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Re: good algaes

On Fri, 16 Jul 1999, Ed Street asked:

> I have been reading alot about algaes on the net and all have been in
> reference to or follows the path of "I have bad algaes, what are they and
> how do I get rid of them" never have I seen any detailed reference to the
> 'good' forms of algae, by 'good' I mean helpfull algaes to shrimp, fish,
> plants and the ecosystem of freshwater areas.
> Any clue as to where I can find this information at?

There are some research sites on the web that are devoted to algae.
Unfortunately, I can't cite them for you.  Try the search engines.  The
best I recall was at a university in upstate New York (I think).  It
included a fairly large on-line library of photomicrographs and
descriptions.  Good luck finding it.

There are a bazillion different kinds of algae and generally they are
essential to fresh water and marine ecosystems.  Algae are the most
important primary produces - they sit at the bottom of the food chain.
They are to aquatic systems what grass is to the prairies.  As I
understand it, most marine systems are exclusively dependent on algae for
primary production.  Freshwater systems generally are less dependent on
algae because a part (very large part in some cases) of their primary
nutrient supply is from terrestrial sources.

Phytoplankton (there's about 1/2 bazillion of these) are pretty much
everywhere in freshwater systems and they are important and useful until
things reach the point where they are readily evident in green water
outbreaks.  They restricts light penetration and plants and attached
algaes in deeper water die back.  Green water occurs more often in
eutrophics bodies.

Hair algae of various kinds are also important and useful but can form
floating mats that likewise shade out plants and attached algae.  And
again, their prevalence often indicates eutrophic conditions.

Diatoms and Cyanophytes, same thing.  Good in small doses, but they get
out of hand when the nutrient levels rise and many competing species
suffer.  Cyanophytes are a particularly nasty problem since some are

I've never heard of short, attached algaes causing a problem in natural

In planted tanks we almost always look at algae of all types as the bad
guy, with no benefits, never to be encouraged or even tolerated.  I know
of a few cases where green algae are at least tolerable.

1) I've encouraged green water blooms as a means of combating cyanophyte
infestations.  It worked for me, but I'm not sure that method gives
consistent results.

2) I found a sort of firmly attached, soft hair algae that grows to a
length of only about 1 cm.  It spreads slowly and creates a thick, lush
carpet.  It attaches to wood and stones, but I've never seen it attached
to plants.  It's really beautiful and good food for shrimps and
algae-eating fish.

3) I also have a brittle, loosely attached hair algae that will sometimes
cause problems when it gets tangled in plants.  The stuff doesn't grow
real long and its easily harvested if it starts to get out of hand.  My
flag fish and shrimp eat it.

Roger Miller