Coralline Algae are red algae belonging to the order Corallinales. It is a very hard, calcareous skeleton that is eaten by a few creatures. Sea Urchins, limpets and chitons, and parrotfish are the marine vertebrates that eat Coralline Algae.
Parrotfish feed on the Corallinales but tend to eat Stony corals, mostly large fish. Sea Urchins are known to eat Coralline Algae so much, although they go for other forms of Algae first before they eat Coralline Algae.
Overall, Parrotfish, Limpets, Chitons, and Urchins are the popular marine vertebrates that will eat coralline algae. They are the most colorful fish with a healthy appetite to eat coralline algae.
Parrotfish and Urchins are also willing to eat stony corals and tend to be large animals like sea urchins. Though they are avid eaters of marine algae, Parrotfish and Urchins will go for other algae forms first before turning to Coralline Algae if they can’t find anything more tasty or nutritious to sink in their tough teeth is a problem.
And that’s because coral-eating parrots often mean problems for their environment as well-they could potentially lead nearby reefs into death so long as there’s something better than these types of hardy plants available elsewhere on themselves.
Reef keepers that wish to have clean walls sometimes see Coralline Algae as a nuisance, but the bottom line is that these Algae can prove to be important just like the rest of corals themselves when it comes to the promotion of a healthy reef, both in nature and aquariums.
Everything to know about Coralline Algae
These are red Algae that are part of the order Corallinales. Their calcareous skeleton makes them unique and stands out. Like corals, these can absorb carbonate from the water column, and stratifying layers can benefit from this in forming a fortified permanent home.
Similarly, corals form calcareous skeletons into fanciful shapes that serve numerous purposes. Coralline Algae is known to have slow growth, and it has a population of grazers clearing the way for their arrival.
Coralline Algae act as direct competitors in the aquarium in terms of nuisance hair and bryopsis algae. They cover the available living space and act as sinks for nitrates, phosphates, and other fertilizers.
There are approximately 1600 species of coralline algae that are known to exist. A lot of Coralline Algae have varying shades of pink, with others varying in green, yellow, or Amber.
Caring for Coralline Algae
A lot of aquarists have an encounter with coralline algae once or several times. The interesting part to know would be how it got there in the first place.
How Does Coralline Algae Get Into My Aquarium?
It can easily get inside an aquarium but it can be quite difficult to get rid of. This encrusting algae occurs in thick concentrations when you have spent time scraping your aquarium walls of thick encrustations.
Powdered Corallinales existing in a water column can find its way into the bag accompanied with a new fish, or invertebrate purchase absolutely will tend to form colonies in their new home.
Another way that Corallinales tend to rise is through the purchase of live rock and corals.
If you are growing impatient, you can choose to introduce coralline algae into your aquarium. You can scrape from a tank that already has some and introduce them in a new aquarium given the right conditions for Stony corals to thrive.
In addition to that, you can buy purple, and pink coralline algae that are bottled. This is quite effective as you know the type of species at hand.
If deprived of light and a place to attach to, the bottled algae will die in about 2 weeks since these are photosynthetic organisms.
As is the case with most reef-building organisms, you will need to provide similar conditions that will help the coralline algae grow and thrive.
This means a temperature range of 72-80 Fahrenheit degrees for a lot of these species, and a pH of approximately 8 to 8.4.
The salinity should preferably be at 1.023 to 1.025 and the levels of nitrate should preferably be below 5ppm. The number of phosphates should be maintained at low levels.
All this is to mean that Coralline Algae thrives under conditions like that of hard corals in terms of water conditions.
This should let you know that you will need to keep track of the levels of calcium. The calcium range that these species thrive under is in the range of 350-450ppm.
The main structural component of their skeletons is formed by calcium accompanied by carbonate.
Another essential component is magnesium since it leads to the increase of potential carbonate and calcium in Seawater.
There will be a reduction in the levels of carbonate and calcium if the magnesium levels are not high, leading to the slow growth of the Algae.
Should I Encourage Coralline Algae?
Coralline Algae must be encouraged to grow if you wish to have the most diverse reef ecosystem possible. Corals tend to preferably grow on a live rock that is coated in Coralline Algae.
