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FAQs about Marine Scavengers 2

Related FAQs: Marine Scavengers 1, Marine Scavengers 3, 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,  

Elysia (Tridachia) crispata, the Lettuce Sea Slug. Photo by Stormbringer/Steve. 

We Need Merry Maids!  11/12/2005 Hello WWM Crew, I hope all of you folks are doing GREAT and as always, thanks for the wonderful website! I am almost completely cycled and getting ready to start stocking my 240 gallon reef tank and I think I have most of my livestock list figured out except my "cleaning crew". This has been the most confusing aspect of figuring out my livestock list thus far and was wondering if I could get some advice.  My first question concerns the Nassarius obsoleta or Ilyanassa obsoleta. I was considering adding some of these to my cleaning crew for their glass cleaning, algae eating; sand stirring ability but I have read so many mixed reviews I am not sure what to do. <"When in doubt, leave them out"> One person swears by them and the next person condemns them. I was wondering if you would give me your opinion and/or experience with them, whether or not you recommend them and if you do recommend them, <Are useful creatures of utility for many types of marine aquariums, species mixes> how many you would recommend for my 240 gallon tank? <A handful, two handfuls> I have 500 pounds of rock (250 pounds base rock/250 pounds live rock) and an average sand depth of 2". Also, I am including what I have come up with for a cleaning crew and I was wondering if you could advise me whether you feel this is appropriate for my setup or not and if I should add the N. obsolete along with this crew, substitute if for one of the other snails or leave it out all together. I haven't purchased any of these items yet because I don't have a LFS or anyone locally to ask advice and to be totally honest, you folks are the only source I trust when it comes to my reef tank. I also would like your opinion as whether I should add this cleaning crew first or should I add some of my other livestock first  <They, the cleaner-uppers, should go in first> and wait a few weeks before adding my cleaning crew so they won't starve on such a new tank.  <Not likely with the LR> Anyway, the cleaning crew I have come up with is as follows and please direct me as to whether you feel this is appropriate or as to what changes I should make. The list is as follows: (50) - Mexican Red-Legged Hermits Clibanarius digueti, (200) - Small Blue-Legged Hermits Clibanarius tricolor, <Am not a big fan, okay even mid-sized fan of using Hermits, and not in large numbers... I would start with far fewer if you want to use these> (120) - Turbo Snails Astrea sp., (120) - Nassarius Snails Nassarius vibex, (30) - Nassarius Snails Nassarius polygonatus, (30) - Nerite Snails Nerite funiculate, (120) - Cerith Snails Cerithium strercusmuscarum and (6) - Peppermint Shrimp Lysmata wurdemanni.  <... this is way too many snails... by about an order of magnitude in my opinion/experience. Many will die off... polluting your water, others will "die mysteriously" consumed by the Hermits...> I am sorry for such a long email but I just want to make sure I am on the right track before adding such a critical component to my reef tank.  As always, thanks so much for your help! Take care all, Bryant <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marscavart.htm and the linked files above... Do agree with you re differing opinions in this hobby interest... And mine is to scrub more, circulate, aerate and skim more... be careful re introduction of the means of algal and detritus production, and severely limit the introduction/use of such "cleaners". Bob Fenner>

Cleanup Crew/Algae Control...and what else? More Mandarin trouble.  10/4/05 Good afternoon, Bob! <Actually Adam J here with you tonight.> I have found your website to be invaluable for information.  Thank you very much! <Well it's not my doing but I agree this place is awesome.> I am the temporary keeper of a 29-gallon saltwater aquarium.  I know that it has more inhabitants than it should have for its size, but it's not my tank!  :-)   <Sounds like you should show your "friend" the way of the force….I mean responsible aquarium keeping.> However, I am wanting to control the algae & get some help with leftover pellet food cleanup!  <If there is a lot leftover you are over feeding.>  I recently purchased a horseshoe crab, which I now know from your website, was a mistake for this tank size.  <Yes.>  However, I also have a turbo snail & a mandarin goby in there.  <Whoa a Mandarin? Do you know the requirements of this species? It will surely starve in a 29-gallon tank within months.>  In considering hermit crabs and additional snails, can you offer suggestions?  <Trochus snails are a favorite of mine for algae grazing, though the best way to prevent algae is to remove the nutrients that are feeding them. Efficient skimming and frequent water changes should be employed.>  The most aggressive fish living in the tank are 3 damsels, so I don't think that will be an issue.  <An issue as far as what?>  But my concerns are these:  (1) the aggressiveness of hermit crabs as they outgrow their shells, and I wonder if there is a breed of crab that will work whose shell grows with him or who will accept a spare shell rather than attack others for a new one. <You should always have extra and larger shells for the hermits to choose from. This will help minimize the aggression. Hermits "rent" shells they do not grow with the crab.>  (2) How many crabs/snails will I need to control algae in this size tank? <The one turbo and a Trochus or two is more than enough. I prefer not to use hermits.>  (3)  How big will a hermit crab grow... will he outgrow the tank? <Depends on the species some stay dime sized while other can become softball sized.> Your response is very much appreciated, and I look forward to hearing from you, Vicki Racette <No trouble but please address the Mandarin, as it is not suitable for this set-up. Adam J.> Quarantine (For Everything?) - 08/23/05 I have been reading and following your FAQ's and articles.  Great reference website and materials! <<Thank you>> Because of your information, I am now in the process of replacing my wet dry with a 30g capacity DSB sump with macroalgae.  When this process is done I am planning on upgrading/adding corals to my main tank. <<Cool!>> I understand the importance of quarantining fish before they are introduced to the main tank. <<yup>> My question is should some sort of isolation apply to corals as well? <<Yesindeedy!  Tis the only way you'll ever catch those pesky hitchhiking flatworms, crabs, mantis shrimp, Montipora eating Nudibranch, et al... before they get in to your tank.>> I am planning on purchasing detritivores for my DSB sump.  Should I be worried about any pathogens entering into my tank thru the water that will accompany the detritivores and pods?  I am very picky about what goes into my tank. <<Anthony Calfo's mantra is "quarantine everything wet!"...now I have much, much, respect for Anthony and his opinions, but I myself would not bother with quarantine for a detritus kit.  But then, I don't freak or fret over the presence of a few flatworms or redbugs as do many/most of my hobbyist friends...but that's your call.>> Thanks for all of your help and advice. Dallas <<Regards, EricR>> Nano Reef Clean-up Crew and Detritivore Recommendation 8/17/05 I like to say first off great web site I found a lot of good info here... <<Thanks>> I was actually wondering if I could get a good suggestion on a clean up crew for my nano reef, both algae and detritus... my tank is a 15 gallon eclipse system w/ a retro fitted lighting system consisting of one 15w Coralife fluorescent and two 13w pc's all 50/50.  I have no protein skimmer just the built in pump with carbon filtration and a BioWheel... sorry didn't mean to get side tracked.  I was just wondering if I could get an idea of a good set of inverts to help clean both algae and detritus from the tank... I would like a variety of creatures in the aquarium including snails, Nudibranch or cucumbers, and hermits, and I eventually want to have a yellow-banded coral shrimp so compatibility w/ this creature would be appreciated. <<I'm not trying to discourage you, I just want to make sure you are well informed. Please understand that nano reefs are harder to maintain than larger systems. I would encourage you to search WWM and read up on every aspect. Here are few links to start you out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/smmarsysdisfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/smmarsysfaq6.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/smmarsysfltfaqs.htm>> Current Specifications of Water Quality Temp            76 degrees F Ph              8.1 Specific Gr     1.021-1.022 Ammonia         >0.25 ppm (but not quite 0) Nitrate         >2.5 ppm (but not quite 0) Nitrite         >0.05 ppm (but not 0) Calcium Level   450-500 ppm <<Raise the SG to 1.025. How long has the system been setup? Strive for Ammonia and nitrite of 0. With the high calcium level, I would guess your alkalinity is low. Unless you are planning on keeping stony corals, strive for a calcium level between 350-425 and alkalinity of 8-12dKH. You will find values in these ranges easier to maintain.>> Additives Daily: Iodine, Liquid Calcium Weekly: Strontium/Molybdenum, Kent PhytoPlex or ChromaPlex (each on every other week) Biweekly: Tropical Science NitroMax w/ Oxyboost (also added w/ water change approx 2.5 gallons every other week) <<Wow, you are a dosing machine. IMO, you can save a lot of money and still have a thriving system by using a good quality salt and changing 1-2 gallons of water every week. The water changes will supply all of the elements needed for you reef.>> Thank you for your time Donald Summers P.S. this was my Idea let me know if it sounds good or not, thanks 1 x Banded Coral Shrimp, Yellow (Stenopus scutellatus) 1 x Sea Cucumber, Tiger Tail (Holothuria sp.) 10 x Dwarf Blue Leg Hermit Crab (Clibanarius tricolor) 2 x Nassarius Snail (Nassarius sp.) 10 x Cerith Snail (Cerithium sp.) 1 x Lettuce Sea Slug "Nudibranch" (Tridachia crispata) <<Your list seems reasonable although I might reduce the number of hermit crabs. Clean up crews are a little bit personal opinion. Also, be aware that when the hermits are hungry, scavenging gets a new interpretation. I would wait a few months before adding a detritivore kit. Also, please read up sea cucumbers and clean up crews. ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seacukes1.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marscavfaqs.htm).>> If this is a good selection what are some compatible fish to go along with these specimens?<<As for fish, again personal preference will prevail and there are many small, colorful and interesting fish to choose from including clowns, gobies, blennies, damsels, etc.>> Thanks again <<You're welcome and good luck - Ted>>

