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Good and Bad Marine Algae

Some of these algae species are beneficial in saltwater aquariums, but other species quickly become pests.

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Aquarium Fish InternationalSupplement to “Marine Algae: The Good and the Bad” by Bob Goemans, Aquarium Fish International magazine, August 2012, Vol. 24, No. 8.

Good Algae
Caulerpa, such as C. racemosa, C. mexicana and C. prolifera. Fast-growing C. racemosa removes nutrients quickly, but old growth must be manually removed from the aquarium. Caulerpa mexicana and C. prolifera remove fewer nutrients but are eaten by fish. Great for refugiums.

Chaetomorpha linum. Fast-growing C. linum is great for refugiums. It can be floated in the refugium, which eliminates the need for substrate. It can be lit with regular household fluorescent bulbs.

Others. Red marine algae species include Botryocladia botryoides, Gloiocladia laciniata (formerly Fauchea laciniata), Scinaia complanata and various Halymenia species. Green species include various calcareous Halimeda species. These attractive species are harder to grow but are great for display aquariums.


Pest Algae
Derbesia and Bryopsis (Bryopsis plumosa). Considered cyanobacteria that contain chlorophyll, Derebesia and Bryopsis species can become independent of bulk water and should be removed when seen.

Bubble algae, including Valonia, Ventricaria and Dictyosphaeria. The bubbles can break and release more bubble algae into the aquarium. It can get out of control quickly, so remove the object that the bubble algae is on and scrape it off before returning the object to the aquarium.

Red bubble or red valonia algae (Botryocladia skottsbergii). Botryocladia skottsbergii can thrive in well-maintained saltwater aquariums and can be difficult to eradicate. Remove red bubble algae from the aquarium right away, as aquarium residents will not eat it, and it can spread quickly.

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