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observations of algae control, sea slugs


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Algae control by sea slug is a repeating topic. I'd like to add my observations and a few links to the conversation.

The very best critter I've had to clean up algae of various kinds is a sea hare, the commonly available Dolabella or Aplysia spp. (not to be confused with the blue spotted sea hare or the dwarf sea hare. They have very different diets and are not particularly suitable for general algae control).

They are general algae eaters, not specialized in something specific, and have a rather hearty appetite.

These sea hares will eat cyano (like candy!), green hair algae, like bryopsis (no, really), and many other kinds of macro algae. They have 0 interest in polyps of any kind.

They are large enough to not get instantly sucked into power heads and to eat sufficient amounts to actually make a real, noticeable dent in algae growth.

They can and do clean rocks, glass, and other surfaces with ease.

After your nuisance algae is gone, they will eat sea lettuce, other macro algae, even nori sheets (though not a favorite), so they can be kept around and survive while continuing to provide cleaning services.

They are commonly available in the LFS and, if fed, pretty hardy. Yes, they can release ink, but they are not easily bothered (you'd really have to massively pester them).

While not a flashy tank inhabitant, their goofy nom-nom face will grow on you smile.png

I have and keep other snails and slugs. Nerites, Stomatellas are good for small scale, on-going algae control, especially on glass. They will not control marco-algae or very heavy growth.

The often suggested lettuce sea slugs (often called lettuce nudibranchs, though they are not nudies but belong to the sarcoglossans) are very delicate, highly specialized feeders, get sucked into powerheads/ problems even with medium flow.

They will slowly munch bryopsis (they actually suck out the cell contents, they do not eat the algae cell walls), but they don't do much of anything with most other nuisance algae.

They are unlikely to permanently fix bryopsis issues but will die quickly if bryopsis available is low to none.

Unless you are willing to grow/provide bryopsis on an ongoing basis, and setup a low flow species tank, these guys are not for you. Please don't treat them as "disposable pets", there are much better options for algae control.

I enjoy my various mollusc tank inhabitants and each one's specific habits and quirks. They are more than just some tolerated cleaning crew and I hope you can find the right slug (or snail) for your tank.

I can't do without my shameless request (you noticed the giveme_bryopsis name, I'm sure ...)

if you got bryopsis, I'd love for you to let me have that so that my lettuce slugs get extra munchies

(I'll be happy to pick up anywhere in the greater Austin area at your convenience)

Links to further info

sea hares:




lettuce slug



marine snails in general


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Great info! Thank you. I find it interesting how this hobby has so many different aspects to it that each of us can enjoy and share information on.

thank you! glad to share and learn from others.

What really amazed me was my sea hare chowing down on cyano like it was candy. Preferred it over algae even, but closely followed by hair algae. It's a bit spoiled and hence not so hungry - ough (thick) macro algaes like dragon's tongue or chaeto are not eaten.

I can't speak to bubble algae as I don't have more than a few bubbles on occasion, but others have mentioned it as included in the sea hare diet (wet web media link above, search the page for "bubble").

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