Algae are photosynthetic life forms lacking specialized cells typical of true plants (i.e. vascular structures, leaves, and roots). Algae can multiply rapidly as long as their basic needs are met. They are highly adaptable and thrive almost anywhere with a light source and an abundant source of nutrients – both present in many marine aquariums.


Many hobbyists are now taking advantage of this characteristic and are purposely cultivating certain types of macroalgae to help improve saltwater quality as well as combat less desirable species of algae. Macroalgae are large beneficial algae that actively utilize harmful ammonia, host beneficial microbes that improve biological filtration, and serve as a food source for fish. Some macroalgae, because of their beauty, also make attractive décor.


Select species of macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha sp. and Caulerpa prolifera., are grown in specialized areas of the sump or in refugiums.  Refugiums are a great place to establish macroalgae since they are protected from hungry herbivores and are easier to manage. Macroalgae growth is contained in the refugium and excess growth can be easily clipped as necessary. The clippings can be fed to herbivorous fish. This process prevents macroalgae from aggressively spreading in your main display

The careful cultivation of macroalgae harnesses the power of nature to prevent the growth of more nuisance forms of algae as well as maintaining a healthy and stable aquarium.





Whether or not to have live plants in an aquarium is often a personal choice. Keep in mind that many aquariums do very well without ever having a live plant in them.  Live plants do, however, provide many advantages that artificial plants do not. While some live plants can be difficult to grow and may initially require a little more maintenance than artificial ones; the benefits they provide to water quality and fish health are well worth it.

Plants are great at absorbing carbon dioxide and nitrates, plus they provide shelter and security for the fish. Because they compete with algae for nutrients, they can help to reduce algae growth. Live plants enhance the appearance and provide a much more natural environment for the fish. By improving water quality and reducing stress, live plants are a great way to improve your fishes' health.

Adding live plants, however, does not reduce the need for water changes. When selecting live plants make sure that you select species that are truly submersible and that are suitable for your specific water type and fish species.

Just like fish, live plants do best when they are kept in an aquarium that best suits their needs. The two main aspects to consider are pH and water temperature.  Most live plants are tolerant of a pH range between 6.5 and 7.5 and a temperature range of 70 to 80 degrees.  Also consider the proper lighting and substrates such as laterite and fluorite. 

By choosing appropriate plants that best match the lighting and water parameters of your existing aquarium, creating a beautiful planted aquarium is not as difficult as you might think.