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FAQs about Marine Macro-Algae Selection/Compatibility/Control 1

Related Articles: Marine Algae, Algae Can Be Your FriendRefugiumsAvoiding 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: Marine Macro-Algae Sel./Comp 2, Marine Macro-Algae Sel./Comp. 3, & Marine (Macro) Algae 1, Marine (Macro) Algae 2, Marine (Macro) Algae 3, Marine (Macro) Algae 4, Marine (Macro) Algae 5, Rationale, Identification, Systems, LightingNutrition, Disease/Pests/Predators, Culture Algae Use in Refugiums, Coralline Algae: Use in Marine AquariumsMarine 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

Look what's growing up my wall...

New eBook on Amazon: Available here 
"Marine Aquarium Algae Control"

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

System Setup questions... macroalgae, cnidarian choices 11/6/05 Hi there crew, Great job on the site, you guys keep it up!!! On to the question, I have a 75 gallon tank (79 lbs LR, <1" of fine aragonite) with a 10 gallon wet dry going to convert to a LR sump and take out bioballs in time. I have a Sea Life Systems skimmer and wet dry, rated for a 125 gallon tank. Ok, on to what I am going to get... I am going to get an Aqua C Remora Pro w/ Mag 3 pump, a Hang on tank Refugium (5 gallon) and put 20 lbs of Arag-Alive Fiji Pink Sand, and 6 lbs of Marine BioSediment as substrate (in the fuge') Live rock rubble, and Chaeto, do you suggest any other types of macro to go along with my Chaeto? <Mmm, nope... not in this size, type of set-up> I have 440 watts of VHO, 2 actinic, 2 white 4 48" 110 watt bulbs actinics on for about 11 hrs each day, whites for about 9. I also have about 1100 gallons per hour in water movement, (tank has cycled... completely) Right now in the tank I have a T. crocea I believe, a Yellow leather coral, and a soon to be returned carpet anemone! Now, I've had an idea about my lighting situation, I would like a tad of an upgrade, so here it is.... I have a canopy where my 4 lights are, and the bulbs are only about 2" from the surface of the water, so no space for halides there, so instead I am going to cut a sizeable hole in my canopy so that the light from this fixture https://host100.ipowerweb.com/~marinean/shoppro/metal_advancedhang.htm <<This is a secure site - https = secured site (hypertext transfer protocol secure) - one may have to be logged in to view, have not verified. MH>> will be able to shine into my tank. The hole will allow the MH light to shine through into my tank, however I am slightly worried about the MH burning my VHO's which are across the canopy, and if I removed part of the canopy, the lights would be in direct contact with the MH, a worry? <Possibly, yes... metal halides get very hot... need to shield from the other lamps, canopy...> The corals I will start with are: -1 Yellow Leather (already in) -1 Candy Cane Coral -1 Plate Coral -1 Brain Coral -1 Button Polyp -1 Colony Polyp -1 Hairy Mushroom -1 Bullseye Mushroom This list is for starters, do you see any problems in the list? <Mmm, just the usual garden mix allelopathy issues... and the Yellow Sarcophyton not being easily kept... positioning/distancing colonies, taking care with husbandry/maintenance to dilute interspecies conflict effects... should be fine> As soon as I get rid of the carpet anemone I will be starting to stock the corals, unless suggested otherwise by you. As of now my params are: pH: 8.2 - 8.4 Nitrate: 5 - 15 (I keep em' a little high for my clam) Nitrite: 0 Ammonia: 0 Alkalinity - 12 dKH Calcium: 450 Temperature: 78 - 81 Salinity: 1.025 I try to dose my tank as little as possible but instead do a weekly 10 gallon water change with Reef Crystals Sea Salt. Thanks for you overview/review/comment/criticism Have a great day, Clare <Thank you for writing so clearly, well, and sharing in general. Bob Fenner>  Macro Algae choices for the ecosystem? Greetings! <Howdy!> I have just set up an Ecosystem based reef.  The main tank is 135g and the sump is from Leng, and is the largest one they carry (The 3616).  The main tank is on my main floor and the sump is in my basement.  I use the Iwaki 100 as the return pump and it does just fine.   <all good to this point... I especially like the choice of pump ;)> I am curing the live rock in the main tank and skimming to remove the die off.   <Doh! that's not a great idea... rather terrible in my opinion. Pests and predators that survive curing can get established in the display or sand/substrate and be very (!) difficult to remove. Always cure LR on shelves in bare-bottomed tanks so that you can siphon off detritus (which may now be settling in your present sand bed and will make for a nasty algae problem to come)... and to bait predatory shrimp, snails and crabs off bare glass> I do plan on continuing skimmer use even after the mud is added.   <very good to hear... agreed> After about 3 days, the ammonia level was around 5 and today it is undetectable, as is Nitrites.  The Nitrates are around 5, but I believe the rock is cured and ready to have the Mud added.  As for the question, after adding the mud, I was planning on using Caulerpa.  However, after reading some of the FAQ's on Mud based filtration, your crew has suggested that Caulerpa may not be the best Macro Algae for this setup.  Could you please explain why, and then give some alternate options I should consider?  Thanks! <the reasons why are described at great length in the archived FAQs... do search my friend. Much to consider about its noxious qualities and precarious single-celled nature (vegetative events/"going sexual"/tank wipeouts). Also consider our new book (Calfo and Fenner, "Reef Invertebrates"... shipping in a few weeks)... we delicate about 20% of the 400 page reference to plants, algae and refugiums. There are many merits and more than a few demerits to Caulerpa. Too labor intensive to prevent problems. Seek a more stable and less noxious algae instead like Chaetomorpha "spaghetti algae" or Gracilaria "Ogo". Best regards, Anthony>

Searching for Chaetomorpha Hello Crew, I read the book, love the book. <Excellent, I will pass along your kind words.> I have a 75 gal. with home made Ecosystem type sump and you've convinced me that Chaetomorpha is better than Caulerpa. <Great choice.> Now then, where in the heck can I get the stuff.  LFS guy, who is a great guy and also runs a home made Ecosystem sump, never heard of it.   Doug <I got mine from the great guys in my local reef club. Do you have any reef clubs in your area?  If you let us know where you are from would could probably help you locate one. There are some groups listed on the link below.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlinks.htm  Reefcentral.com has some club forums as well as our forum here at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/  As far as purchasing the stuff on line, I would check with http://inlandaquatics.com/  or   http://ipsf.com/  Best Regards, Gage>

Macroalgae 6/23/03 Hi, crew: <howdy!> In the Conscientious Marine Aquarist, Bob Fenner states that "Caulerpa are best."   <correct> Yet recent postings from Anthony Calfo state that a marked preference for Chaetomorpha, which doesn't go sexual.   <correct... if that "threat/inconvenience" in Caulerpa bothers you, than other such macros would likely be better> Aren't you guys part of the same crew?   <yep... the WetWebMedia crew... not the Stepford crew, the NRA or the Republican party collectively> Sure team members have differences of opinion, <good of you to notice mate <G>> but is there a consensus?   <there are many benefits and risks to Caulerpa... and they are overwhelmingly documented in our WWM archives free for the perusal (largely in the FAQs if seeking the cons. Else, we describe the "modern" consensus on the subject collectively in a nearly 50 page chapter on plants and algae in our new book if you'd care to pursue it> What should I do? <weigh the merits and demerits of the various Algaes that appeal to you, my friend. Caulerpa can be a tremendous boon or scourge depending on how strict you are (or not) as an aquarist with husbandry. No worries :) Kind regards, Anthony>

MACROALGAE  I.D. & Question 7/20/03 Hello Crew: <cheers> Here is a photo of some algae I picked up from my LFS.  They said it was a type of Gracilaria. Is this correct?   <holy cow... if we are talking about the green subject in the photo, then they are way off. Give everyone at that LFS coupons for free eye exams and  a referral to a good book on plants and algae like the works of the Littlers <G>. The macro in the photo is the very(!) common Caulerpa prolifera> More importantly, is this type OKAY for my "hang-on" refuge? <I would say that the real Gracilaria or Chaetomorpha would be better. Easier to keep and harvest... and less noxious too> Here is why I ask.  This "clump" came with a virtual primordial soup of marine critters.   <excellent> I have NEVER been so excited about any purchase that I've made in my 5 yrs in this hobby. <reminds me of my first batch of Sea Monkeys <G>> I felt like a 10 year old boy gazing into a tide pool, as I lay on the floor looking into my little holding tank. Shrimps, snails, tiny stars, and BRISTLEWORMS... Yikes!!! <really no worries about the bristleworms... they are some of the best sand agitators and scavengers for sand substrates. They only plague if your tank has nutrient control issues> Well I picked out  4 or 5, but doubt I got them all... <good to hear... no need to bother> NEXT QUESTION:  If I put this "clump" into my hang-on refuge, do I run the risk of any bristleworms getting into the main tank, or will they (if any left) simply live happily ever after in the DSB?   <like most any nuisance/pest organism... they can be limited by food. If you do not overfeed and have sufficient water flow to prevent excessive detritus build-up... you'll have no worries in the display. Many fine fishes also control them in aquaria like the longer nosed pseudochromids (Red Sea varieties like fridmani, springeri, Arabian, etc)> Or should I toss out the whole lot?  Thanx again.  Stacey from Los Angeles <seeing you are in LA, have you visited the LA marine club? MASLAC. Great gang... our fellow crew member Scott F is a member. Do write back to him here if you need info about the club. Kind regards, Anthony>

