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FAQs about Marine Scavengers 3

Related FAQs: Marine Scavengers 1, Marine Scavengers 2, Sand Sifters, Sea CucumbersShrimp Gobies, Sifter Gobies Marine Algae EatersHermit Crabs, & FAQs on Scavenger: Rationale, CompatibilitySpecimen SelectionClean Up "Crews"Worms As  Scavengers, Snail Scavengers, Shrimp Scavengers, Hermit Scavengers, Crab Scavengers, Cucumber Scavengers, Sea Urchin Scavengers, Serpent Star Scavengers, Seastar Scavengers, Fish/Groups as Scavengers, Losses/Troubleshooting,

Related Articles: Scavengers/Clean-up Crews for Marine Aquariums, by Bob Fenner, Some Fishes Are Good For More Than Just Looking At, by James Fatherree, Genus Valenciennea GobiesHermit Crabs,  

Clean up crew selection/stocking, was RE: Quarantine for fish shipments         12/4/15
Hi Bob!
I have another question for you.
How should I set up my clean up crew tanks (snails and hermits) as I seem to have trouble keep a large number of them due to large DOA and spiked nitrate/ammonia levels, but most suppliers require minimum purchase that is a large qty.
<Am a fan of not using these in commercial settings, definitely NOT acclimation situations. YOU and your circulation, filtration gear, regular maintenance, careful feeding SHOULD BE the "clean-up crew">
Do you have any suggestions on invert setups and how to keep large amounts and what we should feed them?
<Yes; try searching and reading on WWM re.... most all I know, and have confidence re this topic is archived there>
<W. Bob Fenner>
Clean up crew selection/stocking, actually systems (!), commercial: was RE: Quarantine for fish shipments

<Ohhh, the tanks themselves.... MUCH to state here.... NEED to be firmly established, LOTS of habitat.
Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnupcrwsel.htm
and the linked files above. BobF>

Saltwater Clean up Crew, other confusion, using WWM      8/25/12
Hi all,
    I am currently in the process of cycling a 60 gallon saltwater tank.
I'm wondering if you could give me some tips or a general rule of thumb for choosing clean up crew members?
<... this is archived: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/maintindex.htm the third tray down>
I've had a marine tank before but I can't remember exactly how to stalk <stock>  it. I remember that I had red legged hermit crabs, blue legged hermit crabs, a peppermint shrimp and various snails(can't remember what species). And I can't remember how many of each.
    My LFS doesn't seem to know what they are talking about so I don't look to them for advice. I was also wondering if I need to put any additives in the tank. For example: phytoplankton. Is it only needed for reef tanks or also FOWLR tanks. I plan on having a FOWLR tank for now until it is well established. I've looked to the Internet to refresh my memory but it seems to me that there was a lot more to it then any info I can find.
<Perhaps a reading, re-reading of a good general marine aquarium book or two>
    So far I have the tank set up with live sand and rock that I'm using to re-culture my old rock, a filter, two power head pumps, proper lighting, a protein skimmer and calcium buffers. I'm just kind of confused about the clean up crew and any additional nutrients or additives that I need. Any info would be most helpful.
<... this is all gone over and over on WWM. Learn to/use the search tool, indices. Take your time. Bob Fenner>

clean up crew for 30 gallon FOWLR   12/27/11
I am currently cycling a 30 gallon FOWLR tank.
Once the cycle is complete, do you suggest I add a cleanup crew to my tank?
<Depends... on what else you intend to stock>
If so how many should I add?
<... please read here:
the third tray down>

I have been reading in wet web media about cleanup crews mostly for reef setups.
Do I need them if I only have a 30 gallon FOWLR with about 20 pounds of live rock?
<Need... no>
I have a protein  skimmer on it now.
<Welcome... take your time here... you'll do fine. Bob Fenner>

