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FAQs about Marine Scavenger Compatibility

Related FAQs: Marine Scavengers 1, Marine Scavengers 2, Marine Scavengers 3, Sand Sifters, Sea CucumbersShrimp Gobies, Sifter Gobies Marine Algae EatersHermit Crabs, & FAQs on Scavenger: Rationale, Specimen Selection, Clean 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,  

Large Wrasses eat hermits, crabs, snails...

Pufferfish with cleaning crew, as food items?  11/27/09
I am considering getting a small porcupine puffer,
<Hope it is a big tank because they don't stay small for long.>
but the thing is it will be in a tank with a sand bed and a cleaning crew of various inverts including some snails, a starfish some tube worms, and a urchin, possibly looking to add a shrimp or two (probably not possible with the addition of the puffer though).
<All potential puffer food.>
But I would expect that the puffer would eat all of these.
<Very well might.>
What I am interested in finding out is what would be a good cleaning crew to go in with the puffer fish, bearing in mind that as of now i so have some algae and deep substrate that will definitely need sifting.
<You might get away with some sand dwelling snails like Ceriths or Nassarius, but even these may end up as dinner to the puffer eventually.
Most effective cleaning will be you ultimately, most inverts will eventually end up being eaten by the puffer as it grows.>

Livestocking/Lessons learned... Tetraodont Puffer, clean-up-crew palatability/incompatibility    12/15/08 Happy Holidays Folks, I know the answers to my questions are probably somewhere within this site... But I can't seem to find the section that sits you down and says, "It's okay, Jonny... It's a lot more work than you anticipated, but it IS worth it. Look how much you've learned, so far... Now, put the sledgehammer down". <Heee eee eee, yikes!> I had written a few weeks ago... You were very helpful in guiding me through a few situations: Overcame an imaginary bout with Crypt. I re-aquascaped and increased the depth in my sandbed to 5", in the display tank. Also increased the flow/turnover to about 20X. I also managed to kill a Foxface, Louti and Panther Groupers in the process, although the jury is out as to whether or not WWM is directly responsible for the tragedy (kidding). Since the deaths occurred in a Rubbermaid container and not in the tank... And since the Humu Trigger simply neglected to succumb to whatever killed the other fish (we never could quite figure this out - Myself and WWM, included)... And since all else was well in the tank... I decided to get some more fishes and Quarantine them (novel idea, eh?).Now when this journey began, I managed to convince my girlfriend to let me set up a little goldfish tank (I believe she may have been imagining a 10g). Through much further convincing/rationalizing/begging/negotiating, we ended up with the current 100g, 30g wet/dry sump, AquaC Remora, 100+lbs LR... She didn't like Corals or really Invertebrates. So, it was to be FOWLR. Then she saw the algae bloom. LFS set us up with two Electric Blue Hermits (this was when we had tiny Humu, Foxface, and the two Groupers. No problems with compatibility (Yet... Humu was 1 1/2"). Then we added three jumbo Turbo Snails. Girlfriend loves them. We also had a nice colony of Zoanthids that showed up as hitchhikers on LR. Then we lost the Groupers and Foxface. So, after Quarantine and verifying Tank was stable (still is - 0 for Ammonia and Nitrite, PH 8.2 and Nitrates about 10ppm), we added the one fish I truly, truly wanted... A 4" Striped Dogface Puffer. And a new 3" Panther Grouper. And a 4" Bi-Colored Goatfish. Now, the Humu is just about 2". Here's my problem... Although I was not planning on being entirely dependent on a "Clean-up Crew" for aesthetic maintenance, the benefit of those Snails was immediately apparent. And My Girlfriend has become quite fond of the Hermits. Just in case you didn't see this coming... It took the Puffer two days to find the Coral Polyps. To say that Puffers "May nip Corals" is a tad understating, in my new-found experience... Entire chunks of rock have been bitten clean off. <Ah yes> My dreaded Aiptasia (that I have not quite come to dread, yet), all gone. And, of course, the real carnage was yet to come... I awoke this morning to find a pile of Electric Blue Hermit appendages scattered across the sand. Also, a Turbo snail that had been only moderately sampled, but is still in tact. Now, I have no problem sticking with Plan A - FOWLR... A Puffer, Grouper, Trigger and a Goatfish. Heck, I may even throw in a small shoal of Striped or Domino Damsels and have a nice, well-rounded SOB-OWLR. But she likes (liked) the Hermits and the Snails. And so did I. I also wanted a Cleaner Shrimp , but that ain't a'happenin in this here arrangement. So, I guess my question is, do I get rid of the Puffer? <Likely so... or... another tank/system!> Try not to look at this just as an Aquarist, but also a conscientious boyfriend... And if I do return him, am I going to end up in the same boat as the Trigger grows in size and attitude? <Perhaps so... but less likely to a degree> By the way, so far, he has not displayed any aggression towards any fish or invertebrates... Unless you count the vendetta against the oblivious Goatfish. I am waiting to see if either the Goat will learn to stay away from the Triggers cave or the Trigger will give up on asserting himself. Am I wrong in waiting this out? <Mmm, no... these fishes are capable of said learning> There is clearly some one-sided hate going on here. I don't know what to do. Toss a coin? Two tanks of any significant size is not an option. <Rats!> Sorry, again, for incorporating my personal problems. Any arbitrary advice would be greatly appreciated. Jonny <I'd trade the puffer in likely... Bob Fenner>

McCosker's Flasher Wrasse with Cerith and Nassarius snails. - 07/19/08 Hello Crew! Let me start by saying thank you for the excellent job you do! Now for my question. I want to know if the McCosker's Flasher wrasse and Carpenter Wrasse will be compatible with my clean up crew? I have read on several online retailers web sites that this fish is "Reef safe" and will not harm inverts. Is this true? <Almost always the case, yes. Cirrhilabrus and Paracheilinus species by and large feed on "off the bottom" zooplankters> I really enjoy the work that my Nassarius, Cerith and Nerite snails do. They are excellent little scavengers and I don't want to add anything to the system that is going to hunt them down and kill them. The system is a 105 Gallon Half hexagon with a 35 Gallon sump/refugium with Chaeto and Macro growing in the refugium. 4-5" DSB in display tank and refugium, ETSS Reef Devil Skimmer, 1/4 hp Chiller, Mag 18 Return pump with 3x 1/2" water outlets, 4x65watt PC's and approximately 65 Lbs of Live rock. The system is cycled and about 2 months old. I purchased a kit of Copepods and amphipods along with only snails for the clean up crew. My goal is to research all the fish prior to purchasing them so that everyone gets along in a nice little community. Are there any Gobies or blennies that you might also recommend that will not feed on my clean up crew. <Many... see WWM re...> Thank You so Much! Mario from Rancho Cucamonga, Ca. <Welcome, from BobF in very VOGy Kailua Kona>