Finding Macroalgae - 8/14/03 I have a craving for Botryocladia and Ochtodes since I saw the pictures in Reef Invertebrates, but I can't find any dealers?  any suggestions? <yes... do try Morgan Lidster at Inland Aquatics. Very nice chap... and many refugium livestock items/supplies. They are listed in the book (page 387) under "Other Resources". If that doesn't pan out for you... do seek the folks at some of the regional aquarium societies like MASM.org (Michigan) for a trade. Its quite common for the aquarium clubs to actively hold and share such nifty organisms. Best regards, Anthony>

Macroalgae warfare 10/05/03 Hi Crew! I am discovering for myself the major downside of grape Caulerpa, <indeed... it has been documented to be perhaps the most noxious of an already very noxious genus of algae> which doesn't seem to be the threat of going sexual, especially since I pull out from my 'fuge a cup or so every few days.   <correct... the threat of "going vegetative" is easily skirted by interrupting the 3-6 month life cycle by regular thinning> It's a weed!  Some other algae species seem to survive (such as feather Caulerpa and sawgrass) but not thrive.  My Gracilaria (Ogo) didn't make it and my C. racemosa also couldn't compete.  The Chaetomorpha ball hasn't grown in over two months!  but I guess it's doing the job of removing nutrients, don't you think? <ahhh... not growing but exporting nutrients? How do you figure? Sounds to me like you've made the mistake of mixing algae that too many folks do. They are very (chemically) competitive with each other. Energies used in warfare could instead be used for good vigor/growth. Please have the discipline to use only one algae species proper in your vegetable filter/refugium. Anthony>

Macroalgae and Grape Caulerpa II 10/6/03 By "doing the job" I meant the grape Caulerpa is doing the job.  It's growing like a weed, hence exporting nutrients.   <true... but imparting many noxious compounds in the process that accumulate and harm or kill some fishes and corals over time> If I had to pick one, I guess you would recommend Chaetomorpha, right?  but it's ugly.   <anything but Caulerpa for most aquarists IMO> The Caulerpas look nice. <agreed... but eye of the beholder. If you are willing to make the necessary and labor-intensive concessions needed to keep this macro, you will do fine. Else, you may suffer from it in time like many folks do. Caulerpenes, Caulerpenyne, etc ;) > Also, what do I care if the Algaes are fighting, as long as they are growing? <because none can excel optimally for wasting energies on warfare... and such allelopathy has been shown to kill desirable reef creatures mixed unnaturally with a preponderance of this algae. You really are not very well read on this genus of macros... please do help yourself with a delve into more data on the subject to keep it safely long-term. Best regards, Anthony>

Macroalgae and DSBs 11/2/03  Hi, I am looking to add macro algae to a new sump. Can you tell me the best kind to use?  <that depends on many factors... but Chaetomorpha (Spaghetti algae) is hands down one of the best overall. Gracilaria is also quite good. Avoid Caulerpa in my opinion. See about all and why in the FAQs and archives of our site at wetwebmedia.com>  I thought about mixing a few kinds together, but I read one response in a reef forum, and it said that you can make a mistake adding different types of algae together (maybe Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha?...  <all algae fight (allelopathy) and one will ultimately succeed all at the expense of considerable energies. Pick only one species per tank>  I don't remember for sure). They actually compete against each other and can become toxic.  <yes... to each other, to invertebrates... and even to some fishes>  I didn't know mixing macro algae could do that. That's not what I had in mind to do :-) This response also said the grape Caulerpa being one of the most noxious of all of the algae. Is that true?  <very true by a remarkable scale of magnitude>  I thought it was a good kind to have?  <Caulerpa can be a boon or scourge. I dissuade folks from it because it is too labor intensive for most folks>  The response also talked about macro algae going 'asexual' and becoming toxic. What does this mean? I have never heard of this either.  <please do a keyword search of this topic and any other that interests you with the google search tool from our home page at www.wetwebmedia.com and all will be revealed to you my friend>  Secondly, I read in another forum where a lot of reefers were talking about having reef tanks with bare bottoms (either no sandbed at all or a very small sandbed. They ripped deep sand beds talking about DSB crashes and really messing up tanks.  <removing DSBs is a knee-jerk reaction by aquarists that have improperly installed them or have poor tank husbandry overall (usually inadequate water flow). We explain this dynamic at great length (tens of pages) in our book "Reef Invertebrates">  I have never heard of this and have never thought of having a tank with no sand at all. Everything I have ever read talks about live sand being a very important part of biological filtration.  <agreed... there are tremendous benefits to live sand and rock methods>  I am confused.  <just need to read/research more my friend... and not so much from message boards with much opinion and inexperience (or limited experience) but from tenured and objective sources/authors>  Can you tell me your take on having deep, medium, shallow, or no sandbeds?  <I wish to help here my fried... but a proper answer cannot be relayed in an e-mail less than 20 pages! Please do simply read through our archives or if you feel frisky, that new book of hours is months old and covers all of these topics at great length. The most comprehensive in the industry to date>  Thanks, Paul  <best regards, Anthony Calfo>?

Marine Plants and Algae 11/5/03  Hi, I asked you a question about Gracilaria algae once before. When I did the Google search on the web page, I got only one hit, and not much was said about it.  <you had the spelling incorrect my friend... please try again with "Gracilaria" (only one "l")... I got 188 hits just on our site alone. Many more if you search the whole web (toggle off the WWM only button)>  Is it a good one to use, could you mix it with Chaetomorpha, or should I just stick with one type?  <algae are fiercely competitive like corals... use the word allelopathy as a keyword to search for more info on this. One species of macroalgae per refugium is best>  Also, I looked in the FAQ's for info on Bristle Brush plants. I see sites that sell "marine plants and include the Bristle Brush." I like plants in my freshwater tank, but I don't know if marine plants would work the same way. Do these plants do the same type of thing as freshwater plants (take out nitrates, improve water quality)?  <all plants and algae to some degree (very significantly in many cases like turf algae) are nutrient export mechanisms>  Would these plants primarily go in a sump or in the main tank?  <depends on the species (rates of growth, lighting/water flow needs, rooted or not, how noxious they are to other algae and fishes, etc>  Finally, would putting these plants in the sump with macroalgae cause the same type of competition as putting in different types of macroalgae together or would it be different and not cause a problem?  <a similar problem... but less severe with some calcareous species>  Thanks, Paul  <best of luck, Anthony>

Chaetomorpha source 12/5/03 Hey guys, <whassup> I have had a refugium and have been trying to find some Chaetomorpha to stock it with for a while, but have been having trouble finding anyone who sells it.  Do you know of any reliable e-tailers who carry it? Thanks, Rem <I'd contact Morgan Lidster at Inland Aquatics... many nice refugium species available. Or, look up some local or regional aquarium societies. Many have members (like my www.PMAS.org) that have so much Chaetomorpha and other macros that they bring them to the monthly meetings or throw it away. It will not be hard to find my friend. Anthony>

- Algae Questions - As per my original email... I am thinking that I am having a little bit of Turtle Weed growing out of my live sand and a bit on my live rock. <Keep an eye on this stuff, it grows like... well... a weed.> As well, from the pictures and description in your website, the 'sea-weedy' type algae that is growing in the front corner of my tank appears to be Bryopsis plumosa.  In both cases, nothing to worry about other than it doesn't look to great??? <Is only a 'problem' because it grows so well... can overtake other more desirable items in the tank.> There is not a lot of water circulation in the front corners of my tank so I can turn my power heads to it... this should help shouldn't it? <Yes.> Other than that, once I move my tank in two months I will get more critters that will help out...  Any good livestock recommendations to feed on the two algae's that I mentioned?? <A blue tuxedo urchin, Mespilia globulus.> My power heads, filter hoses, and heater are coated with a 'slime' (as is the back wall of my tank).  Anything to worry about?? <Probably Cyanobacteria... not a worry per se, but something that can come to cover everything if not dealt with.> It is kind of a brown/green sludge that breaks off and floats around my tank.  Is this something that should be scraped off frequently??? <I would.> Will too much of this floating around my tank cause problems??? <Not in and of itself.> Thanks, Dave <Cheers, J -- >