Detritivores, 9/8/11
Detritus is building up in my 15g Nano reef with a 2.5g Aquafuge (acting as a refugium). It's the fine grey "stuff" that looks like dust, for lack of a better term. It might be why I've been seeing patches of green hair algae and Cyanobacteria recently, which I've been able to slow down but not stop control.
<Could indicate a nutrient problem.>
Detritus have been building up on the rocks and sand, but I've been able to blow some of it back into the water column where it gets sucked into the refugium and collects there.
<Sounds like you need better water flow, what are you using for circulation? Also are you running a skimmer?>
I manually removed it from the refugium last night but I would like to see if invertebrates could help. What are good invertebrates that consume detritus?
<In your case a few snails may help somewhat. However they don't remove anything from the system, just tie it up for a while so they are not really an end solution. A good skimmer and water changes are what you are looking for here to actually remove the detritus from the system.>
I'm finding conflicting information or of questionable reliability on whether a particular animal actually consumes detritus in a significant way.
<Many snails do to some extent. There really is no perfect animal for this however.>
Some people recommend Nassarius snails, but upon further research they seem mainly interested in carrion and food scraps.
<Yes, and they need a fairly deep sand bed too.>
I'm unsure if Ceriths will eat it, and my tank is far too small for a sea cucumber.
<Ceriths would be good, although they are sand dwellers so if you do not have a deep enough sand bed for them to bury themselves in I would skip those. Otherwise a couple Turbos or Astrea could help.>
I am trying to maintain an Indo-Pacific theme, but if they're going into the refugium I don't care what ocean they're from. Thanks for the expertise!
<See here and related FAQs for more details on specific species.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gastropo.htm .>
Re: Detritivores  9/12/11

Yes, I certainly do have a nutrient problem. I just installed a Tunze Nanostream 6025, which is a little too powerful for my tank, but boy did it bow a cloud of detritus from behind the rocks! I'll have to clean out the refugium again after seeing this. I'm going to downgrade to the Nanostream 6015 which I hope will keep good flow.
<I prefer a couple small pumps to one large one, this gives more flexibility in directing flow.>
Cleaning the refugium last week seemed to have significantly slowed down algae growth, and maybe even stopped it.
I don't have a skimmer. I do 2-4 gallon water changes each week. I run activated carbon (replaced every 3-4 weeks), and I just added SeaChem's Purigen to see if I can remove more dissolved organics. I also placed filter floss in the refugium to catch the detritus before it gets a chance to settle and I intend to replace the floss once or twice a week. None of these are meant to be a substitute for a skimmer, but I've read that many have success without them, so that is the direction I want to experiment with.
<Too me a skimmer is the most important piece of filtration on marine tanks, and personally would not run a tank without one.>
I found a seller for Indo-Pacific invertebrates, so I plan order some Ceriths and Turbos soon and I hope they can take care of the more tenacious detritus on the rocks. Thanks!
<Don't go overboard here, in your sized tank a couple of each would probably be enough.>

clean up crew  8/8/10
Hi Web I am looking at buying a clean up crew for my 75 gal reef tank from Reefs2go my PH is 8.14 to 8.20 I have around 80 to 100 LB of live rock I am having some problems with about 3 different types of algae 1 is hare
<Heeee! Bunny?>
2 is red slime 3 light to dark green coat of algae.
<Mmm, see WWM re... http://wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm
and the linked files above>
I am running 260 W pc light (2) 65 W 460 NM blue and (2) 6700/10000 combo I am using R/O water with 000 TDS. I have 40 LB of Very fine sand from Marco Rocks from Florida Keys I have cut my lighting down to 8 to 9 hours days with no luck. My clean up crew will consist of 80 Nass snails 15 Ceriths 15 Turbos 5 Nerite 3 Mexican snails
<Wow! That/this is a lot (too many) snails for a 75 gallon system>
(3 Serpent Starfish from the Ophioderma sp family) 1 tiger wardi goby with a red pistol shrimp (5 sand sifting crabs from the Emerita Talpoidea family) and (2 Cleaner Wrasse from the Labroides dimidiatus family )
<Mmm, these are not taxonomic "families"... and this last species is hard to keep period... Please search, read as instructed before writing us>
if this is not a good match can you please help me on this matter ?
<Help yourself. Read here:
the third tray down. Bob Fenner>
plz note there nothing else in my tank other than the rock and sand at this time. please let me know if this will be a worthy buy for my set up. I also do about 10 gal water change every 7 to 10 days.
Thanks for your time John....