Unknown predator coming out of live rock and killing my cleanup crew -- 07/10/08 I have a problem with an unknown predator in a 24 gallon AquaPod The tank has been running for over 2 weeks with no problems. I added snails and hermit crabs after cycle completed. <... the cycle was completed and you stocked this system in two weeks?> 3 days later i see a snail that was alive a few hours earlier upside down on the sandbed with a long reddish looking wormlike creature with spikes along its body moving from a hole in the live rock to the inside of a mucous covered snail shell. Then it retracted back into the rock. So i wrote it off as a dead snail being consumed. <Likely> The next day i come home to a second and now third victim covered in mucous upside down with no snails in the shells. Also in the same time period there was a hermit that was ripped out of his shell and floating around on the sand bed. I am currently observing the wormlike animals finish off their third kill. I have read all over the site and the closest thing I can come up with is one of the crew mentioning "I was wondering if you had ever come across bristleworms biting snails? <<RMF has>> <Dead ones, yes. Live ones, no. There is a type of worm that is bright red, long and thin that prey on snails by smothering them in mucous before eating them.> should I leave them alone or should I try to get them out of the rock somehow? Also is there anything I can put in the tank to hunt them down like maybe a coral banded shrimp?" Also the third victim was found in the exact same place in the tank as the first making me think it was attacked and then consumed. I have not seen any aggression with the clowns hermits or snails. 24 Gallon AquaPod 2 False ocellaris 5 Hermits left 5 Astrea snails left 4 Nassarius snails untouched so far 30 Lbs live rock 1/2" Live sand PH 8.2 Ammonia 0 Nitrites 0 Nitrates < 20 Temp 80 No coral yet but would like to later Water changes 10% weekly Please help! <I'd try baiting, trapping out the worms... and see if something else (like a Stomatopod) comes out of the rockwork. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/polychaecompfaqs.htm and the linked files in the same series, above. Bob Fenner>

Nassarius Snails Eating Hermit Crabs -- 6/21/08 Hey WWM Crew, <Hi Brian! Lynn here today.> Love the site and thanks for taking the time to sift through everyone's questions. <It's a pleasure.> I have something going on in my clean-up crew in my saltwater tank I haven't been able to find out anything online about. <Let's see what we can do to fix that.> I have a 75g tank about 2 months old now with just live rock. The ammonia and nitrite levels were at zero after a month when I added 10 small blue leg hermit crabs, two Emerald crabs and five Nassarius snails. I have read all over about hermits taking out your snail population <Yes, it can certainly happen. Many, including myself, avoid keeping hermits in reef systems altogether.> ..but in my tank it seems my snails are taking out my hermit population. <Uh oh> I have witnessed on three occasions the snails harassing the crabs. <Calling them names? Telling them bad hermit crab jokes like: How much does a hermit crab eat? Just a pinch! What's a hermit crab's favorite dessert? Clawberry Cheesecake! I guess I can see where that would be annoying.> The first time the hermit left its shell and headed to the rocks and returned later to collect its home. <Awww, poor little guy.> Then about a week or so ago I saw a snail envelop the crab with about five or six hermits in a conga line on the shell of the crab getting eaten (maybe trying to pull him back?). <It sounds like the crab was already dead or in a significantly weakened state and it attracted every scavenger in the area.> Another snail crept up from the sand bed to help and eventually the crab was eaten. <That sounds about typical, again, if the crab was dead or dying.> Just now I peeked in my tank to see another empty shell and two snails leaving the scene of the crime. <Not good.> Have you ever seen or heard about this before? <I've never heard of the common Nassarius vibex snails attacking and killing healthy hermits, no. What I'd do first is make sure that the snails you have are indeed N. vibex. Please see this link for comparison: http://www.gastropods.com/0/Shell_1930.html . If you have something else, let me know and we'll see if we can't figure out what it is. Otherwise, I have a feeling that with such a new system, the problem might be one of too many scavengers and not enough food to go around. Keeping everyone well fed will go a long way to ensuring healthy individuals and keeping the peace. Also, it goes without saying that keeping the water parameters stable and in good shape is a must.> Am I missing something as a food source for these snails that is leading to this behavior? <Just make sure that they're all getting enough to eat -- any meaty foods of marine origin, sinking pellets, etc.> Any thoughts would be appreciated. <Let me know if you have a different species of snail, or if things don't improve!> Thanks! Brian <You're very welcome! Take care, -Lynn>