Obtaining Macroalgae (12/27/2003) Hi, after reading the wonderful "Reef Invertebrates", I have been really interested in obtaining some Chaetomorpha algae to put into my new sump/refugium.  The LFS's in my area only carry Caulerpa. <Often more trouble than it's worth. I'm surprised it's legal in Oregon now that it's illegal in California. It'll be banned there soon enough.> Where can I get some of this Chaetomorpha "Spaghetti" type of algae?  Any e-tailers? <www.inlandaquatics.com  I have ordered here myself & they are great.> Gracilaria looks good also, but I am not sure how to keep it tumbling? <Can be tough. I keep mine in a well-lit, moderate flow sump refugium with a DSB. Growing like mad. I'd had trouble before and still am having a hard time getting Chaetomorpha to grow in my other refugium. The only thing I can guess at this time is that starting it in my CPR AquaFuge helped. Everything that I put in there for a few weeks seems to thrive when I move it elsewhere. If it doesn't spend time in there, it doesn't thrive elsewhere. I have no theory as to why this is the case.> I can't find it anywhere either. <IA carries it as well, but I bought mine at http:// www.ipsf.com  Another great e-tailer.> Is one of these two totally better than the other?  <No. The main advantage of the Gracilaria is that Tangs & Rabbitfish love to eat it. It is a nutritionally complete Tang food.> I am reticent about keeping Caulerpa if I can obtain the Chaetomorpha.  Please help me.   Thanks so much for the website and all your help. Mike near Portland Oregon <Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

Refugium pondering 3/10/04 Hello, I have a slew of questions. First of all, I replaced my wet dry with a refugium which I am currently growing 3 types of macro with live rock. <great to hear of the refugium... but do consider reducing to only one species of macro... it will be better/more effective for all/many reasons. Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria get my vote strong> I have a compartment in the refugium which houses my ev-120 on my 90 gal reef ( sort of ) tank. The refugium holds about 20-25 gal. My ph seems to be a little low and I run alternating lighting on the tank/refugium. I would say my ph is about 7.8 to eight. <very low IMO. Target 8.3-8.6  Some corals like Xeniids are clearly stressed below 8.0> I have a digital meter coming to be more accurate. Now, one of my questions is a calcium reactor and co2 system more beneficial overall to a reef system than a refugium?? <apples and oranges... can't compare. They do vastly different things> I was thinking of removing my fauna in the refugium to make more room for hardware, |<Yikes! keep it natural my friend... better for the tank> Hardware would be more beneficial in maintaining calcium, ph levels etc. <you should not need hardware for this, although a calcium reactor is a fine instrument if tuned well> Not to mention my ev-120 is real tight in its little compartment and I could easily put both a calk reactor and skimmer in the larger side of the sump. So basically can I regulate chemically the ph and hardness and keep the refugium or would I be better off with the reactors because I want to get a little more into coral keeping??   <you will be losing refugium benefits for the hardware here which easily can be skirted with regular Kalk dosing, water exchanges, aerating and buffering FW used for evap and salting (this is a common mistake to use raw, unaerated RO or DI water... a burden on buffers if not aerated), etc. Do reconsider the significant benefits of refugia here my friend and the ease with which you can attain stable water chemistry without mission control models ;) Anthony>

Macroalgae in the aquarium 3/11/04 Thanks as always for the prompt reply. Following your advise I will leave only one species of macroalgae in my sump. Is it better to leave the Halimeda sp. or the Dictyota? <neither are ideal for nutrient export or plankton production (Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria would be better). To pick between the two, however, easily choose Halimeda. Dictyota is noxious and can become a nuisance> Do you advise to do this also in the display tank (the algae here is far from each other). <its better, yes> The C. racemosa is not much in the display tank and is the only algae that my Yellow Tang eats. Is it ok to leave it be in the display tank? <its actually toxic over time (1-3 years) in some fishes allowed to repeatedly graze it. It is also competitive with corals. I do not recommend Caulerpa for any reef aquariums. Best for biotope displays instead> Thanks, Thanassis <kindly, Anthony>

-Macro vs. Hair algae- Dear Crew, I have two questions.  First, I know that you are not supposed to put two types of macroalgae in your refugium, but can you have one type in the refugium and a different type in the display?  Will they still compete? <Of course, after all, it's the same water. I personally use multiple kinds of macroalgae as they each may remove different compounds from the water.> Second, I have a hair algae (I suppose) growing on my live rock.  It is short and flowing, but has no color. <No color?! Hair algae (along with all the other green Algaes) are green, as redundant as that sounds.>  I would have to say the color was white if anything, but it really just looks like fog rolling over the rocks.  Do you know what this would be? <Maybe some sort of bacterial mess. I'd siphon it out, I can't think of anything good that looks like that! I hope this helps! -Kevin> Thanks so much for your time. Bess Refugium macro for tang food/nutrient cycling 3/28/04 Anthony, Thanks again for such a prompt response!   <always welcome> I am left with one remaining question...  Since you suggest against adding Caulerpa (and Bob suggested I use a macro algae other than my red Gracilaria) <I did? Mmm... nah. RMF>, what do you suggest I use for nitrate/phosphate export and to feed my many tangs?   <Frankly... I don't think you should give up on Gracilaria so easily. It is the most readily consumed and one of the easiest to keep by far. Any else I can think of is substandard. Still... as a suggestion, Ulva/sea lettuce types if you prefer> Since space limits me to only a 20 gallon refugium for my 180g aquarium, I need a very efficient method of nitrate/phosphate export (although my nitrate level has never been measurable, PO4 has been excessive). -Greg <Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha (not edible) are two of the very best. Anthony>

Going Local  >Hey Fish Nerds!  >>Hey, I'm a computer geek NOW! Wha's up?  >(I am well on my way myself as well. I actually used the word "refugium" in a conversation and the listener knew what I was talking about.)  >>More indicative of the company you're keeping, too.  >I was taking a short break to sweep out the dirt from the bed of my truck near the "beach" here at work (Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island, WA) and happened to stroll down the pebbled shore and had an idea. Would it be safe to collect the seaweed and incorporate it into a salt tank?  >>Only if you're talking a very chilly temperate tank, and even then, one must be careful or suffer the consequence of introducing pests.  >Or in the refugium rather?  >>Same deal.  >Some of the stuff I saw was kinda lacey, fan like, pinkish, maroon etc. Real attractive stuff. Plus there was some green and brown kelp stuff. If it was slowly acclimated to the warmer water in my tank, could it adapt?  >>Well.. I suppose if you had a few thousands of years it might, I doubt you can get it to evolve any more quickly than that. In lieu, try a chiller. Of course, don't try keeping your tropicals in such a situation, they'll be best shown off as sushi at that point.  >I appreciate your help on this, James  >>I wish I could be more helpful, but honestly, there's just no getting away from what the specimen in question has evolved to require. In the case of this seaweed it would likely be rather chilly saltwater, probably of a slightly higher salinity than your tropicals would care for, and being as it comes from such waters, may or may not require either/or/both higher oxygen saturation & nutrients. Marina

ARRGGHHH!!!  Confused on algae 4/13/04 Greetings Crew! <howdy> Let me say that for the first time, I am upset with your site.  There is TOO MUCH INFORMATION to sift through some times!!!  I thought I knew what I wanted but now I am totally confused.  Please help. <OK> I finally got my CPR hang-on refugium (12" size--best that could fit) and have 5" of mineral mud in the bottom and water is flowing.  YAY!!  Now I want to stock it with macro algae.  This is my problem.  I want an algae that both removes wastes (nitrates, phosphates, silica, etc.) AND one that my yellow tang will enjoy. <Gracilaria it is then! DO look up IPSF.com for some red "Tang Heaven">> I have read about Gracilaria, Halimeda, Thalassia, Chaetomorpha, Caulerpa and a few others that would work. <hmmm... yes to all of the above for nutrient export... not to all but Gracilaria for suitability for feeding/recycling algae through tangs. Caulerpa may be eaten too but is noxious (read: toxic, I have read studies on it killing tangs in time). And Thalassia may get nibbled. Not much though> The problem is that it seems every FAQ I read says a different one will work better.  HELP!!!   <our "Reef Invertebrates" book covers this toxic with refugiums in greater detail than any other book currently on the market> I have 18W of 6500K lighting for the refugium FYI.   <this is not even remotely enough light to keep any decent plants or algae alive. Much brighter needed here my friend. Rather double> At the time, I am leaning towards Gracilaria (my tang LOVES it!) <excellent choice, ease of care, edibility, nutrient export, attractive> but I have read that it is difficult to keep.  <nope... very easy. Just usually gets stuck in refugiums with not enough water flow (aim for 20X to keep it tumbling) or enough light (5 watts per gallon bare minimum... closer to 10 will be nice here since using weaker fluorescents)> Chaetomorpha is another choice, but I am unsure if it is good for my tang. <not palatable> Please help my poor, overworked brain to sort this out and get my little refugium fully operational.  Thanks! -Ray <have a shot and a beer, and no worries Ray. The fish-doctors orders :) Anthony>