Re: Nano Reef Clean-up Crew and Detritivore Recommendation... actually mainly a stocking query 8/20/05 Hey Crew, Thank you for the quick response.<<You're welcome>>. Previously I asked about a good clean up crew for my 15 gallon eclipse system 1. I have a retrofitted lighting system consisting of on 15w Coralife fluorescent and 2 13w pc's all 50/50. Is this enough lighting or do I need more, and with this being a carbon filtered system how often should I replace the Carbon. <<For the animals listed below, the lighting is fine. You will need more light if you plan on adding stony corals.>> I perform weekly water changes and currently replace the carbon monthly. <<That sounds about right>> I know it is to early to much of anything right now but I would like a second opinion. Currently the system has been running for approx 2 months. ammonia  0 nitrate  0 nitrite  0 temp   76 F PH   8.1-8.2 calcium  450 & 500 alkalinity is  10 dKH Specific Gr     1.021-1.022 <<I would raise the SG to 1.025. Your calcium level is elevated. Are you dosing a calcium supplement? You don't need dose anything as long as you keep with the regular water changes and don't have any stony corals in the system.>> This is my revised idea for total stock in the end. Currently I only have the hermits and about 20 lbs of LR and 2-3 lbs of LS 1 x Banded Coral Shrimp, Yellow (Stenopus scutellatus) 4 x Dwarf Blue Leg Hermit Crab (Clibanarius tricolor) 2 x Nassarius Snail (Nassarius sp.) 8 x Cerith Snail (Cerithium sp.) 1 x Rainford's Gobi (Amblygobius rainfordi) 1 x Yellow Candy Hogfish (Bodianus bimaculatus) & assorted polyps and mushrooms corals <<A good list but your tank is probably too small for the hogfish.>> I am trying to get as many thoughts as I can what should I add next or better yet what order should anything be added. I have read and heard everything from start with fishes to allow your system to stabilize w / the corals first. I believe the best way to tackle the situation is to get a couple of thoughts on the matter as to stocking order. This is the order I have used in the past: Inverts , Corals and then Fish (I have also taken a FO tank and added LR then Corals and then inverts) both systems worked but what's the recommended way to go.<<I would add the clean up crew, followed by the shrimp. After that, it's up to you. There are many variations depending on factors such as the age of the system, fish species and coral species.>> Thanks again. <<Cheers - Ted>>

I'm new to saltwater and have been reading a lot. 8/14/05 <<Good for you>> Your site is fantastic! <<Thanks>> We've begun to establish a tank.  Here's the specifics:  50 gallons.  50# live rock.  pH 7.8-8.0, 80 degrees F, ammonia/nitrite/nitrate 0.  Calcium 450.  4 inches of aragonite/live sand mix.  The quarantine tank has similar water parameters and consists of a 15 gallon tank with one live rock, no substrate. Next planned is the cleanup crew/inverts:  20 Blue leg Hermit Crabs, 2 Emerald Crabs, 2 peppermint shrimp, 10 turbo snails, 5 Nassarius snails, 1 brittle star, 1 coral banded shrimp. For which members of this planned shipment do you recommend quarantine?  What should I feed them during quarantine (before they get into the main tank and will have algae and extra detritus to scoop up? <<Sounds like you're off to a good start. Clean up crew seems reasonable. In general, you want to quarantine everything before placing it into your display tank. You may want to add a very small amount of food to the quarantine or display tank to feed the invertebrates if you are not already adding food to feed fish or corals. Please read the following FAQs. I think that you will find the answers to your questions here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/crabs/hermitfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quarinvertfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/swsnailfaqs2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snailfdgfaqs.htm>> Thanks so much. Daniel <<You're welcome and good luck - Ted>>

