Why do plants grow algae free in nature?
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Old 01-19-2013, 02:55 AM   #1
kwheeler91
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Why do plants grow algae free in nature?


Sorry if this has been answered before, but why are plants able to grow without becoming over run with algae in the wild? The sun has to provide way more light than most people's fixtures. Now I know not everything out there grows with algae at all but some does and I was hoping someone can provide a logical explanation.
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Old 01-19-2013, 03:07 AM   #2
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Well different plants have adapted to where they live in nature. There is more co2 in some places than others and varying amounts of light as well. These plants have evolved to the amount of lighting and co2 in the regions where they are found to present day. The ones that couldn't grow without being full of algae died. Thats my opinion atleast

Btw- i dont think plants really grow algae free in nature lol
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Old 01-19-2013, 03:08 AM   #3
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yeah... process of elimination, they simply grow in areas where they will be algae free...and died in the other areas where they got choked out
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Old 01-19-2013, 03:09 AM   #4
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Generally, they do not, all plants, even the nice ones in our tanks have algae, you just cannot see it with the naked eye.

The question is also WHEN you see the plants without being covered with algae. Early in the season, the new growth is clean and nice, late mid summer, languid water full of hair algae on top is common.

If you walk down a stream, say Putah Creek in Yolo County CA, you will find nice beds of Euasian milfoil, Curly leaf pondweed, sago pondweed, Elodea....and a few feet away, algae mats, walk a ittle farther, you find them both mixed together, walk farther down, the plants are nice and clean, and the algae is not around. A bit farther, you find a lot of matted algae covering the side of the entire stream, farther down a big green murky pool you might only see 1-2 ft at most.

All within the same stream, under the same sun, same nutrients etc.

Why do elephants survive if mice/rabbits are also herbivores and live in the same habitat? Why are there forest vs herbaceous weeds in the same habitats?

They have different niches and advantages. Most algae are seasonal, plants can be or not. Water levels also change and many, if not most, of the plants we keep are amphibious.
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Last edited by plantbrain; 01-19-2013 at 09:54 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-19-2013, 03:14 AM   #5
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A lot of the plants we keep also have emergent stages and grow that way for most of the season if not for all of it.
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
Generally, they do not, all plants, even the nice ones in our tanks have algae, you just cannot see it with the naked eye.

The question is also WHEN you see the plants without being covered with algae. Early in the season, the new growth is clean and nice, late mid summer, languid water full of hair algae on top is common.

If you walk down a stream, say Putch Creek in Yolo County CA, you will find nice beds of Euasian milfoil, Curly leaf pondweed, sago pondweed, Elodea....and a few feet away, algae mats, walk a ittle farther, you find them both mixed together, walk farther down, the plants are nice and clean, and the algae is not around. A bit farther, you find a lot of matted algae covering the side of the entire stream, farther down a big green murky pool you might only see 1-2 ft at most.

All within the same stream, under the same sun, same nutrients etc.

Why do elephants survive if mice/rabbits are also herbivores and live in the same habitat? Why are there forest vs herbaceous weeds in the same habitats?

They have different niches and advantages. Most algae are seasonal, plants can be or not. Water levels also change and many, if not most, of the plants we keep are amphibious.
+1

thats pretty much it in a nutshell. i have never encountered plants that dont have some kind of algae on them. i have collected plants in all four corners of north america and have always seen algae somewhere. sometimes the plants are so covered its a wonder they survive to the next year, at other times, completely free of algae.
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:19 AM   #7
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They don't!
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:42 AM   #8
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I know most plants get algified on the older growth parts from earlier in the year and some dont grow in water for long. I have low spots out back that L. palustris and P. palustris sprout up in when it rains, but the water usually vanishes before algae has a chance to hit.

But there is also a blue hole nearby that feeds a stream used for raising trout and it is bursting with algae free willow moss all year long.

I also think back to a thread on here about the guy's trips to a florida spring and the pics of aquatic plant life looked flawless.

Anyone with an 8th grade education knows the meaning of the word niche, I was looking for something a little more like... scientific findings perhaps? Maybe that cooler temps earlier in the year lead to larger amounts of dissolved gasses, including co2 AND o2. Little bit shorter day length, complete lighting spectrum? And then what allows some plants to successfuly combat algae year long and win? Oh yeah and most importantly, without someone blasting co2 into the stream.

Maybe the question could use a little refining, but answers like darwinism and everything has its niche leaves a little something to be desired.
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Old 01-19-2013, 07:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwheeler91 View Post
I know most plants get algified on the older growth parts from earlier in the year and some dont grow in water for long. I have low spots out back that L. palustris and P. palustris sprout up in when it rains, but the water usually vanishes before algae has a chance to hit.

But there is also a blue hole nearby that feeds a stream used for raising trout and it is bursting with algae free willow moss all year long.

I also think back to a thread on here about the guy's trips to a florida spring and the pics of aquatic plant life looked flawless.

Anyone with an 8th grade education knows the meaning of the word niche, I was looking for something a little more like... scientific findings perhaps? Maybe that cooler temps earlier in the year lead to larger amounts of dissolved gasses, including co2 AND o2. Little bit shorter day length, complete lighting spectrum? And then what allows some plants to successfuly combat algae year long and win? Oh yeah and most importantly, without someone blasting co2 into the stream.

