<Glad we can be of service.>> Dennis <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Antoine, pls see note on bottom below (Caulerpa, use in marine aquariums) Bobster... Thanks bud... duly noted. I have made mention recently of an article I'm working on detailing concerns with keeping massive amounts of Caulerpa in systems focused on coral growth. I just ran down some papers to cite and support the anecdotal observations. <Better to have a mix of species, Divisions... and keep the Caulerpaceans cut back> Gist of it all being... if coral growth is a primary goal/thrust in the system... then there are better (less noxious/less labor intensive) algae to culture. {did I mention that I wrote that Bill that passed in Cali banning that rat weed Caulerpa ;)? ) <You better not have... you may be swimming with the fishes soon... Bob> Coming to a theater near you...

Caulerpa vs. Seagrass for Refugium & MM filter Anthony, <cheers, mate> I was reading through "FAQs about Refugium IV" section and you stated: "Syringodium manatee seagrass would be awesome here... many benefits to it as a refugium. Whatever you choose, though, PLEASE do not use Caulerpa... an awful thing to do to a coral system on a larger scale" Can you explain this further? I want to understand why would Caulerpa be bad in a refugium?  <yes... my pleasure. Caulerpa itself is not so bad, but rather easily mismanaged. For decades aquarists have enjoyed its benefits of great nutrient export with little trouble because we rarely did/could keep it in large masses (tangs, angels and other fishes eating it in check) and the lack of refugium applications. Now that refugiums have become popular, aquarists are keeping it in larger quantities and discovering the many pitfalls with it. The problem is that it is very labor intensive to maintain safely in large quantities. It must be harvested systematically like clockwork (!!!) and you should not cut branches (saps noxious elements and risks a disastrous sexual event of pollution)... instead each frond must be carefully hand picked and extracted to thin the colony. Caulerpa also contains some of the most noxious elements known that inhibit coral growth. They secrete serious discolorants into the water that require ozonation or weekly changes of carbon to maintain water clarity, and the risk of a sexual event (expelling all of the nutrients from growth en masses) can cause catastrophe in some systems. Other plants share similar negative qualities... but none so commonly and to the extent of Caulerpa. It is simply too risky in large quantities... BUT... I do enjoy and recommend it in small amounts. I'll publish a paper soon on the topic. Many experienced aquarists are discovering this dilemma with Caulerpa... I got some scientific references from Eric Borneman who is very much in agreement on the topic: ANYTHING but Caulerpa is better :) > Also, I am setting up a 350g (96"x24"x36") reef tank in the spring with SPS as the primary inhabitants.  <the your definitely do not want Caulerpa... shown to markedly inhibit the growth of stonies> The plan was to use and EcoSystem mud filter that uses Caulerpa.  <I see no significant advantage using Caulerpa here... although I do like the idea of you using a fishless refugium to generate natural plankton for your zooplankton feeding SPS (little phyto here)> The EcoSystem site recommends Caulerpa but states Seagrass can be used also. Do you believe Caulerpa is bad in this setup and would you recommend Seagrass as an alternative?  <definitely> If so, what are the pros/cons? <slower, safer and more manageable growth of seagrasses. Less noxious compounds exuded, a true plant that does not execute a sexual vegetative state/event under duress, more useful epiphytic material shed from the blades of the seagrasses... perhaps better support of copepods populations for it. Thalassia is a shorter seagrass species for refugia under 24"> Thanks as always. <best regards, Anthony> - Rob

Caulerpa Hi Bob This is Dan Garcia from Sacramento, {MARS}. I'm attending a meeting put on by the department of Fish and Game and the RIDNIS, the subject CAULERPA!!! The Law and punishment. {the meeting is on Nov. 19th} My question to you is, do you have any pictures of the different types that we use in the aquarium trade? If you do could I use them during my part of this witch hunt. If you have any question please call me at 916-419-XXXX or my cell-916-799-XXXX. By the way Karen sends her love <Yeah Dan... Got Caulerpa? You're a criminal! Oh, some pix here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caulerpaalg.htm Will these do... can you lift sufficient size, format off our sites? If not, make this known, will scan more, send along what you're looking for. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Dan Garcia

Refugium Dear WWM crew, I'm in the process of starting a 24"x24" refugium in my sump.  What is a good on-line source for Caulerpa?   <Check the links at Wetwebmedia.com I hesitate to recommend any specific etailer. There are numerous choices.> What quantities and type?   <Have you read about the pros and cons of using Caulerpa? This is also catalogued at WWM.> Does Caulerpa require quarantine or special acclimation?   <Many aquarist suggest QT for anything added to the aquarium. I personally only quarantine fish. But I am aware of the risk inherent in this method and I accept those risks. Acclimation is similar to the acclimation of fish and corals.> Do you recommend other (types/quantities/acclimation/quarantine) critters for the refugium as well? <I suggest starter cultures of copepods, Mysis shrimp, and similar critters. No fish. You can start your search with Inland Aquatics and IPSF (Indo Pacific Sea Farms). Thanks again for your service, Brian   <The pleasure was mine! David Dowless>