Snowflake Moray: Cleanup Crew -- 04/21/08 Hello WWM Crew; <Hi Cody.> I am a beginner saltwater hobbyist. I started setting up my first tank 5 months ago. It is a 46G + 20G SUMP. I have a 2-3" (sugar sand) sand bed in the main tank. I have 50lbs of Tonga/Fiji live rock in the tank/sump, and have a skimmer and refugium(cheetah/LR) as well. Flow is near 15-20x currently. The LR just finished its 5 week cycling and was moved into my main tank a week ago. I decided to finally put something small into my tank. I initially designed the tank for a Snowflake Moray (hiding places), and to my surprise my LFS had a very nice Snowflake Moray (about 14" long) in. I asked my LFS to put it on hold for me for the mean time, but had a few concerns first. In the mean time my LFS suggested I put something in the tank just to make sure everything is okay with the newly established tank. <'¦testing with fish is not my cup of tea.> So I put 3 Yellowtailed Damsels and some Turbo Snails in right now. The Damsels seem to be doing very well with each other (each claimed a hole in the LR and swim around with each other often) with very little (or no) fighting. <Usually gets worse with time.> First question would be regarding my tank size. I have read up on the internet some sites saying as low as 30G is minimum, however I also read in your FAQs that you'd suggest at least 60G (or even 75G) minimum for this species. I do believe there is sufficient (stable) hiding places that the moray will be fine, but I was curious on your opinion and perhaps some behavioural habits I may look for that might suggest he is not happy with the tank size so I could return him if it's the case. <Not happy behaviour: swimming a lot and searching the upper parts of the tank for an escape. Small to medium specimens can be kept in this tank size for a few years, but in my opinion larger quarters around 75 would be the absolute minimum for a stronger adult... at least you have a sump with a good size. Personally, I believe while your eel maybe ok for now, you'll appreciate larger quarters in roughly one or two years. Some other opinions: Purser (TFH moray author) recommends 55 gallons and Michael ('Reef fishes') recommends 30 gallons. The main problem you should expect will not be a lack of swimming space, but water pollution. You'll need a very good skimmer and adequate water changes to keep the nitrates at smaller levels (at least below 25-30 ppm).> Secondly I have no desire on overloading my tank. Do you think with the 3 Yellowtailed Damsels plus him should be okay? <For now, but likely not for ever.> Also will he be okay with these Damsels? I read Snowflake Morays are often good with other fish, but might eat what fits in their mouth. <Damsels may mysteriously vanish as the eel grows. Large Snowflake eels often have a tendency to start eating smaller tank mates. Large males get serrated long teeth perfect for fish catching.> Finally the only thing I want in my tank is the Moray and a cleanup crew. Of course the Moray eats almost any snails and crabs (and perhaps my Turbo Snails?) that consist of most cleanup crews. <Not necessarily'¦ Some do, some don't. If the snails are large and the crabs are well armoured, hermits may work without problems depending on the character of the individual eel.> What would you suggest as the ideal cleanup crew to include with a Snowflake Moray (for algae and keeping my sugar sand bed clean of detritus)? <I would give well armoured snails and hermits a try, but don't add them at feeding time. The hermits just need to be careful while molting, and if large enough and in strong shells, they are rarely cracked.> I know my tank may not be well established for some critters (sand sifting star?, etc) but would be handy to know what I can add now, and what I can add later on. <A sand sifting star should ideally have a larger and deeper sand bed. With regard to the other tank mates: It would have been better to add the moray last.> Also would you consider it practical to include a crab or cleaner shrimp every now-or-then to help clean the tank (even though he'll just become a tasty treat for the Moray?) <Impossible to tell how it will react to a cleaner shrimp'¦ some accept them, some eat them. If they are eaten I doubt they'll clean very much in the meantime'¦> Thanks a lot, love the site and it's the first page I go to for most of my research on SW questions. Cody <I'm glad you like it. Have fun with your eel. Marco.>

Cleanup crew and triggers/tusk 3/20/07 Hello crew and thanks again for all of the great information.   <Greetings, to you! Thank you and you're welcome.> I have a 125 gallon FOWLR that contains 90lbs live rock with an assasi trigger, niger trigger, Tuskfish, flame angel and a Kole tang.   <I'm hoping these are all small specimens? This will likely result in elevated stress levels in the future...> I would like to place a few crabs (emerald & hermits) and maybe a shrimp or two that I expect will be consumed eventually, <Yup, but sometimes not. Have to wait and see.> but I am OK with that although I am not sure of the consequences in terms of fish aggression.  I have read a few FAQs and other information that indicates this could elevate the aggression in the tank.   <Anytime your fish are eating food that they catch & kill, you can expect them to have a slightly higher than otherwise "mean-streak" due to the stimulation of their predator drive. This is less common with the chance ingestion of a crab or shrimp as say, if you were to regularly supplement their diet with live foods. That is not to say, however, that you shouldn't expect that once one has eaten one of your crustaceans, they won't have acquired a taste for it.> Is there any merit to this or something else I should be considering.   <You chose some fish that have a natural tendency for live foods, especially of the variety you have in mind. Crabs are little snacks for triggers, and the Tuskfish is no stranger to investigating if something soft lies within the shell of the nearest crustacean either. This is something you are no doubt aware of, and hopefully were before you decided to keep these species together. If you know this going in, then plan as best you can to keep the little shelled-buddies alive as long as possible by introducing them after feeding and lights-out. Good luck with that (Personality is always the determining factor here). -GrahamT> Thanks again.

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> 

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>>

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.             --> 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>> 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 dieing/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> Re: Rhinecanthus rectangulus Wow! Thanks for the fast response. I'm kind of amazed that I'm actually talking with you.  <Why? Why not?> Your research has provided a wealth of valuable information to me since switching from freshwater aquariums to marine. So without taking up too much of your time, could you suggest some scavengers or maintenance type animals that would be appropriate for this biotope? <Mmm, these are listed on WetWebMedia (.com)... use the Google Search tool on the homepage, indices...> I've been told that pretty much everything including cukes, starfish, crabs, shrimps, urchins, conches, hermits etc. will all become trigger food. Thanks again for sharing your time and knowledge. <Glad to share. Bob Fenner>

Inverts I have a 90 gal with 90lbs Kaelini rock setup since 1/10/03. I have 1 coral beauty fish. Yesterday I added an algae attack pack consisting of many scarlet hermits, turbo snails and dwarf red tip hermits. It seems like an awful lot of inverts. How long should the lights be on for them. <Don't know that the inverts will really care. I would stick with whatever lighting you have now> I have 2mh 175w 10000k and 2 VHO actinics. Should all of them survive and if not what will it do to my water parameters and what should I watch for. <The biggest problem I had with crabs was that they would attack and kill the snails for shells. The Turbos may be different as I had Astrea. Watch for that. Extra empty shells may help. Watch for a crab out of its shell, likely dead and in need of removal (if you see it before the others eat it) Ammonia will spike if too many die and start to decay. They will survive if there is enough food for them so they don't attack each other and the snails. Hope this helps, Don> Thanks

Crabs & mushrooms (reef tank) 3/30/03 Dear Crew: <cheers, Connie> I guess my previous letter got lost in the cracks or whatever.   <not sure... fast and loose around here answering mail. Not intended to be sure <G>> I have all of my crabs in quarantine pending your answer.   <wise move> I had a really nice frag with five shrooms on it.  First two got smaller and turned black and I removed them.  Then a couple of days later I awoke and two had totally vanished.  Anthony told me that snails don't eat shrooms, <true of Astraea turbo snails (and related Turban-type species)... not all snails though. Many predatory species> but vanishing overnight leads me to then suspect a crab.  I just switched to a deep sandbed this weekend (4"- a lot of work but worth it I hear).  I have a 60 gallon tank and about 20 each crabs and snails.  Maybe too many?   <hard to say what is enough... or too much. Really depends on if you can grow enough (or add enough) food to feed them. 1 per ten gallons is a common ration bandied about for either (6 of each here)> All water parameters excellent.  Thanks in advance for your guidance. Connie <best regards, Anthony>