Great Source for Mermaid's Wineglass (I didn't know they drank) >Hi 'Skeleton Crew' gang: >>HA! Someone DID notice! Woo-dee-hoo! >I'm a nut for marine macroalgae... and in the past my best source has been Morgan Lidster at Inland Aquatics (I've seen him and his operation referred to favorably here in WWM before)... >>Indeed, though, last I'd heard, Inland was closing at least its online operations. Fantastic operator, they all really know their stuff. >..but one species in particular that's been hard to find is Acetabularia crenulata AKA Mermaid's Wineglass or Mermaid's Winecups. >>Oh yes! Not sure, but I seem to recollect hear tell of Harbor Aquatics having it, at least occasionally, as well. >It's a beautiful, lightly calcified algae, with bright green 'parasols' suspended on slender stalks... >>Indeed, almost like having a zoanthid or other animal. Really attractive species, though I personally have never kept it. Is its husbandry particularly difficult? >..it's actually the cover photo species for Littler & Littler's 'Marine Plants of the Caribbean'... >>Those interested, take note! >..by virtue of being so attractive. Anyway, I FINALLY found source for this, very reasonable ($4.99 per cluster, plus shipping) with great service and  attention to packing (it's a delicate shipper)... so I thought I'd share it. >>Please do! >It's Holly@Floridapets.com - The only caveat is it's fresh from the ocean floor, and full of 'hitchhikers', so be prepared for a dip/QT regimen unless you're anxious to include same in your system. >>Fantastic to know, Chuck. >Chuck >>Will be posting this on the dailies, and I'm sure there will be many thankful for the tip. Marina 

Tang Heaven Q's 5/31/04 Greetings from Denver! <howdy> I'm in the middle of doing some research on tangs before I purchase one.  I like the Naso but don't want it to be too cramped in my 150.   <I'm very grateful to hear of your consideration/empathy> I'll probably go with a surgeon, as it is smaller.   <yes, do consider a smaller Zebrasoma species which you can enjoy for its full lifespan in the 150. Yellow tangs are fine choices... Sailfins however get too big and mean for most community tanks> I keep quite a bit of Caulerpa in my refugium to absorb phosphates and other garbage.  Can I replace it with Tang Heaven and still expect the same "water cleaning" results? <I do believe Gracilaria/Ogo (AKA Tang Heaven) would be a much better choice. Equally good nutrient export potential, and far less noxious to water quality, and clearly non-toxic to fishes over the long run (unlike Caulerpa... there are papers published showing inducement of death to fishes fed Caulerpa to excess). You may need brighter lights and stronger water flow for Gracilaria though... its not as adaptable as Caulerpa, but it sure is safer and more useful IMO>   Thanks in advance for your help. <with kind regards, Anthony>

Macroalgae Hello, everything seems to be going fine in my hospital tanks, fish are looking the best yet. I was interested in introducing some macroalgae into my main tank while the fish are in the hospital so that it would have a chance to establish itself before the purple tang gets a hold of it. I read over your FAQ's and I'm a little confused. I see that Bob seems to like Caulerpa and Anthony doesn't like it at all. <It all depends on what you intent is. I like Caulerpa for nutrient export in fish tanks (and I believe we would all agree on this). I believe Caulerpa can negatively impact corals (here there may be some disagreement between us).> My main reason for wanting any type of macroalgae was to have a little something for my purple tang to nibble on and also I like the looks of it. <Then you are fine.> I am not going to have any corals but I don't want to get something that is going to be more trouble than it is worth. I'm especially afraid of the Caulerpa going "sexual" or whatever it does that pollutes the system, I definitely don't want that, how can you keep it from doing this besides leaving the lights on all the time which I can't do with fish. <Some people have controlled it with regular pruning and keeping the total mass down, but no guarantees.> I have a 55 gallon fish and invertebrate system with 60 lbs. live rock. Is there a different type of macroalgae that my fish will like to eat but doesn't do a sexual thing? <Many, do see the coverage of macroalgae on www.WetWebMedia.com.> Could I get the red feeding algae (Gracilaria) stuff to grow and would that be a better choice? <Sure> Will my tang even eat the Caulerpa <Yes> and if you do suggest Caulerpa which type would be the best for my needs. <Any> I see the grape and lettuce types offered although after reading about the legislation I am not sure if I am going to be able to get any in California. <It is illegal for anyone in your state to own, possess, sell, blah, blah, blah...> Please advise me about the wisest choice for growing it for looks and a snack. Thank you so much for all your help so far, you guys are really amazing. I'm so impressed that some people actually care enough about the aquarium hobby to put so much time in to answering all the many many questions people like me have. Thank you again. <You are quite welcome. It is a labor of love for us.> Also, I saw a really cute all yellow goatfish that I love but I'm guessing my tank is too small for his eventual size, <I don't believe you mentioned the size, but plus I have a cleaner shrimp and neon gobies that he would probably eat. <Hard to say for certain> I don't think he would eat a large hermit crab, or would he? <Depends on the size of both> Anyway he probably isn't a good choice for me, but in case I am wrong let me know because I really do love him. Kylee <They all get about 12" or more and need a standard 180 or larger. See the piece written here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Goatfshart.htm -Steven Pro>

Hawaiian Ogo... Lolo for Ogo! Aloha WWM Crew, <Eh Howzit Jeff, Scott F. with you (one haole with one Big Island girl)> Your web site is DA KINE (the best). I can't thank you guys enough for the great service you provide. I live on the island of Oahu and have a 55 FO tank. I have a question about Hawaiian Ogo (seaweed). I noticed that the local markets have fresh Ogo bagged for consumption. I was wondering if you could place that Ogo in your sump or main display. <If you got the Ogo already refrigerated, chances are it will not grow in your sump or aquarium. If it's fresh, meaning you "jus' wen pick em from da ocean water," then, the Ogo will probably survive and grow. I have had success growing fresh Ogo in a 10 gallon aquarium with an airstone. Please note that Ogo (Gracilaria parvispora) needs a lot of light and should be kept in suspension in order to grow at its best>  Moreover, would it be okay to place shoreline rocks from the North Shore into my tank without worrying about pollution and other negative consequences. Thanks for all your help. <Jeff, are you referring to coral rubble or lava rock? If it's coral rubble, it may be okay after curing. If it's lava rock, it may not work in a closed system, because of the possibility that it could release lots of compounds that will induce microalgae growth. Also, you might want to check with local authorities to see if it's legal to collect rock.> Jeff <Malama Pono and A hui hou! Scott F.>

Red Bubble Algae Causing Seahorse Problems? Hi Bob, <Hi Leslie, Craig here> Something very strange happens every time one of my seahorses (all captive bred) hitches to this small piece of red bubble algae, sorry I do not know what species it is. I have had red bubble algae in the tank with the horses before without any problems, maybe this is a different species. <Sounds like Cyanobacteria, not algae. Could be quite poisonous to these guys I suppose> So..... they act like they are stuck and trying to get free, but can't.....writhing, twisting, trying to pull away from it, and rubbing their body and head against it. Now, they do not do this at any other time at all. I have had 2 unexplained deaths of the smaller horses recently. When it was one of the small ones I just thought maybe they got their tail twisted in it. Last night one of my larger Ocean Riders got "stuck". I released her and removed the algae from the tank. She has always, from day one, been a very good and aggressive eater. After the incident last night, she ate one piece of Mysis out of the water column, continued to hunt, but just stared at anything else she came upon. This am she did not look quite right, she was hitched hanging upside down like a possum. The lights were still out when I left for work, so I will see how she is tonight when I get home. I am wondering if there could be something in or on that piece of algae that could possibly be stinging, stressing or injuring them in some way.  Thanks for you help, Leslie <Well, in Cyanobacteria, cyanide. Reduce nutrient load in tank causing Cyano, increase circulation in those areas affected (I know, be careful with too much) make sure your skimmer is clean and working in top form, water changes and perhaps filtration with a PolyFilter or? Get rid of the Cyano! (excess nutrient, low current) Craig>

Re: Red Bubble Algae Causing Seahorse Problems? Hi Craig, <Anthony Calfo with the follow up> Thanks for the rapid response. I guess I was not clear enough. I am pretty familiar with Cyano. I have had Cyano in my tanks on various occasions several times. There is no visible Cyano in this tank at this time. This is a piece of red Caulerpa I purchased from one of my LFS. Inland aquatics sells 2 varieties as well. It looks like the green grape Caulerpa, but is red. I believe it may be Botryocladia uvaria, as it looks very similar to the photo in Baensch Marine Atlas, vol 1 on page 233. <I am familiar with it an believe it to be relatively non-toxic although numerous fish toxins have been isolated in Caulerpas. Perhaps something here too although I doubt it> Are there any parasites, bugs or critters that can live in or on this type of Caulerpa causing the type of "irritation" to my horses that I described in my original e mail?  <not really... the macro is not a viable host. There is something concurrent about the "relationship" between the plants and seahorse (if at all) that we are missing. Do consider that it could be something altogether different. Have you tested dissolved oxygen levels by chance? Or do you shut off your skimmer or any other filter at night?> I am concerned due to the strange behavior as well as the 2 unexplained deaths. Thanks, Leslie <best regards, Anthony>

