If you are new to the saltwater aquarium hobby, you might have heard about macroalgae and how you need them in your tank or your refugium. But, you will have also heard that algae is a pest and can overrun saltwater aquariums. That algae, however, is microalgae. So what is the difference between good algae (macroalgae) and unwanted algae (microalgae), and why you need macroalgae in your saltwater aquarium?
What is the Difference Between Macroalgae and Microalgae?
Macroalgae are large, multicellular algae that form a whole plant. They have leaves, stems, and recognizable as plants. They come in different colors and different forms and have a load of benefits for your saltwater aquarium.
Microalgae, on the other hand, are one cell algae. They are microscopic plants that require light, nutrients, water, and CO2 to grow and flourish. They are the cause of algae bloom, which is where there is an excessive growth of algae.
Microalgae can be a real pain in saltwater aquariums, sticking to glass and corals, making the water murky, and can clog up filters. They can also affect the health and happiness of your marine life. Thankfully, there are loads of great ways of combating microalgae growth in your saltwater aquarium.
Why Are Macroalgae Useful?
Now we know what macroalgae are and why they are different from the annoying kind of algae, we can look at why macroalgae are useful, and why even beginners should look at getting some for their saltwater aquarium!
Combats Microalgae Growth
One of the major reasons why macroalgae are so useful is because they combat the growth of microalgae. Both macroalgae and microalgae feed off the same nutrients and because the macroalgae are bigger they tend to steal the food from the microalgae.
Adding macroalgae to your tank or refugium is a great way to slow down the spread of microalgae or to solve the issue before it even begins!
Helps Keep the Aquarium Water Healthy and Stable
Macroalgae absorb nitrates and carbon dioxide while releasing oxygen into the water. This means that they are a great way of keeping the water levels stable, acting as a natural filter. Macroalgae benefits the overall quality of the water in saltwater aquariums.
Adds to the Natural Ecosystem and Helps Your Marine Life
For many saltwater aquarium enthusiasts, creating an ecosystem that is as close to nature as possible is a really important part of the hobby. When you add macroalgae into your tank, the marine life you love so much will love you back!
Lots of fish love to hide and explore in the leaves and stems of macroalgae and so adding them will enrich the life of your marine life, creating an ecosystem that is as natural as possible.
They often act as a natural refuge for much marine life, such as copepods, seahorses, and other shy fish. Certain creatures depend on macroalgae for peace and security, meaning they are less prone to stress and diseases.
A lot of marine life will also munch on macroalgae, for example, tangs and angelfish love to nibble on Red Gracilaria algae, and having this macroalgae in your tank will give your fish a healthy and diverse diet.
They Are Ornamental
Another reason why macroalgae are a great addition to your saltwater aquarium is because some look really cool! Because macroalgae come in so many different shapes and colors, adding them will add intrigue and diversity to your tank.
New texture, shapes, and shades always liven up any saltwater aquarium, and there is such a huge range to choose from!
Easy To Grow and Maintain
Most macroalgae are pretty hardy, meaning that you don’t have to worry about taking on too much extra work when adding them into your saltwater aquarium. They don’t need too much light in order to thrive, and can handle changes in the water quality and temperatures pretty well.
Macroalgae is suitable for both beginners and novices alike, and the help that they bring to your saltwater aquarium outweighs the little work they ask from you.
Should Macroalgae be Kept in A Refugium?
Most macroalgae are suitable to be put in the main tank as they will benefit the health and happiness of the marine life there, such as being a place of refuge or a source of food. However, you might want to keep your macroalgae in a refugium if they need different conditions than the marine life in your main tank. Putting them in a refugium also means they are protected from any fish that might wish to eat the plants!
When macroalgae are kept in a refugium they still filter the water, adding to the quality and keeping it stable. It also means that you can harvest the macroalgae when you want to feed them to your fish in the main tank.
A refugium is a mini aquarium that is attached to your main tank that acts as a refuge for plants and animals, and a filtration system. They have loads of benefits to your saltwater aquarium, so check out our guide on how to set up the perfect refugium!
What Macroalgae are Suitable for Beginners?
A lot of the species of macroalgae that we sell are suitable for beginners. The shaving brush plant is a really cool macroalgae that is great for keeping the water clean. It needs to be planted into the substrate and adds intrigue into your tank!
Our red Gracilaria plant is also perfect for beginners and provides great nutrition for plant-eating fish. The red also brings a pop of color to your tank!
Check out our full selection and find your favorite macroalgae!
Add Macroalgae to Your Saltwater Aquarium Today!
Macroalgae are super useful and have so many great benefits to saltwater aquariums. Not only do they regulate and maintain a healthy water quality, but they also provide your marine life with hideout spots and food!
Adding macroalgae to your tank means that in the long run, you will have less work to do. What is not to like?!
I love macro algae – it is such an easy way to eradicate extra nuisance algae. I started out with just Chaeto but I have since added a BUNCH of other algaes becasue we love the way it looks and we love having a place for pods to hide and reproduce!!
Do you have to have a refugium to have macro algae?
I am trying to find Red Dragon Macro Algae – do you have any of that?