FACTS: Single-celled algae are known scientifically as phytoplankton, or “plant drifters.” Biddulphia is a type of phytoplankton that can be seen as light brown scum on the walls of your fish tank! (In the ocean, they are often found attached to surfaces such as seaweeds or rocks on the seafloor.)
Why do algae grow so well in your fish tank? Because fish produce nitrate and ammonia waste that are good fertilizers for scum and other algae. (And if your tank contains live plants, which need light to grow, so much the better!)
How do you keep aquarium scum from taking over your tank? Keep the water well-circulated and filtered. Test your water regularly for nitrate and ammonium and if the levels are too high do a partial water change. Also, algae eaters such as glass shrimp and small sucker-mouthed fish can keep the tank walls clean.
Finally, the skeleton of a Biddulphia is made from silica and can have intricate and elaborate pore and spine patterns. Diatomaceous earth, used in aquarium and pool filters, consists of fragments of ancient Biddulphia and other diatoms. Since diatoms have many tiny pores, diatomaceous earth can be used to filter particles as small as 2 microns – so even Biddulphia can help keep water clean!
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