2 quick questions... HQI lamp sel., Cyano consumers...  08/06/2008 Guys, <<And Gals I hope...Andrew with you today>> Thanks for all the help in the past with my questions. I was wondering what brand of HQI 250W 14K bulbs you recommend? <<Regarding recommended HQI bulbs, a few good brands are Current USA, BlueLine and Iwasaki>> Are there better ones that last longer or you think are better. <<All the above mentioned manufactured bulbs I would happily recommend>> And...........what, if any type of clean-up crew (crabs, snails) eat Cyanobacteria? <<using a cleanup crew to tackle Cyano is not overly the best solution. All you would be doing in a control exercise, not a correcting one. Cyano needs light and nutrients to grow, also, come consider low flow a partial cause for Cyano. Fixing this at the root cause is your best option, and syphoning the Cyano out in the meantime while dealing with it. Please do read more on the bacteria and its methods of removal. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm >> Thanks, Jeromy <<Thanks for the questions, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Cleaner Crew? -- 03/25/08 I, first off, want to say thank you and what a great site before I begin. <<Welcome 'thank you for the kind words>> I currently have a 300-gallon aquarium with these inhabitants: Small French angel Two Percula Clowns Two Black Saddlebacks Medium Maculosus Angel Medium Six Bar Angel Medium Imperator Angel Large Purple Tang Small Red Scooter Blenny Medium Koran Angel Small Atlantic Blue Tang Small Blonde Naso Three Sand Sifting Stars Two Yellow Striped Maroon Clowns Small Power Blue Tang Small Sailfin Tang <<That's a lot of potentially large and aggressive fishes 'even for this size tank>> I was wondering what types of cleanup crew would work best in this aquarium for cleaning up waste product and left over food, if any? <<Many choices 'and should prove quite beneficial/necessary here>> Shrimp, crabs, snails, etc. . <<Yep along with some Serpent/Brittle Starfish What species of each if any would you recommend? <<Cerith and Nassarius snails to start 'Blue-Leg Hermits 'Peppermint Shrimp 'and the fore mentioned Starfish>> And finally what would you recommend for trying to setup a cleaning station for the inhabitants? Cleaner Shrimp, Cleaner Wrasse, etc. .. <<Avoid the Cleaner Wrasses 'too delicate/hard to keep alive. A few Cleaner 'Gobies' (Gobiosoma sp.) and some Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata sp.) will do fine. And one thing to keep in mind 'when adding any of these critters, don't just drop them in the tank like food 'if ya know what I mean [grin]>> Thanks Again, Brad <<Happy to share. EricR>>

Clean up crew 02/13/2008 Crew, <<Hello Ben, Andrew today>> Thank you in advance. I have had my 240 up and running for two weeks now. All the rock had been curing in separate bins for 3 weeks prior, where I got the Ammonia spike then Nitrite peak and beginning of their fall. The tank has 15 Chromis in it that were in quarantine for those three weeks. My question is that as the cycle is progressing, I'm beginning to get the typical algae haze on everything. While the glass is no problem to clean, it's beginning to shade the decor as well. When can I safely add a "clean up crew" consisting of hermits, snails etc.? <<You can safely add the cleanup crew when the cycle has completed>> How sensitive are they to water chemistry during cycle? Are they as hardy as damsels? My concern is that I still have a Nitrite reading of about 0.5. Thanks! Ben <<As above Ben, wait for the cycle to complete, then start adding your cleanup crew. The diatom algae bloom your experiencing is normal, and will pass soon enough. Patience is your new best friend here>> <<Thanks for the questions. A Nixon>>

Selecting Safe Detritivores  11/20/06 Hello to the WWM crew. I have found very helpful information from your site. Could you offer your advice/assistance on adding sand sifting or detritivore type species? Here is my set-up. I have a 200 gallon reef set-up: 72" x 32" x 24" (deep) Circulation is powerful utilizing a central Dolphin pump Lighting is 3  MH retrofits with 400W 20,000K Below I list the details. I hope this is sufficient information. I have converted this tank from a previous fish only. The corals are doing well, with good polyp extension daily on the leathers. I have a good skimmer, and that seems to be ok. I have removed a lot of the coarse crushed coral substrate when I have done water changes. Not quite to bare bottom, but getting there. I want to add a live sand substrate, but I would like to add the right mix of detritivores and sand sifters. I do not want to risk a big mistake due to the forward momentum I have. The more I read on your site, the more cautious I am, particularly with crabs. <You are wise here> Since it is a big tank, how much do I add, and what? Thanks again for your great site and advice. Take care, George Pachyclavularia violacea Sarcophyton elegans Sarcophyton sp. Sinularia dura Rhodactis indosinensis Actinodiscus sp. Plerogyra sinuosa Trachyphyllia geoffroy Platygyra sp. Alveopora T. crocea Small Zoanthid rock Pseudochromis paccagnellae 2 Chrysiptera parasema 2 Zebrasoma flavescens 2 Amphiprion ocellaris 2 part B-ionic dosing Calcium @ 475 Alkalinity 4.5 pH 8.2-8.4 some iodine dosing in small increments to supplement above <Perhaps some species of Valenciennea et al. gobies... I myself would avoid snails, false/hermit crabs... and rely more on other mechanisms (other than biological "cleaners" here). Bob Fenner>