Friends Don't Let Friends Buy Caulerpa! Good evening! <Hi there! Scott F. here for you!> I just recently heard about utilizing mangroves in a sump vs. Caulerpa, searched your site for more info, found a little.  Was wondering if you could give me a quick run down on the pro's and / or con's of this, was just about to set up a new sump for Caulerpa when I heard about mangroves. <Well- first off- I wouldn't look at mangroves as a means of efficient nutrient export, like macroalgae. They grow very slowly...much too slowly to perform the same export function in a closed system as macroalgae. They do encourage the growth of various fauna within their root systems, however, so are interesting in that regard. You should purchase a copy of Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation" for some really cool information on using mangroves, as well as more good stuff on macroalgae and nutrient export. A must read, IMO.> I am looking for a natural way to lower nitrate levels so I can start adding corals, liked the Caulerpa idea because I could cut off excess growth and feed to my ever-grazing Naso tang. Current tank is 120 gallon fish and liverock only with 29 gallon sump.  Thanks for any info you can provide, love your website!! Doug Edwardsville, IL <Thanks for the kind words, Doug! Although very popular, Caulerpa is not really the best choice for a purposeful macroalgae, IMO. After lots of personal research, reading, and discussions with the likes of Anthony Calfo, Eric Borneman, and others, I have concluded that there are more drawbacks than benefits to Caulerpa use. This stuff grows like a weed, true- and if harvested regularly, can export nutrient efficiently. However, should you rip segments of the plant through careless harvesting, many potentially noxious chemicals from within the plant are leached back into the water. Also, these algae have a tendency to go into a sexual reproduction stage, potentially releasing enormous quantities of gametes and other cellular material into the water, negatively impacting oxygen levels, among other things. I'd look into more "docile" macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha, Ulva, and even Halimeda. They offer many of the advantages of Caulerpa, without much of the detrimental effects. As Anthony likes to say- "Friends don't let friends buy Caulerpa!" 'Nuff said! Good luck, and have fun working on this project!>

Caulerpa! Gentlemen, I am so confused on this Caulerpa issue. When I built my tank I thought if you build a refugium you got to have Caulerpa, now I am reading that this is very bad for my all my SPS that I dearly love. So do I pull this demon out of my refugium and fill it with a deeper DSB....but what about all that good micro fauna....or do I add some other nutrient export plant that will support the micro fauna and not cause havoc to my SPS? <Caulerpa is a fast growing plant, and can be efficient at nutrient export. However, it tends to overgrow everything in its path! If Caulerpa is damaged during regular harvesting (which you should do), it can release many noxious compounds into your water that can be harmful for corals. Also, Caulerpa tends to go sexual, and release its reproductive products into the water column, adding a serious organic load. I'd recommend other macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha, which can grow rapidly, and can be harvested for efficient nutrient export.> By the way I have lost some SPS suddenly and now I suspect this green demon!! <Well- you never no- but could be...maybe...?> 135 Gal show tank 200 lbs LR.......45 Gal refugium mucho Caulerpa, Seaclone skimmer, emperor 400, light fish load some SPS, LPSs, soft corals...3 175MH  10K   ,2 URI...VHO blue actinics. I know this is a huge pet peeve of yours but I am writing this at work and can't offer any water parameters <><>ME SO SORRY<><> Thanks again in advance <That's okay, just read up on some other macroalgae. I think you'll find some that can be just as easy to grow, but not have all of the negatives associated with Caulerpa! Good luck! Scott F.>

Caulerpa Refugium Dear WWM Crew, I've acquired some Caulerpa. I think I've identified it as razor Caulerpa, Caulerpa serrulata. Is this a good algae for my new refugium? <It depends on the intended purpose of the refugium and your tanks needs.> Should I allow any in my display tank? <Again, it depends.> My refugium will be 22" x 24" x 10" high and will have 2" of Miracle Mud. How much shall I start with (I have lots) <You do not need too much.> and will it attach itself to the mud? <It should use its holdfasts to attach/"root".> Any other comments or suggestions would be helpful. <There is a lot of information on refugium types and macroalgae in our FAQ files on www.WetWebMedia.com.> My primary use of the refugium is to help control nitrates in my 180 gallon reef tank. <Caulerpa is excellent for nutrient control, but more and more research is showing it is harmful to corals. You are going to have to strike a fine balance here. I would also pursue some other means of nutrient control (protein skimming, careful feedings, appropriate foods and supplements, clean source water, etc.).> Thanks for your help, Brian <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Help with Refugium Hello Dr Fenner, <Just Bob, please> You helped me a while back with some questions I had concerning a mini-reef 25g hexagon tank, a mad clown and a Prizm skimmer. For some unknown reason, the skimmer is back on line and working fine again and the mad clown has had to be taken back to the pet store and exchanged for a more docile one. Reading through your FAQ's and website, I am sold on your thoughts and philosophies and went ahead and purchased your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" which I read in one clean sweep until my eyes began to bleed, absolutely fantastic reading. I am also sold on the idea of a refugium to aid water quality. <A worthwhile addition> The water parameters in the main tank have all been stable for about 4 months (tank 6 months old), with the exception of Nitrate which sometimes goes as high as 10ppm. <Soon to be diminished> I have purchased a 15g tank (18x12x18) which will be set-up as a down-stream refugium and would like to know your thoughts on the following: - 4in sand bed - 15kg (33Ib) of live rock - Your thoughts on suitable macro-algae. To be honest, the only things that I can find the LFS selling in the UK is Caulerpas and Mangrove pods. - Lighting 1 x 15w (PowerGlo 18k spectrum) <All sounds fine... though many of my cohorts think otherwise, I would use the Caulerpa (leave the lighting on 24/7), being careful to not let it "get away", overgrow the system... watching for any ill-effects of its abundance... Perhaps keeping an eye on your suppliers for other macrophytes to supplant it with in coming months (like Halimeda, Gracilaria...)> My concerns are the use of Caulerpas in the refugium considering I have a few soft corals in the main tank (Leathers, Mushrooms, Sinularia & Xenia's) and the lighting on the refugium. Should I use a reverse cycle or 24/7? <I would leave the lighting on (with the Caulerpas) continuously> On my existing live rock in the tank, I have noticed an amount of copepods milling around in the night time (sitting there with my flashlight, much to the annoyance of the misses) and hope to have a similar introduction in the refugium. <You will> Thanks in advance for your help. Kind Regards Sandeep <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Re: Caulerpa I liked your page on Redox (checked it for use in a class on wetlands), but PLEASE don't recommend using the alga Caulerpa anywhere!!!! It has become one of the most noxious, damaging  exotic species in the world, wiping out of much of the natural biodiversity of the ocean bottom in the Mediterranean, and now creeping up the California coast.  It should be widely identified as an absolute "no-no" for aquarium owners!!! Joan G. Ehrenfeld Professor Dept. of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources 14 College Farm Road Cook College, Rutgers University New Brunswick, NJ 08901 <Thank you for your input. There are others here who dislike this family of algae for other reasons. The Caulerpaceae are banned in our part of S. California as a "too-dangerous" noxious weed... and NOTHING should be released to the wild IMO. Bob Fenner>