Maybe the question could use a little refining, but answers like darwinism and everything has its niche leaves a little something to be desired.
the problem is, its impossible to tell what the exact reason is. as for the springs in florida, i can tell you that just a few yards downstream, nearly every one of them turns into a nasty algae bed at some point. there are areas where plants dominate the bottom, but generally any pocket of slower moving water will become very overrun with algae. alexander springs for instance, one of north central floridas largest springs, is usually more or less free of algae in the swimming hole, but in a very large area behind the boat ramp its nothing but spyrogia, in some areas up to 4 feet deep. what i noticed was that in those areas (which may be 50-60 meters long and up to 20 meters wide) the water flow slowed down considerabley. it still had flowing water, it was just slower. this allowed the water to warm up to quite a bit higher than the 72 degrees coming out of the springs. the substrate in those more stagnant areas was mostly sediments, not the crushed limestone and sand everywhere else. in the areas where the flow is faster, the free algae is washed downstream and large fish graze what algae is on the plants. they get the same amount of sun, but the flow is different, which changes the water quality. lower nutrients, lower temp, more oxygen, more grazers, etc.

as for the algaes ability to grow in water without CO2, many algaes are capable of using carbonates as well as CO2 for photosynthesis. in the alkaline hard water coming out of florida springs, it was actually good growing conditions for algae.

in the tanana valley in alaska, the tundra is covered in bog like vernal pools everywhere. those only last in a liquid state for a short time, but, being highly eutrophic, are absolutely covered in cyano. granted, the grasses and berries in that area are not fully aquatic, but everything under the water was covered in nastiness every time i saw them. lakes were s bit different, but still, cyano everywhere on the bottom. the plants usually grew above the cyano. im assuming that this is because of the way cyano leaches nutrients from the substrate by saturating a thin layer with oxygen when the light hits it. it wouldnt be growing on plants leaves, if that would explain it.
on a side note, i kinda wish i still had some of the patamogeton richardsonii from a lake near fairbanks. awesome little plant that just cant be found on the market...

the lakes, streams and rivers in the central flood plains of north carolina were similar to what i saw in florida. streams and areas of high flow often had no visible algae to speak of, while the vernal pools had thick algae and cyano mats. the difference was that in north carolina, the acidic, highly oxygenated streams had VERY little algae compared to spring runoff streams in florida. i could only find algae with a microscope. the acidic carolina bays usually had plenty of visible algae.

the difference between the water in a low flow area in florida stream runoff and water in a high flow area can be dramatic. temps can vary by thirty or so degrees, and ph can vary by up to 2 whole points. im not sure of the exact reasons, but im sure that the varying patterns of flow between and within lentic and lotic waters plays a HUGE part in where the various algaes and cyano grow.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:19 PM   #10
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:25 PM   #11
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That's some serious algae.

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Old 01-19-2013, 03:32 PM   #12
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Natural bodies of water are also subject to a much richer and every changing biological influence than our little tanks.

Bioload on our farm pond in early spring is next to nothing. Few if any water birds, reptiles and amphibians are just coming out of hibernation, most of the fish population dies back during winter and even the livestock don't spend time there--they'd rather get their water from the heated tubs. No rain to wash nutrients into the pond, and the small amount of snow melt typically gets absorbed into the immediate soil.

Fast forward a few months: amphibians are laying massive quantities of eggs, micro-organism populations are flourishing, fish are breeding, ducks are nesting in the cat-tails, raccoons and possums are on the banks every night, spring rains are washing in carrying livestock waste and nutrients from the decaying plant material thatched under the new pasture growth.

A few months further along, the cattails and surface plants are shading 80% of the water surface, the rains have stopped and the water levels are starting to drop, the massive number of tadpoles are now young frogs who've moved out into the mudflats under the cat tails and weeds--and predators are rapidly thinning their numbers.

Exact scientific explanations are great--but exponentially more difficult as the variables increase.
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwheeler91 View Post
I know most plants get algified on the older growth parts from earlier in the year and some dont grow in water for long. I have low spots out back that L. palustris and P. palustris sprout up in when it rains, but the water usually vanishes before algae has a chance to hit.

But there is also a blue hole nearby that feeds a stream used for raising trout and it is bursting with algae free willow moss all year long.

I also think back to a thread on here about the guy's trips to a florida spring and the pics of aquatic plant life looked flawless.

Anyone with an 8th grade education knows the meaning of the word niche, I was looking for something a little more like... scientific findings perhaps? Maybe that cooler temps earlier in the year lead to larger amounts of dissolved gasses, including co2 AND o2. Little bit shorter day length, complete lighting spectrum? And then what allows some plants to successfuly combat algae year long and win? Oh yeah and most importantly, without someone blasting co2 into the stream.

Maybe the question could use a little refining, but answers like darwinism and everything has its niche leaves a little something to be desired.
Being in OH and spring fed system, there will be lots of cold water plants along that. You can likely guess why, CO2.

Same in the springs in Florida, but the water is 12-15F warmer from those springs.

Some spots are flawless, but over on the other side?
Lots of algae, maybe not right then, but later in the season.
When and where are extremely important. So what specifically about the niche do you think would provide good habitats for the plants and for the algae?

Current?
Good growing conditions for the plants?(eg CO2?)
Light, duration and photoperiod?
Water level changes?
Temps?
Scouring?
Sediment type/s?

7 factors right there, and there are more.

Most aquatic plant research is concerned about killing aquatic plants, not providing them with good conditions and then trying to get rid of algae. There's not much economic rational to study aquatic plant tanks.

There is a lot of economic rational to study aquatic weeds. Billion's vs a few hundred thousand perhaps.
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:37 PM   #14
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WHAT?? There's no Excel waterfalls in nature?
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