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7 Plants that Are Ideal for a Saltwater Fish Tank

Best Plants for Saltwater Fish Aquariums San Diego, CA

Algae is one of the most significant differences between keeping freshwater and saltwater aquariums. Whereas fish keepers with freshwater tanks will try to keep algae growth to a minimum, those with saltwater aquariums can benefit from introducing macroalgae organisms, which are commonly referred to as marine plants. Since these aren’t terrestrial life forms, they don’t flower or seed. They reproduce through spores, and some of them are even more resilient than their freshwater counterparts. Reef tanks won’t be complete without the addition of plants, usually in the form of dried seaweed to supplement the diets of the fish. This is particularly true if the tank contains species such as tangs, which are known to feed on halimedae. The staff at Aquatic Warehouse, a leading provider of freshwater and saltwater aquarium supplies, shares some plants that are ideal for saltwater tanks. These are best for aquariums, not refugiums.

1. Tufted Algae

This plant is highly recommended for reef tanks because it easily anchors to rock and substrate. It will grow in segments and tufts that can only be found in coastal reef habitats. Unlike other plants, tufted algae won’t need as much lighting, and it can also serve as an indicator of the overall health of a reef tank because it will visibly react when the nitrogen cycle has fallen below adequate levels.

2. Shaving Brush

As its name suggests, this single-stem plant—which is usually thought of as a pest algae— looks like you could use it to apply shaving cream. Shaving brush algae doesn’t require a full reef tank environment to thrive because the roots will hold on to anything, including sandy substrate. Should you introduce sea urchins to your tank, they’ll be the only species that feed on these plants.

3. Cactus Algae

Also known as halimeda, this plant features a hardy tissue that absorbs calcium carbonate, which is a mineral you should keep an eye on when caring for a reef tank. If you let cactus algae grow out of control, it may interfere with the calcium nutrition your fish depend on, but a couple of tangs can keep this plant in check.

4. Green Feather Algae

This plant is sometimes referred to as Mexican water plant because it’s abundant along the Gulf of Mexico. It looks like a fern and will probably survive in just about any tropical saltwater conditions. Although this seaweed offers nutrients, most aquarium species stay away from it.

5. Blue Hypnea Algae

The striking color of this plant makes it a great aesthetic addition to any reef tank. It becomes very dense as it grows, which will attract invertebrate species such as shrimp. The best way to gauge the health of this plant is its color, which should be bright blue as long as it gets plenty of light.

6. Red Gracilaria

If you have fish that aren’t getting along, adding this colorful algae can help the weaker species hide from aggressors. Any fish or shrimp that feeds on algae will find this plant tasty. Red gracilaria seems to grow very well in reef aquariums that get a good amount of food for the fish or corals, and it looks beautiful.

7. Turtle Grass

Keeping seahorses is considered to be one of the ultimate challenges for saltwater aquarists, and this is made easier with turtle grass growing from a sandy substrate. Turtle grass is an excellent algae in terms of keeping an optimal nitrogen cycle, but it may require more than a month to establish within a reef tank.

Whether you have a saltwater or freshwater aquarium, there are several supplies you’ll need to obtain to properly maintain your tank. From aquarium controllers and monitors to protein skimmers and beneficial bacteria, Aquatic Warehouse has it all. Check out what we have to offer on our website, stop by our store in Kearny Mesa, or give us a call at 858-467-9297.


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    San Diego, CA 92123
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