Re: Selecting Safe Detritivores... no such word: detritivores  11/21/06 Dear Bob, Hello again and thanks for the prompt reply. Quick follow up to my substrate / sifters questions. Regarding Valenciennea gobies; can I have several in a 200 gal. environment? <Yes> Could a clown goby or similar also be incorporated? <I would not... the genus Gobiodon are almost entirely corallivorous> Can you also elaborate on what you mean by "other mechanisms", or are you referring to mean more frequent water changes? <This and much more... posted on WWM... please see articles, FAQs files on Marine/Reef Maintenance/Operation, Algae Control...> Finally, I'm not at all surprised about staying away from the crabs as this is well documented, but what is the problem with snails in general. Are they simply inefficient, or harmful? <Often a bit of both... don't do much, are vectors for pathogens...> So many online retailers seem to push clean-up crews, mainly made up of snails and crabs. I don't see why. <Highly profitable> Thanks again. George <BobF>

Algae Eater Eater 11/1/06 Hi, crew.  <Hi> In brief, I have a 36 bowfront reef type tank with a few soft corals and 5 small fish.  I've been up and running for more than a year with intermittent stumbles, but overall I've been pretty successful.  I have a 3.5" DSB with about 40# live rock, and I've recently had a flare-up of hair algae.  I've decreased feedings, and increased water changes to 10% weekly, but I've noticed that my algae eaters (blue and red hermits, and Astrea snails) have been gradually decreasing in numbers.  I have a 2.5" Falco Hawkfish in the tank (my only aggressor), and I also have a red/brown crab (1-1.5")  that hitchhiked in with one of my soft corals (body looks a little like an emerald Mithrax, but with slightly bigger claws).  To the question.... How long should I expect my algae team (Astreas, hermits) to survive?  <Years if conditions are right.>  At over a year in, am I dealing with attrition, or do I have an algae eater eater? <Possible>  If it's the later, who goes back to the LFS, the Falco hawk, or the hitchhiking crab? Thanks for your help... Tim <Either could be the culprit, both are natural predators of snail and small crabs.  I would try to remove the crab first, if the fish was the culprit likely would have been witnessed in a year.> <Chris>

Compatible Clean-Up Crew - 08/30/06 I have a 30 gallon reef w/: Fish: 1 flame hawk, 1 false Perc Clown, 1 cherub angel Corals: tons of assorted mushrooms, hard (Frogspawn, candy cane), & soft (finger & umbrella leathers) Other: serpent star, live rock All inhabitants have been in the tank for at least 2-3 years (some 8+ years). <<Excellent!>> I have not added any livestock in a few years & it's time to risk rocking the boat & add something new. <<...with caution>> Since my current clean-up crew consists of just the serpent star I was looking at adding a package for general maintenance & to add some variety to the tank, but I know that the flame hawk limits my options. <<A bit, yes>> I'm considering some Astrea snails, <<Little bulldozers>> red hermits <<Opportunistic omnivores...and snail killers>> (I've found that the bigger ones hold up pretty well around the hawk) and possibly one or more of the following: - another serpent star: <<Excellent detritivore>> they are cool, but will another fight with the one I have? <<I have always found Ophiuroids to be quite compatible between both inter- and con-specifics>> - a Coral Banded Shrimp OR 3-4 peppermint shrimp: I know they likely wouldn't get along together, & that the CBS would have a better chance w/the flame hawk, but don't know how aggressive he would be w/other inhabitants. <<Can be very aggressive>> Or should I completely forget about any kind of shrimp w/ this setup? <<Normally, I would recommend Lysmata amboinensis and/or Lysmata debelius as the most beneficial (cleaners) and the least destructive of the commonly available ornamental shrimp.  But the presence of the hawk fish does pose a threat to these shrimp>> - One or 2 emerald crabs:  I think they would fair reasonably well w/the flame hawk, but don't know how aggressive they might be toward other existing/proposed inhabitants. <<Have been known to attack/kill fish>> Any comments on my plans are greatly appreciated - I'd rather be informed that something is a bad idea before anyone gets eaten.  Suggestions of other critters to add in place of anything on the list are also welcome. <<My opinion is to exclude the crabs (all are too opportunistic for my taste) and go with some snails (Cerith and Nassarius species get my vote) and maybe another serpent or brittle starfish.  The Nassarius snails and the starfish are excellent detritivores, the Cerith snails feed upon algae/diatoms without knocking your corals about or falling on their backs and dying/fowling the water>> Thanks, Kim <<Quite welcome.  EricR>>

