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FAQs about Caulerpa Algae Systems

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  Selection, 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

Can be kept with an assortment of non-fishes! Heteractis aurora  (Quoy & Gaimard 1833), the Beaded Sea Anemone.

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>

Caulerpa... keep it under control  6/23/07 Hello Crew, I have a small (55g) marine (FOWLR) tank with a fairly heavy bio load and ever since we set it up we've had a very heavy forest of Caulerpa growing in one end of the tank. The growth was so lush we often had to cultivate it to keep it from taking over the tank. <Good practice... keep it regularly pruned> 5 weeks ago I added a BioBak skimmer and a separate Maxi-flow power head, just to increase circulation. Coincident to this the Caulerpa started to die off by breaking into small, 1 inch pieces that drifted around the tank until we scooped them out. <Good, scoop it out, pinch it off till there are no whitish, breaking pieces.> The power head corrected a dead spot in circulation where the Caulerpa centered, so my question is which is more likely: The current disturbed the plant -- or the skimmer took the plant's nutrients from the water? Or .. a third option? Thank You, Allen <These and the fact that the Caulerpa may be poisoning itself with a sort of bio-feedback metabolite reaction. Bob Fenner>

Re: Caulerpa   6/24/07 Thank you for the response, but this may be one of those cases where we are looking at the same thing from different angles. I liked the Caulerpa and want it back. <Ahh, I see... and apologize for my usual brevity... it is my desire to be understood... I do understand this now... and my response is still the same... Akin to your suggestion that an influence here could be (and is likely) nutrient limitation, the cutting back of this population will go a long way to ensure its survival in this setting> I didn't intend for two things I did for the benefit of one part of the bio-cycle to turn around and damage another part of that cycle. If I caused this, then the correction is to reach a balance of sorts: I can reposition the power head, leaving a smaller dead sport or I can cut back on the skimming in order to leave more dissolved organics for the Caulerpa. BUT ... I don't know if either of those is most likely to be the problem and I'm not sure how I could combat the plant poisoning itself. Maybe what I should be asking is if there is an FAQ on cultivating Caulerpa rather than removing it? Thanks again, Allen <Well-stated... I would encourage you to move part of the Caulerpa to another/isolated system for possible recolonization should you lose the current/resident one... and STILL to reduce the overall biomass, by about a half here. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Macro Algae It is always the concept regarding Caulerpa and other sea weed feed off of the waste and nutrients in the water...but what do they excrete?  <Basically, oxygen during the day, CO2 at night.>  They basically filter feed right?  <They take in dissolved nutrients/organics. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: question about Caulerpa and other seaweeds If they take in dissolved nutrients and such, they still excrete more than pure CO2 or O2....what I mean to say is you would still need water changes.....no matter how much macroalgae you have, aggressive skimming and water changes are still necessary. <A tank always does better with frequent water changes.  You are replacing many lost trace elements along with reducing nitrate/phosphate levels.  Some companies such as Boyd's advocate no water changes necessary using a product they manufacture called Chemi-Pure.  It is a great product, but it will never replace water changes.>  A lot of people tell me they only put in top off water and never do changes because of skimming and having a refugium, and I was just wondering about this...<Keith, it is very difficult to duplicate nature in small closed systems.  Most seaside aquariums have their water pumped in offshore to replenish/change their seawater in their display tanks.  If they thought they could get away without out it, they would.  James (Salty Dog)>

Caulerpa racemosa raising ammonia? Indirectly 7/18/05 Hey guys, <And gals> I bought a handful of racemosa Caulerpa last week and placed it in my sump.  When I got home that night, all my racemosa skipped over my baffles and got sucked into my pump. <Oh oh> I saw racemosa floating everywhere.  I know that this type of Caulerpa releases back several compounds.  I immediately checked my water parameters and  ammonia levels spiked up to 1ppm from 0!  I did a large water change ( about 40%), checked my ammonia afterwards and it fell to 0ppm.  I also tried to remove as much of the Caulerpa as possible.  My  fish and corals are ok.  This week, the levels jumped up again but to .5 ppm.  I've never had an ammonia problem.  I did another water change and now the level is down to .25.  I also cleaned my prefilters thinking that there maybe some decaying Caulerpa hanging around.  What else to do you guys suggest I do?  For how long?  I hope that this ammonia problem levels out soon. Nilesh <Keep monitoring your water quality, watching your livestock for signs of overt stress... I would place activated carbon, a pad of Polyfilter in your filter flow path... Likely the Caulerpa stressed the livestock, which produced extra ammonia... Bob Fenner> 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 racemosa growing conditions, tolerances  12/13/05 By the way I wrote a letter already in your site. But I want it to be sure hehehe... well I just want to ask you about the survival of Caulerpa racemosa with different salinity levels. what would happen to the Caulerpa if it is exposed to high salinity or low salinity levels? <This species is pretty euryhaline... widely tolerant of changes in specific gravity> what will happen to the cells? <Adapt quickly... btw is single celled...> by the way am KEN from Philippines... am looking forward that you'll answer my question. again thanks in advance... <Bob Fenner, just back from Indo.!> Growing The Green Monster (Caulerpa) Hi, I asked about have Caulerpa in my 80 gallon ,but I wondered if it were possible to put Caulerpa in my empty 135 gallon fish tank. Right now there is nothing in it and the lighting system is actually 2 Shoplites with regular daylight 40 watt tubes at around 6500Kelvin and around 2300 lumens. <Well, we used to grow Caulerpa in the late 80's with standard fluorescents, so I would think that it's possible. More light would be better, but I suppose it's worth a shot in your current setup. I've become rather anti-Caulerpa in recent years, but in the setup that you are proposing, it's workable, IMO.> I also have the tank near a window that gives it some morning sunshine. Will this set up be enough for the Caulerpa to grow very rapidly and healthy for the use of feeding future inhabitants and for decoration to a fish only tank with bare dead coral skeletons. <Well, the "rapidly" part is the question...Give it a shot and see what happens! Regards, Scott F>