Re: Initial Clean Up Crew Thanks again.  How many snails and/or crabs do you think I would need initially? <None... please see WWM for input on such crews, selection> To refresh, it is a 440 gallon FOWLR with about 210 lbs of live rock, no fish in the tank yet.  The substrate is CaribSea Aragamax Sugar-Sized Reef Sand: 0.2 - 1.2mm diameter grain size. It is about 1-2 inches deep so I don't see much need for deep burrowers.  Since there is no fish, I guess the only food initially will be any debris off the rocks and coralline algae. <Yes. Bob Fenner>

Sandsifter in 40gal? Hi there <Hello> We have recently changed the substrate in our 40 gal 1 year old system. It is about 1 - 1.5in deep sand bed covering the front half of the tank (3 ft. long). I have been thinking of adding a sandsifting star as our crabs tend to be a little lazy and prefer the LR at the back. My question is, would a 3-4in star be too big for the tank and is it likely to starve once it's cleaned the sand? Thanks Jo <Is right about the minimum size for one... Please read through the FAQs here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sndsftstrfaqs.htm Bob Fenner> 

Re: Sandsifter in 40gal? Thanks Bob <Welcome> I read the FAQ about the stars and although I have one reserved in a shop, I guess I better tell them I've changed my mind. Just one more thing, if the star is out of question, what would you recommend to turn the sand? <... Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ put the term "sand sifters" in the Google search tool........> I love gobies but don't like the way some of them take a mouthful of sand and chuck it all over the LR... Great and a very useful site by the way! Thanks again, Jo <Please use it. Bob Fenner> 

Cleaner Crew I'm setting up a new 54 gallon SW FOWLR. Are any of these 'cleaner crew' types needed such as shrimp, snails, crabs, etc. Are they interesting to look at, <Some are>  ... or are they mainly used for their cleaning purpose? <Most are>  <Mitch, here is a link you can go to for all this info. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marscavfaqs.htm James Salty Dog)> 

Marine cleanup crew Hi folks. <Neil> Thanks again for the truly helpful website and all the information.  It's been a great source for me. <Glad to read> My question is this:  I've got a 75 gallon marine Fish-only aquarium, running for several months.  Right now, I've got a Clarkii Clown, 3 blue-green Chromis, and a Sixline wrasse.  All are doing fine.  I plan on adding at least a couple more fish, like a flame angel and a yellow tang. <Good choices> I've got a decent skimmer, and plenty of filtration.  I've got a half-inch to an inch of crushed coral substrate. <Okay> I'm sure this is a redundant question, but I've searched the FAQs on cleanup crews, and I've come away confused at the options.  Anyway, what would be some good suggestions to use for a cleanup crew to start adding to take care of some of the detritus, algae, etc? <Mmm, no live rock? I would make my/yourself the clean-up crew... regularly stirring the substrate, vacuuming half per period... bleaching, cleaning decor if you'd like> I don't really have much of an algae problem, just some brown diatoms.  I don't think I need to worry about any of my fish eating the cleanup crew, but are they any inverts. that I should avoid that may eat my smaller fish? thank you, <The new dwarf angel and tang will help... If/when you utilize live rock, you can look into algae eating blennies et al. Bob Fenner>

Re: Marine cleanup crew Thanks. That leads to my follow-up question: I was actually planning on adding live rock at some point. How do I go about adding LR to an already running setup?  I assume it would NEED to be cured LR, but after that, I also assume that I can't add it all at once.  Since I have a 75g tank, and most of what I read suggest 1lb of LR per gallon, that would suggest approximately 75 lbs of rock for my aquarium.  How much could I add at a time? thanks again. <Many more related questions will occur to you... soon. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm and the Related Articles and FAQs (linked, in blue, at top). Bob Fenner>

Moving My Tank Advice... and Cleanup Crew Hi Bob (or whomever answers this). <Hello David> I have enjoyed over a year of my saltwater aquarium.  I have developed my basement and am about to reposition my tank into the wall of a recreation room.  I do have an entire small 'utility room' to house my tank... it's just the front that is visible in the rec. room.  I have a few questions and it's been forever since I chatted with you guys. 1) I do have a 1,000 watt <!> home theatre system hooked up in the rec. room (including subwoofer).  My 90 gallon tank will be resting against a foam stripping against the wall (to the rec. room).  I don't plan on cranking my volume on my stereo or anything... but is this of any concern??? <If very loud, very often, possibly... the oceans are pretty noisy at times, places> 2) I am moving my fish tank (it's about a ? hour drive).  Currently my tank has live sand that seems constantly plagued by green grassy like algae or a burgundy dust like algae. <These are blue-greens, aka Cyanobacteria... please read over their control, limitation on WetWebMedia.com> My tank has about 2" of live sand... I've heard that I should have about 3" so I do intend to top up my live sand level during the move.  Should I rinse out the existing sand attempting to clean up the algae??? <I would, yes> Should I just add the new sand and carry on?  Because I have only been able to observe my tank about once a week to two weeks, my water changes and cleaning over the past few months has been terrible.   The new location will not offer any direct sunlight which I am hoping will help. Comments? Suggestions? <See WWM re> 3) I have setup a 20 gallon quarantine tank with new water and gravel/shell bottom.  Is it a good idea to transfer my shrimp and fish into the 20 gallon tank for a day or so while I cleanup and organize my new tank? <Likely so... if the transit will be more than a few to several hours... otherwise I'd keep all individually bagged, in a cooler or fish box> The 20 gallon tank just has one of those cheap little filter systems and no protein skimmer. Details of my tank: 90 gallon salt water tank (the tank is about 4ft x 2ft giving 8sq ft of sand or live rock bottom) Salinity 1.0024 - 1.0026  (I may be missing some zeros) Temp 25/26oc Protein Skimmer 2 Power Heads (aimed at the 'dead' areas of my tank for better circulation) 90lbs live rock 2" live sand Two Percula Clowns, Yellow Watchman Goby, Orange Spotted Goby (forget what it's called), a Coral Banded Shrimp, and a Pistol Shrimp... a few remaining blue legged hermits and turbo snails. 4) In my 90 gallon salt water tank, I have had at one time about 50 blue-legged hermits, a Mithrax, about 30 turbo snails, one black brittle star.  My snails and crabs eventually dwindled down to about 10 hermits I have now and perhaps no snails.  I have gone through two starfish over a year or so.  My first Mithrax survived about 5 months... the second Mithrax lasted maybe 5 weeks.  Although I have witnessed Pistol Shrimp and Coral Banded Shrimp attacking my hermits... with the spec's above... does anything appear wrong for my cleanup crew? <No... but then again, I am not a fan of these arrangements> It's expensive losing that many over a year.  Can you suggest a better cleanup crew for my system? <None... as in have the system set up "properly", do regular maintenance, don't over/mis-feed... You are the clean-up crew>   Of note, with both Brittle Stars it appeared that something was either feasting on his arms... or else he was simply losing them?   It would be nice if you could suggest something better for the algae cleanup... would a Conch be too big and bulky for my tank?  A sea urchin perhaps? <Maybe. My opinions on such scavenger arrangements, purposeful algae eaters are posted in articles on WWM> Other interesting observations recently.  It appears my Yellow Watchman Goby is become quite aggressive/territorial.  He frequently lifts off the bottom to shake his open mouth at my larger Clown fish (the clown fish is almost twice as big)... as well, it frequently charges at my other goby.  I did have a Cleaner Shrimp (that survived well over a year) that just recently died or was killed?  I noticed him or his remains hanging out of the mouth of my Yellow Watchman Goby. <Happens> I am suspecting it died, and then the Goby just fed on him? <Maybe before... perhaps during a molt> Ever hear of anything like this? <All the time> There were legs and antennae sticking out of his mouth.   As well, I did have a small Fire Goby that lasted about a year.  The Goby has not been seen in about 3 months... can't find him in my tank and the water quality has been frequently tested with no visible fluctuations in quality.  Is it likely that he was fully or mostly consumed and therefore the water quality wasn't affected?? <Very possible, or might have "jumped out". Bob Fenner>   Or is it more likely that he is small enough that there was no visible change in the 90 gallon tank.