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!>

Trial, Error and Macroalgae Scott, Thanks for the lengthy response, will buy the book and look into locating the other macroalgae you mentioned. <You'll be glad that you did!> On the kind words, seriously, your website provides a wonderful service, especially to those of us who only get to tinker with our tanks after work and can't do the "trial and error" on everything that hits the market. <I WISH I could do that (the "trial" part)-it's mostly "error", believe me!> The price is right too :) <You can't put a price on sharing!> Sincerely, Doug <Thanks for the "props", Doug- just don't buy Caulerpa, and I'll sleep better tonight!  Regards,  Scott F.>

Re: shaving brushes I've never put any macro algae into my tank (55 gal FOWLR) but I have the opportunity to purchase some Shaving Brushes.  Is this a good or bad idea?  I think they'd look terrific but I don't want to mess with my fairly stable water chemistry. Ana M. Saavedra <A good idea to try. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Macroalgae Question Hi Guys ! <cheers, Chuck!> Recently I removed all (well almost all) of the Caulerpa from my 50 gallon refugium and replaced it with Gracilaria, turtle grass and Chaeto... (spelling ?). <Chaetomorpha... all very wise IMO. Kudos> Everything is going well, many small "bugs" and my peppermint shrimp  have been breeding periodically releasing even more food into the main display tank. Since my display tank is 300 gallons I do not plan to use such a small refugium for algal filtration.  Instead, my refugium's purpose is to generate live food/plankton for my main tank. <agreed here too that this is a better plan for most aquarists> Small amounts of the blade, fern, grape Caulerpa have come back even though I removed all of the live rock and brushed it with a toothbrush.   <the grape Caulerpa is especially noxious/toxic> The other Algaes are growing at a very swift rate and I am worried that the Caulerpa will sexually spawn since it is in the minority and since it is being "squeezed out".  Is this concern well-founded? <not very... its more a simple matter of completing its life cycle (3-6 months unbroken for the cell/colony)> I try to pick out the Caulerpa as it grows but it is nearly impossible to get it all.  Is this sufficient to keep the Caulerpa from  sexually reproducing / entering into my main display tank? <yes... frequent and regular pruning> Right now it hasn't spread into the display tank and I want to keep it that way....any other suggestions  on how to do maintain this ? <yep... napalm> Do I still need to harvest the "good" or less virulent Algaes mentioned above in a similar manner as the Caulerpa ? <yes... all Algaes essentially for vigor if nothing else. Less or no risk of sexual reproduction with some of the other non-Caulerpas though> Thanks, and looking forward to meeting Anthony in Boston, home of the Boston Reefers,  in January !!! <me too, my friend. And we can discuss then if Dr Ron and the Ronnie's are fascists or hypocrites or something altogether different <G>> Regards, Chuck Spyropulos <rock on my brother :) Anthony>

Plants and algae for the refugium Can anyone on your staff guide me to a website or store to buy some macro algae to use in my Refugium? <many places on the 'Net... inlandaquatics.com and IPSF.com both specialize. Both operated by great industry peoples> I live in South Florida.. Ft. Lauderdale <swim out into the keys and collect your own then <G>. And send us some Thalassia seagrass. And some of that cute ornamental Acetabularia too> I was going to use Caulerpa but am now afraid due to the toxicity produced by this variety of macro algae. <indeed... noxious and labor intensive/precarious... better choices abound> I was told that perhaps Gracilaria, Thalassia, Dictyota, Chaetomorpha may be a better choice <all but Dictyota... some are a nightmare and a nuisance> but I don't believe I could use a 24/7 daylight schedule with these specimens.   <correct> I believe they need some darkness, <respiration> whereas Caulerpa does not. <the rat weed does not... correct again> Leng Sy uses Caulerpa sertularioides and a 24/7 light schedule.  I didn't want to deviate from his method, <no worries... the experimentation can be good. Even Leng has changed his opinions over the years an now concedes to the benefits of water changes and protein skimmers> but feel i may need to, to bypass the toxicity problem down the road. <agreed... and other inconveniences too> Please advise. Steve <Morgan at Inland Aquatics or Gerry at Indo Pacific Sea Farms as listed above. Best regards, Anthony>

Refugiums, macroalgae and reef plumbing Hello, <cheers> Can you tell me the best set up for a  ecosystem mud filtration unit, my tank will be a 125gl with twin overflows. I need to know what is a good pump, and how should I run the lines from the pump to a heater/chiller (aqua-Therm) and back to the return. I want to have at least 1000-1200 of gph for the sump and I need at least 600gph for the chiller so it will not freeze up, that is the manufactures  states. I was thinking that I could use a mag drive pump rated for 1500 or 1800gph to do the job. <please view the illustration and following links to get an essential take on the matter: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pbfaqsmar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reeffilt.htm how do you rate the Kent marine Biosediment to the miracle mud ( I hope you are liquored up to tell me about it)? <I find them both to be equally useless and overpriced and would advise a deep bed of fine oolitic/aragonite sand instead (6" or more) :) > I also need to know why you said sea grass is a better choice than Caulerpa and why don't ecosystem tell you why. <actually... seagrasses are not the only or best alternate for Caulerpa. But Caulerpa is frightfully noxious if neglected and has been shown scientifically to impede coral growth. They are not found naturally together on a reef. Other algae like Chaetomorpha and Gracilaria are more stable and less toxic if neglected> They don't have the patent on plants, right so why promote a species of plant when  there  are ones that are better for filtration, <because Caulerpa was one of the very few "plants" available in the hobby when Leng Sy first developed his mud system and they are the only common macro that can remain in stasis if lit 24/7> how  can I get some of this sea grass. <seek Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria instead from IPSF.com (AKA "Tang Heaven" or Hawaiian "Ogo")... or from inlandaquatics.com ("Spaghetti algae")> thank you, and I appreciate you site .   Mr. McCoy   <kind regards, Anthony>

Refugium plants and algae mixing 3/13/03 I have a question regarding mangroves & other micro algae's in a refugium. Must you use one or the other or can you combine mangroves and micro algae in the same refugium. Many Thanks, John <you may certainly combine algae with mangroves in refugia, bud... mangroves are more ornamental- the macroalgae will be a better vegetable filter for you :) Best regards, Anthony>

Procuring Macroalgae Dear crew: <Scott F. your Crew member today> One of you recommended me to try feeding tang heaven algae from IPSF at Hawaii.. but they say they cannot ship to Canada. and I know currently, ffexpress sale some of the type of algae, but was also unable to ship up to Canada, do you guys know who can ship up here for us?? Or perform a transship at some cost?? Because I am sure there are lots of demand here!! Eric <Hmm, Eric...interesting problem...I was not aware that there is a problem in shipping macroalgae to Canada. Maybe an agricultural regulation or something? My recommendation to obtain this macroalgae would be to try other sources, such as Inland Aquatics, Sea Crop, or Florida Aqua Farms (do internet searches to see how to contact them). Other ideas would be to try a scientific supply company within Canada, perhaps with the assistance of a local educational institution, like a high school or college. Finally, you could see if any fellow hobbyists have this stuff available for trade or sale locally...Perhaps a posting on the WWM forum, or on another message board on the 'net. I sure hope that you can get Gracilaria, because it's truly an amazing food for tangs. Once you get some, I hope that you can really make an effort to propagate this macroalgae for your future needs. Good Luck! Regards, Scott F>