Dreadful Rat Weed <G> Caulerpa Several days ago the Caulerpa in one of my refugium's went sexual causing some major water problems with my system.   <all too common. I'm sorry my friend> I will never have any significant amount of it in my system again.   <exactly the crux of the issue my friend. You are quite correct! Small quantities kept in check can be enjoyed with little or no trouble at all. It is the recent popularity of keeping Caulerpa in refugium and garbage can full portions (!) that has made us realize how toxic the stuff really is (inhibiting corals and fishes). I just e-mailed an interested aquarist 9 pages of scientific references on Caulerpa toxicity. What a dreadful macro for reef tanks (specifically)> The only saving grace is, at your recommendation, I have been in the process of removing the stuff for several months now and I didn't have a huge amount left.  If this had  happened a month or two ago I would have had a full scale disaster. <I'm grateful not to hear that story... I hear too many of them every month> Since the "event," I have noticed a drastic reduction in the number of little critters in both refugium's and my main tank.   <oh, ya> I would assume (love that word) the "event" took them out.   <Does a bear bring a readers digest into the woods?!? I mean... yes. I agree> Except for one of my cleaner shrimp that has gone AWOL (hopefully just molting, beginning to get worried though) <hope is the single greatest gift to mankind> my corals and fish survived well.   Anyway, I was wondering if you had any information on transplanting Padina and Sargassum?   <both are very attractive to me, but Sargassum has similar toxicity issues (although not as severe as Caulerpa). Neither mentioned are very good in aquarium for nutrient export if that was your goal. For that, look to Chaetomorpha, Gracilaria or even turf algae species in a proper scrubber> From reading your site I understand it is very stable?   <agreed... although not as stable as some calcareous species like Halimeda> I have a good supply of both in my main tank and would like to transplant some of it into my refugium without moving the LR it is attached to. Can it just be pulled off the rock, rubber banded or wedged on/in rocks or does the entire hold fast need to go with it?  If so, is there an easy way to remove it intact?   <clip/snip at the base of the plant with poultry/chicken scissors to skin rock with the plant> The Padina (ribbon) is exceptionally beautiful and I would like to ensure its survival in the refugium. Should the Padina and  Sargassum be lit 24/7 or on an opposite lighting schedule from the main tank?   <they can be lit opposite if you like for pH stability, but not 24/7 like Caulerpa... (no stasis here)> The other refugium has . . .  will have sea grasses.  Any help on this matter would be very much appreciated.   <excellent... seek Thalassia from any merchant you like that seems to have a good supplier for Atlantic species (hermits, turbo snails, etc). Best regards, Anthony?>

Just saying no to Caulerpa Hello Crew, <cheers, mate> It's Howard form Wisconsin again. Still trying to get my new refugium going. My older refugium is 30 gallons, 6+ inch fine sand bed, 20+ pounds of live rock, lots of bristle worms, 150-200 gallon flow through, and fed from show tank overflow. <all very cool> It is choc full of Caulerpa racemosa. <Doh! That part is not cool. One of the most toxic even among noxious Caulerpas. A wonderful nutrient export vehicle, but labor intensive and inhibiting to coral growth. If coral growth is no biggie... then you may be able to enjoy this Caulerpa> Since I got it going I have had no detectable nitrates (Aquarium Systems Sea Test Low Range). I cut out about a third of the growth every week (tang food and gifted to LFS). <excellent... this is one of the keys to succeeding with Caulerpa... prevents terminal vegetative events of sexual reproduction> I want to replace the Caulerpa with another macro after reading about Anthony's [comments on Caulerpas] dark side". <very cool... less work at least with same benefits in another alga> My new refugium is planned primarily to grow amphipods cleaner and peppermint shrimp eggs and other natural foods. It has 6 inches of fine sand and about 15 pounds of live rock. I must have macroalgae to feed and shelter the 'pods. Also, to learn more about the Caulerpa substitutes. <OK... agreed> I have been very unsuccessful in growing Ochtodes, Ulva, or Gracilaria. All gradually turned white and disintegrated. Also, "tang heaven red" (Gracilaria) lives on but doesn't expand. <actually... the Ulva and especially the Gracilaria should have rather easy to culture as non-calcareous species. Simply requiring bright light and reasonably good water flow. Did they die shortly after acquisition... this would suggest acclimation or source. Else, post 2-weeks... your water parameters are implicated. Caulerpa is one of the few algae to stand low light low flow and still survive (rat weeds are funny that way <G>)> Penicillus and Udotea flabellum are doing ok but are slow growing and not famous for "exporting" nutrients. <exactly as we'd suspect from calcareous species> My basement refugiums can be "restarted", flowed, fed and lit any way imaginable. My questions are: What are the ideal conditions to grow the available non-Caulerpa macros such as Gracilaria and Ulva? Flow?, lighting?, turbulence?. Raw overflow or filtered water? <raw overflowing water of moderate to strong turbulence in shallow brightly lit waters> Can more than one type be in the same tank - compatibility? <never recommended... energy is spent on competition instead of growth... just like corals> Is my overflow system water too clean and I need "fertilizer"? <very unlikely as long as you are not pre-filtering> Should the Gracilaria and other fine plants be allowed to float or be stuck under a rock? <depends on the species... I prefer free-floating for vegetable filtration harvesting> Finding a replacement for the no-problem, grows like crazy, Caulerpa has not been easy. <there are numerous choices my friend. Chaetomorpha is not very sexy, but one of the very best for pod culture and nutrient export. Do consider as well. I personally like the Gracilaria> Howard <best regards, Anthony>