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

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

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

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

Caulerpa "the dark side" Dear WWM group, <cheers mate> I have a 30 gal. refugium with 4 inches of sand and it is almost full of Caulerpa prolifera. I put little bunches in the show tank and the tang devours it. I remove a big bag about every two weeks and give it away or throw it away. Since I put this box in series with my sump I have had no detectable phosphates and rarely any nitrates. It produces some copepods and bristle worms. <an excellent system IMO. Faithful/Regular harvest, nutrient cycling with an herbivore, small mass (little harm or good), etc> I am building a 35 gal. box to put in series with this one in an effort to produce more copepods and other natural food. Plans are to have Caulerpa in this box too. <Ok... here's where we disagree <G>. Small amounts of Caulerpa are very fine.. especially with dedicated harvest and small quantities... but large masses are asking for trouble> In a recent response (I read them all - WWM has been my bible since I got started), Anthony hinted at "the darker side of Caulerpa"? Please let me know a bit about this "darker side".  <actually... I've been chatting with our industry friend Eric Borneman about scientific references and citations to finish this article I'm writing about the common misapplication of Caulerpa for most (not all!) systems. I should have it done shortly... could I trouble you to follow up with a reminder if you don't see it posted in a week?> Should I try to find Halimeda or Ulva for the second refugium? <in the meantime...yes! Anything but Caulerpa if you want a large mass of plant matter> Howard <with kind regards, Anthony>

Clowning Around With Macroalgae Greetings, <Hi there! Scott F. with you> A few months ago, I moved from a 15 gallon to a 33 gallon tank (with the 15 gallon as a sump).  My clarkii clown, which is about a year old, recently started swimming at the surface, and can not seem to dive any lower in the tank.  Physically he is showing no other signs of disease.  This does seem to be preventing him from eating though.  There is obviously something wrong with him, but I don't know how to treat it. Could it be a problem with the swim bladder? <This is a distinct possibility. At this point, I'd keep a close eye on him. Look for the appearance of other symptoms-labored breathing, obvious skin blemishes, excess mucus, etc. If any of these are evident, remove him immediately for possible treatment for a number of possible parasitic infections. Another "way out there" possibility, but one that has actually been documented by clownfish breeders, is "floating bloat". Apparently, this disorder is brought on by the clowns eating buoyant floating foods, like pellets. A long shot, for sure- but don't rule anything out. Check his diet out and see if you're feeding lots of dried foods...> I have live sand and rock in the tank, and a pretty low bioload.  The nitrates are about 20 - 30 ppm (higher than I want, but shouldn't be hurting the clown).  Any suggestions?  I really don't want to lose this guy? <Well- I don't think that nitrate is causing this possibly malady. However, you may want to consider a deeper (3-4 inches plus) fine sand bed, chemical filtration media (carbon, Poly Filters), aggressive protein skimming, frequent (twice weekly) small (like 5% of tank volume) water changes, use of high quality source water (RO/DI), and just general good husbandry procedures.> Another question.  I have a bunch of Caulerpa growing in the sump, but I am not sure I am doing it correctly. <BTW- another good idea for nutrient export> I have two 15w strip lights over it.  Is that enough? <That should be fine> The Caulerpa is just floating in the water, but is starting to sprout roots.  Should it be anchored in the substrate? <Caulerpa will put down "holdfasts" into substrate, rocks, etc. It can float, too-but will usually seek a surface to adhere against> How do I know when to trim it?  How dense should it be? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Paul <Well, Paul- Caulerpa can be amazingly prolific once it gets going. You'll see it begin to "mass" into large aggregations- that's a sign that it's time to start harvesting. The best thing to do is to carefully pull fronds away from the main "mass" of Caulerpa on a regular basis (like weekly), taking care not to rip them, as they may leach undesirable substances into the water. For a lot of reasons, I'm not a big fan of Caulerpa. I think that you could do much better with other "purposeful" macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha ("spaghetti" macroalgae) or Gracilaria ("Ogo")- my two favorite macros, and even Halimeda. They have many of the benefits of Caulerpa (rapid growth, high nutrient uptake) without the potential downfalls (leaching of undesirable substances, difficulty in eradication, etc). Give one of these other macroalgae a try...The Anthony Calfo slogan "Friends don't let friends buy Caulerpa" is my mantra, man! Good luck! Regards, Scott F> Clowning Around With Macroalgae (Pt2) Scott, <At your service> Thanks for the reply.  I have since added PolyFilters and carbon, and changed about 12 gallons of water, but the clown has gotten worse. <Sorry to hear that> He is now no longer on the surface, but still having trouble swimming.  He seems to go aimlessly around in circles and bump into everything in the tank.  Yesterday, he also became "curled" to one side.  His eyes are sort of bulgy, but I cant recall if that is the way they always were. Since he is bumping into things and not able to get food, I have been wondering if he is having trouble seeing. No noticeable skin conditions.  I do have about 3-4" sand and a skimmer (a Berlin air-lift) in the sump.  Is that enough? <That sounds okay> Is there any medication that I could try?  I could put the clown in a small quarantine tank while doing so.  If not, I don't think that he is going to make it much longer... <Okay, Paul- it's time for some action! Because you indicated that the fish's eyes are bulging, I'm going to make the assumption that we're dealing with a bacterial infection of some sort. I'd place the fish into a separate aquarium for treatment with a broad-spectrum antibiotic, such as Maracyn. Follow the manufacturer's instructions exactly. I think that with quick action, you can save the life of this little guy. Hope this helps!> Thanks for the info on the Caulerpa.  It has been the only macroalgae that I have been able to find in any of the stores around here.  I'll start hunting for something else. Thanks, Paul <Yeah- Caulerpa is probably the most readily available macroalgae, but it's "dark side" makes it a lousy bargain, IMO! Do look into those other macros-you'll really like them! Good luck...Contact us again if the need arises! Regards, Scott F>

Harvesting Caulerpa Dear Crew: At Anthony's suggestion I set up an upstream refugium for my 80G FOWLR a few weeks ago. (see attached photos) Very nice job> I set it up so that the water is pumped up into a 10G tank with sand & some LR. This tank contains the heaters and a small venturi skimmer serving as an ozone reactor for an Aquazone 100 The water then drains down a 1" PVC standpipe into an 18T. <excellent... multi-tiered <G>> The 18T contains a DSB and a chunk of Kupang Island LR with lots of great life on it, including a lot of thriving Caulerpa. It has grown at least 50% over the past 3 weeks. I have also added some other algae. Lots of little critters are growing, including tiny brittle stars, mysids, & 'pods. Lighting consists of 2 13W compact fluorescents. This tank gravity drains by a drilled overflow into the main tank. Unfortunately, I obtained the LR with Caulerpa before reading your newer FAQs about all of its disadvantages. (Older posts are more favorable). <correct... revelations in the industry now that more aquarists are abusing it and growing it in larger quantities> At this point, I'm pretty well stuck with it. <only if you want to be> My question therefore, is how do I best harvest the Caulerpa for nutrient removal? <be very systematic (weekly, twice monthly, etc like clockwork) and never break or cut fronds but full up entire strands instead (thin the colony... don't "cut" it back). Else you risk vegetative events and sapping of noxious elements> I've heard that it should not be cut. What is the best method and frequency? <as per above... and never let as much as 3 months go by without harvest (risk of sexual reproduction and tank wipe-out> Thanks again for your great advice! I am certain that I am better off at this point than I would have been without it. Steve Allen. <good to hear my friend. Anthony>

