My interest with keeping tropical fish began at an early age growing up near the Florida Everglades in South Florida. With a bucket and net in hand, I would often spend entire afternoons with my brother, wading through alligator and snake infested waters in search of freshwater tropical fish for our small aquarium at home. As I grew older, my attention gravitated to the marine aquarium hobby. The fish were more colorful than freshwater varieties and the amount of invertebrates available were interesting and fascinating to me.

I began exploring the shallow coastal tidal pools and protected shorelines of the Atlantic Ocean , collecting marine tropicals for our home aquarium. About the time when reef aquariums and live rock began to gain in popularity, I was now living on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The fish weren’t as colorful; the water not as clear, but something else was abundant. Marine macro algae were growing everywhere!  The warm tropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida are full of a wide array of fascinating and colorful marine algae. Like many other hobbyists in the early 80’s, most of my interest was with growing various species of hardy Caulerpa. I soon however, began experimenting with growing other more colorful and challenging varieties including both brown and red algae.

My first attempts at culturing marine macro algae were marked with some frustration and failure, but I continued learning and experimenting until I was able to successfully maintain several species in the home aquarium. I was once told by a reputable pet store owner that macro algae couldn’t be grown. He had tried it and was unable to keep it alive for any great period of time. 

Photo by Chau Ho

This was years before the “refugium” made its appearance, so keeping marine algae in captivity long term was a relatively new idea and its needs largely unknown. Most of the information contained in this publication is related to both my personal experience and observation. I was originally hesitant to publish the book, as there are others that are much more qualified to do so, but still to date, there remain very few resources for the marine hobbyist. 

Let me first say that I am not a biologist, but an avid aquarist with many years of experience maintaining saltwater aquariums. Most literature available on marine plants today is technical and often requires advanced knowledge to understand. In addition, the majority of books on the subject are mostly field guides for students and lack detailed information on aquarium use. The purpose of this publication is to offer a simplified guide for the identification, use and culture of marine macro algae and plants in the aquarium.

Russ is the owner of Gulf Coast Ecosystems, a wholesale and retail supplier of collected and aquacultured ornamental marine algae. He is an avid scuba diver and experienced marine life collector, with over 25 years experience in the marine aquarium industry.
Table of Contents

Table of Contents