Marine system algae bloom I have a 75 gallon marine aquarium that recently had an algae bloom in which I lost some of my favorites.  I have done water changes faithfully and it appears I am winning the war.  However I still have some bubble and green hair algae.  So recently I added 2 green myth. crabs and I do have a few scarlet and blue Mexican hermits...my question is how many "cleaners" and what type can be maintained in a 75 gallon tank? <Not able to state given the provided information... more than you list if you have a good deal of live rock> What type and how many should I have to keep my tank healthy?   <Up to you... what you consider "healthy"... You should read through WetWebMedia.com re set-up, maintenance aspects in lieu of such "crews"> Many places sell the big "attack packs" which I purchased when I originally set the tank up about 2 years ago.  The quantity seems like overkill, and indeed I did see the "cleaners" thin out in number.  Your wise advice is, as always, gratefully accepted. Thanks, Jeff Wagner <We agree as to these "kits"... read my friend... there are many ways to get you where you want to go... nutrient limitation, export... rather than establishing predator-prey relations twixt producers (algae in this case) and consumers. See WWM re. Bob Fenner> Populating a refugium + importance of ALK + Calcium testing Hello, <Hi there> I have been reading your Forums for a couple of weeks now and am set aback at the amount of information. <There is... much to know, relate> I used to run a LFS and went out of business because I was too honest (I was not moving the junk/gadgets). <Hee hee! More important (of course) to be yourself... not gain the world and lose your soul...> I consider myself an intermediate level reef keeper - I know a lot but not hardly enough ;) .  OK, on to my questions: About my system: 55 gallon Reef - In wall installation accessible via closet. 75lbs of live rock DSB 3inches 4 in places Tunze Skimmer 3110/2   *Small I know  :(  I may DIY one, I have an old SeaClone I would like to Mod. <Maybe for experimentation... I'd stick with the under-sized Tunze> 2x refugiums, one is sump/fuge combo 20gal - the other is sump/fuge combo 25gal driven by one Mag Drive 350gph. Temp 73 PH 8.3 Ni Am = 0 Na less than 10 ppm Cal? Alk? 2x 802 powerheads CPR overflow Fluval 302 running carbon only Lighting - Geisemann 350watt 10000K Livestock: 2 Domino Damsels - 1 Sailfin Tang <Hard to add more with those Dascyllus present> 20 snails/20 hermit crabs 1 BTA  (MIA) 2 cleaner shrimps 1 peppermint shrimp 1. I hear everyone talking about all the cute little bugs in their refugiums - How does one *populate a refugium?? Does it just happen by itself? How do I get all kinds of critters in there? <Can add directly (as in a "kit", e.g. from IPSF.com, InlandAquatics.com...) or the self-producing LR route> 2. Can I have only micro Algae in the refugium or should there also be live rock?  both refugiums have DSB's. <Better to have LR and macroalgae...> 3. If I am using store bought water form a Winemaking store (completely deminerialized)  + instant ocean, and a 10% water change once per week, should I still have to watch my calcium levels or should they even out? <Likely will be okay... is there something "that wrong" with your source water? What? I would get/use test kits for Calcium (though not Magnesium Strontium) and alkalinity if you were/are concerned> *I have good purple coralline growth* <Bingo! I would not worry re the above> 4. What is the importance of checking the Alk levels? <Mmm, another "window" on what's going on, might go on in ones system. Many folks, mainly due to over-crowding, over-feeding, lack of maintenance have shortfalls of alkaline reserve... suffer further troubles in algal proliferation, livestock health as a consequence...> 5. I have been having problems with algae in the display tank (the reasons I recently installed the fuges) I have been told it is red slime algae, but it looks brown - It covers everything in it's path - heck it even grew on my Yellow Cuke. It looks like an old opaque spider's web.  I cannot understand what is causing this... any hints or things to look out for? <Cyanobacteria/BGA can be any color (is it slimy?)... with time, the refugia will clear this up... I would not be concerned> 6. On a side note - I bought a BTA about a week ago and he seems to have disappeared. <Happens... if "unhappy" can scrunch down to a very small zot in size> I thank you in advance for all information/help/pointers/tips you may offer. <Glad to share> PS Where do I see the answer to my questions once you answer them - do I check in the Forum? <We send all back to queriors, and later post to the Dailies, then later to separate FAQs files. Bob Fenner> Robert Martin Detritus Eater Dear crew, I just had a quick question, in the near future I will be purchasing this tank, http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=10677&inm=1&N=2004+62760+113565 , what are some things I can purchase to control detritus that are reef safe? A list with a few things would be nice, thank you very much.    -Randy <<Hello Randy. You can put a few hermit crabs, and a snail or two...depends on the size of critters you are buying. A large, one inch or more snail can handle a twelve gallon tank all by himself. "Reef safe" leaves some broad horizons...what exactly are you planning to keep in this tiny tank? Corals? Fish? The water parameters might well fluctuate so much that the Reef Safe animals you do house may not survive. For now, you should start with the cheap, easily replaceable animals, like a few small blue legged hermits (say, 5 of the lil beasts) and one turbo snail, an inch across, OR two smaller Nerite snails, you get the picture. Avoid anything fancy for the time being. By the way, small bristleworms are excellent detritivores. Perhaps you can buy some live sand from your LFS. -Gwen>>