Converting Caulerpa refugium to misc. algae Mr. or Mrs. Crew, <I'm "baby bubba crew" <G>. Anthony Calfo in your service> Anthony was kind enough to come to the Boston Reefers meeting and shock a number of people including myself about the toxicity of Caulerpa. <my great pleasure :) > I "had" a 20 g. refugium full of C. prolifera plumbed into my 65g SPS only tank and have since removed it all and have added some Ulva, Chaetomorpha, and left in the small amount of C. brachypus that was left. <the Ulva is fine although not a reliable means of nutrient export. Little harm either. Do enjoy. The Chaetomorpha is excellent though. Do focus on it. It is superior habitat for microcrustaceans (producing plankton) and far less noxious than Caulerpa. It is multicellular and does not suffer from pruning like Caulerpa. And it is more stable and less work too. Good choice> I suspect the tank may go through a diatom bloom or two with all the chaos going on. <no worries... just be on top of that skimmer. Make it work daily for at least the next couple of weeks to prevent any possible bloom> After the Caulerpa was removed I noticed a 1/2" layer of detritus covering the refugium, should it be removed or just left in there? <I would definitely remove it. Sounds like your flow is a bit too slow in the refugium too. Please increase water flow here> Besides the algae I have already added is there any else I should add? Is there any other advice you can give that will help in the conversion to "safer" algae. Thanks in advance. <no worries my friend. Just good flow, bright light, systematic harvest and you will have a less noxious and more productive vegetable filter/refugium for it!> Tom G.  Malden, Ma. <best regards, Anthony>

Growing Your Own Salad For Tangs! Hello, good day to you! I just love this website.. Months ago when I bought my LR, I had some Caulerpa algae growing on it but my yellow tang has made short work of it. I just bought a handful of Caulerpa from my LFS. I just anchored it to a rock with an elastic band. After doing some reading on your site I realized I'm missing something. Should I be planting it in the sand (5'' DSB) or what is the procedure to have it grow continuously? <Well- just about anything you do will encourage this stuff to grow! I'm not a huge fan of it, myself...However, if you want to use it- I'd let it attach to a substrate, such as live rock. It will rapidly put down holdfasts, and then it'll take off from there. Are you sure you don't want to try a different macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha or Halimeda? These two are much less "aggressive", and have less potential to overtake other life forms in the tank. BTW- you may want to consider "planting" all macroalgae in a lighted sump, expressly for the purpose of controlled growth and nutrient export..> BTW any best algae for a yellow tang? <Gracilaria parvispora ("Ogo")! Hands down, the best macro for tangs, IMO! You can get it on line from Indo Pacific Sea Farms in Kona. Just get it! Your tang will go NUTS over this stuff!> Thank you very much :) Toast.. <Pass the guava jelly, please! Regards, Scott F>

Re: red Caulerpa algae Thanks for the great web site, I have told everyone about you guys!  I have a 75 gallon reef/fish set up.  I skim 24/7 and the nitrates/nitrites are very low as well as is the ammonia.  I feed twice daily for the Chromis. I have something of an epidemic with what my local pet store calls red Caulerpa algae.  It looks nothing like the saw toothed Caulerpa that I have in my refugium.  Rather it forms small oval bulbs that branch and become a large ball of these bulbs.  Are there a lot of Caulerpa species? <Yes, dozens. The best coverage of the genus I've ever seen is in Baensch' Marine Atlas v.1> I have purchased a Foxface to combat it...? Should I attack it with an additional Zebrasoma? <Not necessarily... w/o knowing the size of the system this may be a poor choice... I would remove the excess on a regular (weekly) basis, perhaps with a tong-like tool...> Am I looking at dismantling the live rock and manually cleaning each stone? <I wouldn't> To everyone who might think this stuff looks beautiful, eliminate it as soon as you see indication of its presence!!! unless these guys say otherwise! Thanks for the help. <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Foam on The Macro... A fire in the sky... I have yet another question for the experts! I have a refugium with various macro algae's mostly grape and feather Caulerpa , I harvest weekly and the lights are on 24/7. <Good nutrient export if you harvest weekly!> I have noticed that on the water surface in the refugium a white foam that collects around the algae, the surface is agitated by the water flow from the main tank.  Any idea on what this is and what needs to be done if anything. As always your opinions are appreciated. Mike Winston <Hey, Mike- I know exactly what you're talking about here...I've seen it too. Sounds like some organic foam, possibly analogous to "skimmate" from protein skimmer effluent (but not as concentrated). I'd remove it by using a net, or a piece of paper towel placed on the surface of the water in the refugium, then quickly removed. Hope this helps! regards, Scott F.>

Caulerpa lighting 6/22/03 I have also read many things about lighting. Some say lights on at night and some say lights on 24/7. Can I use this stuff with lights on 12 hours a day or should I leave them on 24/7. <I would recommend lights on 12 hours per day on an opposite photoperiod to the main display with hopes for assisting pH stability for it. Else... the 24 hr constant light cycle is an attempt to keep the algae in stasis with the hope of preventing a potentially dangerous or devastating act of sexual reproduction/vegetative fission from this noxious species. There are pros and cons to both. I would still suggest you consider alternate species of macroalgae for stability and safety issues. Best regards, Anthony>

