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Related FAQs:  Life of the Tropical West Atlantic, Tropical West Atlantic 2

Related Articles: Algae, Vascular Plants, Introduction to Fishwatcher's Guide Series Pieces/Sections, Lachnolaimus maxiumus/Hogfish, Hogfishes of the Genus Bodianus

Invertebrates, Algae and Vascular Plants of The Tropical West Atlantic: Bahamas to Brazil, Part 1

To: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9,

Bob Fenner

    BGA, Algae

Marine Algae of the TWA:

Though it's not the "right" color, this is assuredly Cyano/BGA... slimy, black, brown, blue, green, red appearing... present wherever the reef is damaged, overly challenged.




Halimeda species are crusty, calcified algae that look like a bunch of small platelets strung together in a chain. They are good choices if you have a lot of grazers, as it is tough to chew. Pictured below: the genus in the Bahamas, in a saltwater tank, and in fifty feet of water in Fiji. At right: Halimeda opuntia off of Cancun, Mexico. 

Halimeda discoidea, Large Leaf Watercress Alga. To eight inches tall, 1" segments. Disk-like segments joined by flexible joints. A commonly occurring species in the tropical West Atlantic, and extensively used in marine aquariums. Bahamas pic.

Halimeda goreaui, Small Leaf Hanging Vine. Tropical West Atlantic. To a foot in length, segments to 1/4" diameter. Chains of small, three-lobed segments. Grow in subdued lighting. Bahamas pic. 

Halimeda macroloba N. Sulawesi images of healthy and calcium carbonate skeleton remnant colonies. 

Halimeda monile 3-8 inches tall. Here in Jamaica.  

Halimeda tuna, Stalked Lettuce Leaf Alga. To ten inches in height, 3/4" segments. Tropical West Atlantic. Stalked uniplanar colonies which branch as they grow outward. Cozumel image by Di.F.

Neomeris annulata, Caterpillar Weed, Fuzzy Tip Alga. Below: Aquarium, Cozumel and N. Sulawesi close-up images. 

Penicillus dumetosus, Bristle Ball Brush. Tropical West Atlantic. To six inches in height. Belize, Cozumel and an aquarium specimen shown below.

Penicillus pyriformis, the Merman's Shaving or Flat-Top Bristle Brush is a tuft of bristles rising out of a vertical stalk. Take care to gently place these in fine sand. Cozumel pix including typical sandy habitat. 

Rhipocephalus phoenix, Pinecone Algae. To five inches in height. Look like pinecones of sorts, with overlapping thalli growing outright from a single, attached stalk. Cozumel image. 

Udotea looks like a soft green fan(s), some individuals having more than one. Two views of shallower water and older, deeper water colonies in the Bahamas and a grouping in Cozumel.

Udotea cyathriformis, Mermaid's Tea Cup. To six inches in height. Thin walled cups attached to a single stalk. Easily torn in handling. Tropical West Atlantic in shallow sandy bottoms and coral rubble zones. Cozumel image by Di.F.

Dictyosphaeria cavernosa. See Valonia below. Shots in Belize and Hawai'i.

Valonia macrophysa, Elongated Sea Pearls. To 3/4" in diameter. Spherical to elongated shiny "balls" of silvery appearance that grow in clusters. Here in Cozumel. 

Valonia (Ventricaria) ventricosa is often noted as the "largest single-celled alga" reaching a hen's egg in size... but it is actually a multinucleate vesicle held down by attachment rhizoids. Dictyosphaeria species,  in the same group, Order Siphonales, are similar with polygonal vesicles, versus lenticular ones for Valonia.  Mithrax/Emerald Green Crabs may eat these. 


Caulerpa prolifera, likely the most common species (of many) in use in marine aquariums. Originates out of both coasts of the Atlantic in warm waters and the Mediterranean.

Caulerpa racemosa, Green Grape Algae. At right in Hawai'i. Below: A close up and not in Cebu, P.I., and Cozumel

Caulerpa sertularoides

Aquarium and Belize images

Brown Algae:

Dictyota species, cold to cool to tropical species (plural). Some examples of colonies: right, a reddish patch in N. Sulawesi, below in Cebu (Philippines), and two more bluish ones in Cozumel (Mexico) by Di.F.

Lobophora variegata, Encrusting Fan-Leaf Algae. Fan-shaped blades that encrust rock. Occur in brown, red, green colors as shown in this image made in the Bahamas. And a Lobophora sp. in Redang, Malaysia, and last, St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. The genus is found in both the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean. 
Padina sp., Scroll Algae, a calcium carbonate encrusting Brown Algae in the wild or marine aquariums. This is Padina jamaicensis in Belize.

Sargassum hystrix, White-Vein Sargassum. Distinctive white central areas on green to brown thalli. Common in the tropical West Atlantic. 4-16 inches in height. Bahamas pic. 

Stylopodium zonale, Leafy Flat-Blade Alga. Flat blades that are irregularly split and branched. Attached to hard substrates. Cancun, Mexico. 

Red Algae:

Amphiroa foliacea

This one in Tobago.

Jania, a tropical genus of jointed corallines; found in South Africa, South Australia and Southern California! This one in Belize. 

Jania adherens, Pink Segmented Alga. Appear as fine, tangled clumps. Widely separated dichotomous branching made up of tubular segments and flexible joints. Pink to red with white joints. 

Lithophyllum the most widespread genera of marine algae are this and Lithothamnion, rock encrusting forms; all reefs, reef-tanks, both poles and everywhere in-between to 500 feet depths! Thin calcareous films to knobby, stony masses. 

"True" or Vascular Plants... Aquatic and Transitional

Halophila ovalis, Paddle Weed. One of the many "Seagrasses" of the tropical Indo-Pacific. Distinguished by its oval leaves (paired) with 10-25 pairs of cross veins. N. Sulawesi images. http://www.bayconnect.com.au

Rhizophora mangle, the Red Mangrove. Of the many species, indeed families of mangrove trees, this is likely the most commonly utilized by aquarists. Up to 22 meters tall in the wild, capable of breaking the strongest of aquarium construction materials. Most common complaint is loss of magnesium ions (along with sodium pumping), resultant calcium imbalances in closed systems. Keep an eye on Mg concentrations, supplementation. A bioassay is yellow of the tree leaves.

Syringodium filiforme, Manatee Grass. To eighteen inches tall, forty feet depths. Cylindrical leaves upright, grow by runners. Often found mixed with Turtle Grass. St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. & Jamaica

Thalassia testudinum, Turtle Grass. Up to 2 ft. tall, 1/2" width. Found in shallows to 65 foot depths. Tropical West Atlantic in sand, mud beds in which it firmly anchors itself. A young bed/stand in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.

Zostera marina in an a home aquarium. Yes, vascular (true, embryophytic) plants can be used in marine fish tanks. This pic from a tank tour in Los Angeles.

To: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15,

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