Chaetomorpha algae, commonly abbreviated to “chaeto” by aquarium maintenance fanatics like us, is an extremely useful form of algae available to purchase online. Especially suited to refugiums (an additional appendage to the main body of the aquarium in which organisms that require specialist conditions to grow can survive) chaeto commonly comes in dense masses of long green strings – giving you an idea of where it’s nickname – “Spaghetti Algae” – comes from. As an aside, it’s also a fantastic breeding habitat for a variety of microfauna like amphipods. Now it might not be the prettiest algae in the tank (if there is such a thing) but it does provide a vital function.
As you’ll know, whilst nitrates and phosphates are integral to the development of a healthy aquarium, excessive levels of either can lead to drastic consequences, both for your fish and your plants, so it’s important to keep them in check. As chaetomorpha algae grows within your tank, it naturally consumes both phosphates and nitrates, thus removing them from the water. Chaeto is a particularly fast growing, hard-wearing form of algae that forms in long strands over time. Conventionally, once the algae reaches a certain mass or size, aquarists can simply cut and remove sections of it. When the algae leaves the water, so too do the nutrients that it absorbed to grow, hence making it one of the preferred macro algae for nutrient export.
How Much Is Too Much?
But can you have too much chaetomorpha algae in your refugium or aquarium? For the most part, there’s little consequence to an excess of chaeto in your aquarium (apart from the unsightly green hairball of course). Bear in mind, however, that it does utilise key nutrients for growth, so if you do start to see the effects of a lack of nitrates or phosphates, be sure to remove the chaeto immediately. If you’re looking to cultivate more chaetomorpha algae, we’d suggest expanding your aquarium lighting system, or even just boosting the intensity over a short period of time.
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