Caulerpa Bob, <Anthony Calfo, in your service> I May have made a mistake. I ordered 2lbs of Caulerpa from a place in Miami. (W-W-Media suggested this would be helpful to promote a healthy system.) Problem was, shipping got delayed 2 weeks and was finally overnighted the day before I was supposed to leave for Holland for 10 days on business.  <ouch> I got the package 2 hrs before leaving for the airport. Without any time or experience... I rinsed the 2lb clump, dropped it in and made a crude anchor, then left the country. (150 gal. tank) <aieee!> I returned to find that it had gotten soft and lost most of it's color. It is also mostly disintegrating to the touch. I am now in the process of trying to fish out the remains of what I believe to be the dead plant. (???) Will the remains rot and become excess waste?  <almost certainly...please remove, skim aggressively and do a water change or two> Or should I try to leave some in case there is any life left? <if it is firm and green, else no> Also, if I try this again, should I pull out the clump into strands or drop it in as a brick again? <spreading out would be nice and acclimate it to salinity like a fish, it can suffer osmotic shock easily!> All of the material on WWM was fairly advanced, and I could find no starter info for dummies, so any start-off advice you have would be helpful, as I intend to make another go of it. Thanks for your time. -Pat <no worries... many Caulerpa species naturally ship rough, but grow like weeds once established. Anthony Calfo>

Re: Caulerpa Thanks Anthony, Another peculiar thing I notice <excellent...peculiar is my specialty... have you seen the way I comb my hair?> as I return from my trip, a LARGE coral banded shrimp who was extremely healthy and who has been thriving for a long time in my system seems to have vanished. Gone. No trace whatsoever. Not a claw, Not a feeler, gone.  <possibly died and then was scavenged> I must point out that there are not many animals in this 150gal system. A small puffer, a huge pile of snails and tiny blue leg hermit crabs, a small and a medium starfish. Is it possible that in the 10 days I was away, that he died and was entirely consumed exoskeleton and all by any or all of these creatures? <could easily be done overnight by most... hours by the puffer with teeth designed to do so> Even when they molt, none of them have ever had any interest in the shell.  <no meat inside...hehe> Any thoughts? <yep...Caulerpa is highly noxious (chemically)...that's why I never recommend it for casual inclusion in tanks...only for deliberate purposes and closely supervised. It naturally has compounds that inhibit organic/coral growth, antibiotic properties, discolorants, etc...and naturally takes up a lot of other waster materially as it grows. The problem, then is that when it dies suddenly (and it does this easily and often form vegetative stress or reproduction) it SUDDENLY releases a massive amount of noxious "fertilizer" that it drew for growth. Be grateful that is all that you lost> Also, thanks for the Caulerpa advice. I will skim and change water as you suggested, then try it again. For next time, instead of sink rinsing, should I prepare a tub of tank water and soak it? <any way convenient...just be careful about salinity adjustment (acclimate slow)> also, the clump they send (2lbs) is a fairly large mass. Should I try less quantity?  <yes... you should need very little to get started> And, when spreading out the strands as you suggested, should I be mindful not to break any? <good point...be very mindful of that!> Or can they be cut if particularly long?  <nope...they sap to easily> Or did you mean simply loosen up the bundle a little? <yes> Last, should I go with massive light as in a reef (which my tank is not) or with regular fish only lighting?  <not so heavy, but close for good plant growth> I haven't really picked a direction (reef or fish) with this tank yet. Thanks for your time, it is greatly appreciated.-Pat <the pleasure is mine. Anthony>

Caulerpa/toxic waste spill episode Anthony, <good afternoon, dear> After the Caulerpa/toxic waste spill episode, I did a 25gal water change using the gravel vac to pull out all of the remaining bits of dead plant matter where it had settled. (water was clear when I did this) <excellent> Then, I added about 25lbs of live rock. Now, 2 days later, my water is very cloudy. <was the rock fully cured...and can you confirm that with a zero ammonia/nitrite test...or did you just get snookered again (no mail order rock, right? Its OK if you'll cure it separately, but never to be put/trusted right in display> I have battled cloudy water before, but this is a weird cloud. It has almost a yellowish hue to it, and even more strange, when the morning sun comes in, you can actually see the make-up of the cloudiness and it slowly drifts around resembling cigarette smoke. You can only see this under the right sunlight condition, otherwise it just looks murky. It is difficult to make out objects on the far side if you are looking down the 6ft length on the tank. I have been aggressively changing filter medium as it becomes clogged with this seemingly never ending supply of dead plant material, but there seems to be no more now.  <may indeed be poor quality/uncured rock...any odor? Skimmer working like mad, I suppose> Do I.... 1) Simply wait for it to clear?  <water tests please> 2) Do another water change? <yes...perhaps several> 3) Shoot myself?  <nope.. but patience and the investment into a quarantine tank for all fish/plants/rock to got through for 2-4 weeks first would save you grief> This is disturbing. On a lighter note congratulations on your spritehood! Thanks again, -Pat <thank you, the Queen Mum was shorter in person than I thought she would be when I was knighted...er, spirited. Anthony>

Re: Caulerpa, Cloudy Bloom Anthony, The rock was cured. Bought it from a very reputable dealer in CT right out of one of their MANY display tanks. (Reef & Fin Stamford, CT)  <very good> My water tests perfect. Bacterial bloom???  <possible, but uncommon. Do you have, or can you borrow (/buy) a UV sterilizer... it would clear up the tank perfectly within 24-72 hours if what you suspect is true> This is very frustrating. How big a water change should I do? Or should I wait? It seems like there would be a fine line between doing maintenance for the good of your tank vs. over doing it so as to stress your environment and your animals. Also, don't get mad, but I don't have a protein skimmer yet. AAAAHHHHHHH! <double "AAAAHHHHHHH!"...hehe. Actually, just the addition of a skimmer alone could help you without the UV sterilizer. Truly a wiser investment than excessive water changes (and less expensive even in the short run for what you'll save on sea salt! Anthony> -Pat

Re: Caulerpa Anthony, <here and full of cheer... I just turned into a sprite (the impish little imaginary creature, not the soda pop> You mentioned you would not do Caulerpa unless for a specific purpose. It was recommended to me to create a more stable natural environment, and keep down the growth of less desirable algae. Did I misinterpret that?  <nope, correct...it may. But not without disadvantages too> If this is not the case, I will not go that route again. What indeed are the specific purposes you speak of, and is it your recommendation to have macro-algae or to not go there yet? <like farming seagrass for diatoms to encourage plankton, or mangroves for aesthetic effect, or Caulerpa to feed large tangs> Also, I took some advice from a reputable dealer yesterday and added 25lbs of live rock. (mostly Fiji) He said this would stabilize my system. (sound familiar?) <excellent... cured live rock is a good investment in one's tank's health> He also suggested distilled water or a RO. machine to clear my problem algae. <will only help if the nutrient source of the algae is indeed the tap water (have you found phosphates /nitrates/silica in your tap?> He told me my Brita on my tap was crap. <agreed for aquarium use> Is this good advice or was he trying to sell an RO.? <conditional as above> I seem to be moving in the direction of a reef, as my wife seems to dig the critters more than the fish. <a common move...very fascinating to watch new reef creatures and behaviors everyday> For this, I've decided to expand my sump.  <very wise> From what I've read about pros and cons of Berlin, I think I'm going to keep the trickle anyway and add a large sump area with live rock and protein skimmers.  <heavy skimming very good> Would you agree or would you lose the trickle media for nitrate purposes? <very much so> Also, in my system, in the overflow chamber, and again post trickle I have a TON of mechanical media such as bags and bags of black diamond charcoal and "poly Filter" pads. Should this stay in a reef or should this too pass? <may be very good if you service it regularly> My apologies for taking soooo much of your time. It is very appreciated and I thank you. -Pat <quite welcome, my friend. Anthony>

