How To Increase The Amount Of Coralline Algae In The Saltwater Aquarium

When you start a saltwater aquarium and have purchased your live rock or whatever decorations you are going to use then there will probably not be that much coralline algae in the system (especially if you have chosen not to use live rock!)

If you are using live rock then dependant upon the quality of the live rock you should have some coralline algae of some type or other.

So how do you increase the amount of coralline algae in the aquarium or in some cases add coralline algae.

There are effectively four areas which need to be taken into consideration here:

  • Seeding
  • Lighting
  • Parameters
  • As always – patience…

Let’s take a peek at each of these in turn.


If you are using live rock in the aquarium then there should be a good covering of coralline algae on the live rock so you do not actually need to seed it, however you do need to ensure that you provide the coralline algae with what it requires to thrive.

If you are not using live rock then you will need to seed the aquarium. This can be performed in a few ways.

  • Purchase a few pieces of live rock and add these to the aquarium.
  • Obtain some coralline algae ‘scrapings’ and add these to the aquarium.
  • When you aquarium is cycled and is ready for the introduction of corals then purchase a suitable coral which is on a nice piece of coralline covered rock.
  • Talk your LFS into letting you have some of the small rocks and rubble which are on the bottom of their live rock curing tanks.


Coralline algae is not a great fan of pure white light and is a total fan of blue light i.e. actinic.

Therefore it is imperative that from the start you provide the aquarium with the correct lighting. One thing which you can do is turn your actinics on and leave them on continuously whilst the aquarium is cycling. As soon as you add more life to the aquarium then you can alter the lighting to a more appropriate lighting cycle.

When the aquarium is running with fish (and corals if it is a reef tank) then ensure that you provide blue lighting to the aquarium. It is best to do this via actinics, however these can also be supplemented by utilising lighting which is around the 14k mark,


It is essential to ensure that the [tag-tec]aquarium parameters[/tag-tec] are both optimum and stable. At the very start of the aquariums life it may be higher than normal in some parameters – for example nitrate and phosphate.

You may also notice that in some areas that the levels are lower than normal. A good example of which is calcium. The calcium level does depend upon numerous factors, two of which are the water used and salt used.

To give the coralline algae a boost it would be beneficial to add both strontium and iodine to the aquarium.


This is one thing which you can’t purchase from your LFS – this one is up to you. As with anything in this hobby good things do not happen overnight.

You will have to have patience.

As long as you keep the parameters both correct and stable then what you should see over time is small areas of coralline algae appearing which will probably be pink in appearance at first but get darker over time.

  1. Good advice. Good calcium and alkalinity and patience are all that is needed.

  2. Good post!

  3. Glad the post has met with approval.
    Coralline algae really looks good and adds to the overall beauty of a reef.

  4. What do you think about adding some more pics? I don’t want to offend anyone, text is really nice. Just as I’ve heard visitors acquire information much more efficient when there are some helpful pictures.

    Nency Nixon

  5. Thanks for the suggestion Nency.
    Others have nentioned the same thing and we now do add pictures with text as much as we can as can be seen from the latest texts. Admittedly the earlier ones did appear a bit bare in hindsight!
    .-= John´s last blog ..Aggression On The Reef =-.

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