Macroalgae Mix Hey there- <Hi there- Scott F. with you today!> I have a 125 gallon mixed reef and I have an ecosystem type filter (Caulerpa and miracle mud) with a skimmer.  I just upgraded my skimmer to an Aqua-C EV 240 and would like to get rid of the Caulerpa (since I don't need it for the nutrient export) and replace it with a better macroalgae.  I am afraid that after I remove the Caulerpa, the small roots or pieces of Caulerpa in the mud will grow back and take over the new less aggressive macro algae.  Would the best bet be to take out the miracle mud to eliminate the Caulerpa all together? <Well- as much as that is a pain in the rear, it may be a good idea to take out all of the Miracle Mud to sort through it and see if there are any runners present in the mud...This stuff can be really invasive, as you noted, so do take your time and make sure you get most of it> If so, can I replace it with a DSB of oolitic aragonite sand instead of the miracle mud?  How many inches of sand would you recommend?  If I shouldn't replace the mud, can I add some oolitic sand on top of the mud? <I would not replace the mud...It's good stuff, IMO. I don't see a need to add sand as well> What macro algae would you recommend to replace the Caulerpa?  I am looking at Chaetomorpha, and possible some Gracilaria because I hear it is good to feed to my tangs.  What are your opinions. <Yep- I love both of them...my favorites! I'd start with the Chaetomorpha> Thank you very much for your help. Josh <Any time, Josh! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Choosing Macro Algae Hi crew, hope everyone is doing well. <Sure am! Scott F. with you tonight!> I have a question about macro algae.  I've been reading through the FAQs about macro algae for my 125g marine tank.  But first, I set up the tank prior to finding your website, and now I'm trying to fix some of my mistakes.  I didn't invest in live rock as I was told by my LFS that since I was planning a fish only system I didn't need any.  Don't think I can afford the rock now, and kinda like the way the tank looks.  They also sold me on the idea of an Ocean Clear 340 inline filter.  This is fine, I've just been trying to keep up with the cleaning schedule.  I did order a new filter cartridge yesterday so that I may rotate in a clean one every week. <Very good idea if you're gonna use a mechanical filtration system...Rotate/change the media regularly> I've been battling with slime and hair algae for the past 3 months (the tank has only been set up since November).  I've read about nutrient export, and believe me I've been trying.  I have already upgraded my skimmer from a Prizm Pro to a Remora Pro (What a difference!!).  I've switched to RO water only for my water changes.  I have calculated that I'm turning my water over about 10 times an hour, and plan on installing some air stones to further circulate/aerate the water.  I've changed the filter cartridges every 3-4 weeks and also added some Poly Filter to the Emperor 400 that I'm also using, mostly for the carbon and/or other chemical filter media.  I've cut my lighting period back to 6 hours a day.  I vacuum and physically pluck the stuff from the bottom and decor weekly, sometimes daily.  I've added some hermit crabs, snails, and a Lawnmower Blenny.  I'm still losing the battle of the slime, although I may be gaining some ground.  I've also cut way back on the food (only been feeding every 2-3 days for the past week), since I've recently had a very small ammonia spike (0-0.2ppm).  I wanted to add some macro algae to use up some of these nutrients in the water. <You're doing fine...it's just gonna take a little time! Don't quit on the nutrient export processes...be patient- these things work! Hang in there!> My wife likes the Halimeda species offered by Live Aquaria, and I like the Feather Caulerpa offered by ETropicals.  My LFS has some of the feather Caulerpa, but it is seldom offered for sale.  Would both of these be OK or just one, or none. <I like Halimeda myself...Caulerpa has some downsides (discussed on this site and others many times) which make it a less than perfect choice for most systems.> Are there others that would be better.  Keep in mind, I don't have a sump to put these in. <I really like Chaetomorpha, but it really is better suited to a refugium or a sump, as it is a "free floating macroalgae...go with the Halimeda...but be sure to provide sufficient calcium levels> I am planning on having a Yellow tang and a Black and White Heniochus (H. Acuminatus?).  I thought these plants would also supply some supplemental food. <Caulerpa might...Gracilaria is much better, but, once again-better suited for a sump or refugium> Any thoughts/opinions would be greatly appreciated, and may I say thank you for educating so many people on how to keep these magnificent creatures alive and well.  You're doing a fantastic service. Vince <So glad to hear that you enjoy the site, Vince! Keep doing the things that you are doing, and you'll enjoy much success...be sure to share your experiences with others- that's what this hobby is all about! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- How Often Should I Mow the Lawn? - Hello, <And hello to you, JasonC here...> I have a 23 Gallon refugium on my 60 Gallon tank. I recently added 1/2 lb of red Gracilaria and 1/2 lb of green Gracilaria. I have read that I should be harvesting this periodically. What exactly is "harvesting"? Is it just removing a small portion? <Exactly.> Thank you. <Cheers, J -- >

Algae Transplanting Hello Crewmember #6: I have some grass-like algae growing wild on some LR that I would like to remove from the rock, but keep growing elsewhere.  If I rip the algae off the rock, does the ripped part stand a chance of survival?   <Chances are good depending on the type> If so, would I have to mount it somewhere so it can re-root, or does rooting matter?  That said, would any/most algae "clippings" live if transplanted?  Is there a special method to this madness?   <I would place the transplant in a low flow area if possible and anchor it with another rock. All you are trying to do is keep it in place for a few days so the hold downs can find a place to hook on. Hope this helps, Don> Thanks, Rich

Macroalgae On The Move! Hello Crewmember #6: <Scott F. behind Door #3 tonight...> I have some grass-like algae growing wild on some LR that I would like to remove from the rock, but keep growing elsewhere. If I rip the algae off the rock, does the ripped part stand a chance of survival? If so, would I have to mount it somewhere so it can re-root, or does rooting matter? That said, would any/most algae "clippings" live if transplanted? Is there a special method to this madness? Thanks, Rich <well, Rich- these are all great questions, and the answer largely depends on the type of macroalgae you're working with. Algae that propagate with runners, like Caulerpa species, can be relocated with relative ease. Some of the others, like Halimeda, put down "holdfasts" (for want of a better word), and can also be removed easily. The more hair-like macroalgae tend to be damaged through "ripping"; it's really a matter of luck. You could chip off a small chunk of rock that the algae is attached to as well- maybe best of all...But you should experiment with different techniques...Do let us know what works best (but verify the species that you're working with so others can learn)! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Refugium Lighting And Macroalgae Use Hey Guys, <Hello! Scott F. with you today!> A couple of questions. I have read a lot of the FAQs pages but I have yet to see a definitive answer. Do you think 24/7 or a reverse cycle lighting is better. <Well, I personally favor the 24/7 lighting in the sump; it's just plain easier to do, and it has worked well for me (I am of the school that says, "If it isn't broken- don't fix it!"). However, it is certainly not "natural", and people have theorized that the constant light keeps the macroalgae in a sort of "stasis"- much more definitive research has to be done in this area. The "reverse daylight" technique has worked well for many hobbyists. The primary function of RDP and 24/7 is to maintain a more stable pH in the display tank. It really is open to debate and experimentation as to which is better> Also I am using a combo of grape, prolifera, and feather Caulerpa. My Nitrites are 0 my phosphates are 0 also. I see that you do not recommend Caulerpa why? <Caulerpa tends to be an extremely invasive macroalgae, even in a refugium situation. Also, it has a propensity to "go sexual", at which time gametes and cellular material are released into the water as part of the algae's reproductive cycle. This can cause a depletion in the tank's oxygen levels, and a substantial degradation of water quality as these materials decompose. Also, studies by hobbyists seem to have implicated that Caulerpa produces substances which may inhibit the growth of corals in closed aquarium systems. Some of these substances can be leached when the runners are broken, as they may be during "harvesting" of the algae> If you had one Caulerpa to choose which would you use or is a combo good. <If you are determined to use Caulerpa, I'd use a single species. I have always favored C. prolifera, myself. Frankly- I'd recommend an equally hardy, productive, and useful macroalgae, Chaetomorpha linum, which has many of the "benefits" and none of the downsides of Caulerpa. I use this macroalgae exclusively, and am very satisfied with its results> My refugium has only been active for 2 months but so far so good. Should I expect any problems in the future? <If your refugium is well thought-out, and a compatible combination of creatures inhabits it- there should be no difficulties> Also lots of amphipods in refugium, how can I get this life in tank? Fish eat all in seconds before they can hide. <You could simply net collect the "pods and feed them that way. Or- simply allow some to be carried into the tank via the refugium return...Maybe not the most efficient way- but it works> If you were to 86 Caulerpa what would you use (mangrove?) what are your thoughts? <Chaetomorpha, as outlined above, or possibly Gracilaria> By the way I am using a protein skimmer. Thanks Jim <Well, Jim- lots of controversy here. Make your choices based on your needs and concerns...Hope this helped. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Any suggestions on a reef compatible macro algae eater? Question: I have an established reef tank with lots of Caulerpa. Various strains. I have no hair algae and just the slightest film of algae on the glass (almost imperceptible). The Caulerpa, and to a much lesser extent Halimeda, are rampant. I will harvest handfuls and toss it into my all fish tank for a snack. Any suggestions on a reef compatible macro algae eater? The Kole tang I added some time back is totally uninterested and spends most of its time kissing the glass.

Bob's Answer: I'd stick to yanking these thallophytes mano a mano. There are urchins, crabs, lots of fishes that'll lend an Aristotle's Lantern, opposing mandible and fin to keeping them in check, but don't exactly know where/when to stop... maybe you could trade your excess for other stuff?