Caulerpa Hello Mr. Fenner, <You got Steven today.> Hope your weather out there is as nice as we've been experiencing in NY. <We have snow today which should be heading to you soon.> I yesterday finally received my shipment of Caulerpa. I wonder if you'd be able to help me identify it, and answer a question or two about care. The Caulerpa is a sort I've not seen in pictures. It's lovely, growing off runners (which I think is typical for Caulerpa). The 'leaves' are long, maybe three inches, and solid. They're oval-shaped, but not wide. I think probably about three inches long by 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch wide. Any guess? If that description was too poor, I can send photo. <Sounds like C. prolifera. Take a look here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caulerpaalg.htm> I've put the Caulerpa into my refugium. I have some LR rubble in there, a bed of about three inches of aragonite, and a LOA PC unit on 24/7. There are also a few hermits and snails in there. The Caulerpa had some obvious 'roots' but I didn't know if I should risk trying to push them into the sand bed, so I just put the algae in and figured it would do what it had to on its own. Is this okay? <Do try to delicately attach to some sort of substrate instead of allowing it to blow around. Loosely tying to a piece of LR or pinning a holdfast into place with the LR is ok.> Some of the 'leaves', maybe four or five, are clear instead of green. Should those be pinched off? <This may cause it to "bleed". Just leave a lone and see what happens.> Are there any additives I should put in? <No, nothing special for just the Caulerpa. Will find all the nutrients it needs in your tank already.> I dose with B-Ionic every other day, but the alkalinity dose always causes a snowstorm. <Definitely, get a calcium and alkalinity test kits immediately and see what you levels are. The snowstorm is a bad sign and something that needs addressed with further information.> Is there anything else I should do? My nitrates are over 100... I've really got to get this Caulerpa 'going'! <Is your skimmer filling its collection cup several times weekly with skimmate the color of tea to coffee? If not, it should be. Also, think about using purified water to reduce your influx of nutrients.> Thanks for your insights, John <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Caulerpa Thank you for the info... brings up another question or two if you don't mind... :) <I don't mind at all.> I think the Caulerpa is prolifera, good deduction despite my inept description! I'll do as you recommend, and try to get it hooked onto my rocks and such. There isn't too much current down there, it isn't being blown around, just nicely waving with the flow. But, I'll get it hooked down. I've poked around the WWM site, looking for information on the alkalinity/calcium snowstorm I have happen when I dose with B-Ionic. I really couldn't find anything very specific that tells me what's going on. Would you be able to point me to something offhand? <Go through the links Marine Articles, Maintenance, and now look at the FAQ's for alkalinity and calcium. I know Anthony has written about his before.> Or maybe give a brief summation? <Simply, you should not dose anything unless you have test kits to determine how much of the said supplement you need. Also, the alkalinity part of the two-part mixes does form a little, brief cloud when dumped into the tank, but I would not describe that as a snowstorm. The term snowstorm is used when you have a mass precipitation of calcium carbonate from the water.> I'll get the test kits, but it's going to have to wait almost a month... money's far to tight right now. :( <Take a look at the Salifert line of test kits. I just got them and they seem easy to understand, accurate, and inexpensive.> My skimmer doesn't fill several times weekly, usually about once a week, sometimes a bit slower than that. It's very dark stuff in there. The skimmer is a Big Mombassa, skimming a 55 gallon tank. I have read that it's plenty big enough for the job... I have the cup pushed down as far as it will go, the air intake open full. The only thing that's turned down a bit is the pump itself. I'll try turning it up some. I'll let you know how that goes. <I have seen that skimmer at shows and such, but never used one myself. Try cleaning the pump really good. Maybe run it in warm water and vinegar to remove deposits from the impellor. Sometimes that helps significantly.> Thanks for the info. Be talking soon. ~John <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Caulerpa growth <Anthony Calfo in your service> Just a quick question regarding a lush growth of Caulerpa in my 30 gal. FOWLR tank. It is growing quite well ( 3-4 hand size clumps) and knowing the nasty habit of Caulerpa to go sexual, would you suggest complete removal or just a good pruning? <never prune...think of it as thinning out. You'll want to extract complete strands/runners but not "cut out" a section. Cutting causes sapping that can incite a colony to go vegetative (bad!). So just pull up some strands and do it on a consistent basis> If pruning, what is the general procedure? 1-False Percual,1-Banggai,1-Mithrax crab,40-50lbs LR,3/4" aragonite sand, asst. hermits and snails. Thank you very much for your help. Nathan <kindly, Anthony>

Caulerpa and Red algae How exactly do you trim Caulerpa? <best not to cut it (saps colony, leaches undesirable elements, can cause die off of main colony, etc)... better to pull entire (unbroken if possible) out. Simply thin out the colony of convenient strands> How often do you trim it? <your decision based on aesthetics or desire to use the macro as a vehicle for nutrient export> I have red Cyano Bac. Algae on my live rock, I started to use a tooth brush to scrape it off. It came off like dead skin. I am I able to keep scrape once a week during water changing to get rid of this? <scraping tends to spread it my friend. It exists because of poor water movement in the tank or that area and more so from accumulated nutrients. A skimmer that produces dark skimmate daily can usually starve this "algae" out within weeks. In the meantime, siphon it out directly... do not stir or scrape unless you want more <wink>. Best regards, Anthony> Thanks for your response.