Nutrition and clean-up >Greetings to you! >>To you as well, John! >I first want to thank you for the countless questions you have answered.  My three fish are doing well, in large part because of your advice.  I also want to apologize again for the length of this question. >>Apology accepted. >My first question relates to nutrition.  After reading about the potential pitfalls of food that uses gelatin, I decided to try to make my own.  My current tenants include a solar fairy wrasse, true percula, and a citron goby.  I made a concoction (much to my wife's chagrin) of raw shrimp, scallops and squid, with some sushi Nori and Kent Zoe supplement.  Is this a varied enough diet for long-term sustenance?  It was rather economical, and I was able to freeze it in 2oz portions using those small restaurant containers.  They also really enjoy it. >>I should say so, it sounds delicious.  I would also offer Nori on a clip for those who might like to graze, as well as Spirulina algae--it comes in flakes, frozen, and in pellet/wafer form.  You can also vary what they get by adding things such as clam, fish, silversides, and marine algae every once in a while.  Be sure not to make the batches too large, as nutrient content can be lost with prolonged freezing. >Next question.  I have decided to eschew crabs for clean-up.  I currently have three Turbos, one queen conch (which will be traded when it gets too large) and six Nassarius snails.  I've been adding them a couple at a time, based on perceived need.  How many Nassarius do you believe would be ideal for this size tank (30 gal)?  Are there any other non-crab denizens that would co-exist with the snails?  Brittle star, perhaps? >>Brittle stars are wonderful, I also like serpents.  I can't give you a hard and fast rule for the stocking of the snails, however.  In my opinion it would be better to be a bit understocked, and it's your own observations that help make that determination. >One more:  As stated above, one of my residents is a red-headed fairy wrasse.  I bought him because he didn't look like he would make it too much longer in the LFS (not a good reason, I know, but I can't help it - my wife and I feel like we have to rescue every animal).   >>Well, not much we can do to change either of you, is there?  ;) >I rearranged the rock to provide a lot of caves and underpasses for it.  I have observed the tank for hours, and I have yet to see a single aggressive movement among them.  In fact, the three often 'hang out' together in the same part of the tank.  I would hate to have to lose the wrasse - for practical as well as personal reasons.  What is the long-term prognosis for this arrangement? >>Long term, expect to find certain tasty small mollusks and arthropods to become wrasse-candy.  I'll suggest you don't replace what's eaten. >My tank readings have remained stable and ideal for two months (except a slightly low pH at 8.0-8.1,  and the 0.1 PO4 readings - slowly working on that).  Thanks again for all the advice!  JPM >>You're quite welcome, and hopefully you'll get a handle on those phosphate readings.  Good luck!  Marina

Cleanup Crew Hi guys,<IanB at your service today> I'm having a bit of trouble keeping my sand clean.  I have a 90 gallon reef, with 100# of LR and 100# of Southdown.   I use RO/DI water that tests at 0 on my TDS meter.  But I can't get rid of a thin red hair/film that keeps forming on top of the sand (side question: is this Cyano?). <could be. read http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm> I currently have: 6 turbo snails 15 red-leg hermits 1 impatiens cuke 1 blood-red shrimp 1 skunk cleaner shrimp a variety of mushrooms and polyps 1 closed brain 1 frogspawn and a bunch of fish. I'm considering adding the following to my tank (for cleanup purposes): 10  Astraea Turbo Snail<my red legs ate a few of these> 20  Dwarf Blue Leg Hermit Crab<should be fine> 10  Dwarf Zebra Hermit Crab<should be fine> 2   Fighting Conch - Aquacultured  (3/4") 2   Queen Conch - Aquacultured  (3/4") 3   Peppermint Shrimp<currently have 2 that are thriving with my other shrimp> 10  Nassarius Snail  (I like these little guys)<again hermits can/will eat them and take their shell> 2   Sand Sifting Sea Star<yes> I also plan on picking up a blue spotted goby.<ok> Questions: 1)  Will either of the conchs present any potential problems? <shouldn't> Will they harass the other snails and crabs?<shouldn't>  Each other?<shouldn't> Note: there are only about three square feet of exposed sand in the tank; the rest is covered with rock) 2)Will the peppermint shrimp present any potential problems with my other shrimp?  With each other?  With my snails or crabs?<I currently keep my 2 camelbacks with blood shrimp, other shrimp, hermits etc, they pose no threat, your ok> 3)Do you see any potential problems with the two lists above?<you should be alright> I'm looking to make this purchase from etropicals.com (a subsidiary of the Drs.).  According to their website, and one of their sales reps, there are no problems (in terms of compatibility).  I have read articles that state the contrary.  You have the final word; please point me in the right direction.<I have enclosed some links for you, Keep reading and good luck my friend, IanB> < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm><http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algcontFAQsMar.htm> < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marind5_5.htm> Thanks as always!  I couldn't have gotten this far without you guys! -Adam Karp

Fish and Clean-up Crew Compatibility >WWM Crew: >>Marina here. >I have a 125g FOWLR, with volitans lion, Behn's damsel, 2 green Chromis, chocolate chip starfish, zebra eel, and 3 hermits (med-sized). I'm considering adding some fish, possibly just one or all of these: a clarkii clown w/ an anemone, regal tang, yellow tang. But I also wanted to get a trigger. What would be the least aggressive trigger out there, so that my current inhabitants and future inhabitants will not have to be pestered. Bursa? Humu? Certainly not Clown! Do you think there are too many fish with my plan? >>I am going to strongly recommend AGAINST clowns w/anemone, as the anemones are so difficult to keep, I think a system dedicated might have more success.  I'll suggest a blue jaw, Pinktail, or niger trigger, though the Nigers are AWFULLY timid at times.  I'll also suggest not going with a Regal tang, a Yellow would be easier and possibly less aggressive. >And I need a clean up crew--do any of these current/future inhabitants pose a threat?  I know my eel (and maybe starfish)  will not suit well for shrimp and smaller hermits (i.e. blue-legged), so they will have to be out of the question.  But how about others, like various types of snails, etc.? >>You should expect the sea star to pose the biggest problem, and if you add the trigs you would have to watch them, though of the group the Niger would be the least problematic.  I'm glad you have the Zebra, one of my favorites, without a doubt.  You can certainly *try* something like Turbos, just a few, and see what happens, eh?  Also, don't leave out the serpent stars, they're fantastic for detritus.  I hope this helps, Ed.  Best of luck, Marina