Re: Compatible Clean-Up Crew - 08/30/06 Thanks for the advice. <<Any time>> I'll definitely change my snail selection & am re-thinking the crabs & shrimp. <<Ah, yes...is only my opinion, but the emergent life in your tank will be better off without these.  Regards, EricR>> Sand Sifting and Orange General Starfish??? Star Problems, Predation 7/27/06 Hello and thanks for taking the time to read and answer my question. <Sure> I have both a sand sifter and an orange general starfish. <Protoreaster lincki?> I've had the sand sifter for about a month and just got the orange general a couple of days ago. Well here's the deal, I went into look at my tank this morning and noticed that my orange general starfish was in the process of eating my sand sifter. <Several species go by this common name, and for some this is not an uncommon behavior.> I know it was too late for the sand star because I could see half of it was already digested and the general was working on the other half. Keep this in mind that earlier that night the sand sifter was perfectly fine. I have FOWLR tank with a porcupine puffer, niger trigger, & maroon clown. <I would guess at some point either the puffer or trigger should have decided to snack on the star anyways.> Water Levels are all ok. I was wondering if this is normal for a general star to do. <Need a scientific name to be sure, but seems likely.> I knew this star wasn't reef safe and thought that it be ok in my tank. Will it try and eat my fish? <Depends on the size of the fish, but I would bet that the problem will be the other way around.> Sorry if this is a stupid question, but my LFS is pretty reliable on the info he gives me, at least I thought he was, and he said this star would be ok in a fish only tank. <Not a fish only tank if there is another star in there, either way those sharp teeth the puffer and trigger have are there for a purpose, and will most likely make short work of any stars in the future.> Just hoping to get a better understanding of the situation. Thank you for your time and effort, James <Anytime> <Chris>

Re: Sand Sifting and Orange General Starfish??? Star Problems, Aggressive tank 7/30/06 Hello again Chris and the Crew, <Hello> Thanks Again for answering my question. <Sure> As far as the Orange General Star goes, I do believe the scientific name is Protoreaster lincki. <Definitely some evidence that it is a potentially carnivorous species.> Sorry I didn't have it before. <No problem.> The fish I have not messed with the star fish so far, but the puffer likes to mess with my snails. This is my 1st aggressive tank, so I was wondering if you have any other recommendations a far as clean up goes for a Porcupine puffer, niger trigger, and maroon clown. <The cleanup crew in mostly going to be you, as most snails, crabs, and shrimp will be lunch for the niger and puffer.  May be able to use burrowing snails but even this is doubtful.> Thanks Again, James <Chris> Critter Stocking 6/27/06 Hi Crew, <Hi> Before I start with my question, I would just like to thank you all for your time and effort, I really appreciate all the hard work you put into the WWM, and I have gained so much from reading all your FAQ's, thanks again. <Thanks for the kind words.> Now for my question, I have recently taken up the fish keeping hobby again, after a 15 year break and decided to go straight in at the deep end, and go for a Reef Tank! <Welcome back.> So, I've now got myself a nice 70 gallon bow fronted corner tank, all setup and cycled, with some 30kgs of live rock. <ok> I am now at the stage of wanting to add some "critters" and was wondering what qty / mix of critters would be good for a 70 gallon Reef tank, and whether it's fairly safe to add them all in one go, or do it gradually in stages. Further down the line I'm planning on adding a couple of Clown Fish, and Goby, but that's about it fish wise. Looking forward to your response. Kind Regards Andrew B. <By critters I am assuming you mean snails, crabs, etc.  I don't really like any of the "rules of thumb" out there such as 1 snail/10 gallons etc.  Each tank varies too much, what might work in one tank with lots of algae will equal lots of dead stuff in another with less food.  Start slowly, just a few critters at a time.  This will allow you to find the right balance more easily without wasting money and killing livestock.>   <Good luck with the new tank.> <Chris>