Caulerpa harvesting Hello gentlemen, <Cheers, friend. Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a 15 gal refugium with some live rock and macroalgae. It is lit with a 55 watt PC on 24/7. I have Sawblade Caulerpa, Green Grape Caulerpa and another kind that I think may be Halimeda (water cress?). It is growing straight up from the live rock with one green roundish (flat) blade growing on top of the other, and now growing horizontal. My question is that in order to prevent it going asexual and polluting my tank, what is the proper way to harvest or trim it? And at what point should I do this? Thanks again so much. John <never cut Caulerpa and resist excessively breaking fronds as well. This leads to sapping and occasionally the dreaded vegetative events. Simply pull up unbroken continuous fronds (a little breaking is OK). Do this very systematically to keep the Caulerpa on a good cycle and to act as a vegetable filter for you to export nutrients from growth. Experiment with a small weekly or bi-monthly extraction when consistent growth seems to allow it. Kindly, Anthony>

Re: Caulerpa Do you mean that I can take some of their overgrowth and place it in my refugium? <Yes> It doesn't need to be attached to the rocks? <No, it will anchor in time.> How do I place it in there? <You can secure it to a rock using a loose rubber band or fishing line or merely pin it between two small pieces of rock.> How long does it take to start growing? <Depends on lighting, available nutrients, etc.> Sorry I'm new to macro alga. Thanks, Jeremy <Do not worry so much. Growing Caulerpa is extremely easy for most. -Steven Pro>

Good Caulerpa, Bad Caulerpa Hello Mr. Fenner,  <Anthony Calfo in your service> Haven't written to you in awhile, but have been reading and sponging up the info everyday. Today I'm writing to ask you a question about certain Caulerpa species. My tank is a reef with soft, and LPS corals. Filter system is a skimmer, an empty sump ( I am planning on turning it into a DSB, I already have the sandbags sitting in my garage), now housing my heaters, Mag for skimmer etc..., just being used for more total volume at the moment, and a refugium with Miracle Mud, LR, lit 24/7, and as of now the feather Caulerpa. I read your daily questions on Sat. Mar. 30, and someone was asking you about the Caulerpas. I've been searching for info about a better type than what I have, as I would like to change it out for something better, and found one that a lot of people like better. It is not a Caulerpa, but still is a macroalgae called Chaetomorpha Sp. (Commonly called spaghetti macroalgae), what is your opinion on this?  <I like many macros better than Caulerpa. Caulerpas are problematic in the long run...tending to give out more harmful things than they take up> Would it be better to use? <If your goal is nutrient export and you are disciplined to harvest regularly and systematically...yes, I agree> From what I've read, it's advantages are: it grows fast for quick nutrient export, easy to cultivate as it does not take a foothold on any substrate, will hardly ever die back, and mostly never goes sexual. One other question on a different subject. I wrote up above that I would like my empty sump to become a DSB, but it is already plumbed into my system with in, and out holes already drilled, and baffles at both ends siliconed in. I cannot take it offline to modify. I was thinking about just placing another ten gallon aquarium that I have sitting around inside, and have that be my instant DSB section. The measurements are all good to slip inside ( 1" space on both sides, and the water-line in my sump is higher than the top of the ten gallon, so there would be flow over the top no problem. I don't have to worry about water level dropping below the top from evaporation because I have an auto top-off/ Kalk mixer/ RO system hooked up to my sump that activates by a float switch.  <do be careful watching your system alkalinity and pH if raw RO water goes in. Target 11+ dKH and nighttime pH minimum of 8.3 (day 8.6)> I hope you understand what I'm trying to describe. Do you think this configuration would give me an efficiently working DSB, or is it a bad idea.  <sounds reasonable although it remains to be seen if it will be enough for denitrification> Keep in mind that I don't have an option of bypassing it for a couple of days while I work on reconfiguring the sump, and siliconing in new divisions. Thanks in advance, Greg N. <no worries... just soak the sand for several days in advance and have a diatom filter cartridge handy if possible to help water clarity after you add it. Best regards, Anthony>

Caulerpa I have a filter bag filled with Caulerpa taxifolia in my wet/dry directly under the bio balls & before another two filter bags of carbon, with a 4 inch fluorescent light shining towards my bio balls in an attempt to provide the Caulerpa with a light source. The Caulerpa seems to be doing fine after 2 weeks & is even sprouting through the filter bag. <An interesting method for growing Caulerpa to say the least.> Could the light be detrimental to the well being of the bacteria on the bio balls in the long run? <Will encourage algae to grow on bio-balls too and may compete with bacteria for space, but probably not a big deal.> After 2 weeks with the light on constantly my ammonia, nitrite, & nitrate levels test fine. <Glad to hear it. -Steven Pro>

Effect of Various Media on Macro-algae Hi friends! <Hello to you!> I have a CPR hang-on refugium with a Jalli CF lighting, (run 24hrs). In this refugium I have grape Caulerpa on a piece of live rock. I use Phos-Guard in the sump to decrease the bad algae and the occasional Black Diamond activated carbon. Is this also going to have a negative effect on the good algae, seeing they're both algaes? <A possible negative effect, but far outweighed by the positive effects. I like and recommend the use of activated carbon, small amounts changed regularly is better than larger amounts changed infrequently. Not a big fan of the targeted media such as PhosGuard as I much prefer to minimize phosphate other ways; use of purified water, careful feeding, aggressive nutrient export, water changes, etc.> Have a great week, Paul <And you do the same. -Steven Pro>

