Monday, 16 February 2015 19:07

A Hitch Hikers Guide to the Reefs - Algae & Bacteria Featured

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By Charles & Linda Raabe 
Mactan Island, The Philippines 



  There are of course, many other organisms that may arrive within our systems as hitch hikers within and on live rock and sand as well as being introduced as water or air borne arrivals. Their presence is usually never noticed until the aquarium conditions favor their sudden growth. While impossible to be totally rid of such organisms, they can be controlled and limited if you understand their needs and are then able to deny them of those needs. 

     CYANOBACTERIA - Right after algae, the cyanobacteria are the most frequently encountered organism. While it will always be present within our aquariums there are of course conditions that favor its growth, the link I provided will be of use in learning how to limit it. Being a bacteria, I do not suggest you use any anti-bacterial product within your system and instead learn of its needs and then deny it of those needs. 

   cyanobacteria   cyanobacteria1   

      DIATOMS -  Very similar in appearance to cyanobacteria but is instead a photosynthetic algae which uses silicates to build its structures. As with any pest, the best control is to learn of its needs and then deny it of those needs. Silicate based sands will not provide this algae with a food source as such silicates must be soluble.


     FILAMENT ALGAE - No matter its coloration, any of the filamentatious algae can quickly gain ground in our aquariums, while the limiting of its nutrient sources may slow its spread, it is best kept in check with having herbivores such as certain fish and snail species. I do not advocate the use of any crab species as they are omnivores and may turn to meatier items within your aquarium that you wish to keep, such as other inverts. 

   hairalgae1   hairalgae2   hairalgae3

      CORALLINE ALGAE -  While looking like a colorful rock, this is in fact a plant and may be found in many colors and shapes, not all of which are encrusting but may form branches as well. Many of the species found growing as a colorful calcified "rock" do have specific levels of light requirements, some prefer the intensity of light that can be found in a typical reef aquarium while others prefer much more subdued lighting. Changes in lighting usually results in this algae bleaching out and dieing off only to have another species start to grow in its place. Calcium levels of the aquarium should be monitored as this type of algae can pull alot of calcium out of the water in a single day.

   corallinehitch   corallinehitch1   corallinehitch2

      MACRO ALGAE  -  With a great many species that can be found as hitch hikers upon live rock, I will of course not be able to show all of the possibles and will instead, show but a few of the more common as well as the more unusual species. The main link provided leads to a very indepth macro algae identification site. 

   macrohitch   macrohitch1   macrohitch2       ( Botryocladia pseudodichotoma )                  (Ventricaria ventricosa)                             (Valonia utricularis 2)  

   tunicate13        One of many Red bubble algae

      Fungal  & Bacterial Mats -  Most often seen as a thin spider web looking mat on newly purchased or mishandled live rock where there has been a die off of other life forms on the rock. Food particles or dead animals left laying about the tank will also develop fungal and bacterial growths as well. As shown in the above photographs. 

   fungi   bacterialmat   bacterialmat1

      MICRO ALGAE - As the name implies, these are very small plants which quickly and easily colonize any surface area and is most often seen as a brown and/or green film on the glass of the aquarium and will also grow as a green "staining" of  rocks and sand. With the correct species of snails, and in sufficient numbers, this type of algae can be kept in check. 


     CHRYSOPHYTES  -  A marine silicate based algae, which if it has become a problem within your aquarium, reducing the amount of dissolved silicates and other nutrients will help to reduce it or at least keep it from dominating the aquarium. 



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permission of the authors.

Used by permission.  Many thanks to Charlies and Linda Raabe for their support.

Read 3314 times Last modified on Tuesday, 16 June 2015 00:43
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