Clean Up Crew/Algae  - 05/19/2006 Hi there, <Ewan> Many thanks for all the great information that's helped me so far! <Welcome> I have a 50 gallon tank. It has 30kg of live rock and 1.5-2" of live sand and has an Aqua Medic TurboFlotor Multi SL protein skimmer that's designed to be good up to tank sizes of 250 gallons.  Water parameters re ammonia and nitrite are 0. I currently have the following: 2 Percula Clowns (medium size) 2 Banggai Cardinal fish (medium) 2 Firefish (the orange and white type, medium) My clean up crew is comprised of the following: 2 Skunk cleaner shrimp 1 Blood Shrimp 1 Banded Coral Shrimp 1 Arrow Crab <These last two are more of "eat-em-up" class than cleaner up...> 2 Bristle Stars 3 tiny Red Hermit crabs about 1/2 inch in size 3 Hermit Crabs with striped black and blue striping. 1 inch big I'm still getting some unsightly algae on the tank glass. It's brown in color and thin and appears in patches on the front and sides, but not really on the back of the tank.  I'm planning on using something to reduce phosphate levels as I've been told this contributes to algae growth but was also interested to know if there's anything I can add to my clean up crew to help the problem. <Mmm, all sorts> Have seen several types of Cowry, Murex, Scallops and snails listed on the web as being useful. <Mmm. some snails... but not the ones you list, nor the bivalve> My LFS stocks Turbo castaneus and a snail called Super Turbo Snail. What would you advise? Many thanks! Ewan <For you to read, starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the linked files at top where you lead yourself. Many approaches to consider here... enjoy the process. Bob Fenner>

Snails and hermits - feeding - 04/14/2006 Hello WetWebMedia expert, <Hello! You've got John here this morning.> I first want to say of all the sites I have visited these past 6 months, this is one of my favorite. Very informative and lively exchanges. <Thanks! It's my favourite site too!> My question is a general one about snails and hermits. I am just about done cycling a 125 gallon reef tank (my first) with 110 lbs. of live rock. So far, so good. My water parameters are good and I have oodles of copepods. <Good> Two days ago, I purchased my first live stock- 5 turbo snails, 5 Astraea snails, and 10 (total) blue leg and scarlet hermits. The live rock had a fair amount of algae and other matter, living and dead, on it. I was amazed how quickly these guys devoured the plant material. After only two days, about half of everything has been consumed. My concern is that it appears someone (turbo snails?) is also eating my purple coralline algae. <Not likely, unless you have something like an urchin in there.> Help! Am I imagining this or do one or more of these critters eat coralline algae? Thanks. <Most likely, the coralline is seeing off naturally. It will tend to go through death/renewal cycles like this whenever it suffers a major change. It's normal to expect that some species of coralline would die off during the first few months of a reef tank. Hopefully, it'll come back in time.> Steve <Best regards,  John.> <<The Butler did it... actually, the Hermits are eating the coralline almost assuredly. RMF>> Nano Pack <lunch> 4/9/06 Hi my name is mason and I have a 27 gallon nano-cube with a dogface puffer, 2 left-footed hermit crab, and 1 margarita snail. I was wondering if I can buy this pack with;           Scarlet Hermit Crab:  5    Blueleg Hermit Crab:  5    Turbo/Astrea Snail:  10    Nassarius Snail:  5    Queen Conch - Aquacultured:  2 <Hello there Mason, I don't see why you couldn't get this pack.  Some have problems with a queen conch in a tank that small.  Do your research on them on the website and then you can make an education decision on if you want to risk it.  Other than that it seems a go.  Thanks, Jen S.? <<Jen... a Dogface Puffer in a 27 gallon nano tank? And... it will eat all these... assuredly. RMF who suspects you didn't see/register the Arothron here>>       Thank You               SOLD OUT Click her to contact the site owner about this product.             --> Micro stars/Detritus Control   3/16/06 Hey crew,  <Hey Eric> Hope you are having a wonderful day.  <Not bad.> I am having a little bit of a detritus build up problem in my tank. Some of the live rock I have has small pockets in the rock they look like small craters, but detritus seems to settle in these pockets and I have to eventually vacuum them.  Well after I vacuum most of these out all my coral and anemone seem to open up a lot more and last for a few weeks (I guess they could be eating this material but I really don't think so). <Correct.> I was wondering if adding micro bristle stars would help keeps these areas clean.  <Will help some.  The best control is what you mention...vacuuming and during every water change.> If you have any suggestions of other organisms that would work better please let me know. 180 gallon 300 lbs live rock 1600 gallons an hours of power head water flow. 4-5 inch sand bed. Thanks,  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Eric Skimmer, Clean Up Crew  - 01/12/2006 Hello.  Thanks to all of you for the invaluable service you provide.  I was reading various FAQ's on your website and realized that my skimmer may not be performing adequately.  I have a 250g fish-only tank, no live rock, with a male and female bird wrasse, a male and female blue throat trigger, a porcupine puffer, a dogface puffer, a sailfin tang and a squirrel fish.  Only the male bird wrasse is more than 6 inches as of yet.  The tank has been running about a year, with the fish added over time during that year.  The skimmer is a venturi type. <Some of these are not that efficient...> The sump has three separate compartments, divided by acrylic walls with 2" holes in the bottom to allow water to flow through the compartments.  The pump returning water into the tank is in the left side compartment, the water return from the tank and the wet/dry filter are in the middle compartment, and the skimmer is in the right side compartment by itself. The skimmer cup only needs to be emptied about every two weeks. <Mmm...> From the FAQ's I read today, this apparently is not nearly enough. <Likely so>   So, I'm wondering what the problem may be with my skimmer.  Being in the right-side compartment of the sump, it is out of the main water flow which is pulled by the pump in the left compartment, mainly from the middle compartment where the return and filter are. <Makes little, appreciable difference...>   This made me think that the skimmer may not be processing enough tank water to be skimming effectively.  I also considered that the skimmer pump may not be performing well enough, although it produces ample foam but just doesn't collect much of the brown gunk. <Perhaps it needs to be "tuned"... the water level in the contact chamber should approach the collection cup area by about an inch... to effectively raise the bubble area...>   I also considered that the bio-load may be low given the tank size and the relative small size of the 8 fish in the tank (though I do get algae growth and the nitrates do go up between water changes).  Any thoughts on why I'm not getting more skim product in the cup? <Most likely it is the inherent functionality of the skimmer itself... next as a guess/input is its adjustment... easy enough to "test"... borrow/use another make/model of skimmer in its place... the Euro Reef, or Aqua C lines...> I plan on moving the skimmer into the left side compartment where the main pump is so that the skimmer will at least process more tank water. <Hotay... but will be surprised if this makes much/any difference. Why you have it out do give it a scrubbing inside the contact chamber...> On a related note, I'm wondering if there are any clean up crew critters that I could coexist with the current occupants - my sense is that the answer is no, but thought I'd check with the experts. Thanks very much.  Mike <Not many... strike that. I would look for a nice goatfish or two (of the same species so they'll associate) in such a size system, livestock mix as you have... They'll really help to keep the bottom turned over, stirred up. Bob Fenner> What Snails Do You Like? - 01/10/06 Gotcha, Thanks so much Eric. <<You're welcome Dave>> How do you feel about Turbo snails, Trochus, or Nassarius? <<My problem with the first two is, aside from being prone to die-off, they are like little bulldozers knocking corals around as they prowl/graze...worse than any urchin for this in my experience.  I do like Nassarius snails...and Ceriths are an absolute fave of mine.  I also have what I believe is a very small conch (1/4"-3/8") that multiplies like mad and is a great little detritivore.>> Dave Harvey <<Regards, EricR>>

