Chaetomorpha linum (Spaghetti Seaweed): Interesting Facts

Chaetomorpha linum Featured Image

Chaetomorpha linum, also known as ‘Chaeto,’ is a green macroalgae belonging to the Cladophoracae family.

It’s commonly found along the coasts of North America, Europe, and the Mediterranean. In the wild, it’s known as Sea Emeralds or Spaghetti Seaweed.

Chaeto is popular in the reef aquarium industry because it offers many benefits for maintaining a healthy and stable reef environment.

What are the different types of Chaetomorpha linum?

There are at least two distinct types of Chaetomorpha linum: attached and unattached.

The attached type has fine hair-like tufts that grow from a minute stalk anchored to a surface.

The unattached type, which is more commonly used in reef aquariums, has thicker or finer filaments and forms a tumbleweed-like structure that doesn’t attach to surfaces.

Both types have a complex reproductive life cycle, but the strains used in reef tanks are selected to reproduce vegetatively, meaning they can be controlled by the aquarist.

Why Is Chaetomorpha linum a Photosynthetic Powerhouse?

Chaetomorpha linum has evolved to be a highly efficient photosynthetic organism. It can grow rapidly when supplied with enough light and nutrients.

This rapid growth is what makes Chaetomorpha linum so useful in reef tanks, as it helps to absorb excess nutrients and release oxygen into the water.

How Does Chaetomorpha linum Help with Nutrient Management in Reef Tanks?

Nutrient Annihilation

Chaetomorpha linum is known to be an aggressive photosynthetic agent, meaning it can grow robustly under a wide range of salinities and temperatures.

Its rapid growth helps to reduce nutrients and release oxygen in the water column.

Chaetomorpha linum is particularly effective at absorbing nitrogenous wastes, making it a popular choice for both marine and freshwater aquariums.

Heavy-Metal Sink

Chaetomorpha linum is known to absorb copper and zinc ions from industrial wastewater, making it a potential tool for regulating trace metals in reef aquariums.

This can be especially helpful for aquarists who don’t have access to Reverse Osmosis (RO) water.

How Does Chaetomorpha linum Contribute to A Healthy Refugium?


In the wild, dense beds of Chaetomorpha linum act as a massive source of oxygen for benthic invertebrates.

The same effect can be utilized in a reef aquarium, where a thriving Chaetomorpha linum colony provides localized oxygen to detritivores, helping to keep the system clean.

Suppression of Pest Microbes

Chaetomorpha linum has been found to produce chemicals that are toxic to certain pest algae, bacteria, and ciliate species.

By suppressing the growth of these harmful organisms, Chaetomorpha linum can help to maintain a healthy and stable reef environment.

Substrate for Pods

The spaghetti-like structure of Chaetomorpha linum provides an ideal habitat for beneficial microorganisms, such as copepods (pods).

The interior of Chaetomorpha linum clumps traps detritus, acting as a food source for these organisms and promoting their growth.

How Can Chaetomorpha linum Be Used as A Source of Reef Food?

When Chaetomorpha linum grows, it traps excess nutrients in its tissue.

These nutrients can either be discarded when the algae are removed from the tank or used as a source of food for herbivorous fish and invertebrates.

Some species that readily consume Chaetomorpha linum include rabbitfish, tangs, blennies, and sea cucumbers.

By feeding excess Chaetomorpha linum to these animals, aquarists can help to make the reef industry more sustainable.

How to Maximize the Benefits of Chaetomorpha linum in A Reef Aquarium?

To fully harness the potential of Chaetomorpha linum in your reef tank, follow these recommendations:

  • Provide Chaetomorpha linum with at least 250 PAR of light, with as much red spectrum as possible.
  • Ensure that your tank has a well-established biofilter to complement Chaetomorpha linum’s nutrient absorption capabilities.
  • Maintain appropriate salinity and temperature levels for optimal growth.
  • Consider stocking your tank with herbivorous fish or invertebrates that can consume excess Chaetomorpha linum growth.
  • Use Chaetomorpha linum when initially seeding pods to assist in the colonization of your reef.

By following these guidelines, you can create a thriving Chaetomorpha linum colony that will contribute to a healthy, stable, and diverse reef ecosystem.

You can check out what this plant looks like over here.

Chaetomorpha linum Characteristics

Care Level:Easy
Growth Rate:Fast
Nutrient Uptake:Excellent
Required Lighting:Moderate High
Required Water Flow:Moderate
Is Palatable?No
Maximum Size:16 in (40.6 cm)

Scientific Classification

Scientific Name:Chaetomorpha linum
Also Known As:Spaghetti Seaweed, Floating Chaeto, Sea Emeralds
Conservation Status:Unknown

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