Scavengers Hi there, I wrote a while back with my plans for the conversion of my current 75 gallon set up to a more appropriate 260 gallon tank.<good to hear>  To recap:  I have a Volitans Lion, an Emperor Angel,<a real beauty> a Long longnose butterfly, and a ribbon eel (still thriving after several weeks.. greedily feeds with the use of food isolation :-)  )<normally many perish from lack on eating prepared foods>  When moving to the new tank, I will add to the mix a Harlequin Tuskfish and possibly a Hippo Tang.<good hardy fish, would quarantine all fish before introduction to the main aquarium> I am excited by the beauty of these fishes (especially the eel.. a true find)<indeed> What I am looking for here is some idea of scavengers for such a predatory tank.. I understand with my mix.. it may be impossible! <yes> Serpent/brittle stars, perhaps?<the tusk wrasse will make a quick meal out of them>   Or will they be picked apart? <yes> Obviously crabs, shrimp, lobsters are out.<yes> I have two hermits that have survived thus far <THUS FAR> (lost the two smallest to the butterfly), but realize that the Tuskfish may make aqua snacks out of them after the move.<yes>  If scavengers are an impossibility, then what additional maintenance should I consider? <get an excellent protein skimmer and LR for this aquarium, will help keep good water quality>  I am using live rock, DSB and skimmer for filtration for this tank..<sounds great> also.. after the new tank is completely cycled.. in what order should I introduce my existing fish?  I would assume the ribbon eel first.. so that I can handle any transport stress or hunger strikes with the eel alone in the tank. <good idea> After that?  What order?  The Emperor is a bit aggressive toward the butterfly <emperors angels are aggressive towards EVERYTHING> (they are both 4".. a mistake on my part when purchasing I think <would add the butterfly before the angel>.. would have been better to get a bit smaller butterfly?)<no, angel might kill him then> but leaves the lion alone.<hmm, normally angelfish like to nip large fins>  And the introduction of the Tuskfish and the Hippo? <I would quarantine these two...hippo tangs are very prone to parasites>  I am still in my honeymoon with the hobby, even after a very rough start (complete wipeout of a tank to marine velvet) Six months later, I feel proud to have successfully (so far) kept some of the more demanding (and beautiful) fishes.. and I have WWW to thank!<your welcome, keep reading my friend, IanB>

-Clean-up crew for 35g- Hi, I was wondering what cleanup crew I needed in my 35 gallon tank. The only animal I have in there is a dwarf lionfish. <I hope you're planning on a larger home for this critter, they max out at almost 7 inches!> I need something which will clean up any uneaten food and also clean up the fish waste which lies on the substrate. <First off, if you have any uneaten food lying on the substrate, you're either feeding too much or too quickly. I understand that these fish can be messy, so a few hermit crabs should take care of any extra scraps.> Also, would a tang e.g.. yellow tang, make a good companion? <Not in such a small tank, wait till you have a four footer> The tank has a skimmer and an external filter. Thanks. Ari Marks <Good luck! -Kevin><<There is a likely, perhaps too likely chance that the Lionfish will attempt to eat the Hermits here. RMF>>

Detritivores For Aggressive Setup >Crew: >>Greetings Dr. Allen, Marina with you today. >I'm back with another brief question. I am running a 180G tank with a 7" Bird Wrasse, a 4" Picasso Trigger, a Snowflake Eel of about 12-15" (too slithery to be sure)... >>And, personal experience, quick to nip, too!  Thank goodness they don't tend to hang on for a ride. >3" Maroon Clown and a 3" Coral Hawkfish. I consider the tank fully-stocked at this point, though I would consider adding something that eats hair algae if it could stand up for itself in this tank. >>I know of nothing that wouldn't be at risk in this system, possibly something like a tropical abalone, POSSIBLY, but I'm not positive that nothing (especially that trigger and eel) would bother it. >My real question is whether or not any detritivores could survive/thrive in there. These fish are voracious eaters. >>Indeed.  Serpent stars would be my first choice, brittle second. >Fortunately, I have only an inch of crushed coral substrate because my DSB is in another connected tank, so I can vacuum relatively simply. >>Excellent. >However, I was wondering if a few large Serpent Stars could survive in there, since they hide so well in LR.  If they only come out at night to feed, the Trigger ought to be asleep when they are vulnerable. What do you think?   >>I think one of us is psychic, or fairly knowledgeable.  ;)  Yes, I do think they would, plus, they can move quickly enough that they would stand a better chance than most other sea stars with triggers and the like. >Thanks again for all of your help! I read the dailies religiously and have learned a lot. Steve Allen >>Very welcome, Steve.  And I'd like to thank you for your input lately regarding the wound and disease issues, I've been linking many others on another reefing site to this information, and it's been a huge eye-opener for MANY.  Not too long ago one member landed himself in the ER for squishing a fingernail sized Nudibranch with his thumb.  MUCH to learn!  I hope my information has helped.  Marina

Detritivores and crabs 12/16/03 Oh Helpful Gurus-     I have *about* 3/4 of an inch of crushed coral substrate that needs more maintenance. I change water / siphon 4 gallons once a week in a 55 gal. I am thinking of getting something in the way of detritivores. I imagine this means snails. However, I have a hermit crab that is a pretty good size, perhaps 1.5". Am I wrong thinking the crab will eat any snails I introduce?   <you are correct... the hermit is a calculated risk and likely to eat some desirable invertebrates. Few are truly reef safe.> Is a crab this size just an all-around bother? <yes> I have a fish-only tank and plan to keep it that way, so the rest is not a problem. Small picture attached for fun and reference. Thanks! Lance <do consider instead one of those outstanding Amblygobius phalaena Bullet/Dragon gobies. Truly outstanding for sand sifting and hardy too. Anthony>

OTC algae attack packs How's it going over there? <Hi Sean, MacL here.> I was wondering if the algae attack packs which they sell (which include scarlet reef crabs, turbo snails, and dwarf red tip hermit crabs), would eat the beautiful coralline algae found on live rock. Do you think it is worth adding algae attack packs to aquariums with live rock? <I can only tell you that from my experience they will eat coralline algae.> Sean F.