Macro-algae I'll try to be quick and to the point because I know you must get tired of answering Caulerpa questions. I have a 40g FOWLR (40lbs) system, skimmer, hang-on whisper filter. I would like to add some mexicana for looks mostly, something for fish to nip on, and to help outcompete nuisance algae. <I hope your lighting is up to the task. You don't need a lot but you could use at least 2+ watts per gallon unless you use Sawblade Caulerpa. I used it in a QT tank with no artificial lighting for over a year and it grew and reproduced to the extent that I had to harvest> Tell me if my statements are correct - comment where necessary. #1) This would be mostly beneficial to my system since I don't have to worry about coral growth. <Yep...But if you ever decide to eradicate this stuff, it's really difficult to do> #2) This will help "outcompete" some nuisance algae. <Yep...That's the theory> #3) Has the disadvantage of going "sexual" but with careful "thinning out" should be ok. <I've never had the problem> #4) Since I have LR and a good skimmer, the added "nutrient export" does not add much benefit to my system in this regard.  <You can't possibly get too much nutrient export> Now a couple questions. #1) Reading all the FAQs on careful maintenance, will fish nipping and eating it cause it to "bleed" (as I've heard it referenced as) causing pollutants to my tank? <Yep and so will your harvesting. Use of carbon in your sump will help control this problem and it is dangerous to fishes...it just makes the water look yellow> #2) Will my coralline algae be hampered and outcompeted by this other form of macro-algae? <Possibly if you let it get out of hand> #3) Is there a better green macro that is aesthetically pleasing and have the same benefits with less problems? <Does it need to be green? If not, Gracilaria is great. Tangs love the stuff and it grows pretty easily. Feather Caulerpa is beautiful but IME it tends to be finicky and fragile> My LFS seems to have a large supply of a few different types of Caulerpa so I'm fairly certain I can attain a good sample at a good price.  <Sounds good to me> Thank you as always for the time. <No problem. Hope I've helped. David Dowless>

Caulerpa in my refugium ? Dear "Anyone that will answer"   :-) <I feel like "someone" :)  > I have a 55 gallon live rock tank with a few pieces of coral, mushrooms, polyps...nothing major.  The tank also has about 10 fish.  The tank is about 2 years old. I am building a refugium in the Eco system Method... <sorry to hear it... heehee. Joking (half at least)> with 4 baffles filled with "Miracle Mud" and Caulerpa on a 24/7 light schedule. <a secret: the "miracle" to Miracle mud is that people actually pay that much money for soil> At least those WERE my plans until I was reading in the FAQ section that Caulerpa produces toxins to corals and would be considered bad if I was planning on adding coral one piece at a time every month or so. <hmmm... more information needed here for sure. Caulerpa is NOT the devil incarnate and it can be very useful for nutrient export. However... it is very labor intensive and potentially volatile. And I am not referring to events of sexual reproduction (only). That can easily be skirted by systematic thinning of o colony to stave off completion of a its life cycle (3-6 months for most species in the genus). 24/7 light (stasis) may do the same. There are far more serious concerns with Caulerpa regarding anti-biotic and anti-fouling exudations which harm coral on a daily basis and slowly concentrate in the system. Any benefit you seek from Caulerpa, I can name a much safer algae for use in your vegetable filter. Gracilaria ranks high... true turf algae (Chaetomorpha and the like) are even better if using algal mats> So now I am confused. First I went from wanting to add Caulerpa to the  refugium and put it on a reverse light schedule from the main tank.   <I can dig the RDP photoperiod for pH stabilization> But then after researching Leng Sy's specifications, he called for a full 24/7 daylight schedule for the Caulerpa so it NEVER produces and releases the carbon dioxide, toxins, chlorophyll into the water. <that last string of claims is not exactly true... the toxic exudations are unrelated to acts of sexual reproduction. Caulerpa sheds them just like coral shed nematocysts and various allelopathic compounds. All must be addressed with regular water changes and carbon/ozone. I like weekly for water changes and carbon (small and consistent amounts)> So what do i do? <cheer loud for the Steelers next Sunday playing against Tennessee> I've heard that deviating from his plans just a little bit (by not adding the baffles, not using Miracle Mud, and not having the right kind of Caulerpa, as well as the 24/7 mandatory light schedule) is what seems to make most folks fail at his method's proven success. <I would argue instead that modification of his good idea can make it even better! Keep the mud, run the lights on a reverse period, don't use Caulerpa, do protein skim aggressively, and enjoy a better refugium for it> If Caulerpa is the "demon" macro algae that I am reading so very much about in the FAQ section, <and beyond! There is a mountain of scientific information to support its effects on corals and fishes if abused.> then why does the EcoSystem work so well?   <by virtue of the many different ways that various aquarists succeed or fail to succeed in aquarium husbandry at large> Thru my research on the net, it seems his methods don't leach any toxins into his tanks.   <'Net research! Ughhh! Please, bud... completely anecdotal (including our forum right now) if not commercial (not us). If you want good research... get hard data... real science. I'll give you a page full of references to run down if you like (boring). And like Chris Farley said... "You can stick you head up a cow's..." er, well... "just take the advice of the butcher." Not just a bunch of aquarists with one and two year old tanks saying "everything looks great". Noxious exudations take many months to take a toll on coral and fish health. We are talking here about a long view of health for your reef aquarium> I suppose that's because in his method, Caulerpa is harvested regularly and never allowed to reproduce.  Do you feel that having the lights on 24/7 is possibly the BIGGEST reason why the Caulerpa in his setup's don't leech these "toxins" you all are saying it does? <I am certain that Caulerpa leeches them despite marketing claims> I'm also wondering if I should still continue to build my refugium using the EcoSystem Miracle Mud's schematics. <experiment and adopt the parts you like best. Strike out on your own... and Go West... Go West, young man.> My biggest goal here is to get my nitrates down to near zero WITHOUT the use of a protein skimmer or other artificial means. <Good heavens! You made me take the long way around the barn for that! <G> Dude... a five gallon bucket filled with 60# of oolitic sand and tapped with a bulkhead at the top... water flowing inline on the way down to the sump. Please... NNR (natural nitrate reduction) for the cost of a bucket (50cents) and a bag of Southdown sand (less than $3). Much better nitrate reduction with almost no maintenance headaches> I just don't have a whole lot of room for such peripherals in my main sump. Please advise on what, if anything I should do to get my refugium up and running properly. I don't want to poison my corals, but at the same time, I want to reduce my nitrates as low as possible. <deep sand bed my friend> Other macro algae's were mentioned.  Which is closest to having a Caulerpa-like nitrate reducing effect without producing toxins?  Also, would I still need to leave the lights on 24/7 with any OTHER macro algae besides Caulerpa? <Caulerpa is one of the only algae that can permissibly be illuminated 24/7... others will die without respiration> Thanks again for all your help.  I am learning a lot here. Regards, Steve <excellent to hear, bud. Best regards, Anthony>

