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Re: Algae Balls
I've only got one ball, but it's a big one that I got from Tom. I also
have a few small tufts. I've only had them for about a month or so, but
I'll offer my opinion on it so far.
The "balling" alga's name is Cladophora aegagropila. It grows *very*
slowly and doesn't seem to have any special requirements. I think it
probably benefits from CO2 and possibly better lighting, but I also have it
in a low light, non-CO2 injected tank and it's doing fine as far as I can
tell. The ball does tend to accumulate tank debris but a good squeeze or
two during water changes takes care of that.
The alga is a fairly dark and rich color of green. It has a coarse texture
and branches at acute angles like other Cladophora spp. All in all, I'd
say it is the most attractive alga I've ever seen. I hope to "infect" some
rocks with it in the future. I think it has aquascaping potential beyond
just hanging around as a ball.
Is it a potential nuisance? I was curious about this myself, but after
observing it for awhile, I'd say no. Tom has pointed out before that NH4
will make it spread, but even then I think it would be easy to control due
to its slow-growing nature. The slowest growing Anubias is a weed compared
to this stuff. It is not at all like it's "evil" Cladophora cousin that I
had to deal with last year.
Will it knock out nuisance algae? I seriously doubt it. Definitely not
from nutrient uptake. It grows too slowly. It may have some allelopathic
abilities, though. It does appear to have some defensive capability
because algae eaters aren't interested in it. My shrimps, Otocinclus, and
SAE's ignore it. I've never seen a snail on it, either.
I don't think everyone would like it. I think it's main attraction for
most would be as a curiosity piece. But if you're like me and actually
think some algae is cool (in the right tank), then you should definitely
get some balls and try it. I hope to have more balls in the future.