Can you help clear up a few basic questions about algae? 1. Where does the bad algae come from? Does it spontaneously grow, and from what? Does it come in on water that comes with the fish? Does it come in on other fish? 2. Ditto for good algae. Both come in as "spores" and as "adults" (they're like the probably more familiar ferns with alternation of generations... gametophyte and sporophyte generations)... on rock, other livestock... and just "from the air" even in the middle of the U.S.... Add another item to the list of "unavoidable": death, taxes, and algae! 3. Are there some good algae that are not macro-algae? What are the algae encrusting the rock in the picture of the angel fish? Are these considered macro algae? All sorts. Most "micro" algae are either innocuous or of some benefit(s)... you just don't want too much of the stuff! Oh! The article on Petstore.com? Those are both encrusting red types (corallines) and some form(s) of greens (Chlorophyta). They're not considered macro-algae...  4. Are these algae specific to saltwater setups? Should we mention anything about algae in freshwater tanks? Is that an entirely different subject? I would think a very different subject... and dealt with in quite different ways... Please ask Ms. Barkley if she would like the piece amended... or another article... I would not discuss them together in such a short offering. I understand you're in Maui - wish I was too! Naomi I wish everyone was out here diving too! Very nice weather... lots of new pix! Bob F.

Macroalgae Sel. quandary I would like to begin to grow macroalgae in my 75-gallon reef tank to help soak up some of my high nitrates (I am currently using Siporax beads and PolyFilter, recently added a Derasa clam....). From an aesthetic viewpoint, I like the Lettuce Caulerpa and the Needle Caulerpa.  I have a yellow tang and a coral beauty angel, as well as two chocolate chip stars, which I anticipate will munch on the macroalgae. What would be the best type of algae to get that they can munch, but not deplete?  Also, I don't want the tank to be completely overrun by macroalgae.  Could you recommend a "good" algae for me? Thank you for your help! >> Of the species that are available regularly to the hobby, I would go with Caulerpa racemosa as my first choice, C. mexicana secondly... any others tertially. And if the herbivores seem to snack all these down, look to an mineralizing species in the genus Halimeda to help out. The Green Shrimp, aka "Fuller Brush (for the females' tufts on their backs) Shrimp", or "Camel Shrimp" (unfortunately not the only Shrimp with this common name), Common (because it is so familiar to the hobby), or Marble Shrimp... Saron marmoratus (family Hippolytidae, order Caridea...) is an interesting, albeit reclusive addition for invertebrate, peaceful mixed fishes, and reef systems... They're nocturnal (don't be shocked if you see it as bright red then... this is natural), and often must be fed especially when the lights go out... in order to assure that it gets its share of food... Most all that are sold are females... males have bizarre, really long front legs (longer than their bodies)... and only one to a tank... they fight... ferociously... amongst themselves. Bob Fenner 

Macrophyte Control I have a 55 gallon aquarium that has been established for about a month and a half. I used Fiji live rock to cure it and all my levels are in spec. I have a crushed coral substrate and recently had an excessive growth of algae. It is covering everything! My nitrate levels are around 15ppm and I have done a recent water change. I bought some crabs and some snails to help with the algae on the rock but I don't know what I should get for the substrate. What do you recommend? Thanks Carl Campbell >> Well, first off, congrats for taking the time to set up and let your system cure... And now, what about your system seems a little odd? Those nitrates... do you have a skimmer? I would suggest one of the many lawnmower type blennies for the tank/substrate, and to wait a bit more till you/we solve the source of the nitrates... and they settle down. This should happen in a few weeks. Patience pays big dividends. Bob Fenner

How do I add macro-algae to my tank? First of all I would like to thank you for your help, you really are quite kind. But I do have a follow up question. How do I add micro-algae to my tank? Also, is it possible to add 2 96' power compacts to my current fluorescents? Thanks once again! K >> I take it you mean "macro" not micro (as in "scope") algae... the "little" stuff is generally undesirable ("green water"), and finds it's way into systems via tapwater, the air (yes, even inland from the seas), other organisms... foods...  Macro-algae can be bought as such (like from ffexpress.com under the name/category 'Algae', and as an "incidental" with live rock (it's an important component that comes as part of the rock... and can grow from tiny bits there)... among other types of livestock sold with a rocky base... I have a survey piece on Macro-Algae for marine aquariums stored for hobbyists' use on my site: www.wetwebmedia.com. I will check this for images, and add a few more at this prompting. Yes to the added lighting. This will be a great improvement function and looks wise. And, you're always welcome to my help, input. Bob Fenner

Macro Algae Selection Hi Bob, Once again Bob I call for your advice, thanks in advance. I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful. My question is on the feasibility of live plantings in my display tank. I currently run a CPR refugium with four inches of LS, LR and three species of Caulerpa. I believe them to be C. prole<i>fera, C. racemosa and C. taxa<i>fola. It is doing fabulous under a 6500 K 50/50 bulb running 24 hours. I also run a full time dark sump which is a converted AMiracle wet dry using LR and LS as filter media. I also run a Knop calcium reactor and a protein skimmer in the dark sump. The display tank is illuminated by twin 55 watt power compacts with the standard actinic/day glow combination. The display tank is 45 gallon tall. <Sounds very nice> What can I expect in terms of problems if I introduce Sea Lettuce or Sea Cabbage to the tank? <Mmm, don't think it/they will be able to compete with the established Caulerpaceans> I'm looking at those because it's my understanding that my Yellow Tang will leave them alone.  <No... the Order Ulvales are delicious to Zebrasoma> The tank is also full of very healthy stony and soft corals as well as LR and three to four inches of LS. The other plants <Algae> I can choose from are Sea Pansy (Udotea sp.) <Udotea>, Pine Cone Brush (rhipocephalus P.) or Toadstool (Pencillus). I know the latter will end up as food, but if they pose no other detriment to the tank, then that's OK. My primary concern some of the problems that other readers have posted with Caulerpa under display lighting cycle, releasing a reproductive plume in the tank. Is this a possibility with these plants mentioned? <Sure> Will I also run the risk of the plants taking up to many beneficial nutrients out of the water and thereby damaging the other livestock?  <This is a possibility... if conditions favor them... but you can monitor by testing the water, reduce the algal crop> My other area of concern is lighting. I would like to upgrade the light system to a pair of 96 watt power compacts. I have just enough clearance. These will be added to my current twin 55's. Is this to much? <Not too much... but don't turn all on at once... grade into over a months time> Can you have to much light?  <Yes> Will this adequately penetrate a 45 gallon tall?  <IMO yes> I was planning on running the 55's for 12 hours with the 96's coming on for 6-8 hours mid cycle. Good, bad or just wrong? <Fine> Thanks again Bob, your advice saves a lot of money in mistakes and most importantly, livestock. When it doesn't have to be replaced, it doesn't need to be harvested in excess. Brett- <Agreed, indeed. Bob Fenner>

Marine Plants I recently purchased a juvenile emperor angelfish. Right now it is in a 29 gallon aquarium for quarantine. I feed it some flake food, angel formula, brine shrimp and some algae sheets. I would like for it to have some live plants and live algae for it to browse on when it moves into it's permanent home. What kind would be the best and what is the best lighting for the algae to thrive on. Thank you very much for your help in advance it's much appreciated. <Please see the WetWebMedia.com site here... would add live rock, Caulerpas and possibly Gracilaria, other Reds. Bob Fenner> Nick 

Comment on "planted" marine tanks Mr. Fenner, I have been researching your articles on Wetwebmedia.com for a 3.5 gallon (Eclipse) marine tank that I have recently set up. Your articles have been a great help! Just wanted to let you know. <Very glad they have been of service to you> My plan is to actually created a "planted" marine tank. My exp has been in fw planted aquaria, thus the attraction. I would like to maintain the standard filtration and lighting over this tank. So, I am looking for species of "corals" or plants/algae that I can maintain in such an environment. <There are many choices> I used live water/live sand/live rock frags, so my tank was more or less "pre-packaged". I didn't have to wait to cycle it which was nice. I've already got some cup Caulerpa, "turtle grass", and Gracilaria (?)  <Gracilaria> to start off with. If you have any comments or suggestions concerning other species (or if you can comment on the above - esp the Gracilaria and turtle grass re. propagation) I would be more than interested. <The Turtle Grass (likely a Thalassia sp.) is not easily kept in such a small system... and the consequences of its loss would/will be troubling... I would continue to seek out other true algae and leave off with embryophytes like Turtle Grass. You have seen the macrophyte articles posted on WWM? Bob Fenner> Thanks so much again, Joe Anderson, a new convert to salt, Joe's Aquatic Lounge www.aquaticlounge.aquariumplants.cx Oklahoma City Aquarium Association www.okcaa.aquariumsociety.com <Be chatting>

White moss? Hi Robert, <Hello> This is a great website! I do have a question for you. My dad has a 75 gal. Aquarium. He is having a real problem with a white moss that keeps growing on the substrate level, mostly on one side of his tank. I have never seen anything like this before. One thing I can think of that may be a cause is in the afternoon, sunlight is stronger on that side of the tank.? <Perhaps... a good hypothesis> Anyway, the question is, do you know how to get rid of it? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time. <Please read through the many "algae", "algae control" articles posted on our site, WetWebMedia.com starting in the "index" that pertains to your fathers type system (fresh, marine...). Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Mike

