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Discovery of first freshwater coralline algae

By Leonard Ho - Posted Jan 28, 2016 09:00 AM
Up until now, coralline algae was thought to be the exclusive domain of sea and brackish waters. Scientists have now discovered a red calcareous algae that lives strictly in pure freshwater.

fwcoralline2.jpgThe coralline algae, Pneophyllum cetinaensis, was discovered in the Cetina River (Croatia), where it appears to be endemic. The Cetina River is a karst river - a landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum.  As such, the river is rich in dissolved calcium carbonate and a pH similar to seawater, which no doubt allowed coralline to evolve to live here.

The algae was found encrusting on rock and snail shells much the same way as coralline algae behaves on coral reefs.  The newly discovered coralline species is unable to survive in brackish water, meaning it is fully adapted for strict freshwater environments.

The discovery is published in Nature's Scientific Report.

If you're a freshwater aquarist envious of reefkeepers who have to scrap coralline off their glass and gear, your time has finally come.

Photo right: The Cetina River, where the new FW coralline algae was discovered.

Photo bottom: Pneophyllum cetinaensis encrusting various hard substrates, including a FW snail.


Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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