Lobophora

Discussion in 'New To Reefing' started by Sandie, Mar 31, 2016.

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  1. Sandie

    Sandie Member

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    Hello All,
    Sorry, I know algae questions are like belly buttons (everyone has one), however while I am not a brand-newbie to reefing, I am new to this forum so I am taking initial advice and posting this question here.

    I seem to have an algae growing in my tank that I have identified as brown lobophora. At first when I saw this growing I was excited (having anything growing rather than dying was a plus at first) so I made sure that I was careful not to damage it when cleaning and "fussing" around in my 2 year old 300L tank.

    Now, however, it seems to be encroaching in other places and lately it seems to have really taken off. I have read that Mexican turbo snails eat this stuff, do we have these snails in Aust? Alternatively, does anyone know what else might eat this?

    Thanks for any advice
    Sandie
  2. MagicJ

    MagicJ Moderator

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    Hi @Sandie and :welcome

    @IJG3145 is our resident knowledgeable member on macro algae's so he may be able to help.

    I have had something similar in the past but it never became a major problem for me.

    I don't think you will find the true Mexican Turbo snails (Turbo fluctuosa) in Australia but the local species may work - @NiCd might be able to supply a few.
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  3. NiCd

    NiCd Lead Moderator

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    Happy to help you out with turbos but being honest they don't tackle this stuff particularly well (read likely at all)

    My only personal sucess against this stuff has been with urchins (spiny and collector).

    With a 300l tank you are on the cusp for a yellow tang- My tangs at the time had a crack at it initially and quickly lost interest, i don't know what other peoples experience is though.

    Your happiness for this to be growing because everything else dies made me a little sad, is there some other things you would like to bring up so see if we cant help with other issues at the same time?
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  4. Savage Henry

    Savage Henry Member

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    I like this - reads like a therapist speaking to their client.
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  5. NiCd

    NiCd Lead Moderator

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    I'm pretty sure anyone who has been reefing for more than a couple of years should have their mental health evaluated o_0
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  6. IJG3145

    IJG3145 Member

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    Hi,
    Let me start by saying I'm no expert, I just have the time to indulge various interests. I'm also prone to long winded answers when something grabs my interest.o_0 Please excuse typos, typing with one good arm is problematic.

    Mainly what I do is best described as I like to play around and experiment. Macro algae is of interest to me because ultimately I would like to create a self sustaining (stock) planted reef tank.

    I've never had nor seen this algae so I have no first hand knowledge but I've got a fair reference collection and a marine biologist friend in Noumea who tolerates my questions. :) Lobophora variegata as it happens is a real problem in New Caledonia. Many studies suggest that it is directly responsible for bleaching stony type corals , ie sps & lps.

    Lobophora variegata is as the name suggests, a varied genus with three main variations and I would need a good photo to attempt identification.

    General Thoughts: I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news but this is something that is likely to damage your corals. It's highly invasive and damages stony corals in a few ways as far as I've found so far. It out-competes coral for food, it overshadows coral-robbing it of light, and it uses chemical attacks as a method of territory dominance. It is considered highly successful at chemical warfare. Interestingly some studies suggest that in an artificial environment like your tank, this macro attacks coral directly but in New Caledonia, on the reefs, it rarely damages it's host coral but will attack other species. There's still a lot of study to be done apparently.

    BTW it also has strong antibacterial qualities and is being intensely researched by pharmaceutical companies for multiple uses including a potential cure for HIV strains.

    As Majic said, you won't find Mex crabs in Aus, at least not legally. At any rate they are only likely to eat this macro if short of better foods. Mostly this macro is fairly unappealing to herbivores, the three main variations vary in their palatibility to different creatures but in all cases will be ignored where more favourable foods exist.

    Suggestions: Keeping in mind that just like humans, some fish just don't like some foods although it can be eaten for survival. This is based on my quick research.
    • Some rabbitfish will eat it with the foxfaces being the most successful choice, but NOT the magnificent foxface.
    • Some tangs will eat it if little else is offered, naso tangs in particular. I don't keep tangs so you would need to research availabilty and needs, particularly free swimming room but you could certainly only keep juveniles.
    • Diadema urchins will eat just about every macro but they are large, knock things over and cannot get to tight areas so would probably keep the viewing area under control, but not eradicate it.
    From what I've read, these 'can' all help control the algae but not eradicate it. The only sure fire method (that I've found so far) is drastic. It means nuking your rock and totally restarting the tank. If it was me I would take a multi approach by manually removing it from rocks but doing that outside the tank, adding herbivores and nuking one rock at a time then cycling that rock outside the tank, ie in a bucket. It seems that all solutions take time and effort.

