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Cladophora

Contents:

  1. Cladophora balls
    by Thomas Barr <tcbiii/earthlink.net> (Tue, 12 Jun 2001)
  2. Cladophora
    by "Karen Randall" <krandall/world.std.com> (Wed, 13 Jun 2001)
  3. Great balls of Cladophora aegagrophila
    by Thomas Barr <tcbiii/earthlink.net> (Sat, 08 Dec 2001)

Cladophora balls

by Thomas Barr <tcbiii/earthlink.net>
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001

> Has anyone here had any experience with using the algae Cladophora
> aegagropila in aquascaping? It´s a dense, green thread algae with very slow
> growth. If I´m not misinformed, Tropica has recently started selling it and
> it´s becoming quite popular in Denmark. It´s used stretched out in the
> foreground of the tank to form a lush, green carpet - much like Riccia in
> Amanos tanks. The difference being that Cladophora stays in place and
> doesn´t need constant pruning since it grows very slowly. And to my eye,
> it´s at least as beautiful.

Yes it's nice.
> 
> But on the other hand - it is an algae. And they´re not usually our friends.

Not this one. It's a nice plant. Algae eaters don't eat it. That's different
too. I use more like a ball of Riccia rather than "stretching it out" in a
lawn. The balls float too, like Riccia but not as bad. I suppose one could
weight it down somehow with rocks/wood etc or with other plants hanging on
to it.
> 
> So - before I go ahead and start using it all the way, I just wanted to
> hear what you´ve got to say on the subject. Is it as good as it seems to
> be? If it is, why isn´t everyone using it? Any drawbacks I don´t know
> about? Tips, hints and experience - please let me know.

It's slow growing and will do well in high light CO2 tanks. As they get
bigger the balls will get hollow inside and float. Break them open and they
will form  a new piece etc. I think I have 4 or so in my tanks.
Claus gave me one awhile back.

A neat idea would be using the balls with Riccia stones. The dark and light
contrast would look nice. They are quite hardy as well.
Regards, 
Tom Barr 
> 
> Thanks,
> Fredrik.
> 


Cladophora

by "Karen Randall" <krandall/world.std.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001

Fredrik Agetoft wrote:

> Has anyone here had any experience with using the algae Cladophora
> aegagropila in aquascaping? It´s a dense, green thread algae with very
slow
> growth. If I´m not misinformed, Tropica has recently started selling it
and
> it´s becoming quite popular in Denmark. It´s used stretched out in the
> foreground of the tank to form a lush, green carpet - much like Riccia in
> Amanos tanks. The difference being that Cladophora stays in place and
> doesn´t need constant pruning since it grows very slowly. And to my eye,
> it´s at least as beautiful.

I have been working with it for quite a while now.  Claus gave me a couple
of balls when he was here a year and a half ago, and I obtained another
couple from a domestic source earlier this year.  I have a third that came
adventitiously from a friend's tank.  The balls, as Tom says are fun, and
easy to work with.  They are slow growing, but do grow fast enough that I
have been able to divide the oldest ones to share with other people.

The trick is getting them round again.  I have found that if you cut them in
half, you can then give them a "tummy tuck" with a stapler to establish the
round shape again. The balls get started by rolling in the waves at the edge
of large lakes, so under still conditions, or with the directional currents
we have in the aquarium, they need encouragement to become round.  Once
round, they tend to stay that way.  I have read that in the wild, they
occasionally get as large as a human head, but these would be quite old, and
as Tom mentioned, they would be hollow inside.

The problem of floating that Tom mentioned seems to be light dependent.  I
am quite sure that the algae itself is not buoyant.  But under strong light
conditions, it photosynthesizes fast enough that the resulting O2 bubbles
carry it to the surface.  The simple solution is to place it in a dimmer
area of the tank.  Unlike Riccia, it tolerates low light levels very well.

I agree with Tom that I'd be more inclined to use these in their ball shape
than to try to turn them into a mat, for a couple of reasons.  First, they
are very cool just as they are.  Second they grow SO-O-O slowly that a good
ground cover would take quite a while to achieve.  Third, the growth is so
fine and dense, that it becomes a mulm magnet.  When it is in its ball form,
it is easy enough to pick up, and squeeze out a few times, just as you would
clean a sponge.  Drop it back in the tank, and you're done.  If you are
trying to maintain it as a carpet, at best, it will be unsightly with a
build-up of mulm adhering to it.  At worst, if it became to heavily coated,
I can't imagine that it would be good for it.

The type of Cladophora (whether it's a different species or just a different
form is open for discussion) that forms these balls doesn't seem to want to
adhere to a substrate.  I have them sitting on driftwood, sitting on the
substrate and tucked into the branches of Anubias.  They have never attached
in any of these situations.  And as Tom mentioned, they don't seem to be
very tasty.  I have good algae eating crews in my tanks, and the balls have
remained untouched.  I can't think of any negative aspects of this algae!

Because of my positive experience with algae balls, I became interested when
a friend's tank developed a beautiful growth of Cladophora on a large piece
of driftwood.  He watched this develop over quite a long period, and the
algae never climbed off its perch to infest other parts of the tank.
Eventually, he sent me some to play with.  Unlike the algae balls, this form
does attach to wood.  But like the algae balls, it is very slow growing, and
has shown no sign of being ill-behaved.  It is clearly different from the
algae ball type, with shorter filaments that develop into a shorter, velvety
mound.  I actually have both sitting touching each other, and neither
invades the space of the other.

I don't think this type competes well with fast growing plants.  I have not
been able to establish it in my high light/fast growth tanks, but only in my
moderate light/no CO2 tank which houses only ferns, mosses and Anubias.
Maybe if I were to transfer it already attached to a piece of driftwood it
would do better, but I'll need to wait until it has grown more before I try
that, and as I said, the growth is slow.  Maybe next year.<g>

I think this type has a better chance of being used as an effective
foreground plant, if you got it to colonize a flattish piece of driftwood
across the front of the tank, it would fill the same roll as Riccia covered
rocks, and could be easily lifted up to shake/brush off mulm.


Great balls of Cladophora aegagrophila

by Thomas Barr <tcbiii/earthlink.net>
Date: Sat, 08 Dec 2001

> 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
there.

>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,
etc.

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.

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


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