Significant advances have recently been made in our understanding of the mechanism of inorganic carbon transport in algae and, especially, cyanobacteria with inorganic carbon concentrating mechanisms (CCMs). Furthermore, the role of CCMs in increasing the rate of photosynthesis in air-equilibrated solutions is also quite well understood. However, less often considered is how the presence (or absence) of a CCM relates to the biology of algae. This mini-review relates the occurrence of algal CCMs to phylogeny, life form, life history, and interactions with other organisms. While some patterns can be seen, the occurrence of CCMs in relation to the overall biology of the algae needs more investigation.