Re: NANFA-L-- is there a north American option for algae

Christopher Scharpf (
Tue, 20 Jun 2006 22:08:45 -0400

> Is there a North American equivalent to an Otto, or a Siamese Algae eater?


Ecologically, stonerollers are "creek cows" in that they convert the energy
of "lowly" foods such as algae, detritus, and diatoms into a biomass usable
by carnivores. So formidable is their talent for grazing that a large school
of stonerollers can significantly reduce the amount of standing algae in a
stream. Ecologists William J. Matthews and Mary E. Power saw this first hand
when they examined pools in Oklahoma's Brier Creek. Some of the pools had
profuse algal growth while others had just scant patches. When Mary
suggested it was the grazing of stonerollers that controlled the algae, Bill
was skeptical. Later, Bill and Mary placed algal-covered substrates into a
pool with stonerollers and into another pool without. Stonerollers swarmed
to the algae in the one pool and ate most of it in minutes. (However,
stonerollers are not exclusively vegetarian; zooplankton, insects, worms,
fish eggs, and fish scales are also opportunistically taken.)

Chris Scharpf
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