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Caulerpa taxifolia  Caulerpa taxifolia  

  Scientific Name:

Caulerpa taxifolia

 Common Name:

Killer Algae (also: Caulerpa, aquarium caulerpa)

 Native Range:

Indian Ocean

 Established Range:

Mediterranean Sea, Southern California

 Established in Rhode Island?


 Date and Location of Introduction:

1984, Monaco

 Method of Introduction:

Released from aquariums, net fouling, ballast water


The invasive Mediterranean strain of C. taxifoliawas selectively bred for the aquarium trade and as is extremely hardy as a result. It is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures (14 to 32° C) and light conditions. C. taxifolia can suvive in waters as deep as 100 meters, and will grown on many different substrates.


C. taxifolia reproduces vegetatively, up to 1 cm per day, and can form new stems and fronds from mere segments of itself.


C. taxifolia infestations have serious negative effects on the environment. It spreads rapidly and easily crowds out and replaces native algae and seagrasses. Additionally, it is highly toxic to the herbivores who feed on the native algae that it replaces.


In California, a small invasion was successfully controlled by covering up the C. taxifolia with tarps that were weighted down by sandbags and pumping chlorine bleach into this enclosure. While this method killed any native marine life that was stuck in the enclosure, it also completely eradicated the C. taxifolia. Copper sulfate can be used with similar results. For more information on control methods for Caulerpa, please visit the NEANS Panel Control Page.


 Works Cited:

Anderson, L. W. J. 2005. California's reaction to Caulerpa taxifolia: A model for invasive species rapid response . Biological Invasions , vol. 7, pp. 1003-1016. ISSG. 2006. Ecology of Caulerpa taxifolia. The Global Invasive Species Database,

NIMPIS. 2010. Caulerpa taxifolia (Aquarium caulerpa). National Introduced Marine Pest Information System,