Re: What Snails Do You Like? - 01/11/06 Yeah, that's how I'm coming to feel about Turbos and Trochus also, not to mention I'm pretty sure that every time they fall off a rock and don't land right side up- the tusk is upon them in a moment. <<Hmm...wouldn't be surprised if the tusk wasn't 'helping' them 'fall off.'>> I have 2 larger Conchs, boy do they grow fast. <<Have heard this...>> I'll probably only keep one-not sure about that, and give one to my buddy. They certainly have cleaned up the sand of any detritus very quickly. <<Always a handy thing <grin>.>> Thanks again, Dave Harvey <<Cheers Dave,  EricR>> Predators With Inverts...What About The Clean-Up Crew? - 12/17/05 Kevin here, enjoying your web site on an icy night in VA. <<EricR here, enjoying a cup of coffee on a mild morning in SC.>> I have a few questions regarding stocking a 180 gallon, with a few hardy fish and invertebrates. <<Okey Dokey>> My system would also include a 30G sump and 30G refugium along with a very good protein skimmer. <<Very nice>> My must have fish are one  of the larger lionfish; hopefully either a P. radiata or P. antennata as opposed to the larger Volitans, <<All beautiful fishes... though my personal fave is the 'black' P. volitans>> & one of the smaller fish eating morays. <<Sounds like a reasonable mix...with the right eel choice.>> I would probably add a third fish such as Foxface or similar  sized herbivorous fish. <<Another good choice for this tank, in my opinion.>> Are there any moray and lionfish species that will usually leave such invertebrates as hermit crabs, starfish, & brittle stars alone? <<The eel is probably the bigger problem here.  Do have a look here and among the indices in blue...much good info to help you make a choice:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/morays.htm >> Would any of the lobsters get along with both the fish and the aforementioned invertebrates? <<Possibly...but will likely come down to size...lobsters large enough not to be eaten by the fish...fish large enough not to be killed/eaten by the lobsters.  And be aware, what seemingly works in the wild can have drastically different consequences in the confines of a home aquarium.>> I really like the idea of having a couple of the larger marine fish mixed in with a few invertebrates for a more varied and different look.  I just don't see or read about too many others who have similar setups. <<Due in large part to the unique circumstances of captivity I imagine.>> Perhaps this should be telling me something? <<Hmm..... <grin> >> Would this mix of fish create to much waste for the invertebrates to be able to thrive? <<Not the ones you mention...though you want to optimize your filtration for the fishes' benefit too.>> If I can't keep a few hardy invertebrates in with both a lionfish and one of the moray's, then I will just stick to the standard FOWLR system with no invertebrates.  However, this brings me to my last question.  With such fish as triggers, invertebrate eating eels and large aggressive wrasses, where there is basically not to much of a chance of keeping a cleaning crew, what does one do to keep the aquarium clean? <<Mmm...a sensible stocking plan...frequent water changes...adequate biological filtration...use of carbon/Poly-filter...judicious feeding...good water flow...manual detritus removal...>> Is it just a matter of having to get your arm wet more often? <<Maybe>> Everything I read makes it sound as though a good cleaning crew is almost a 'must have' for keeping your aquarium clean in hard to reach places. <<Not a "must have"...can't replace common sense/good husbandry in ANY system.>> Thanks in advance  for your reply, I really value your opinions. <<Regards, EricR>>

