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Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae
(Caulerpa taxifolia)
Quick Care FactsCare Level: Moderate
Lighting: Moderate to High gallons
Placement: Any
Maximum Size: Varies
Water Conditions: 58-89° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.021-1.025
Propagation: Pruning
Coloration: Green
Supplements: Trace elements, magnesium, iron
Origin: Native to Indian Ocean, Established in Mediterranean Sea, Southern California
Family: Caulerpaceae
Species: Macro Algae
Species Information
Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae is an extremely hardy species of macro algae capable of growing very rapidly and in a wide range of aquatic environments. This species is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures ranging from 58° F to almost 90° F; as well as, being able to grow on a wide variety of surfaces including: rock, sand, coral structures and even entwined with other plants.
Native to the Indian Ocean, Caulerpa Taxifolia has since taken root in both the Mediterranean Sea and portions of the Pacific ocean off the coast of Southern California through accidental introduction via commercial fishing nets and from aquarium hobbyists discarding it into coastal waters.
The rapid growth of Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae is what makes it both highly desirable to aquarium hobbyists for nutrient export, but also what makes it an invasive species that can take over a native natural habitat. In nature Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae will often spread rapidly and crowd out and replace native algae and sea grasses. Additionally, it is highly toxic to the herbivores who feed on the native algae that it replaces, which allows it to grow unchecked and out of control.
Aquarium Care
Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae is very hardy species that is extremely easy to care for in an aquarium or sump environment. Most hobbyists keep this species in sumps or vegetable filters in order to keep nitrates low and the resulting nuisance algae out of their main display aquarium. Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae can grow rapidly under the correct conditions and then pruned, with the pruned plants being removed from the aquarium and discarded. This takes all of the nitrate and phosphate that the plants consumed and removes them from the aquarium environment.
Despite being an attractive looking plant, this is not generally considered to be a good plant to introduce into the display aquarium, as it will quickly grow over the rock work, sand and any corals, choking out competing plants and corals and turning the aquarium into a jungle of macro algae.
Unlike some of the other plants and macro algae commonly grown in home aquariums and sumps, Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae is highly toxic to herbivore fish species who would normally consume many other forms of macro algae or seaweed. It is due to this reason that both California and Federal laws have been enacted to prevent the importation, interstate sale (including Internet sale), and transport of Caulerpa taxifolia. However, it can still be found within the hobby as it is so easy to grow and keep and many hobbyists still use it as an effective form of nutrient / nuisance algae control.
However, as a form of nutrient export, Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae is highly efficient and very effective. Hobbyists who keep this species under control and in external sumps are rewarded with an excellent form of nutrient export on par with or even more effective than Chaetomorpha algae or algae scrubbing solutions.
Growth and Feeding
Hobbyists need only provide a strong light source of 5000 - 8000 Kelvin lighting, water flow and a source of nitrate in order to grow Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae. Once basic lighting and nutrient needs are met, this species reproduces vegetatively, with growth of up to 1 cm per day, and can form new stems and fronds from mere segments of itself.
Additional Photos