Some types of marine algae are shunned by aquarists, while others are well-liked and highly sought after. Algae can also be kept to promote high water quality in a marine aquarium.
Unwanted marine algae
If your aquarium becomes infested with unwanted marine algae, it is a good idea to try to diagnose which type of algae it is since different algae thrives in different environments. It is often impossible to figure out the exact species, but more experienced marine aquarists can usually help identifying to which group the algae belongs and what you should do to make your aquarium less hospitable for that particular type of algae.
Generally speaking, algae will thrive in aquariums where there is plenty of light and nutrients. Check the water quality regularly, provide efficient filtration and carry out frequent water changes. Excessive algae growth is often the result of over feeding, especially if your army of scavengers is too small for the aquarium. Another way of combating unwanted algae is to introduce desirable marine algae species, since they will compete for food with the unwanted species.
Decorative marine algae
There are many species of beautiful algae to choose among and even rather plain algae, e.g. simple green variants, can look great when used to create a natural oceanic environment in the aquarium. If you want to keep red marine algae, you can for instance go for red kelp from the genera Haliptilon and Botryocladia. If you prefer green, you can have your pick among variants like Maiden's Hair Plant (from the genus Chlorodesmis) and Ulva Lettuce Algae (from the genus Ulva).
Among reef aquarists, encrusting coralline algae is especially sought after since this type of algae will form carbonate shells in a manner similar to that of the corals. If you manage to get your encrusting coralline algae to thrive, it will provide good covering and add colour to the set up. There are many different colours to chose among, including red, pink, purple, green and white.
Marine algae used for filtration
As mentioned above, marine algae can help you keep the water quality up in your saltwater aquarium by acting as filters. Certain species of marine algae will remove fish waste, phosphates and carbon dioxide from the water and some can even bind heavy metals and neutralize various toxins. In addition to this, marine algae are known to act as pH-buffers and some species will exude chemicals that are beneficial for the gills, skin and intestines of marine fish. By adding live marine algae to your aquarium, you make it more similar to a wild ecosystem. Many fish species love to eat marine algae or feed on the microfauna that live on or among the algae. Before you purchase algae for your aquarium, make sure that the species you select is robust and fast growing enough to handle your particular fish species. One example of popular marine algae is the members of the genus Chaetomorpha, commonly known as Spaghetti algae, Green Hair algae or Chaeto (pronounced “kay-toe”). These macro algae will form dense green mats consisting of a multitude of long, stiff strands. Spaghetti algae can be placed in the aquarium but is also a great addition to your refugium.
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