Showing posts with label Caulerpa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Caulerpa. Show all posts

2016-11-11

Macroalgae As Natural Filtration For REEF AQUARIUMS

Caulerpa is a genus of edible seaweed.
Caulerpa is a genus of edible seaweed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Removing excess waste is one of the main challenges to a successful reef aquarium. It's often easy for beginners to forget that corals are living animals that excrete waste. Ammonia, nitrite, nitrates and phosphates are problematic to corals, fishes, inverts and other animals. An increase in ammonia that is not quickly removed or converted can easily crash a reef aquarium. High amounts of nitrates and phosphates can hinder coral growth and cause discoloration.

Typical means of removing nitrates and phosphates involve water changes, skimmers and the use of macroalgae. All three are very effective but the use of macroalgae is the easiest and most economical. Skimmers are often expensive and require cleaning few times a week. Water changes are time consuming and can get expensive for large reef aquariums. Macroalgae can effectively absorb phosphates and nitrates as long as a light source is present. The only maintenance required is pruning excess growth once a month. While skimmers and water changes incur costs, excess trimmings of macroalgae can often be sold.

A side affect of excess nutrients is an increase of nuisance microalgae. Microalgae can ruin the beauty of a reef aquarium and suffocate corals. The good news is that macroalgae is able to able to starve microalgae of nutrients and thus greatly reducing its presence.

There is an abundance of choices of macroalgae that include Chaetomorpha, Caulerpa, Gracilaria and Ulva. In terms of phosphate and nitrate absorption, Caulerpa is the most aggressive and effective. However, Caulerpa can be potentially dangerous. Caulerpa can suddenly dissolve and release toxic elements and the excess nutrients that were absorbed. This happens when Caulerpa is lacking light or nutrients. A second problem with Caulerpa is its hold fast roots. Caulerpa has the ability to attach itself to hard objects making removal extremely difficult. With these risks it's better to choose another macroalgae.



Chaetomorpha is an excellent and likely most popular choice among reef aquarists for nutrient uptake. Although the nutrient absorption rate for Chaetomorpha is not as aggressive as Caulerpa, it doesn't pose any risks that Caulerpa does. Chaetomorpha will not dissolve suddenly when starved of nutrients or light. There will be plenty of time and signs before Chaetomorpha dissolve. Chaetomorpha also lack the ability to attach to objects making removal very easy.
Long term control of excess nutrients is essential for a successful and beautiful reef aquarium. Although skimmers and frequent water changes are extremely effective in removing excess nutrients, macroalgae is the easiest way to remove excess nutrients.