Written by Dan
Halimeda Algae is a decrative algae also known as the Cactus Algae & Money Plant. Though technically it is an algae its shape and growth patterns make it both visually appealing and a beneficial nutrient extractor for your saltwater tank.
|Minimum Tank Size||20|
|Diet||Photosynthesis and Calcification|
|Water Conditions||72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025|
|Natural Habitat||Coral Reefs worldwide|
How much room do they need?
Depending on the specific species they can get several inches tall and is recommended to be housed in no less than a 20g tank if you are growing these in a tank with fish to ensure plenty of swimming room.
What do Halimeda look like?There are four common species from the Halimeda family that can be readily found in the aquarium trade. H. copiosa grows with small bead like segments in longer chains. H. opuntia grows in shorter dense bush like formations. H. discoidea and H. tuna split the difference and grow in mid-sized strands with large disk like segments.
Will fish eat Halimeda Algae?
The interesting shape and size of these make for a really cool natural living decoration for a fish only tank. They are fully reef safe and look good mixed in with a colorful reef tank too. Since most grazing fish like stugeonfish(tangs) will most likely steer clear of them they are a great addition to a fish only tank w/out worrying if your fish will eat or damage them. They may give them an initial try, but in most cases will leave them alone due to the calcium buildup in the plant along with the noxious taste they generate as a deterrent to being eaten.
One of the few species that dose threaten the growth of halimeda algae are the lettuce slugs. The lettuce slug will feed on the chloroplasts in the algae so that they themselves can be photosynthetic.
Where is Halimeda Algae found in nature?Halimeda algae plants can be found throughout the world’s seas in places like Hawaii, The Caribbean, and the Great Barrier Reefs to name a few of the more popular places they are found. The largest natural formations of this plant are found in the Great Barrier Reef where patches span miles of sea floor.
Halimeda algae plants do not do well with excessive pruning but will need a regular haircut. Studies have shown that with a good nutrition base they can actually double in growth in about 2-4 weeks. Do to this growth they can compete with Caulerpa algae as a nutrient extractor for your tank. Caulerpa algae is primarily known for being highly recommended as a nutrient extractor for refugiums.
Because it does grow using available calcium it can serve as a good calcium and alkalinity test. A healthy plant means good nutrient for growing stony coral. This is however double edged sword because that also means they are pulling some of these nutrients out of the water and away from your coral. If you have these with stony coral it is highly recommended to dose the tank with calcium. In a fish only tank with no stony coral these plants could thrive without fear of stunting the growth of corals.
Do you have experience growing Halimeda? Please share your experience in the comments section below.
Halimedia ReproductionHalimedia reproduces sexually very similar to Caulerpa algae. Durring this reproduction the plant will spill its gamets(male or female genes) into the water. In some cases aquarists who had large amounts of Caulerpa have talked about their tank being filled with green water and in a few instances, sudden loss of life with some fish or inverts. It is hypothesized that these deaths are likely caused by the sudden strain on the tanks oxygen levels due to the sudden algae bloom in the water. Halimeda will unlike do this unless you have huge amounts of it filling your tank, rarely prune them, and have low iron levels in the water. A sexualization that could harm your tank is unlikely though. When these events do occour, even though not tank threatening, you will want to do a good water change. Haimedia give an indication a few hours before sexualization, something Caulerpa does not do. A few hours before the event the algae will turn pale white and show dark green spots along its edge. Once the gamets are released it will leavebehind its aragonite skeleton which can become part of the substrate or even thrown in a calcium reactor to feed new growth or even coral growth.
With Halimeda Algae growing at a rate that can rival Caulerpa making it an excellent choice for nutrient extraction, the fact that most fish will not eat it, and the unique shape it grows in makes for a great addition to any fish only tank. It also would be wonderful in any reef aquarium also but with coral needing to feed on the calcium in your water you will want to keep a close eye on your calcium level and most likely need to dose the tank.
What is your experience with this algae? Let me know in the comments below.