More Caulerpa Questions Hello again, so can the PhosGuard kill or reduce the growth of my grape Caulerpa? <Possibly reduce slightly, but again phosphate is not desired in reef tank. It interferes with calcification.> Should I stop using it? <Not for the reason you think. Better to use demineralized water so you are not always adding phosphates.> Also I was thinking about adding some Halimeda to the refugium, would the two be ok together, <Yes> and can I still run the lights 24-7 with the Halimeda added? <Hmm, not sure about that. Experiment and tell us how it goes.> I change my activated carbon once a month, this should be done more often? <Yes, ideally smaller amounts more often. If you change 10 oz. monthly, 2.5 oz. weekly is the same amount, but better for the tank.> Thank you, Paul <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Silly questions cant find on faq (Caulerpa, Dehumidifier H2O, Cleaning Tanks, Amphibious Snails...) hey there I have some basic silly questions, oh gods of the captive sea. <if we get to be deities... I wanna be Bacchus> 1. can I use water from my basement dehumidifier as replacement water or is my well water fine. <possibly neither... dehumidifier water has been used by aquarists before, but that doesn't make it right or safe. Just take the sheer number of hot dogs consumed by people as an alleged food, as case in point. The water produced is condensed on metal parts. No best or guarantees as to what that can or may impart into the water. Furthermore, the standing water collected in the reservoir as demineralized water is definitely going to absorb impurities from the air as it sits (all water especially soft will). Well water can be quite variable seasonally and is influenced by many factors... depth, local run off, etc. Even when good, it is generally not consistent enough to use unless you have it analyzed quarterly to monitor trends. My advice is to buy a deionizer with good prefilters and recondition the purified water made to suit the species you keep> 2. I bought a used 39 tall tank, it has wormy, hard crusted white stuck-on old tiny worm tubes. what's that about???? are they bad? I have his live sand and live rock in quarantine. tiny calcified tubes and all. <they are either Serpulid worms (kinda like miniature feather dusters) or they are sessile snail... both harmless, even desirable filter feeders. Enjoy> 3. my mom brought me some small snails from the Fla. gulf. they are always out of the tank, on the canopy, up the wires, several feet from the tank. waiting for high tide? what are they and should I get rid of them, the kids have a blast finding them every day. beneficial or not.?? also in another quarantine tank...have 3 now after my loss of 22 clowns to ich.  <I have absolutely no idea... many species this could be. And it really underscores the importance of not taking animals from the wild or buying from a store without knowing if you can meet their needs in captivity. I certainly understand that mum brought the snails back with the best intentions, but they are still living creatures that may end up dying or being killed prematurely> 4. ma also brought to NJ for me fresh live sand and fresh live gravel from the gulf...one day fresh...any good for my tanks. in quarantine tank 3 now. <likely fine and helpful> 5. my Caulerpa is making tank water yellow, how do I fix and prevent. grape mostly. <heehee... just one of the many reasons why I dislike Caulerpa in mixed garden reef displays. But.. to answer your question, small frequent changes of carbon (critical for quality light getting to live rock, anemones, coral, etc). For example, 2 oz of carbon replaced weekly is much better than 8 oz replaced monthly?> 6. how do I crop it back. pinch the WHAT?? in your faq, I don't get it. <best to pull up whole and continuous fronds (strands) rather than pinch, cut or crop along a perimeter. Pinching or cutting fronds causes a sort of sapping that can stress/kill an entire colony and forcibly send the mass into a "meltdown" releasing all of the garbage it took up in growth plus its own natural noxious compounds. Sometimes such events can even wipe a tank out. I am personally adamant that Caulerpa needs VERY close attention in mixed reef displays (I like it much better in a dedicated marine "plant" tank).> thank you again most timely gods Renee RN <quite welcome... my work is done: now time to go find some ambrosia and nectar (AKA beer and pretzels). Anthony>

Growing Caulerpa for Science Dear Mr. Fenner, <Salad> I am a Ph.D. student in institute of marine sciences and technology. I would like to investigate some biochemical parameters of Caulerpa sp. So far, I have no experience on growing Caulerpa sp. So, could you please give me important information about How should I have to grow Caulerpa sp.?  <Yes> What about the tank? I would like to study with small scale... It will be enough to analyze just 5-10 gr wet weight.. <A glass jar of good size will be able to grow this amount of material. I would use two or three separate jars though, with natural or synthetic seawater, and the starter material (Caulerpa) of whatever species you're culturing. No supplements necessary, just set the containers in an area of some indirect sunlight or full-spectrum fluorescent lighting. Bob Fenner>  I am looking forward to hearing from you with kind regards Levent

Thanks message Dear Mr. Fenner I have just received your letter on Caulerpa prolifera, I thank you very much for your kind help... with best regards Levent <You're welcome. Bob Fenner> Levent CAVAS, Research Scientist Dokuz Eylul University 

Caulerpa Hello Bob, <Steven Pro answering queries right now.> I have been reading the FAQ's on Caulerpa and I am a little confused still. I would like to add Caulerpa to my 55 gallon tank that has approximately 30# Fiji Live Rock, 1 Coral Beauty, 1 False Percula, 1 Green Chromis & a Finger Leather Coral. Anyhow, would Caulerpa be ok to put in my tank that has a 2 x 55w power compact? <Yes> I know there is good sides and bad sides to everything, but is there more good than bad for this stuff? <IMO, yes. Better to have located in a sump, but still of use as nutrient export in the main display as long as you are careful about placement, pruning, activated carbon use, protein skimming, water changes, etc.> Is it better to have it? Or not to have it? <Caulerpa, like almost everything in our aquariums, has some chemical warfare abilities that need to be accounted for. Proper aquarium husbandry should neutralize this.> That is the question! Your opinion would be sincerely appreciated. Thank You, Jim <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Cloudy water - Caulerpa? Hello, <<And hello to you.>> I recently set up my first saltwater aquarium: 75 gal, PC 110W w/SmartLamps, Eheim filter, powerhead, ~1.5" of aragonite substrate, ~75 lbs of lace rock (Feller Stone). I used 4 damsels to cycle, and the cycle recently completed (0 NH4, NO2 and NO3, pH 8.3, salinity 1.022). After the cycle completed, I added a small (fist-sized) piece of Caulerpa serrulata attached to a rock. Within 12 hours the Caulerpa had brown edges. 12 hours later it was more brown and the water was cloudy, almost "smokey" looking, so I removed the Caulerpa. Things looked no better after another 24 hours, so I did a 20% water change and added SeaChem's SeaGel to the filter. Now another 36 hours later and there is no/little change in the water clarity. (although the one remaining damsel seems healthy). My local source of information (where they sell only dry goods) thought the Caulerpa may have been damaged by my LFS or in transit or not acclimated correctly. After reading through your FAQ, it sounds like a bacteria bloom could also be the culprit? (on another note, I had a diatom bloom at the end of the cycle, but that seems to have subsided). Do you have any ideas about what is causing the cloudiness and how I can correct it? <<John, I'm afraid I don't know what is causing the cloudiness, and it sounds to me like it could be a couple of things. I'm not entirely convinced this is/was caused by the Caulerpa. My question to you: are you running a protein skimmer on this tank? If not, it may now be time to consider one - if you don't have one, you really shouldn't be running a saltwater tank without it. I think a quality skimmer could get this cleaned up pretty quickly.>> Thanks in advance for your response. John Holdzkom <<Cheers, J -- >>