Niger Trigger I have on about 3 Inches long doing fine in a 75 Gal. tank. I am frustrated that it seems that I cannot have any inverts in the tank to act as a clean-up crew. Are there any that a trigger would not try to eat? Thanks Dave. >> Not really... in the way of invertebrates... there are many fast, smart fishes that might do for various "jobs"...  Bob Fenner

Detritus Eater Bob, I have a 13 gallon CPR Micro Reef tank with live rock and live sand. I have a couple of dead spots between and behind the rock where some detritus is collecting. Right now it doesn't appear to be a big problem because the skimmer is doing a good job of keeping nitrate levels down and algae blooms non-existent. Actually, the only algae I have in this tank is coralline and it's thriving. I have done some research on different detritus eaters (hermits, cucumbers, serpent stars), but all of these seem to have risks involved.  <Yes> I have yet to see an article about hermits that doesn't say they kill the snails or eat the coralline. The cucumbers are ok except I have a power head in the tank for water circulation. I don't want the cucumber getting sucked in and having to completely redo my tank. Serpents have been notably given the reputation of eating fish, snails, and shrimp. As a matter of fact I went to the LFS last night and saw a green serpent feasting on a snail in the display tank.  <This species of Ophiarachna is a huge predator...> Is there any alternative you can suggest to help with this problem?  <If this were my tiny reef, I'd add a small submersible pump and leave "it" as it is...> I can't add any fish. I already have my quota there. I saw from FFX that they are saying that tapestry snails eat detritus. Is that true? <Hmm, yes.> Thanks for your help, Chad <You're welcome. Bob Fenner, who knows what creatures dwell in your rock, sand... and would leave this "detritus" work to them... and the increased circulation.>

Clean-up crew? Hello again, Bob... <Hi there> We had a "discussion" a couple of weeks ago about some of my "just starting out" questions. Here's an update, and a couple of questions about the next step. First of all, I've ordered the Remora skimmer and am awaiting it's arrival. My live rock is currently curing (and really smelling horribly obnoxious on my back porch!).  <Keep testing for ammonia, nitrite, and changing the water if these approach/exceed 1.0 ppm... and keep the water aerated...> Hopefully it will get through the nasty stage by the weekend, when I would like to spend some time outside. :-) <Hmm> It's been out there for a week tomorrow, so hopefully it will be done in the next couple of weeks. Then, I plan to arrange it in my tank (70-gallons, with about 80 lbs. of live rock) and add water, set up equipment, etc. After my water levels test correctly (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, pH, etc.), then I want to put in a clean-up crew (right?). <Yes, this is about the "order of things"> I've seen conflicting messages about the clean-up crew regarding how many (one source said 1 crab or snail for every gallon) and what kind (some think that "good" bristle worms are part of the crew, other despise them...and then some say bad things about hermits or certain kinds of shrimp). So, what's your expert opinion on how many and what kind? <No sense despising worms of any sorts... they're going to be "there" in a healthy system... just not too many, too large... And yes to the possibility of "nicer" Hermit species (these are covered on our site: WetWebMedia.com... the snails you can mix a few species of... again, they're mentioned on the WWM site. One per gallon of the snails and the Hermits (if tiny), is enough. Lysmata Shrimp are nice to have... best to wait on them for a couple of months though.> Thanks again for your advice... Kind regards, Misty Johnson <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Clean up crew Hi Bob, Hope your morning has been good so far. System recap: 90gal, 30gal sump, Turboflotor 1000 and Aqua-C EV90 (one of these will be going to my parents' tank soon), 90lbs LR, 80lbs cc, Dolphin 800 return pump, Rio800 for addle' circulation, 210watts pc. Well, my water parameters as of yesterday: 0 ammonia and nitrite, 10ppm nitrate, 0.4ppm phosphate, ph 8.3, temp 82F, salinity 1.022, alk 2.2, and calcium 300ppm (will increase dosage of 2 Lil' Fishies C-balance). With those readings, less skimmate, and appearance of green hair algae, I think my rock is cycled and I would like to add my clean up crew (to ASSIST in MY periodic stirring/maintenance)!!! :-)  <And indirectly to bring down that phosphate...> I was going to start with a small Kole tang, and a dozen snails and hermits.  <Good choices> I didn't want to add anything close to the amount they offer in the standard clean up crew packages. I know you don't care for hermits much as cleaners, but of the red, blue, left-handed, etc., which would be the safest in a reef environment (stays small, not sooooo opportunistic/predacious)?  <The "blue": Clibanarius tricolor... image, more on the WWM site under Hermit Crabs.> I kinda like the look of hermits crawling around. I also wanted to add a sand sifting star (not brittle stars). I think I've seen them offered as "White Sand Stars", and they were supposedly much safer than other stars. Do you know the "correct" name for these and if they truly are safer?  <Yes, Archaster typicus. Much safer: http://wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm> Do you acclimate the hermits/snails/stars the same as fish (dip/quarantine)? I know you have that on your site somewhere, but I couldn't find it (sooo much info available). <Should come up with the Google search tool... I don't dip these or recommend same. Do quarantine ones that look like they "may not make it"> Oh one more, I have a bunch of fuzzy, copper colored algae on my rocks. I couldn't remember if this was transient or if it was indicative of something I needed to change in my water/system? <Transient... with unfolding (aka evolution) of your system, it too will pass> If you don't feel like repeating yourself today, the appropriate links will do! :-) Thanks again for all the help. Hope my long email was more info than babble. Khoi <No worries. Bob Fenner>

