Is coralline algae beneficial?

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Coralline algae growth is a good indicator that your reef tank is suitable for corals - but can you have too much? Jake Adams advises.

Coralline algae is a part of the reef which I would argue has a neutral place in most reef aquaria. When one is first established, the first few spots are a good indicator that the water is suitable for coral and especially stony coral growth.

A light coating on your live rock helps to prevent any other less desirable algae from taking hold and, by itself, encrusting, plating and branching, coralline algae can be very attractive.

However, should this algae really take a liking to your aquarium, its unchecked growth can cause problems. Rampant growth will cover and obstruct the inlets and drains and you will have to scrape it off all those undesirable places.

Furthermore, if aiming to keep an aquarium with a high density of fast growing stony corals, a large standing crop of coralline algae will compete with them for vital minerals and trace elements.

This item was first published in the October 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.