Macro Algae/Sump ?????? Dear Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have read much of your WWM information and FAQ's and am still unclear on a couple issues. I am converting a wet/dry with bio - balls to a sump and would like to add sand, live rock and macro algae. My first question is regarding grape Caulerpa algae. I have acquired some live rock with this on it  <which is the best way to transfer (on live rock)> along with a handful of this from the LFS. I was hoping to put some in the main tank which is a 125 gallon dual overflow AGA. I am hoping this will help reduce some nitrates and add some color.  <don't count on the nitrate reduction without due diligence with maintenance (feeding, pruning, harvesting, etc) on your part. Too tedious for me. I prefer DSB for nitrate control...more reliable and less work> I am a bit worried regarding this Caulerpa going into sexual production.  <common and dreadful> I have read this will produce a lot of gametes that can overwhelm a system. Is this a concern with a larger tank (125g + sump)?  <yes...still a concern. Do run two skimmers on this system to temper the risk> It is scary......sounds like a time bomb waiting to happen when you leave on vacation for a couple days.  <exactly...Murphy's law> I am also wondering since this algae contains these gametes etc., what if your tangs eat this algae during this stage? Is this dangerous to be consumed? <no, but the algae not only releases gametes, but all of the noxious compounds that it absorbed in growth for days/weeks prior...however it is done so all at once. Can be disastrous if you are culturing a large enough quantity for nitrate control and not just a little for color> My second question is somewhat related. I would like to add macro algae to the sump (previously wet/dry filter). My problem is there is really no way to have lighting over head. A difficult retro-fit for side lighting which may cause other problems?  <possibly... at least inconvenient> I have heard of a "dark sump" What is this?  <not something that you can grow Caulerpa in ...hehe. Sponges, yes> If I just added a deep sand bed and live rock without any lighting in the sump would this be very beneficial?  <now you are talking! Yes, please do...minimum 3"...I prefer 5+> Do you have any suggestions regarding what to put in a sump for a FOWLR and possibly mushrooms tank? <you really don't need anything...run it dark and use it primarily for denitrification. Otherwise the options are numerous depending on your personal preference (seagrass bed, Aiptasia scrubber, coral culture raceway, etc> Thank you very much for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Mike McCarthy <<kindly, Anthony Calfo>

What's "good" algae for sump/refugium Gentlemen: <I just might be that, since I don't really work for a living <wink>> I am familiar with Caulerpa "going sexual" or dying back and releasing organics back into the water.  <dreadful...one of the many reasons to be wary of it in garden reef tanks> Is there another type of algae that is better suited for use in a sump/refugium??  <definately...Seagrass: Syringodium sp. for big refugia, and Thalassia sp. for medium refugia. Calcareous plants (like Halimeda) for small refugia> If not, do you recommend any particular species of Caulerpa over the others?? By the way, I'm in Ohio so I don't have to worry about being a criminal algae culturist as it usually takes the Left or Right Coast Fads about 10 years to get here. Thanks for any help you can provide. Stan <yes, those folks from Cali are just crazy <wink> Anthony>

Algal succession hi again! pest ain't I? just wanted to ask I used to have red algae in my 100 gal fish only tank now am getting a lot of bright green algae on rocks on my sand bed to starts of a brown colour then turns into a bright green is this good or bad sign thanks Craig brown <not at all, my friend. Although aesthetically displeasing to some, algae turning from brown to green in aquaria is a normal and healthy progress of algal succession. Brown algae that returns or never leaves is a somewhat "bad" sign (excess nutrients, most likely). Sounds like your on the right track. Kindly, Anthony Calfo>

Macroalgae source Bob Can you give me a source for macroalgae. I went to the WetWebMedia site and have spent a lot of time trying to find a source, by clicking here and there. The web page has too much information. Can you give me one or two company names? We are setting up a tank for dwarf seahorses. Thanks. CB <Inland Aquatics, Flying Fish Express. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater and salt water algae why does algae grow faster in fresh water then saltwater? <it is an artifact of aquariology and not necessarily a physiological difference or fact. Freshwater aquarium systems do not have the biological diversity of organisms to compete with algae for available nutrients (nutrient export processes). In marine aquaria, you have live rock, live sand, natural plankton, many kinds of bacteria, diatoms, plants and competitive alga to give the typical green nuisance algae a hard time to grow. We even have protein skimmers that work in saltwater only that can starve out algae by skimming dissolved organics out that could be algae "food". In freshwater fish tanks, there is no live rock or live substrate to speak of and so man-made filtration works to convert dissolved organics to nitrogenous by-products (and a lot of it) which serves as fertilizer. So whaddya say? Sound believable <wink>? Anthony Calfo>

Best macro-algae ?? Hey guys, <whasssup?> Is there a type of macro-algae that causes less yellowing of the water than other types when used as a refugium filter?  <all do, but most anything is better than Caulerpa. Try Thalassia eel, turtle grass or Syringodium manatee grass> Any other tips (other than replenishing GAC) for reducing yellowing? <poly filters, protein skimming and/or ozonation of seawater> Thanks, Darrell <best regards, Anthony>

Your site (marine algae, succession) Hi Bob <<Actually, it's JasonC here... and how are you?>> I hope you and your crew are all well. I just want to tell you how your site has helped me in the setup of my new tank over the past couple of weeks, maybe you can comment about my uneducated conclusions if you wish. My new tank (about 140gallons) was barely cycled when it suddenly had a major breakout of "brown algae", which basically covered all surfaces in a very short period. Using your algae articles and faq's I identified this as being diatoms and Steven pro confirmed for me that this is normal for new tanks. So I cleaned the glass with a magnet and left the live rock/substrate as is and within days the brown stuff started disappearing, only to be replaced by green stuff. To me the green stuff looks almost exactly like the brown diatoms, but it might be "Cyano bacteria", which I also read about on your site. I'm not sure which one it is, but its a thin green layer again covering everything. <<Sounds like BGA [Cyanobacteria] to me.>> Every day I clean the glass and the next day it all comes back again. So I did some more reading and identified 2 possible problems which might apply to my setup - insufficient skimming and/or insufficient water movement. <<Or both!>> I was reasonably convinced that my skimmer is producing well, so I turned to water movement and this is where I believe I have found my problem. The person whom I bought all my equipment from and who helped me set up the tank never really stressed the importance of adding things like powerheads etc. so I assumed that my return pump would be sufficient for water movement at first and that I would add some powerheads later. <<A common, but poorly made assumption. There is almost no practical way to duplicate or even approximate the flows prevalent on a reef. It is almost impossible to have "too much" circulation, but it is very easy to have too little.>> After carefully investigating my "green algae" I noticed that there was one area that had absolutely no green stuff on it, a perfectly clean round area on the glass. So of course the round clean area is where the stream from my return pump is blowing and I have come to the conclusion that this is the only area where I have proper water movement - hence no diatom problems. Even though the water is not perfectly still in any spot, I am now convinced that about 3 quarters of my 2 meter tank is basically "dead" in terms of water movement, so tomorrow I am buying a box full of powerheads to experiment with ! <<While you are at it, use Google to look up the phrase "laminar flow" - is possible with fluids to get them flowing in such a way that dead spots are created.>> I might be wrong in all my conclusions but still I wouldn't have been able to do any of this troubleshooting if it wasn't for the stuff you publish on your site - so thanks a million from my side. I learned a whole lot about my skimmer, water movement and algae in the process. <<Good, good.>> What I would like to do is add the powerheads and see if the algae disappears, instead of cleaning everything first and then see if it doesn't appear again, but I'm not sure if this is how it works when you fix a problem, if water movement is my problem that is. so if you can comment on this it would be great. <<Well, it sounds to me like even if you cleaned it, the BGA would still come back. However, if you're in the experimenting mood, it is still good scientific method to let the BGA come back full bore and then proceed as planned. Your results will be more concrete.>> Thanks again for all the support. Chris <<Cheers, J -- >>

Brittle Star, freshwater/marine algae, euryhaline sea minkees Hi, Bob and experts, <<And hello to you...>> I just brought two brittle stars and I would like to know whether is it safe to keep in a DSB ? One is a Banded Serpent Star (Ophiolepis superba) and one is normal brittle star (Ophiocoma sp). Both are about 3-4 inch big. <<As long as they aren't green brittle stars [these can be predatory] you should be all set. These seastars really don't do much below the surface of the sandbed.>> 2. Just curious to know whether a fresh water algae (seaweed) is able to grow in salt water ? <<No, I don't think so... different osmotic balance required in cell walls, etc.>> 3. One last thing, I planning to keep brine shrimp. Wonder I will stay alive in saltwater? <<You mean like Sea Monkeys? No, they need true brine.>> and if yes, can I add those stuff into my reef tank after it hatched? <<You could add it like food, but I wouldn't add these as inhabitants. The resulting die-off could spell disaster.>> Thanks Regards
<<Cheers, J -- >>

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