Set Up and Stocking Questions Whomever is answering questions--thanks. <Welcome> These may seem repetitive. I have The Conscientious Marine Aquarist in my lap, and I've looked at your set up and stocking pages but am still confused.   Background: I started keeping freshwater about 3 years ago and last  November started a 12-gallon nano-reef, which was set up at the local fish store  for me. It had a tomato clown, a bubble-tip anemone, 1  Firefish, umbrella and leather soft corals, <These get much bigger than this tank... can be disastrous chemically if "upset"> live rock and live sand, and  later three tiny gobies (they called them red-cheeked at the store, but  I've never seen them in a fish book) <Likely Elacatinus puncticulatus: http://wetwebmedia.com/neongobies.htm Do you see this fish here?> as well as many snails, a peppermint  shrimp, and some macroalgae. I had no problems. Changed 2 gallons of water a  week and changed out carbon once a month. I gave that set up and all my  freshwater set ups away when I moved in September.   Am now trying to set up a 46-gallon tank as a mini-reef tank.   <Ah, much better> Found a very helpful LFS but they insisted that I buy uncured live rock (which  is nice rock, but uncured) and base rock (total of 55 pounds) and put  it in the tank above not live sand. So I now have that set up and the  ammonia is off the charts. What should I do now? <Off the charts as in more than 1 ppm? I would change a good part of the water out with some pre-made... keep the skimmer clean, running at peak efficiency... maybe dose the system with a Kalk product...> Also, I need to keep a clown fish and an anemone. <Need?> With that information,  the LFS had me buy a 110 36 inch watt 9325K light. Is that enough light? <Not likely... unless it is a specimen, species that can/does derive a good deal of its nutrition from eating vs. photosynthesis... you will soon see... as it will move about...> (I need the clown fish and anemone because their relationship is the only thing my husband likes.) If it's not enough light, I'll buy what is. <I see> Here's what I'd like to keep in the tank, in addition to the clownfish. It seems too much, but some answers seemed to suggest it'd be o.k., others not. 1 Jawfish, 1 symbiotic goby and shrimp, 2 Cardinalfishes (pajama or Banggai), 1  Firefish, and 1 (or 2) Bannerfish, whichever is the smallest hardy breed. <Heniochus acuminatus> I am  planning on adding macroalgae to the system. <Do consider adding a refugium... locating at least some of the macroalgae there> Cleaner crews: should I buy a pre-established set? <Maybe... but like securities, stock picking, you could do as well putting your own assortment together as by purchasing a "mutual fund"> Some of them seem to have things like sea cucumbers in them which don't make sense from what I've read, as well as scarlet hermit crabs. That's confusing, suggesting that the aquarium stores are wrong. Also, when should I add it? <After the system is completely cured, ahead of the fishes> I really appreciate your help, and think that the Conscientious Marine Aquarist is a wonderful book. All the Best, Margaret Cooter <Thank you for your kind words. Bob Fenner>

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.

Detritivores - 2/22/04 Hello again, Thank you guys for all the help,  however,  I always manage to need it again. <Hello again>  This time I'd like to know what kind of detritivores are good for cleaning the whole tank. <where to begin. Look through our site on maintenance and algae control. Also, look through some of the live marine sites for their recommendations. I like brittle stars, hermits crabs, snails, shrimps, cucumbers, and even some fishes.> As of right now I have a 70 tall that has lots of rocks and corals in it.  The detritus in the tank seems to be affecting the health of the system because the corals are not extending well and the tank seems to be coated with a thin film of poop. <Then maybe you could siphon it out?> I've tried water changes but it doesn't seem to be doing as much as I want it too. <More frequent changes with siphoning or you could do just as well with blowing it with a turkey baster and then do the water change> Is there any really good organism that eats the poop and turns it into a smaller more chemically filterable matter (something my sand bed and rocks and filter out?). <Some sea cucumbers in the genus Holothuria: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seacukes.htm But remember not to look to adding an animal as much as you should look at your maintenance habits and regimes> I have plenty of snails, crabs, and sand sifting stars (4) but they don't seem to be doing enough. <Sand sifting stars tend to filter out good bacteria that may aid in the breakdown of detritus. Not to mention one to a large tank is more than adequate. Not too useful in my opinion> Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <I suggest to cut back on feedings, increase water changes (implementing blasting and siphoning), increase circulation to keep detritus in suspension to be siphoned out, no sand sifting stars, and maybe the addition of a new detritivore. Good luck ~Paul>  Chris

Collector\Wholesaler Question Bob- <Marc> If I had any way to get away I would certainly enjoy the visit and would hop the next plane <Only about $300 RT from the west coast...> We had an excellent weekend with Senior Calfo, and the pot luck Sunday night at Cheri Phillips' home was fantastic.  <She is nice... and fab jewelry...> Cold beer, good wine and great food...ah, what more could a man want but a great lady to share it with.  Luckily mine put up with a whole weekend of fish talk. <Yes> I have a favor to ask. I have a little venture going that at this time is nothing more than a hobby. It pays for my habit, I mean hobby, plus a little bit more which usually ends up going to the sushi bar. I have done a lot of reading and self education. One of my favorite books is The Invertebrates by R.S.K. Barnes, P. Calow & P.J.W. Olive. All professors out of the U.K. I realize that to continue growing in the hobby, and in the industry, that I need to start getting my name known and the company name I've chosen to go with. On to my favor, I set up a group buy with the Bay Area club, SeaBAY, and they invited me to speak at their March meeting. My topic is going to be the myths/truths of the popular reef janitors in the hobby. As you well know, there is so much misinformation in the hobby about what eats what, how many to stock and so forth. I have a lot of experience doing presentations and in putting them together, but would like some direction/assistance regarding the individual species. Do you mind providing your input into my presentation when I run into a species that I need more information on? <Not at all... but I suspect (very strongly) that Anthony would be of far more help here.> Marc <As the saying goes, "send it on". Bob Fenner>