BB detritus eater  12/16/05 Hello Ya'll, <Hello Jason>   I emailed you guys before about my 125 gallon stingray tank and its high nitrates. Well I think I have it under control. I built a DIY wet/dry refugium. The problem I'm having is with the macro growing the refugium, which is bare bottom I'm getting a ton of detritus and its very hard to suck out with the macro on top of it. What can I put in my refugium that's not going to eat the macro and just eat the detritus?? The refugium is about 20-25 gallons and am growing Chaeto macro like crazy!! Thanks for any info you may have.  <The Cerith and bumble bee snails will consume detritus along with serpent stars.  I suggest you put a nylon sock (filter bag) over your return pipe/hose to trap such.  It will need to be cleaned weekly.  James (Salty Dog)> Jason

Gastropods/Snails/Limpets and an Over Abundance  12/5/05 I'll save space and your having to read by not listing our tank setup - if you need to know the setup to answer this question, let me know and I'll oblige. <Okay.> We setup 90 gal tank with 130 pounds Fiji and Marshal island live rock about 5 months ago. Within a week, we found a large cap snail hitchhiker...5 months later, there's so many in the tank (also a few in the refugium) we lose count to get an exact number. I've read if you know how many snails you have, you don't have enough, <This sounds like a retailers slogan 'I to have heard such ludicrous rules of thumbs such as this one and the common 'One hermit and snail per gallon rule' which is to say the least ridiculous.> but is there such a thing as TOO MANY CAP SNAILS? <If you have an overabundance this means that there is sufficient algae to support them. The algae is fueled by nutrients. So if you want the herd to be naturally thinned out I would check your system for detritus build-ups and watch how much you feed. Water changes are your friend.> If so, is there a natural predator for them? <Yes likely any mollusk and crustacean predators such as wrasses and puffers. However they will not limit their predation to just your snails, your microfauna population would be adversely affected as well as any other small critters in your tank.> cheers <To you too.> Donna <Adam J.> 

Starfish/Urchins in an Aggressive Fish Only Tank  11/23/05 Apologies if you have already answered this but I couldn't find it on the FAQ section.  I have a fish only tank with a Huma Trigger, Snowflake Moray and Lionfish. I have been looking for something to control algae but the trigger keeps biting chunks or any exposed pieces from any snails that I put in there (irrespective of size). Can you keep starfish or urchins in this type of tank? And if so, would anyone have nay recommendations?  <The trigger will eat all inverts!! you better scrub the aquarium by hand!! IanB> 

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