Caulerpa & Pictures & Phil, oh why? - 02/27/03 Greetings to the best crew on the Web: I have been reading a lot about the recent decline of Caulerpa's popularity. However, after reading the dailies (which I am addicted too, thank you), I followed this link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/greenalg.htm and right there, under "What's Available:", you have listed as "The Best: Caulerpas".  What gives?  Is it just that you guys are overwhelmed with website maintenance (completely understandable), or is it still the best? <Quite possibly a matter of difference of opinion. Anthony appears to be concerned re the family of green algaes "exudations" are potentially dangerous (they are, but so is white bread in excess), whereas I am of the opinion that with general care there is not much of a problem, and that the Caulerpaceans capacity for 24/7 photosynthetic activity makes them winners for many applications... Could also be that there is a "temporal issue" at play here, with different folks' varying statements changing over time>   Just want to know before I go out and get some ;).  Thanks, Rich Ps: if/when I send a picture for comment, what is the best resolution/file size to keep it at? <Jpeg or bitmaps of about 100 dpi are fine> Also, did crewmember Phil really write/admit he was 15, or was that a typo? <This is Phil Bozek's age, as stated. He is an exemplary (young) person who had written an article placed on WWM and is (surprising to some) well-learned, written and desirous of sharing his knowledge and experience. Bob Fenner>

Sea grape sel. Hello to All! <All of PF with you here tonight, Jason> I have a refugium that I've been wanting to put some macro-algae in.  One of my local fish stores have now started selling sea grape by the pound.  Would placing this in my gravity fed refugium be beneficial to my tank?  Its a 65gal.  75lbs of LR; toadstool, xenia and button polyps are my only inhabitants.. <Well, it sounds like they're selling Caulerpa racemosa. I'm not fond of Caulerpa as it made quite an effort to take over my tank, strangling off my xenia before I got it under control (thanks to a hungry tang). I prefer Chaetomorpha to Caulerpa - it doesn't crash, it doesn't try to take over the tank, and it doesn't produce allelopathic chemicals - all major pluses in my book. Check w/your LFS and see if they'll order it for you. OTOH, if you have a tang (or other herbivorous fish such as a rabbit fish) then you could try the Caulerpa and feed it to the fish. Personally though, I'm much happier with Chaetomorpha.> thanks, Jason...Surfs Up! <It usually is on the coast I live on, but not much fun to play in the Oregon surf, to cold for my blood. ; ) >

Got Caulerpa? You're a criminal. In San Diego, the civil servant eco-Nazis have had their way. Caulerpa (Killer Algae) possession or sale is now a misdemeanor. (in fact in the entire State of California, per AB 1334 this genus is exclusively banned). Yet another reason to seize your property, control you. Where is the logic in this new law? Might it get loose, grow to the exclusion of other near-shore species? Out compete native forms? What about the tens, make that hundreds of thousands of acres of non-indigenous trees of the genus Eucalyptus or Avocados in the State? The impact of the companion animals that are domesticated cats and dogs... many orders of magnitude more important than aquarium algae getting loose in the wilds here (even throwing in Hydrilla verticillata IMO). Where does this banning end? With the public rising up, compelling their public employees that they're not going to "pay" for it.  The reality is of course that letting anything into a foreign environment where it can/will proliferate is contraindicated, a bad idea, practice... as is covering many square miles of land surface area with asphalt, concrete for roads, buildings, digging up the land for refuse "disposal", having billions of people on this small planet...  Will you freeze and dispose of your Caulerpa and whatever else you're "told to" by your "New Romans", civil servants? Where will you stop abiding by hypocrisies? See you in jail. Bob Fenner

Re: Got Caulerpa? You're a criminal. ok, so excuse my ignorance... but is this algae something that is commonly used in aquariums?  <Yes... the family Caulerpaceae are probably in about half of marine aquariums in the U.S. and the world> something that's useful/helpful in aquariums? I think I've heard some of the news of why it's supposed to be bad... but what's the downside of not having it around?  <Apparently a threat to near shore environments... there was an "incident" this last year of half an acre of the Batiquitos lagoon being vapaamed to eradicate a population> (I'm not supporting the new law, far from it - just don't know what the stuff is) Thanks, Hindlick <Hoping to make more sense... than usual. Bob F/Dogfish>

Re: Got Caulerpa? You're a criminal. Thanks for the email Bob. Hey I have three tanks in my house and a goldfish pot outside, and it seems like I have huge amounts of algae. This brings up a few questions which you might be able to answer: 1. What does Caulerpa look like? <You're under arrest> 2. Is it possible that I am harboring it without knowing it? <Come out with your net up> 3. I regularly harvest excess algae from my tanks and throw it away. Is it possible that I am the source of the contamination? <We must euthanize you> 4. If so, should I turn myself in? And, do you know any lawyers that are algae experts? <They've been sent to the ovens> 5. If not, should algae go in the yard waste recycling? Those recycling guys seem pretty picky sometimes. <They were insubordinate and have been eliminated> Feeling Guilty, <We're coming for you. Stay in your home> Jeff Hulett <The new eco-Nazis>

