Saturday, October 22, 2016

Great Balls of Algae!

Strong typhoon a lifesaver for treasured algae in Hokkaido lake

The Asahi Shimbun  by MASATOSHI NARAYAMA/ Staff Writer  October 22, 2016

Water plants uprooted by a typhoon allowed treasured marimo ball-shaped alga to thrive in Lake Akanko in Kushiro, Hokkaido. This photo was taken on Aug. 22. (Provided by the Marimo Exhibition and Observation Center of the Kushiro city education board)

KUSHIRO, Hokkaido--A devastating typhoon that pounded Japan’s northernmost main island this summer is being credited with saving a rare type of ball-shaped algae from extinction.

Strong winds whipped up by the seventh typhoon of the season stirred the surface of Lake Akanko here so violently that 122 tons of aquatic plants washed ashore to the north of the lake's Churui Bay, where marimo colonies thrive.

The green algae, which are found in high-altitude regions of world, are designated as a special natural treasure by the government.

Typhoon No. 7 lashed Hokkaido on Aug. 17. Only a small fraction of the marimo, whose scientific name is Cladophora aegagropila, were washed ashore.

As hydrophytes, or aquatic plants, had prevented the rare alga from growing properly, the devastation caused by the typhoon cleaned up the lake and drastically improved the habitat for the marimo.

The lake's water quality deteriorated with waste water discharged from a nearby hot spring resort. But it has gradually been improving since a sewage system was installed about 20 years ago, allowing plants to flourish in wider areas in the shallows.

As a result, the ball-like alga became unable to rotate or even move to photosynthesize in their colonies a few years ago. Because of that, a large number of marimo withered or collapsed rapidly.

In an effort to rescue marimo, local authorities took action.

As the marimo colonies thrive in a special protection zone in a national park, local authorities obtained permission from the Environment Ministry to remove aquatic plants in the lake on a trial basis. The effort started last year.

The typhoon made it unnecessary to remove hydrophytes for now, but they will regenerate unless the lake is subjected to very strong winds again.

“The latest typhoon showed us how much water plants should be removed to enable marimo to co-exist with them,” said Isamu Wakana, director of the Marimo Exhibition and Observation Center of Kushiro city's education board. “The phenomenon was significant from that aspect.”

Marimo in Lake Akan in Japan.  Picture taken from ja:画像:Marimo lake akann.jpg, there under GFDL

Cladophora ball "Aegagropila linnae"

A marimo ball is a rare growth form of algae, which grows into large green balls with a soft, velvety appearance. They are native to japan where they naturally grow at Lake Akan. They are also found in Iceland, Estonia and Scotland. They can grow patches on a lake floor at depths from 2 to 2.5 m. The round shape of the marimo is maintained by wave action that turns it.
In Japan the marimo has said to be a national treasure.

They were named by the Japanese botanist "Tatsuhiko Kawakami". Mari means bouncy ball and Mo is a term for plants that grow in water. So, marimo means bouncy plant. People often mistake them for living animals because they are usually moving around in the tank.
I first saw marimo balls when i was looking for an aquarium, then I immediately wanted them!
How to Grow Marimo Balls

Your marimo friends will grow in tap water at room temperature as long as the water is changed every one or two weeks.

The growth rate of Marimo is about 5 mm per year.they grow particularly large, up to 20–30 cm (8–12 inches).

All they need is normal household lighting for them to make food, otherwise, indirect sunlight is fine.

You should turn them over once in a while for them to keep their round shape.

Marimo's are actually VERY easy to take care of, probably one of the easiest plants that live in water.

you just have to change the water once a week and you’re done!" 
make sure NOT to have age killer in the water!"


1* They do not float unless the water is squeezed out of them.

2* They are NOT moss, they are a very unique type of ALGAE.


They need little light, they do best with lamp light especially if you have smaller, rolled marimo.
if so, they will start to grow outward like they do naturally and look very fuzzy.

Health problems:

If your marimo turns grey then simply flip it over and make sure the grey area gets light.

If that doesn't not work then you can get a bowl, add water, ice and salt, let them soak in that for about 3 hours .

They are a VERY easy plant (ALGAE) to take care of and are nice for people that want a plant but don't have the time to take care of it.

They are also a helpful addition to fish tanks, as they act like miniature filters cleaning out the water.
Not Surprisingly, one can buy Marimo Balls from

Be the first kid on your block to get green fuzzy balls!

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