There will also be a competition with the nuisance forms, and the growth of grazing invertebrates will be encouraged, which will keep the pest Algae in check. The outer layers of Corallinales will tend to be shaded which will eventually prevent the establishment of nuisance algae.
Coralline Algae plays a vital role in being a binding agent for live rock, and coral fragments that glue structural components reduce the chances of collapse.
Coralline Algae also adds a beautiful scenery that covers the metal, plastic, and grass components that are not fitting for the reef inhabitants. In addition to that, Corallinales are also an excellent indicator species.
Coralline Algae thrives when the levels of magnesium, strontium, carbonate, and calcium are maintained at elevated levels. They do well when the conditions are stable. They can be stressed if the parameters rapidly fluctuate.
Downsides of Coralline Algae
There are equally many disadvantages as there are advantages of the Coralline Algae. The obvious one is that it rapidly spreads and becomes established in any direction.
Most Corallinales have slow growth and tend to spread at a slow rate per year. This kind of Algae can easily be cleaned from the equipment, and grass a few times per year. There are some instances where you will meet a pink variety that is known for its fast growth rate.
It has a spotty, and often messy appearance that may not be of attraction to you like the more perfection-oriented reef keepers. These species are not for aquarists preferring a more mature reef look.
Also, keep in mind that very few creatures can eat Coralline Algae due to its hard calcareous skeleton nature. Parrotfish tend to eat Corallinales but often prefer to eat Stony corals and tend to be large fish. Sea Urchins are the animals that are known to each Coralline Algae much but they still prefer other forms of Algae first.
Controlling Coralline Algae
The growth of Coralline Algae needs to be controlled since many Algae eaters will prefer other forms of Algae than the Coralline Algae due to its hard skeleton nature.
Juicier varieties are preferred by Hermit crabs, most snails, Lawnmower Blennies, and Tangs. Sea Urchins and Black Nerite snails tend to reliably consume it although they prefer other forms of Algae first.
You can prevent it from covering the view of the tank when you scrape it by hand from the aquarium glass. This will tend to be a hard task since Corallinales tend to grow slowly. Upon forming thick plates you can therefore use a glass scraper to easily remove the tiny colonies.
The best option that you have is to fill a spray bottle with vinegar. The calcium carbonate buildup is eaten away by this weak acid. The areas that are covered with the Coralline Algae must be soaked thoroughly, give it some time, preferably an hour before you can scrape away the coated area using a scraper or any instrument by hand.
The cleaning process of equipment like tubing, pumps, or powerheads that might be covered in Corallinales might be eased up by soaking them in vinegar and this will greatly simplify the cleaning process.
The best way, though is to completely tear down the tank and then let it dry out. Once the drying process has been completed, you will want to use a new live rock because there might be chances of the spores surviving, as there will be moisture in deep cavities.
And if there is, it will only lead to the germination of new Coralline Algae colonies upon the return of the saltwater.
Although it might be tiresome at some points, Coralline Algae generally add attractive scenery to your aquarium and lead to a healthy reef aquarium and a complete ecosystem.
Sea Urchins, limpets and chitons, and parrotfish are the marine vertebrates that eat Coralline Algae. Parrotfish do feed on the Corallinales but tend to eat Stony corals and they are mostly large fish. Sea Urchins are known to eat Coralline Algae so much although they go for other forms of Algae first before they eat Coralline Algae.
It is still debatable whether Coralline Algae can be considered as an attractive scenery or a pest resident. This all depends on your personal preferences. If you are a fan of additional diversity in your reef tank then you must allow it to grow and flourish in your reef tank and its spread must be encouraged by making sure stable water conditions are provided in the aquarium.
If you do not wish to have Corallinales in your aquarium, methods have been mentioned above that you can use to control the spread of these Algae species. Keep in mind that prevention is better than cure, and make sure you do an inspection of all incoming Coral frags, and keep an eye out for Coralline Algae colonies.
Make sure you also see that only little unfamiliar aquarium water must be able to enter your system by making use of quarantine tanks, and other methods for invertebrates, and new fish.