Re: Got Caulerpa? You're a criminal. http://www.reefsource.com/Caulerpaban.htm <Thank you for this Mary... will add your post/input to our sites. Bob F>

Re: Got Caulerpa? You're a criminal. Glad it's of some use- it's kinda old news at this point, but it's always interesting to go back and see how the whole thing progressed. <Yes... or regressed as the case may be> Please don't forget to add the "Job Opportunity" that I sent to you to the quatic Business section. I saw it in the Daily FAQ section yesterday- thanks for that. Help me find a salesperson and I'll have more time to "fight the good fight" with you! <Have added, moved to that part of the Business Index of WWM> Now get off the computer and take your wife somewhere nice...it's Saturday night, man!! <Now Sunday... sigh. Be chatting Mary. Bob F> Mary

Re: Got Caulerpa? You're a criminal. Bob, Glad to see you like spending up to $4 million on the eradication effort (that was one number mentioned at the Caulerpa conference last week in San Diego). They are getting worried that it may not be quite contained (meaning it may have already spread beyond the two small areas and may want to close off some larger areas and nuke them) and are running out of money.  <The arrogance of folks at the public trough> Regarding the laws, San Diego bans all Caulerpa while the state law only bans 9 species (PIJAC was able to get that small concession).  <Yes. Mary has made this clearer to me...> Dr. Susan Williams, the top scientist they are talking to, would still like the whole genus and some others as well! Don't be surprised to see new legislation next year in spite of no scientific evidence that the other species are invasive or capable of surviving in cool Calif. waters. <I say ban civil servants... they're the biggest source of pollution> One interesting point was as they kill of seagrass beds to get at the Caulerpa, because seagrass beds are protected, they may be obligated to do replantings and/or mitigation for lost wetlands! By the way the company that is handling the eradication efforts was planting seagrass at the time the Caulerpa was found. I think they have run up in the $1 million range or more so far.  <I wonder who "planted" the Caulerpa... I'm still wondering who murdered those folks in New York...> (When they found it in New South Wales they spent about $55,000 Aus. before giving up). So this company may actually be paid to cover and chlorinate large areas of seagrasses and then may get paid to replant them! I sent a note to a local woman politician who was at the meeting and gave a short talk and will attach it for your info along with a summary to Dr. Jaubert who has done most of the work showing it is not a problem.. I plan to keep active in this debate and if you hear of local initiatives that need some technical rebuttals let me know. By they way Bob, have you been to Fiji lately? <Last month in Taveuni> One of these days I would like to get back down there (after Micronesia). Regards, Tom <Anytime my friend. Make it known when you have time. Australia next month. Bob Fenner>

Re: Got Caulerpa? You're a criminal. Does the new law address cruise ship bilge pumping? <No... the hypocrisy of folks who "barely know" and don't care. Bob F>

Re: Got Caulerpa? You're a criminal. Bob, Hasn't this genus gone feral already in Huntington Beach Lagoon, costing taxpayers lots of money?  <um, no... a small patch of no consequence here in San Diego the only incident as far as I'm aware> Why keep something that causes problems?  <Human nature... just that we enjoy diversity, beauty> there are plenty of other species to keep instead. Here in Australia there are many species that cause problems and almost everyone recognizes the need to stop propagation of those species that cause problems. What if you wanted to keep zebra mussels in your tank? Or African clawed frogs? <Amen... don't keep these, endorse their captive use... or releasing ANYTHING to the wild. Bob Fenner> Good luck with everything, Mike Sweet, Brisbane Australia <There next month en-route to points northward>

Greenery for marine system Hello there, I have a long-horned cowfish in a 75-gallon tank, and I'm looking for something to "spice-up" the tank. Since I cannot keep polyps or coral, I was considering planting some sea grass. What are your thoughts on this? Where can I find sea grass? What is the scientific name of the most commonly encountered type? Thanks! <I would get some Caulerpa. It is not a true plant, but a macroalgae. Sea grasses require deep sand beds over 6" and are considerably more delicate to ship and get to root. Take a look here for more info http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caulerpaalg.htm -Steven Pro> Sam

Macro Algae Questions <<JasonC here filling in for Bob while he's out on a diving junket>> Hi Bob, A report about the Caulerpa Algae. It has made my tank look great not because of the plants appearance but the clarity of the water. I used to have a brownish film on the surface of my water but the Caulerpa took care of that. <<good stuff>> It seems to grow rapidly so trimming frequently is a must. Is it a good idea to put Caulerpa in a hospital tank (without using any chemical treatments)? <<probably wouldn't hurt>> Thanks <<you are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Following up on the Caulerpa issue... Added some Caulerpa on Monday, doesn't seem to be doing very well. Does this excrete toxins as it dies? <<very much so... I can't stand using Caulerpa in garden reef aquaria... many complications (inhibiting growth of stonies, discolorants into water, antibiotic properties...just awful and unnatural for scleractinian reef displays>> The only reason I added the Caulerpa was at the suggestion of you guys! (I guess not you personally, Anthony, it must have been another of the crew!) Is there another kind of macroalgae that does better and is less problematic?  <I like calcareous alga better like Halimeda as well as seagrasses in larger displays but none should be relied upon for the amount of nitrate control that most aquarists need. For that we have better protein skimmers/skimming, water changes and careful feeding/stocking> I need something that consumes nitrates and don't have a sump so a refugium is not much of an option until I get another tank. Tracy Creek <keep in mind, Tracy, that there are merits and disadvantages to all things...especially in aquariology. We here at WWM are sharing advice (free) on very general or vague questions based on what serves the masses (the greater good). My advice specifically made a reference to Caulerpa with stonies (scleractinian coral) and even then is merely one man's opinion. We have no idea what you tank has or what you intend to do with it. As such, for many fish only aquariums and systems dominated by soft coral, Caulerpa may be an excellent choice even by my admission. Do try to understand that we are trying to help you as best we can based on inferences and the limited information we receive. There is no one single blueprint for a successful marine aquarium... just ingredients and varying degrees of success in the many wonderful combinations that aquarists mix them in. Kindly, Anthony>

