Marine Plants in the Aquarium is an online resource for the identification and care of marine macro algae and sea grass. The guide features over 70 of the most commonly available species of marine plants with photographs, detailed descriptions and aquarium care.

To explore the site, click on the topics below for specific information regarding macro algae and sea grass care or browse the catalog of common aquarium species below. Most of the species in the catalog are native to Florida and have been either collected or observed by the author. A handful of species are tank cultured specimens imported from the Pacific.

Many of the species featured on the website are available to purchase online from Gulf Coast Ecosystems. Our selection is very seasonal so the availability of species will vary. Your support and business is appreciated. 


Introduction About the Author Marine Plants Sourcing Plants The Refugium
Aquascaping Substrates Filtration Lighting Maintenance
Plant Nutrients Plant Reproduction Case for Caulerpa Glossary References

Green Algae (Chlorophyta)

There are over 900 different species of marine micro and macro algae that make up the genus. The green coloration in marine algae is caused by the dominant pigment chlorophyll. The colors vary between individual species and range from bright green to yellow or dark jade. They're among the most diverse and abundant group of all macro algae, representing extremely varied shapes and characteristics, as well as world wide distribution. They spread and grow by two main methods: fragmentation and by releasing reproductive spores.

Acetabularia sp.

Caulerpa ashmeadii

Caulerpa cuppressiodes

Caulerpa mexicana

Caulerpa paspaloides

Caulerpa prolifera

Caulerpa racemosa

Caulerpa racemosa var cylindracea

Caulerpa racemosa var peltata

Caulerpa serrulata

Caulerpa sertularoides

Caulerpa taxifolia

Chaetomorpha sp.

Chlorodesmis sp.

Cladophora prolifera

Codium sp.

Cymopolia barbata

Dictyoshpaeria cavernosa

Halimeda discoidea

Halimeda incrassata

Halimeda opuntia

Neomeris annulata

Penicillus capitatus

Penicillus dumetosus

Pencillus pyriformis

Rhipocephalus Phoenix

Udotea flabellum

Ulva sp.

Ulva intestinalis

Valonia sp.

Red Algae (Rhodophyta)

The genus Rhodophyta is the largest and most diverse group of tropical and temperate marine algae with more than 2,000 species found worldwide. Their dominant pigment is phycoerythrin, which gives off rich shades of red, orange and blue. Species of red macro algae are some of the most varied and striking of all marine algae and are highly sought after as aquarium specimens. Identification can be difficult with some species, such as Gracilaria, while some collected specimens are not even documented at all.

Acanthophora spicifera Asparagopsis taxiformis Botryocladia occidentalis Bryothamnion triquetrum Coelothrix irregularis

Cryptonemia crenulata

Dasya sp.

Eucheuma spinosum

Fauchea sp.

Galaxaura sp.

Gracilaria hayi Gracilaria tikvahiae Halymenia durvillei Halymenia floresia Halymenia floridana

Haliptilon sp.

Hetereosiphona gibessii

Hydrolithon sp.

Hypnea pannosa

Jania sp.

Laurencia sp.

Laurencia iridescens

Liagora ceranoides

Lithophyllum sp.

Nemastoma sp.

Portieria sp. 

Scinaia complanata

Tricholgloea sp.

Brown Algae (Phaeophyta)

Brown macro algae are abundant worldwide with most of their distribution in temperate waters as varieties of Kelp.  The brown coloration is due to the brown pigment (fucoxanthin) and individual species vary in color from yellow to dark brown, depending on the depth. They're a few tropical species of interest to hobbyists that are offered seasonally. Most however, are encountered as pests in reef aquariums and introduced on live rock. Brown algae grows prolifically under the right conditions and certain species can be difficult to remove, such as the highly invasive Dictoya.

Dictoya sp.

Lobophora sp.

Padina sp.

Sargassum sp.

Turbinaria sp.

Seagrass (Angiospermae)

Sea grasses are the most productive group of marine plants in the ocean, forming extensive meadows in shallow, nutrient-rich environments. There are approximately 60 known species that occur in tropical and sub-tropical waters worldwide. Sea grasses provide shelter and habitat for juvenile fish and invertebrates, and effectively filter near-shore habitats of nutrients, creating an oxygen rich environment. They are also an important component of the coral reef by filtering and buffering the flow of water and trapping sediments before they reach delicate corals. There are currently about 7 species available to the hobbyist for culture in the aquarium today. Most species require deep sand beds (6" or more) as their root systems are extensive and demand for organic nutrients high. 

Halodule wrightii

Halophila Decipiens

Halophila engelmannii

Halophila Ovalis

Syringodium filiforme

Thalassia testudinum


There are about 60 known species of mangroves world wide, with just three varieties native to the United States. They are the red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle),  white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa) and black mangrove (Avicennia germinans). Most mangrove specimens find their way into the aquarium trade by the collection of seeds or pods or by propagation on land. Of the three varieties, only one is really suitable for use in the marine aquarium, the red mangrove. The white mangrove is not a good candidate for use in the aquarium, because it does not form aerial roots as the others do and usually can not survive very long with the roots completely submersed. In their natural environment, black mangroves typically grow upland behind the red, while the white mangrove is often found at even higher elevations. The black mangrove does form breathing tubes, however, propagation in the aquarium can be difficult from seed, unless initially grown above the water line. 

Rhizophora mangle

Aviennia germinns

Laguncularia racemosa

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