Caulerpa What is the minimum wattage per gallon needed to keep Caulerpa alive and well? Is any type of Caulerpa better than another and need less light? Would red fern algae do well...what amount of wattage per gallon would suffice.....actinic and white bulbs? thank you. Alan >> Hmm, lots of good (i.e. hard) questions here. Caulerpa spp. algae will grow in low lighted conditions, less than a watt per gallon, but four or even more per gallon are better... and somewhere around four (depending on depth, species....) are probably near-ideal.  Of the several species available to the aquarium trade, C. sertularoides and C. racemosa are about the best for tropical marine use... C. mexicana is a good choice for cooler tanks. Red Fern is not nearly as suitable... a very different low-light using organism... the family Caulerpaceae reigns supreme in "function", regardless of "looks" consideration. Both types of algae require full spectrum lighting... inclusive of the wavelengths that include "actinic"... but can/do get enough of these spectra from "standard" "warm" (5k or higher) lamps. Bob Fenner, who hopes is being understood, and not too harshly judged for such "easy" answers

Queen angel update/HLLE cure/Caulerpa Culture dear bob, back in November I e-mailed you about the HLLE problem I was having with my queen angel. you were kind enough to respond right away with some suggestions that I add a macro algae culture and freshen the live rock. <yes, I recall> well since that post I wanted to let you know that my angel has improved dramatically! the lesions that once ravaged here face, eyes, and lateral line are now limited to her "cheek" area. it seems that she has a ravenous taste for the Caulerpa and I provide it to her 3 times a week. thank you so much for your suggestions. <Ah, great to hear of your success> the fresh algae is costing me close to $10.00 a week in addition to all the other frozen goodies, fish eat better than I do! As such I've tried numerous ways to grow it myself but with no luck. several times I tried placing a fresh harvest in a floating acrylic breeder in the display tank but the algae deteriorated in 4 days. my 75 gallon tank is lit with 2 Coralife 10,000k fluor. and 2 actinic lights. I have also tried cultivating the algae in my 100 g reef system equipped with power compact lighting. however, a $25.00 "bush" attached to a piece of live rock turned my tank green and then died in as many days. now as a last ditch effort I have placed some freshly harvested cup, blade, and grape specimens in a 20 g undergravel filter set up. 12 hour light with Coralife reef sun and a generic incandescent plant bulb. there are 3 small fish in the tank to fertilize - so far it seems that the algae is also dying in this tank too. what could be wrong? <A few things... I would go back to/with the compact fluorescent lighting, use just some live rock for attachment, and boost both alkalinity and biomineral content (mainly calcium)... keep these above 4 meq/l and 400ppm respectively> I am seriously considering installing an ecosystem refugium from Leng Sy's website however if I'm unable to grow the algae what is the point? your thoughts? Gisela <The miracle mud systems are also very good/worthwhile. Bob Fenner, who would also look around, ask your local marine hobby club, perhaps the stores if they know someone who has the opposite problem... that is, too much Caulerpa... not uncommon.>

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>

Caulerpa question dear bob, I'm planning to ship/ transport some Caulerpa to someone in Colorado... can you help me with some questions here? <I will try> 1. can you elaborate step by step on how to pack these in a Styrofoam container? Do's and Don'ts <A very small amount of water (just enough to keep the algae underwater, just filled with atmosphere (the air around us), but not all the way... about three quarters (leave space for expansion under less than pressurized circumstances in transit), seal with a sturdy rubber band... then "bag this bag about the same" with another over it and seal...> 2. how long can they survive in a dark box <Days> 3 how much does it cost to buy a Caulerpa from your local LFS or from another state <Five, ten to twenty so dollars depending on species, size, what it may be attached to> 4. in what quantities are they sold? per bundle? pound? kilos? <Often "a bunch" (about a handful), or by the attached "piece". Very subjective.> pls feel free to give some more information which you think I should know... assuming I don't know anything hehe. <Good questions... this aspect (commercial, practical) is rarely discussed.> thanks again bob, Jonathan, from Cebu city, P.I.. <Oh! Did just write an article/page touching on my last trip to Lapu Lapu city, Bohol there: http://wetwebmedia.com/c_miniata.htm Mabute, Bob Fenner>

Sawblade Caulerpa trimming Hi Bob! It's Gina again. Thanks for your help on my last question about the Longhorned Cowfish. This time I have a Caulerpa question! I did have an incredibly huge mass of Sawblade Caulerpa in my tank. I took some out, then separated the rest into two clumps so that I could ship some to a friend. Well, the next morning, almost all of the Caulerpa had died. It looked like extremely limp, pale green noodles. <this happens... chemically, physically the torn colonies were "signaled" to auto-destruct> One piece survived and is growing rapidly, and will probably reach the size of the former thicket I had. But of course, it's always disturbing when something in your tank dies, so I was wondering if I might be able to trim again without this happening. <Mmm, yes... by carefully "pinching" the strands, pieces to be removed and running activated carbon added on that day.... your chances are much improved of avoiding such a meltdown> Is it possible I disrupted the vascular system of the plant and made the whole thing die?  <Sort of... though this genus of algae doesn't have such (no xylem, phloem vascular networks in thallophytes> I was just kind of grabbing and trimming. Is there a specific way I should be doing this? Thanks for your help. Gina <Scan the Net re others techniques as well. Bob Fenner>

Proper degree K for Caulerpa Hello Bob! For my 20 gal hex refugium w/ Caulerpa, I will use a JBJ 12" 2@18w CF fixture. The bulbs come in 10K, actinic, and 6500K Daylight (which I use w/ good results over a portion of my planted discus corner tank). I don't know what depth the Caulerpa normally grows--this would probably answer my question-- <Some right at the surface, others of the same, dissimilar species down to a few to several tens of feet of depth> but I know that actinics don't do much for the FW higher plants. It will be on display next to the main tank, and there will be some cleaner shrimps in there, so I would lean towards the 10K to show off the red, but what do you think? <Of the choices, this is likely what I would choose. If could be mixed I'd have both a 10k K and 6,500 K> Thanks always, Erik Nelson P.S. I am thinking of housing a small seahorse or fancy pipefish (though I already have a FW pipefish species-only tank) <Might I ask where you were able to procure these? Did you collect them?> in that 20 hex refugium--in your opinion would that defeat half the purpose of having the refugium in the first place? <Not half, perhaps a few tens of percent. Bob Fenner>

Caulerpa How do You seed your live rock with Caulerpa? I have LR that has been in my display for 2 yrs with no macro. I move 10 Lbs into a refugium and need some Caulerpa for nutrient extraction. Thanks, Jeremy <I would inquire with your LFS, one of the many e-tailers, or fellow hobbyists in your area for some Caulerpa. You just need a sprig or two to seed the refugium. -Steven Pro>

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