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I absolutely love marimo moss balls, and I'm even considering starting a store selling them. This brings me to some ethical questions- I know they are becoming increasingly endangered in the wild. (Edit) I know most are farm raised, however I am still interested in their conservation.

Are there any funds/conservation efforts for them?

(Also, on a less important note- has anyone kept large quantities of them? Any recommended setups for it?)

 

 

 

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Edited by Oliver T
replacing inaccurate information
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I commend you @Oliver T, for your noble cause. I know the aquarium hobby has saved around 30 species of fish from extinction in the wild due to habitat loss, and an ever  growing number on the endangered list. I’m not sure if there are any specific funds or conservation efforts for wild marimo moss balls, i will have to look into that. One of the best ways to bring about conservation efforts is to do what you just did. Start a conversation about them, share pictures and information on them, and get people interested in the wonderful marimo moss ball. Highlight the benefits of a macro algae, that can live for over 100 years. Did you know you cut them open and spread them out for use in unique aquascaping methods. Yep, they dont have to be kept as a ball. I tip my hat to you @Oliver T. I too love them, and until i read your post was unaware of their decline in nature. You have peaked my curiosity, and now im off to learn more about our rolly polly algae friends. Thank you for that. 

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Very cool idea Oliver. You can always make your own moss balls instead of buying them. You can cut them apart and roll the two halves into a ball, now you have two moss balls. Irene did a video showing you how to do this:

I hope your buisness idea works out! The best of luck!

Edited by James Black
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17 hours ago, Atomicfish said:

My Marimo Moss Ball seems to be reproducing I started out with one and it has since split into several now that I have a 20 gallon tank.

Atomicfish - I’m curious how that works.  What does it look like, the reproducing?  It’s an algae so I don’t imagine it’s flowers.  Maybe a bump on the original ball that falls off?  Is there anything you’ve done in your tank to encourage it?  I’d love a carpet of moss balls for a 5 gallon tank I’m trying to figure out what to do with.

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1 hour ago, Emika_B said:

Atomicfish - I’m curious how that works.  What does it look like, the reproducing?  It’s an algae so I don’t imagine it’s flowers.  Maybe a bump on the original ball that falls off?  Is there anything you’ve done in your tank to encourage it?  I’d love a carpet of moss balls for a 5 gallon tank I’m trying to figure out what to do with.

I know they can "reproduce" when, like you said, a bump forms and then falls off. Otherwise they can split apart naturally when they ram in to something, etc. If you want a carpet of tiny marimos you can purchase a few larger ones and tear them up. They won't be perfect balls for a while, but they look acceptable and will get better with time.

 

1 hour ago, James Black said:

Very cool idea Oliver. You can always make your own moss balls instead of buying them. You can cut them apart and roll the two halves into a ball, now you have two moss balls. Irene did a video showing you how to do this:

I hope your buisness idea works out! The best of luck!

Thanks! My aim is to market to both aquarists and others, so we'll see how that works out. I think for a hobbyist, splitting marimos is a perfectly fine idea. However, I'm not sure that it makes sense as a business move- the larger marimos are significantly more expensive because it has been growing much longer, so splitting it up may or may not be a good idea at scale. I have found some very cheap pieces from larger marimo balls, so I may try rolling those in to balls at first.

 

2 hours ago, Will Billy said:

I commend you @Oliver T, for your noble cause. I know the aquarium hobby has saved around 30 species of fish from extinction in the wild due to habitat loss, and an ever  growing number on the endangered list. I’m not sure if there are any specific funds or conservation efforts for wild marimo moss balls, i will have to look into that. One of the best ways to bring about conservation efforts is to do what you just did. Start a conversation about them, share pictures and information on them, and get people interested in the wonderful marimo moss ball. Highlight the benefits of a macro algae, that can live for over 100 years. Did you know you cut them open and spread them out for use in unique aquascaping methods. Yep, they dont have to be kept as a ball. I tip my hat to you @Oliver T. I too love them, and until i read your post was unaware of their decline in nature. You have peaked my curiosity, and now im off to learn more about our rolly polly algae friends. Thank you for that. 

