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Great balls of Cladophora aegagrophila

> I would like to ask Tom Barr a question about his algae balls.

That's a little too personal of a question to ask. I do not have algae down

>I recently
> got a couple in a trade with him.

Better _yours_ than mine. Sometimes folks can have too much balls, most
don't have any.

>Tell me about this plant! Under what
> conditions does it grow? How quickly, and can it be attached like moss?
> Does it have any benefits other than asthetic?

Well as far as I know the entire stock came from Claus of Tropica when he
was here a few years ago. He knew we no balls of our own but that's changed
in North America. There's a video of his talk actually floating around from
that time also(sfbaaps has it, Mike L., I think). Claus had some odd
reactions and looks trying to give us these odd algae to us actually. Folks
were not falling over themselves to get them. I took one since no one else
wanted it.

They grow like other higher plants. You can simply pull the ball in half and
it will grow out into two balls (you may want to rotate it so it gets light
on all parts which will even the growth out). Fast growth produces fluffy
balls that are not as aesthetically pleasing as denser growth*(iron balls).
New fast growth is slightly different color. It likes high light, CO2 etc.
Nothing will eat it as far as snails, SAE's, shrimps etc.
They can be rung out also without damage to the ball. Large balls can
apparently get basketball sized and are hollow in the middle and can float.

In a well run tank with good light they will float up from midday on. I
invented an anchor to keep them in place. You can wedge them in between
plants to keep them secure but mine always got lose and floated up.
The anchor is a piece of wire that's bent into an " I-----I " shape and I
spear the ball in the middle*(this usually hurts very bad) and place the
other "T" end into the gravel(so algae on your algae is not a big issue).
They are fairly slow growers. They will do well on higher NO3, light, CO2,

If you add NH4 or have a surge into your tank(like adding too many fish for
a small tank) it will activate it sexually and gametes/zoospores will be
produced that form a zygote which _do_ attach(vegetative (2n) will not
attached. They attach to not living things though(not glass). They seem to
prefer rough texture surface for recruitment. Flourite has proved to be very
good. They are easy to get out once this process has happened. I did not
have room for 30 pieces to grow out so I kept a few and tossed the rest.
They don't start out like balls, that formed as they rotate and get moved
around. They may fool you and you might thing they are BBA or other species
of Cladophora at first. As it grows it gets more and more like the ball. It
only attaches to get started  and this is not needed except for the
beginning stages. The round shape is a function of being loose rather than
attached. I have it attached to a power head and another top a filter intake
tube. You can take tufts off and grow them from that also. It can get a
slimy hair algae on it but it cleans up easily so algae on your balls is not
a big issue. I told you I do not have algae on my balls and I meant it.

Benefits of having balls? Well that's a question one has to ask one's self.
I cannot answer that question for you.

Tom Barr
> Robert Paul Hudson
> http://www.aquabotanic.com