Clean-Up Crew (1/20/04) Hi WWM Crew. It has been sometime since I last email you folks. I finally got around to converting to DSB and Live Rock and protein skimming for filtering my 75 gallon FOWLR tank. It look great. I now have a 4.5 - 5 inch DSB comprised of 150lbs of Southdown (hard to find in Texas) <impossible in Utah> and 40lbs of Carib Sea live sand. <Sounds nice> I just set it up a few days ago and was wondering how long to wait before adding a detritivore and or clean up crew kit. I still have a 6 hermits in the tank. Everyone says that the LR will seed the bed, so do I need a detritivore kit to get the pods and worms for the sand? <Much can come from the LR, but a detritivore kit will give I a boost. Up to you. I am a big fan of these two sources: www.ipsf.com and www.inlandaquatics.com > If I order a clean up crew, should I order a 30 gallon clean up crew now and another 30 gallon crew a few months from now? <It's really up to you. I'm not a big fan of hermits myself. I like various snails like: Nassarius, Nerites, Turbos, Ceriths. Also a big fan of Brittlestars. There is no specific # of snails/hermits you need. Retailers will tell you that you need whatever # they want to sell you.> In addition to the DSB, I added a 20 gallon long sump/refugium. What should I put into the Refugium? It is about 15x12 inches. My primary goal is NNR. <Will you be lighting it? Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria algae would be great. You could also put some critters in there (refugium fauna kit, for example.> Thanks, Glenn <Hope this helps, Steve Allen>

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>

Poop-i-vores >Dear reefers, >>Dear Eric.. >I am establishing a 75 Imp gallon skimmerless reef tank and have achieved a balance between algae, a large Trochus, and Cerith and Nassarius snails.  However, the collection of snail poos on the bottom looks like mouse droppings, and is not attractive. I do not wish to siphon them out as I would rather extend the "natural" balance if possible. >>Understood. >Can you please tell me what eats, or breaks down, snail faeces. There are a fair number of copepods around, but these seem to ignore them. I have no fishes as yet, and would like to get this in balance before I add one.  Many thanks, Eric B >>What you need are detritivores.  See here for a "kit" listing, and look for same in U.K.  Marina http://www.inlandaquatics.com/prod/prod_detrit.html

Peppermint Shrimp, marine scavengers? If I am starting a saltwater tank - 55 Gallon - I have spoken to people who said that I need Peppermint Shrimp to help keep it clean - How many do I need to buy?  How often should I expect to replenish them? <Mmm, I believe you have mis-heard. This species of Lysmata shrimp is employed as a cleaner of sorts... for removing pest anemones. Please make use of the search tool on the homepage of www.WetWebMedia.com (at bottom, left)... insert the terms "marine scavengers"... and read. Bob Fenner>

Clean up crew choice for a Mandarin tank - 11/04/03 Hello all, Just a question. <Aren't they all> I have a Mandarin (Synchiropus splendidus) named "Chowder" who has been loving life in my tank for the last 6 months and is quite fat and eating well. <Very glad to hear!!!> I want to know if there is a good bottom cleaner (snail, shrimp, fish, crab) that will be a good clean up guy that will not invite himself to partake in Chowder's food supply. <Well, are we talking eating chunks or leftover marine meats, algal matter, or the actual amphipods and copepods?? (naturally occurring food stuffs)> I have a few blue-legged hermits and was wondering if there is something better. <depends.....I like a mixture of Nassarius snails, Cerith snails, maybe an Astrea, some blue-legged, zebra, scarlet hermits. Usually they will do the trick without doing too much damage the reef environment per se. Some like blennies as fish go. I think a brittle star or any starfish, cucumber, or even an urchin would not be a good choice here. Try and resist these particular "cleaning crew" choices as they can be somewhat destructive to the reef environment. Extracting materials in the natural food chain in the tank and eventually disrupting the ability for the amphipod larvae to find food stuff at the proper size. Also, it is possible the starfish might predate on a sleeping "Chowder" or could just out compete him for food stuffs. Be resourceful and informed my friend. Again, my recommendations are just some things I hear in the field but have not seen myself. My starfish don't seem to care there is even any amphipods in the tank others have told me they will hunt them. -Paul> Thanks again.

Amblygobius (actually other) species that eats algae Hi all, <Hello there> I contacted previously about Amblygobius rainfordi, and realize that this is not the fish for me. Thanks for the advice and info. I would still like a goby, and I like the look of the Amblygobius gobies. I for article at WWM it was indicated that some species eat algae. I have a well established 135G tank of 3 years, with a refugium . One of the reasons I am interested is I have heard that they will eat hair and other filamented algae's. I have normal algae growth, but my tangs just won't touch the stuff. Thanks Bryan <Mmm, a few pertinent points to (try to) make. One is that there are some algae species that most all fishes refuse to ingest... perhaps they're unpalatable for chemical, physical reasons... And approaches to these algae control lies elsewhere... Second, there are better blennies for cropping filamentous algae than gobies in general... Look to the genera Salarias, Atrosalarias if your system is large enough. Please use the Google search tool on WWM here for much more. Bob Fenner>