If you do find any specific funds, I would love to hear about them. I know there are some Japanese communities that have local efforts and even festivals to conserve the wild marimo. I've attached a picture of a marimo bonsai, which I think is one of the coolest ways to use them in aquascapes.

Screen Shot 2021-02-23 at 4.22.53 PM.png

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I did a bit of digging on the internet, and found a few things i would like to share here. First off a big round of applause to @Oliver T. A quick google search of marimo moss ball conservation produced a large number of results, however this thread on our forum is the top result! Congratulations Oliver, you did it. This thread is the #1 result. 
i did find an article about Taipei Zoo is contributing to the conservation of our round algae friends. Here is a link to that article. https://www.travel.taipei/en/news/details/21942 I think Taipei Zoo would be a great resource for you to get more information from regarding conservational efforts. 
Here is another article from Oxford University that goes into more detail about the decline of wild marimo moss balls. https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/60/3/187/256937
Apparently they not only grow in Japan, but also they are native to Scandinavian waters as well, or at least they used to be. Not looking so great for wild European variants right now. Keep up the great work Oliver, and keep us posted on what you find out. I am very interested in this topic. 

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Through some wormholes (thanks to @Will Billy for the Taipei resource, it got me started), I have found a Natural History Museum in Iceland- https://natkop.kopavogur.is/ that is working on conserving icelandic freshwater, including lakes which contain marimo. I have sent them an email asking for more information about the current programs, but in past decades they have also worked in Japan to save Marimo. 

Hokkaido University seems to have some conservation programs too, along with the city of Kushiro.

https://marimo-web.org/, while outdated, clunky and in Japanese seems to be a good starting block to find other resources.

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These "moss" balls have always baffled me, how a ball of filamentous green algae got to be so popular in the hobby so fast, ...when it was actually first discovered in the 1820s by Anton E. Sauter in Lake Zell, Austria who named it Aegagropila linnaei has had me somewhat puzzled.  Here we are usually spending lots of coin, time and effort preventing and combating algae in any form, spend time to get our lights and fertilizer regimen just right to keep algae out of our tanks; and yet this fuzzy, and cuddly looking green tribble made up of one of our arch enemies the green algae  has softened the heart of the fiercest persecutors of algae by disguising itself as a "moss". I love it!

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I'm not certain when they entered the hobby in the US, but as you said they were discovered centuries ago. I know they have been collected, kept and honored in Japan since shortly after the discovery. There are quite a few that have now been passed down several times as family heirlooms. I have to agree, I love that we fight off algae yet intentionally buy it. I think they do a very good job of reducing other algae, because they use similar nutrients. As far as naming, I feel like it isn't very abnormal. Marimo is the common name, and Aegagropila linnaei is the scientific one. I'm not sure how normal it is for two entirely different countries to play a role in naming, but I also don't think there are very many plants or animals that live so far apart either.

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Algae of most types occur around the world as their spores are endemic in the air and as such go "where the wind blows" that's why aquarium keepers in Germany get to fight the same algae as we do here in the U.S., or another fellow fishkeeper in Australia, Singapore, or Argentina.

I get amused by the fact that so many new aquarium hobbyists buy the Marimo balls under the impression they are buying a moss and not algae and I have seen some of them react with disgust when they found out it was a form of green algae as if it changed the fact that they absorb nutrients and they still look just as fuzzy cuddly as before.

They were marketed  at just about the same time as the Nature Aquarium movement based on Takashi Amano's work became more popular here in the U.S. and I met quite a few then who believed they were an actual moss and would have probably not bought something labeled as an  "Aegagropila linnaei Green Algae Ball" quite as quickly, at least not without first researching if it might spread.

All our tanks contain a certain amount of algae, it's a fact of life on this planet, the algae takes care of some of the nutrients, just as our plants do, only if things get out of balance do algae really become unsightly. I don't stress over a bit of algae in my tank as long as it looks to be in balance and doesn't disturb the overall impression, it serves as another source of food for my algae eating crew as well.

To me the Marimo ball is a reminder that Nature is so much better balanced, and perfect in its inter-dependencies, than any of our most complicated, and intricate aquarium eco-system designs can ever be and a tip of the hat to the fact that the algae whether cute and fuzzy, or wildly propagated by the wind has been here for a long time, and will be so for a long time to come.

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