    Also from what I've found so far, water parameters are unlikely to effect this macro, it enjoys a wide range of conditions. :(

    I've forwarded this it Noumea but a response may take a while.





    • Phycological Research Volume 63, Issue 2, pages 152–153, April 2015
    • Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 18637 (2016)
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  7. Sandie

    Sandie Member

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    Hey Everyone,
    What a great response and very quickly. Thank you all!

    I should ease your mind when I said that it grew when everything else was dying, at the time there wasn't much in the tank to die. I began building the tank very slowly with just a rock at a time and no corals were actively added by me for the first 12 months. What died off was a feather starfish my kids enthusiastically purchased for Mother's Day, zooanthids that came on my live rock, all of my yellow footed hermit crabs (mantis shrimp aka Smithers, removed) and a stromb snail.
    I am reluctant to add any fish to try and eat this as the few that I have are very harmonious and I wouldn't like to "upset the apple-cart" so to speak. I do have a one-spotted rabbit fish who isn't that interested in this stuff. I have a pair of banded coral shrimp who live among it.
    I think I will attempt to physically remove it as suggested above. I do have two collector urchins (Velcro and Sticky) who don't seem to venture up that end of the tank? Which may explain why it is only growing at one end of the tank o_0

    I have inserted a photo with some at the bottom right, just for ID purposes

    Lobophora.JPG

    Cheers and see you around the forum :D
  8. IJG3145

    IJG3145 Member

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    That's the plating form, it is the least difficult to remove and is moderately palatable to some fish. Long Spine urchins will usually eat it readily. While you can't really starve it, this variety does thrive on elevated nutrients so keep them under control.

    Wherever you can, remove rocks before removal.

    I feel for you as I myself have just had an outbreak of bubble algae.:banghead
    Mind you I run a moderately high nutrient tank so can't expect it to be easy. Good luck.
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  9. Savage Henry

    Savage Henry Member

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    I had a small patch of this algae. It grew at a moderate rate and started to spread a bit. I didn't mind it, but thought I'd better remove it nonetheless.

    I removed the rock from the tank and used a small thin spatula to lift the algae off the rock. I found it tends to peel off intact if you get under an edge. I then scraped off the remaining bits.

    Mine hasn't grown back and I didn't know why at the time, but given the discussion above, it probably got eaten by my yellow tang and sea urchins.
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  10. CVieira

    CVieira Member

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    Hi Sandie,
    I am a reef phycologist (specialist of seaweed in coral reefs) and work specifically on the alga Lobophora. I am basically interested in its taxonomy and ecology. Among other things, I am also interested in determining which Lobophora species are found in home aquariums. FYI there are over 100 species of Lobophora in the world. To determine which species is growing in your aquarium, I would need a small piece of alga for molecular (DNA) analyses. If you would be willing to send me a small piece, you can go to the website below and follow the instructions on the website entitled "Lobophora Global Biodiversity Census".
    If possible, you can also send me an herbarium (i.e. a dry algal individual disposed on piece of paper), so I can study its morphology as well.
    If you don't mind me asking, where are you living or where did you buy your live material? I ask you this question to trace the origin of the Lobophora species you have in your aquarium. So if you could let me know where you bought your aquarium live material and if you are taking seawater yourself from the sea, where do you do so. Lobophora either came with the other organisms you have in your aquarium or from the seawater that you are using (if you are using natural seawater).
    If anyone else also has some Lobophora in their home aquarium I am also addressing this message to you, and I would really appreciate if you could pass the message forward. It is a public science project.
    cheers,
    christophe
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  11. NiCd

    NiCd Lead Moderator

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    Hi Chris,

    Welcome to the Reefuge.

    If you are interested in proposing something like the above, message me and I will see if I can promote it more prominently.

    You have unfortunately forgot to include the link.

    Thanks
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  12. ReeferRob

    ReeferRob Solidarité

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    Christ, I've been doing this for 31 years so I'm way deep in nutter territory, lol.

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