- Seastar Questions - Hi crew, Long time reader first time writer. I just want to make sure my last purchase is a smart one. <Ok.> First I'll start off with some tank facts. Saltwater 55 Gallon FO ammonia- 0 nitrite- 0 nitrate- 0 pH-8.3 Sal. - 1.023 don't test anything else carbon run 24x7.  protein skim with a Versa-jet skimmer (cheap I know, but actually has wonderful performance for me, about 4-8 oz of dark skimmate daily.) 3.5-4" crushed coral substrate cheap lighting (perfecto strip of I would guess two 15" fluorescents) Inhabitants - a few damsels clarkii clown Pseudochromis very small valentini puffer. I am looking into getting a star, particularly the chocolate chip star. I would like to get this star to help clean my substrate and glass. <Not a sure thing.> Also I have heard its very hardy. <Hardy in what sense? All Seastars could be lumped into the category of 'not hardy' although some may tough it out longer than others.> Are my conditions good enough for this star to thrive? <Hard to be certain - are many variables, health of organism on arrival, appetite of that puffer, available food, etc.> There is plenty of algae that I have to clean biweekly to weekly off the substrate and glass. <Can't guarantee that this Seastar will eat this.> Will this be enough for him along with the left overs from my fish feeding (frozen krill, frozen brine shrimp, dry blood worms, flake, frozen silversides, frozen clams)? <Well... I'm sure you know that these animals don't move very fast, so it may not get the opportunity to get to all this food or clean the glass as quickly as might be useful for you.> Would you suggest a different star (although I would like to stay with a hardy specimen) <Again, really no such thing as a hardy Seastar in the pet-fish trade - are all delicate and responsive [in a negative way] to water quality issues. There are others, like the general star that are impractical to keep that would rate higher on the hardiness scale than a chocolate chip star.> I would love to add some live rock too but I know my lighting wont be sufficient for the invert. <Wouldn't be so concerned about this - live rock with or without lighting will provide benefit to your tank.> hitchhikers and coralline growth.  So I think I will wait for better lighting till I get the LR. <I wouldn't wait if I were you.> Thanks, APM <Cheers, J -- >

How many hermits - 10/14/03      I'm a little confused. <Aren't we all?>  On the hermit crabs page, it says: "If you use them, place about one, two small Hermits per actual gallon of your system. <Emphasis on small> Use a mix of species and make sure and provide many "upgrade" homes (empty shells) for your Hermits to move to." <I can agree to this view with the exception that the hermits should be small>      However, on the first hermit crabs FAQ page, the first question reads: "Snail & Hermit Crab waste Hi Bob: My tank finally cycled with a lot of algae bloom. Two days ago I added 10 Scarlet Reef Hermits 10 Turbo/Margarita Snails and 30 Red Leg/Left-Handed Hermits from FFExpress. They have done an excellent job cleaning but I noticed a lot of waste since I added them in the tank. Is this bad for the tank? And should I pull out some of the hermit crabs out? <You neglect to mention how large your tank is. I would not use anymore than 1 hermit crab per 10 gallons. I use about 1 snail per 2-4 gallons depending on the tank, lights, etc.> Thank You, Aram <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>"      So which one is it? <Well, I can see this view as well, different strokes for different folks. Let me tell you what I have in my ten gallon tank. Two hermits. That's right....two. Ask me how many I started with? Ten hermits of varying species. Aggression and starvation has eliminated the competition. So my recommendation is one no more than two per ten gallons period. The same equation works in my twenty gallon for the most part. I now have three left out of twenty. So maybe no more than four in a twenty gallon should suffice>  There's a big difference between one or two hermits per gallon, and one hermit per ten gallons. <Agreed. The above recommendation is what works for me. You might have luck with a few more if you feed them regularly. Is it a little bit more clear? Hopefully so>      As you can see, I am confused. <Naw.......just a difference in point of view. You are gathering information for a better point of view. Good on ya' mate, -Paul>      Brian

Cleaning crew aggression and not so mysterious deaths - 10/10/03 Hi guys, my question is regarding the compatibility of some of my invertebrates. <Hi. Paul in today. Sorry for the delay>  The animals in question are 3 peppermint shrimp, 1 coral banded shrimp, 2 Brittlestars, 1 sally lightfoot crab, 20 blue legs hermits, 20 scarlet hermits, 3 emerald crabs, 1 porcelain crab, 1 orange Linckia starfish, and 20 turbo snails. <That is waaaaaayyyyyyyy too many inverts in such a small tank. My goodness!>  I have a 29 gallon tank <unbelievable......> and feed small amounts of brine shrimp and flake food 3 times a day. <Do you have fish as well?? That is a lot of food>  The problem is that it seems one of these guys is killing off the others one by one almost daily. <I am not surprised one bit. Firstly, Do you check water quality? Secondly, these animals are mostly if not all omnivorous. They are opportunists for sure. They will eat most anything. They usually come to you lean and mean so that they may "go to town" in your tank and prove their worth to you. There is no way this tank will support 2 brittle stars (forget the Linckia) the shrimp are in trouble (brittle stars have been linked to their disappearance at times) Crabs are fairly aggressive eaters and turn to other "things" when they feel they are not getting enough of what they like. Hermits will eat each other when in cramped quarters even with enough food, and there could not be enough algal matter to support all of those snails let alone all of the others who will rely on it for sustenance. Lastly, I wouldn't be surprised if you are having water chemistry issues. Feeding three times a day, plus the very large bio load all in a 29 gallon tank. Did these all come in at one time? (I will assume they did)> 3 days ago it was one of the emerald crabs, then the sally lightfoot, then a Brittlestar.  The Brittlestar had the most noticeable damage thus far. <Again, I am not surprised>  I awoke to find it missing two legs and having lacerations across it's central disk from where one of the legs was attached.<Again, I will assume that these came in a package deal. Which may mean that you acclimated them and added them all at once within 24 hours or so. How long after their addition did you notice the issues being described above??>  Once I got back from lunch it was even more injured than before.  I haven't seen the porcelain crab for a while either. <Could be a goner>  This has just started in the past couple of days <How long after they were introduced?> - who do you think is the culprit <I am leaning towards you, mate> and what can I do to stop my animals from getting killed? <Well.......................do research you inhabitants and their environmental needs before purchasing. Seek advice before change, then make the best decision. A lot can be found on various websites, books, and clubs. I am sorry for my lack of tact here, but sometimes and aquarist needs to be saved from oneself as well as the animals in his charge. I can't stress enough to read about your animals before purchase. There is usually some detail as to how many per gallon or per tank size listed and in some cases even info for compatibility. If there isn't, find a reference for it, or ask someone. My only advice on this manner is to maintain water quality, hand feed when possible, and either give away, sell (maybe), or move (to another tank) some of your dudes. Under normal circumstances these animals sometimes have some mortality in shipment stress (nothing you can do about it) but a lot of mortality comes from acclimation. We have much on our site (not only on a per animal basis but also an actual general acclimation site as well. Quarantine is another good idea. You might even already do this, I don't know. Read through our site a bit. There is hope for you and your animals. The ever winding path of learning! Let me know if there is anything more I can do -Paul>  Thanks, James