My dragon wrasse, stocking, scavengers... Dear Mr. Fenner: I hope you are off to a Happy New Year! I emailed you before about my spiny box puffer, maroon clown fish, and dragon wrasse. I feed them Formula One Brine Shrimp plus. I have an ammonia tester which is still in yellow so there must not be much uneaten food. <Don't rely on just one such "tester"... the best assay of what's going on in your system is your careful observation of your livestock's' behavior...> I noticed that for the past 2 days after eating my dragon wrasse will swim upside down as if he is full. His belly appears swollen and I wondered if I should put in only 1/2 a cube instead of the whole one. <A good idea... and I would vary this diet with other meaty foods, bite-size... even "human-intended" seafood like shrimps, clams...> It seems he greedily runs to snatch away food from the clown. <Yes... a good idea to train, feed "simultaneously" at opposite ends of the system...> My puffer eats Krill-e most of the time 2-4 pieces a day. I have been feeding 1 cube of frozen Formula one and then 1/2 a cube 6-12 hours later. Should I feed only once a day? <With this mix of fishes, probably fine> I feed the Puffer 2 Krill-e at a time twice daily. I have a friend that only feeds his fish every other day. Would that be better for the wrasse?  <Yes, if it is over four inches or so in length> I read that the clown and wrasse should eat at least 2 times a day but I certainly do not want to overfeed either. <Agreed> I added 2 snails to the tank to eat algae and then I read in your book that an urchin would possibly be a better choice. <I am surprised the puffer and wrasse haven't eaten them> The puffer hasn't eaten the snails and they usually stay away from the fish. (2 turbo snails in a 55 gallon) I wondered if the puffer or wrasse would harm an urchin.  <If hungry, yes> Do urchins usually live long? My local pet shop "The Bermuda Triangle" says they only get urchins in on live rock and would save me 2 back (hopefully purple ones) but that they don't live long. What would you recommend? <Please see the various parts of WetWebMedia.com here: under "urchins", "marine scavengers"...> OK... I apologize because I know there are about a million questions here but I promised my friend I would ask one more. :) He has the purple lobster that he will give me later when I establish a new tank. It is in a 37 gallon with a tomato clown and Percula clown. He never really sees it. It hides under rocks and also doesn't seem to make tracks along the coral. He feeds it the same formula one and alternates with squid. He says the lobster has molted once and that by moving the rock, he sees it is still alive. Is there anything in particular he could do to make this world a happier place for the lobster to feel enough courage to come out and say hello? <Lower the lighting, increase water circulation, use activated carbon once a month, check the alkalinity, biomineral content of the water...> Thanks so very much for your time and patience in these matters. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Kelli <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Scavengers with a Porcupine Puffer? Hi Bob, I enjoy your site thoroughly and I am writing because I have a question regarding clean-up in my tank. I have a 125 gallon fish only that presently has an 18 inch moray eel I bought him under the label "assorted" moray; he looks like the "whitespot" moray in Scott Michael's Marine Fishes guide) and a 6 inch porcupine puffer. With the big mess the porcupine makes with feeding, I was wondering if there are any scavengers or other means of taking care of the mess that you could recommend. Thanks a lot in advance. <Thanks for writing. Do have a favorite given your two "show fishes"... a family of choices for that matter. The Mullids or Goatfishes: http://wetwebmedia.com/Goatfshart.htm and in checking through the associated FAQs file you'll find other folks comments who have employed them. Very active, prodigious cleaner uppers, smart, fast enough to hopefully avoid the puffer and eel... Bob Fenner> -Patrick-

Cleanup Crew Question Greetings! <Cheers, Anthony Calfo in your service> I am a bit unfamiliar with the cleanup crews and what I would need for my tank. Every internet mail order store has a different package. They do not discuss whether these are safe with Corals.  <the problem with some of the hermits at least is that some "unsafe" reef species of hermit slip into the similar shells of safe species and are mistaken for rogue> Right now I have a 125 with 160lbs of LR, 4" Sand Bed, A skimmer and about 24 blue leg hermit crabs. <all good... although too many hermits get a little rough on the DSB fauna> What else would you recommend? I am thinking about a goby, <Yellow watchman's are durable and attractive (blue spots)... avoid all Valencia (Sleeper gobies) and signal gobies> some scarlet reef crabs, <moderate to good and safe if true Scarlets> a pair of fire shrimp, <useless but Oh so beautiful> a tiger tail or two,  <if sand is sugar fine> some burrowing snails,  <always a nice addition> and some Astrea snails. <not if you have fine sand...they cannot cross it if thy fall and die. They occur on hard substrates only in wild> I will be adding them slowly as I do not want them to starve after 4 months.  <yes... the tank is way too young for many of these creatures> Any suggestions or other species that I should consider? I plan on keeping LPS, SPS and mostly soft corals.  <that's basically a sampling of all coral!!! I would strongly advise against this. Pick one group and emphasize certain families, otherwise you will soon have all of the same problems that mixed garden reefers always complain about do to such inappropriate mixes (from the elevated allelopathy/coral aggression of unnatural tankmates).> I have a 3 bulb MH w/NO Actinics. Thanks! <please tell me that you have an Iwasaki 6500K lamp. Otherwise, you need to expect to change/supplement your expensive MH lamps (Coralife, Blueline, etc) more often. Trust the spectral data out there... don't count on the marketing bull> Adam <kindly, Anthony>

Cleanup Crews I have two mated pairs of seahorses. I want to purchase a clean up crew from Flying Fish Express, but I don't want any harm to come to my animals. Are all snails and hermit crabs compatible in my tank? I have a 75 gallon tank, with 75 pounds of live rock and crushed coral substrate. My tank is over a year old. I have a bristle star, mandarin, blenny, Firefish, and a few corals. <I am not sure which package you are looking at, but will give you some general recommendations. FFE has the "Classic" Cleanup"¢ Crew and Reef Relief"¢ Cleanup Crew, both for 75 gallon tanks. I am not a fan of these package deals. I much prefer to buy individual groups of animals. I generally steer clear of any hermit crabs and avoid the green Mithrax crabs to. All of these guys are opportunistic omnivores, which means they can and will eat anything they choose to. A few others I do not keep would be any cucumbers and sand sifting starfish. I do like to use a variety of snails; Turban, Astrea, Trochus, Nerites, Cerith, and Abalone. -Steven Pro>

Re: Clean up crew Why an abalone? They are very expensive. I purchased one and have been reading up on them, but I was just wondering why you suggested this animal. <they are AMAZING and incomparable herbivores once established><<Make sure you get/use a tropical species for warm-water systems... Almost all haliotids sold in the trade are temperate animals... won't live... RMF>>

Cleanup Crews Hello, What would you suggest as a cleanup crew for a 215 reef, mixed fish and invert? <It really depends on the tank; lighting, nutrient export, stocking, feeding, etc. all play a part.> Is there a general rule to follow? <The only rule I have is to use a variety of creatures and monitor what thrives/works. Astrea snails mixed with Turban snails, limpets, etc.> I currently have 180 Astrea snails, 100 scarlet hermits, 8 serpent stars, 5 sand sifting stars. Is this overkill? <Not enough variety for my tastes, way too many hermit crabs (probably soon to be a lot fewer snails), and I do not recommend the sand sifting starfish.> Do you even recommend sand sifting stars or are they not reef safe? <They are "reef-safe" in that they do not eat corals, but they must eat worms, pods, and other sand life to live. Most times they scour a sand bed until nothing is left and then they starve and die.> Thanks, Steve <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Foxface marine fish are they used to clean in invert systems <Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rabbitfi.htm Bob Fenner>