Question about Caulerpa taxifolia To whom it may concern at WWM, <Hello> I have been doing much research on the noxious seaweed type called C. taxifolia. From what I read, this marine plant is deadly to all other marine life because of it's toxic properties.  <Umm, no... not a marine plant, not that toxic under most circumstances> I noticed in many WWM FAQ articles this Caulerpa, being the one of choice for many reasons, and is also what Bob Fenner recommends highly for nitrate removal & refugium sumps. I was planning on keeping some in just my sump for nitrate reduction but I am concerned about small parts making their way to my main tank from the pumps. I have read that small particles of the plant can fragment off, (smaller than what you can see) regrow into new plans quite quickly. I guess my only concern is the 'toxic' nature and it's affect on my many fish (tangs and angels). Does this Caulerpa excrete toxins in to the water column or is it only toxic in the way of the fish consuming it directly? <Not toxic to ingest... can toxify a system if allowed to become predominant, or switches into a reproductive phase... can be controlled by regular (weekly or so) trimmings/pinching> I'd hate to wake up and see my favorite Hippo Tang 'toxify' & dead from this little helper plant. Friend or Foe, is it ok for fish? <More a friend. Please read/study on. Bob Fenner>

Caulerpas Howdy bob! Wanted some info regarding harvesting Caulerpas from local water sources.  <don't do it... never try to acclimate temperate species to tropical aquaria please> I live in Virginia, right on the Atlantic. Whenever I go to the beach, I sea all this seaweed on the shore. After checking the water, it is rather abundant close to the shore line. The local laws don't prohibit it's collection as long as it's not for sale. Is this safe to place in my 75 gal. Marine setup?  <it would have to be chilled likely and endemic (only coastal species)> Most of it is attached to small rocks with brine shrimp (I think) swimming in it.  <hmmm... not brine. Mysid perhaps.. not a brackish brine shrimp though> Before I add anything like this, I wanted to check on the reality of it. Would I harm my tank?  <beyond incompatibility issues (temperature) there is a very serious concern of introducing parasites pests and disease. If you must, please quarantine any collected/new livestock for 4 weeks minimum> Current occupants are, 2 damsels, 2 Clarkii clowns, a sebae anemone, lawnmower blenny, starfish, hermit crabs and turbo snails. Thanks, Kathy <kindly, Anthony>

Hair Algae I have a 300 gal reef with 0 nitrates since adding an additional skimmer since ETS-800 is not big enough. My problem is I let some hair algae overtake the tank. I am using RO/DI water and I tested phosphate level and it wasn't bad, but I added Seachem remover. I purchased 200 hermit crabs and they haven't put a dent in it or can't keep up with it. I don't feed the fish at all. I only add Seachem iodine and strontium. Calcium is per Knop reactor. What advantage would Caulerpa in sump with reverse lighting help? <This could very well help your situation. Caulerpa would compete with the hair algae for available nutrients. At the very least, it would add a source of planktonic life/food to your reef tank.> I have 75 gal sump. Corals and fish look great otherwise. Should I try more crabs? <Not a fan of hermit crabs.> I am at my nerve endings! I pull out 2 cups of algae a week by hand. PLEASE HELP! <Try the refugium and review the extensive writings on WWM regarding algae control. -Steven Pro>

Caulerpa again Hey Gang, I hope you are all having a great summer in between all the help you provide. <thanks and the same to you in kind, my friend> I just finished hooking up my refugium and stocked it with mexicana, raceuros and serrulata algae based on what was available at the LFS and info I read here. <yes... Bob is a proponent of it in small quantities (he is specific about this in verse and presentation)> I set the refugium up to both feed my corals and a future Mandarin Goby (I have a 125gal with 120lbs of live sand and over 100lbs of live rock in the main and 20lbs sand and 5lbs live rock in the refugium). The refugium is lighted 24/7  <this RDP method is nice for pH stability> and is directly fed from the main tank and then to the sump,  <again excellent to get raw water to the refugium for nutrient scrubbing> so it does get lots of "stuff" from the main tank. Today I have read the daily faq's and in 2 of your answers you now say not to use the Caulerpa algae.  <not exactly, please recall that I recommend not using Caulerpa primarily if your goal is coral growth. There are many other less serious disadvantages to it and of course some benefits too. IMO, far fewer benefits though> I am confused more now than ever. What is my best coarse of action, remove the Caulerpas and use something else (what?) or continue with the Caulerpa.  <it depends on the demands you have for the refugium. If you like the look of plants, have a high bio-load of fishes (read: safe oversupply of nutrients without fear of Caulerpa going vegetative), will harvest the Caulerpa like clockwork and are willing to keep it at the slight expense of some coral growth/vigor... then keep it. If you are looking for maximum zooplankton culture or coral growth, then there are much better refugium styles (fishless rubble zones for 'pod culture, or seagrasses for epiphytic material)> Also if you could provide a short explanation of why the Caulerpa is so bad. <excerpted from a recent reply, "The short story is that there are far more disadvantages than advantages. Yes it grows fast and yes it is a large nutrient exporter for it. However, for those same reasons is a very strong competitor with corals for the same nutrients. Furthermore, they exude noxious compounds that slow the potential growth of many corals (read: slows, not stops). They are tedious to maintain without breaching critical mass for fear of a vegetative event which is inevitable and potentially catastrophic in many systems. The list goes on. There are much better macros out there. Caulerpa is popular because it was commercially marketed, not because it is the best choice. See how many corals you can find in Caulerpa zones on wild shores (zero or nearly so... there must be a reason, In small quantities Caulerpa causes little harm... but doesn't help much either."> Thanks to the entire WWM crew for all the selfless help you provide. <best regards, Anthony>

