Myth or fact - Caulerpa taxifolia (UPDATED 11th Oct.)

Caulerpa taxifolia, the creeping death, or not???
Many web sites refer to this plant being a "killer algae". Also many forums claim that this algae can kill corals. I can't see any of it happening inside my aquarium (yet).
Many as well claim that this algae is so toxic that no predatory fish will eat it. I was observing an Emperor Angel fish eating it. Some Tangs will eat this algae also.

One thing is clear though. This algae is very invasive, and can smother other organisms if left unchecked (pruning is necessary). I am not sure this algae can release toxins (Caulerpenyne) into the water causing water quality issues, resulting stressed corals. Cynarina was the only coral affected by this algae. C. taxifolia was growing way too close to the Cynarina, meaning, they were all the time in physical contact. I believe this algae is able to sting corals, and by doing that, injecting certain amounts of caulerpenyne toxin into the coral. I removed major amount of Caulerpa, leaving behind just 4 leaves. I didn't perform water change. If it is true that this algae releases toxins into the water, corals should start reacting to it. A few weeks passed, nothing happened. All corals look great, even the Cynarina started coming back to life.
I have another theory also;
Most corals house symbiotic Zooxanthellae algae inside their tissues. This sort of algae (like any other algae) feed on: light, nutrients and CO2. I would say, since Caulerpa is absorbing nutrients much faster than Zooxanthellae, this symbiotic algae will start dying off. When this happens, corals will start releasing brown looking strings (Zooxanthellae) through their mouth. And by saying this, corals should have small amounts of PO4 and NO3 to be able to feed Zooxanthellae. This is my theorie, I am not sure is this scientifically proved.

One should know that Caulerpa needs nutrients like NO3 to be able to thrive. It is enough keeping NO3 levels between 5-10 ppm for it to grow. When NO3 is totally absorbed C. taxifolia will rapidly die off, and like any other plant/algae form, will release organics back into the water column. In this case older "leaves" become pale very fast, if this happens, take all algae out as fast as possible. To prevent this from happening, regular pruning is necessary. Growing a small amount of C. taxifolia is not an issue, but when the bio-mass increases, the algae will need up to 20x more NO3. One could dose extra KNO3, but this is not advised if a Coral Reef is in question.
I will continue observing it, and post updates.

Photos by Dusko Bojic.


The balanced Nano Reef

The Nano Reef looks really good now. The Cynarina coral was stressed for a few days, as you can see in the next photo (deflated). At first I wasn't sure what was causing this. But after some research I have figured out that I had way too much water circulation (3 pumps).
I have switched off one pump, and after just one day the Cynarina (as well as other corals) looked much better. Strong circulation is very good, but not all corals need it.
The whole aquarium shot with 2 Clownfish

Photos by Dusko Bojic.


Trochus sp. - the best hair algae eating snail

I have rearranged the aquascape a bit. I moved the Cynarina to the right and placed the new Green Bubble Coral far left. The Caulerpa taxifolia macro-algae is growing very fast. I will prune it next week. This algae is keeping my NO3 (Nitrate) levels at 5 ppm.

I also introduced one Trochus sp. snail for controlling the Hair algae.
It is truly amazing how this Bubble Coral changes form. During the day time it looks like this;
...and during the night time, it deflates, creating lots of polyps :-)
I will run the Koralia Nano pump only during the day for 12 hours. It will switch off as soon lights go off (set on timer). There is no need for so much circulation during the night time.
The specific gravity is 1.o24. Temperature is 25'C. NO2 is 0ppm and NO3 5ppm. So far everything seem to be in order.

Photos by Dusko Bojic.


The Clownfish has arrived

I introduced 2 Amphiprion ocellaris (Clownfish) today. After about 45 min. of acclimating them they were introduced to the aquarium. They immediately started feeding on Cyclops, I have fed to the Corals, which was a good sign. Meaning, they are far from being under stress. These Clowns are bred in Sweden.
I moved the Goniopora more to the front centre. The aquascape works much better now.
I also added one coral today. The Green Bubble Coral (Plerogyra sinuosa). Since this coral is very aggressive I have placed it away from the other corals.
Trachyphyllia is starting to look more meaty. Very beautiful coral!
I started dosing Salifert "All In One", for healthy coral growth. I dose 2,5 ml every week. "All In One" contains almost everything required for growth by corals and the beautiful encrusting pink and red coralline algae. All in One will increase the alkalinity (carbonate hardness), calcium, strontium, trace elements (except iodine) and amino acids concentrations.
Photos by Dusko Bojic.


Corals waking up

This is how my corals look today;

I have fed the corals last night after the lights switched off with powdered phytoplankton. As soon lights go off Cynarina turns into polyps, used for feeding;

Photos by Dusko Bojic.


First Corals in

My plan is to keep running with monthly 20% water change for as long as possible. I will test once a week for NO2 and NO3, write it down in my Blog (and here). After a few month I will come with the conclusion and of course will share it with you. I would like to test the skimmer and the Caulerpa "capacity" in removing nutrients. That is my goal at the moment. But lets cut this chat now and go visually back to my Nano Reef I have introduced 6 Corals today and here they are my ladies and gents; Most of them are still stressed, hiding the polyps, so next time I post the photos they should have the actual look.

45 min acclimatization;

Gonioporas polyps can grow to about 40cm, but usually much less in the aquarium (I hope )

One of the Blue-legged Hermits;
At the moment it looks like this, but the scape will change around;
The wide shot;


This tank is ready...

I tested today; Ammonia O ppm, NO2 is O ppm and NO3 at 5 ppm.
I also performed 20% water change. All snails and crabs are doing fine. I have noticed a lot of Cyclops on the glass. My corals are going to enjoy them :-)
I am getting a few more snails tomorrow and possibly one Peppermint Shrimp too (I have one Aiptasia anemone growing and these shrimps are known for eating this kind of pest, lets test it)


Protein Skimmer performing just fine!

When sea waves hit into the land, they mix with air, mixing air bubbles withe the water containing dissolved organic compounds, creating a protein rich foam, which stays on the land = organic waste removed from the water column. The same performance is created, inside a salt water aquarium, with the help of a protein skimmer.