Mystery snail ID 8/15/04 Hi there, how's things?  I'm a long time reader, first time writer. My basic system  is quite small (Despite all your good advice, budget would  only allow a small tank). The main tank is 24 X 15 X 15inches, with an overflow weir falling into a sump complete with plenum (constructed as outlined in an article by Roy Eeke in "Marine World" July 2002), skimmer and being pumped back up at 2000L/h (minus whatever I lose in head pressure).  <Sounds fine.  There is nothing wrong with smaller tanks.  A bit more attention to salinity and temperature are all that are required.> Anyways, I've been cycling this tank for several weeks (initially with a dead shrimp), ammonia spike is over, but nitrites are huge, so waiting waiting waiting. The shrimp was only in a couple of weeks, then whilst walking along the beach here in sunny Townsville, I picked up 3 hermit crabs and 1 snail (I then thought they'd make an ok source for ammonia, so removed the dead shrimp). <Good thought!  I have never been a fan of the dead shrimp thing.  Adding newly acquired live rock will provide plenty of ammonia on it's own.> I haven't been able to id any of these critters, but the snail is my particular worry (like to get rid of any dangers before I plunk fish  in). He/she is a bit of a burrower, has an elongated spiral shell, mostly white with a black tip. Also possesses a proboscis. <It sounds like a Nassarius, but I am not sure of their distribution.  Observe the direction of the spiral of the shell compared to that of a known snail.  Whelks are dangerous predators, and can be ID'd by the fact that their shells spiral in the opposite direction of other snails.  Don't use pictures since they can be reversed when printed.> Is this fellow going to be beneficial or a hazard in my tank? I've attached a pic, though not a very good one. I LOVE the site by the way, so many opinions from different writers, it's an absolute candy store for the marine reader! Thanks heaps for your expert time! Kind regards Ben <Glad you enjoy the site!  It is most likely that your snail is perfectly safe, but do keep an eye on it just to be safe.  AdamC.>

Help with basic snail id - predatory or not? Hello, I wasn't sure if this was the place to email for help with identification. I have a 20 gallon tank up and running and everyone is happy. I am just starting a 55-gallon tank. A friend of mine gave me all his live sand/rock from his salt water tank which he's converting to fresh water. I added it to my 55-gallon and notice this snail in it (see attached). Until the 55-gallon is established, I thought it would be better to put the snail in my 20-gallon tank - but I want to make sure it isn't predatory. My friend doesn't remember what types of snails he added, and I didn't see this type of shell online anywhere. I suspect it is just a harmless algae-eating snail, but want to make sure. He is purple inside. Thanks! Kari <Your snail looks like some kind of conch, but I can't be sure. Conchs have a long proboscis type mouth that kind of looks like an elephant trunk. They also have fairly large eyes on long stalks that extend upward around the edges of the shell. They also often bury partially in the sand. Compare the twist of the shell to another snail. Whelks are predatory and their shells spiral in a direction opposite that of other snails and have tiny eyes on a short stalk. Best Regards. AdamC>

Clean Up Crew For Overstocked Conditions - 02/10/06 I have a 46 gallon bowfront aquarium that I have had set up for 8 months now.  I am wanting to add some sort of clean-up crew to help me with keeping this system as healthy for my fish as possible.  I have done a lot of research as far as what's compatible with my other fish (a 4-inch Niger trigger, a 9-inch snowflake eel, and a 5-inch emperor angel). <<Ack!!  Too much  fish flesh for this tank my friend!>> I know this is too small of an aquarium for these fish and I'm planning on getting one twice this size around April. <<Mmm, may do for a year or so...really need one twice again that size for this mix.>> I am constantly getting these algae bloom, mostly red and green and some brown, <<Likely due to the "overstocked" condition of the tank.>> in my tank so I was wanting to get something to control it. <<Better to address the cause...>> I recently went to my LFS and I purchased 8 blue hermits and 3 Mexican turbo snails and introduced them to my tank without any problems.  Everybody's getting along without any disputes.  I was told by my LFS that I should get 7 or 8 more hermits and a 5 more snails... is that to much in a tank my size? <<You might get by with the addition of the hermits, though the Snowflake moray may take notice of them eventually and thin their numbers...but I wouldn't add any more of the Mexican Turbos to this size tank...if that's truly what they are.>> I want to get some sort of sand sifter as well so I wanted to know what you recommend. <<Do a Google search on sand-sifting gobies.>>   Can you think of any other invertebrates that would be beneficial to my tank and be able to survive the other fish in my tank? <<Hmm, nope...not under these circumstances.>> Thanks for your help! Brian Brantley <<Regards, EricR>>

Lunare Wrasse Rescue, comp. scavengers    9/5/06 I recently went to purchase some miscellaneous aquarium supplies from someone breaking down their saltwater setup.  He had three fish (a maroon clown, a yellowtail damsel, and a lunare wrasse) sitting in putrid, stagnant, water in the bottom of a bucket.  All three were very very near death, so I went ahead and got them to attempt a rescue.  The yellowtail didn't make the 30-minute trip home (very sad).  After some time and effort, the other two are recovering well -- though the clown is still a bit lethargic and the wrasse seems to twitch now and then.   I put a BTA with the clown, and I think that's helping his recovery.   I'm planning on integrating the clown in my main (150g) reef tank, but don't think the inhabitants will appreciate the wrasse. <Much more likely the BTA...>   The local fish store doesn't want the wrasse, and so I decided to keep him since I invested so much effort to keep him alive.  I'm setting up a separate 55g tank (it's the biggest tank I have available right now) just for the wrasse.  I've been told, and have read that they like to eat things like snails and crabs.  So, to my question (sorry for being so verbose)...Do you know of any species of tank cleaners (snails, crabs, etc.) that can reside in the wrasse tank without getting munched.  If not, what sort of critter would you recommend putting in this tank to remove detritus and any uneaten food? <Mmm, I'd look to fishes instead of invertebrates here...> By the way, the wrasse is about nine inches long.  Thanks for any tips. Chris. <Perhaps sand sifting Valenciennea... Salarias/Atrosalarias blenny... a small siganid... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marscavart.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

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