The continual, random appearances of strange organisms, often in the forms of fungi, algae and lichens, are a fascinating aspect of maintaining tropical vivaria.
Fungi are essential facilitators of the biodegradation of organic matter. Molds and Mushrooms are two manifestations of fungi regularly observed in vivaria.
Slime molds can be very fast-growing, short-lived uni or multi-celllular organism; however, due in part to their lack of specialized tissues, these “molds” are not actual fungi, but included in the Protista kingdom, of which this trait is characteristic.
Lichens, living structures comprised of algae and/or cyanobacteria, fungi and other microorgnisms, are recognized by many as the crust or leaf-like formations often found on tree bark, branches and boulders. Some lichens resemble plants and mushrooms; however, they are neither of these. Nor are they parasitic of their hosts. They receive and metabolize nutrients from their environments, relying heavily upon the photosynthesizing natures of their symbiotic cyanobacteria and algae. This relationship is very much like those between corals, Tridacna clams and their respective photosynthesizing symbiants. There are “macro and micro” lichens; however, these terms are not references to size or mass. Macrolichens form plant-like structures. Of these, fruticose appear bare-branched, while folicose have leaf-like structures. Microlichens include every other form, including crustose, or encrusting, and those that form nodule and shingle masses.