? on green and red algae Hello Mr. Fenner, Thanks for the reply and input. It looks like there is some red coral algae starting. I am taking note of what you said about getting a better protein skimmer. <Ah, good to hear, read on both counts> I have been reading and researching different ones. What is your opinion of a good system? I would like to get a system that hangs on the back and is quiet. <Quite a few choices here> After reading more on what you wrote on macro algae and Caulerpa, I am planning on adding some Caulerpa to my system. Is this still a good idea or will it over-run the tank? <No worries... Should you grow a bumper crop, it's easy to remove, cull... feed, make available to others> Thanks again for your thoughts and again your books have been a great source of information. Dave <A pleasure to be of help. Bob Fenner>

What Caulerpa? I just sent you a question regarding the addition of macro-algae into a sump/refugium... you replied: If so, where should this macro algae go? Into a sump/refugium? <And in your main system... yes, where your livestock will eat a good part of it> Some species of Caulerpa is stated to grow and take over the system. Which species to you recommend? <There are many... as you likely know (see Baensch Marine Atlas v.1 here), but Caulerpa taxifolia (the species "on the run" in the Mediterranean and California in places) and C. sertularoides are my faves... do what you want them to physiologically, look good, readily available... All this on the genus/family posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com> How much in the main tank of 55 gallons? I'm assuming you'd suggest that I get as much as I can squeeze into the refugium. <Hmm, sold by "the bunch" or "a clump" or "rock"... a couple of these units is about right. Bob Fenner>

Too much Caulerpa and R/O maintenance Dear Bob, It's Howard again celebrating a year of the joy of reef keeping. As usual I have couple of questions as I strive for perfect conditions and perfect water. Still haven't lost a fish. <Ah! Good for you.> How does one know when a R/O unit needs servicing (as everything else in a system does)? Mine has been in use a year and has probably processed 1000 gallons or so. There is plenty of flow, I'm just wondering if it is getting all the bad stuff out. I don't think my testing ability shows the small concentrations that might cause trouble. <Good question. Most folks I bet just taste a difference in the produced water... or figure it's time. But there are simple water quality tests, like conductivity (some water softening, reverse osmosis units come with a light bulb arrangement... with the light "coming on" as the amount of charged particles in the water passing between its electrodes increases)... You can test for total dissolved solids and more as well...> Is it possible to have too much Caulerpa in a refugium? <Yes... as in when it blocks the light too much for the material below it, or impedes water flow... or removes/bioaccumulates too much nutrient you want to go to livestock photosynthates...> I flow about 200 gallons per hour directly from the show tank to the refugium. The 20 gallon refugium is now totally packed with plant growth and producing lots of amphipods. I figure the more I have the more nutrients will be removed and the more oxygen will be produced. is that right? Or is there a down side to too much? <If you see too much dying below, remove some of the Caulerpa...> God bless America Howard <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Caulerpa Algae Hi Bob I had a question about Caulerpa Algae. I have an Eco System and I need to have the Caulerpa Algae to give me the optimum output. My problem is I cannot find anybody (LFS) that has it. Is there a website that I could order the Caulerpa and hopefully be able to use it without it dieing before getting to my house. Thanks, DG <Would check around, LFS, marine clubs for a local source. Otherwise, hit the livestock etailers. Many of them listed on the WWM links pages. Bob Fenner>

Caulerpa Bob, Are you aware of any company that I can buy Caulerpa species macroalgae on-line and who will ship to Canada? Thank-you. John <Perhaps one of the etailers listed on the WWM Links pages: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/links.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Tank Expansion OK, now I'm totally confused! You said not to add Caulerpa?  <as aquarists we all have different perspectives... have you followed the FAQ dailies for the last week (peak if not). It is not a matter of plants good or bad... it is a matter of your goals. Massive amounts of Caulerpa cause far more harm than good if your goal is to grow coral. However, if you overfeed or have large fishes... nutrient export is more valuable than coral growth. The story goes on as you can imagine... never think in absolutes, my friend> from what I have read in the refugium pages I thought Caulerpa refugiums were the answer to all our aquarium problems?  <heehee... that is an absolute, but not always accurate, statement ;)> I have Caulerpa prolifera in my reef system now, should I change to Syringodium Manatee Seagrass and/or turtle grass, or stay with what I have?  <likely stay with what you got if it is not excessive (2-5 gallon tank full versus 10+ gallons)> Other than the Caulerpa going sexual what are the other disadvantages of Caulerpa refugiums?  <antibiotic properties shed into the water that concentrate and impact coral and other invert health, noxious compounds secreted at/by the holdfasts to dissolve organic matter causing like duress, significant yellowing agents (far more than most other plants/alga) that reduce light transmission to coral, etc and require above average chemical filtration and protein skimming, and the list goes on> What are the advantages? (I have read the refugium FAQ, everything there is positive)  <one main advantage: fast growth that can be harnessed as a nutrient export mechanism. Again... if you have a very heavy bio-load in the tank then this is helpful> What are the advantages of the seagrass refugium?  <no vegetative state, no burning secretions from holdfasts, more epiphytic matter produced that serve as food for corals, significantly less yellowing and noxious agents in the water against coral> What are the disadvantages?  <very slow growth (can be an advantage too as they don't compete with your corals as severely for nutrients too), a poor nutrient export mechanism until the tank matures> My tank is only 2 month old so it would not be hard to switch to something else. But not to sure what to switch to now.  <depends on your needs as above> One last question, I have an AMiracle PS-4 protein skimmer attached to my 29 sump. Is this enough skimmer until I get my other tanks installed or should a new skimmer be one of my first purchases?  < a great skimmer or two on a system is critical. If your skimmer does not put out a cup of dark skimmate at least daily and you are growing Caulerpa then I am scared in the long run for you... heehee. Do upgrade soon.> It is a counter current skimmer with a 50-100 gph flow rate. <very modest IMO. Best regards, Anthony>

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