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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.
Chuck Huffine
Knoxville, Tennessee