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

New Cleanup Crew Reporting For Duty! Sorry for so many queries, lately.  I know you are busy. <Not too busy to answer queries! That's why we're here! Scott F. at your service today!> I just had a quick question regarding adding a cleaning crew. I currently have all my fish in a Hospital tank (ick). 2 false Perculas, 2 damsels. <I hope that everyone is on the road to recovery!> I am using this opportunity (with the fish out) to add about 60 lbs of live rock to this system.  Which was done in 30 lbs. increments.  30 a week and half ago and 30 last night.   <Cool...> My question is when should I add my cleaning crew?  I do not have that much algae in the display tank, 75 FOWLR about 6 weeks old. Should I add the fish back in a couple of weeks, then QT the cleaning crew or add the cleaning crew straight to the display tank?  Is there a danger of the CC starving, since I do not have the much algae? <Well, I am a big believer in quarantining all animal additions. However, given your current situation, I'd be inclined to just add them to the tank at this point. Do, however, wait a couple of weeks more before adding the fish back to the tank. As far as them "starving"; I think that would be unlikely, because these animals will probably find some abundant foraging in, on, and around the live rock. Also, with the abundance of nutrients that are entering the tank as a result of the new live rock, it is only a matter of time before algae begins to grow. My thinking is to get the scavengers in now, to help reduce the severity of any algae outbreak in the tank...BTW, do monitor water chemistry regularly during this period; it is possible that you will see detectable nitrite and/or ammonia readings...Stay on top of things..!> Thanks <And thank YOU, for stopping by! Regards, Scott F>

-125g Clean-up crew- I have another question for you all. I am looking to get a good cleaning crew and I was hoping to get some input. I have a 125 gallon FOWLR setup. I run a wet dry, two 250 hot magnums, and a corner undergravel plate. I currently have 2 sand sifting stars, a serpent star, a brittle star, a cowry snail, and about 12 blue leg hermit crabs. Here is what I am looking into getting: 4 brittle stars <Larger brittle stars can consume small-medium fish at night. Buyer beware!> 5 bumble bee snails 2 fighting conchs <It is unlikely that you could keep two conchs fat and happy since they get so large> 5 peppermint shrimp 4 queen conch <I'd suggest only one conch, the smaller the better, but you may not even be able to keep one alive in the long term> 2 serpent stars 2 emerald crabs. In the future I would like to get a few cleaner shrimp and some fire shrimp. Will that be a good cleanup crew or so you recommend anything else? <Sounds good, how 'bout some snails for algae control? Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks Bill

-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>>

Clean Up Crew And A Skimmer, Too? I was hoping you would be willing to suggest a good clean up crew. I have a 125 FOWLR tank. A wet dry filter, 2 H.O.T. magnums, and 2 small undergravel plates. Currently I have 2 sand sifting stars, 1 brittle starfish, 1 serpent starfish, about 12 blue leg hermit crabs, a red general starfish, and a cowry snail. I was thinking of getting a 100 small blue leg hermit crabs and about 50 to 100 snails. However I was reading through you FAQ's and seen some mentioning of brittle stars, queen conchs, and serpent stars. What would you recommend? <I like the mix of animals that you are considering, but I have become less of a fan of the hermits, myself. I question their ability (and desire!) to do what we think they should do! I really like brittle stars and Turbo, Trochus, and Strombus snails. They seem to do a good job for me.> Also, I am looking into getting a protein skimmer, would you also please give me some guidance as to which you think is a better, in sump or hang on, which method, any specific name brand??? I was hoping to stay between $200 - $250, can I get a good one for that price? Any online places you recommend? Thank you. Bill <Well, Bill, I'd lean towards one of the Aqua C. units...The Urchin Pro is an in-sump model that can handle 75 gallons plus, and it's right in your price range (although it would be operating at the limits of its performance envelope). If you can push it to the $300.00 range (and afford a pump), you'd be well-advised to check out the Aqua C EV120. Either way, you'd be hard-pressed to find better skimmers in this price range! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

My hermits are becoming reclusive!  07/23/03 <Hi Chris, PF here with you tonight> I picked up 9 "zebra hermits" (although I swear they're blue-legged hermits by visual identification) at the LFS for some hair algae control, as well as 4 Astrea snails. For the first few days, the hermits chewed away happily at the algae, and tended to congregate in small meetings. It's been a week, and all the hermits have seemed to crawl into crevices in the LR. They all have their antennae (?) wiggling about on their faces, but they remain in there at leisure. Are these creatures nocturnal? I'm somehow doubting that. I know any aquarium won't live up to what my ideal 'bustling with life' scene might look like, but I was hoping for a little more action out of these guys. Should I be looking towards water quality issues? Everyone deciding to molt simultaneously?  The Astreas seem to be faring well, happily chewing away at the algae. 3 seem to be doing fine. The last one is quite lethargic, moving at a snail's pace, as it were.. I will be doing ammonia/nitrate tests in a few minutes.  pH is hovering at 8.2; s.g. at 1.024; temp ~82F. P.S. Since I last wrote to WWM a couple of months ago, my so-called "hard cure" has long since become quite rewarding, and I could not imagine ever wanting to buy "fully cured" LR! Tons of creatures lurk in the depths of my tank, including strange translucent tentacles (approx 1mm in diameter) that shoot out of tiny holes in the LR and suck in detritus with their vacuum-cleaner like tips (any ideas on what that might be btw)?  Thank you for providing this wonderful service WWM crew!  Enjoying this hobby, even if I am making all the beginner mistakes one at a time, - Chris <Well Chris, they could be blue legs in zebra snail shells. A rose by any other name... As for their behavior, remember, they don't read the same books we do. I've certainly seen my animals doing things that they're not supposed.  The critters on the rocks, are probably some sort of worm, maybe the spaghetti worm, check here for more: http:// www.wetwebmedia.com/polychaetes.htm   Mistakes, well, I try not to make beginner mistakes myself, but all new ones. ; ) At least it was one at a time, and not all at once.  Have a nice night, PF>

SCAVENGERS >Hello, >>Hello, Marina here. >I have a 75 gallon saltwater fish only tank with crushed coral for substrate.  Please tell me what type of scavengers would be best to help clean up uneaten food?  Something that is easy to maintain.  Also, how many would you recommend? >>Serpent stars.  You could add three or four easily.  I cannot recommend anything else without knowing what you have for residents (hermits, shrimps, and so on, may be eaten by wrasses, triggers, large angels).  Best of luck!  Marina

Re: SCAVENGERS >I have 2 clowns, 1 orchid Dottyback, 1 flame Hawkfish and 1 coral beauty dwarf angel.   >>Then you should also be able to have small hermit crabs, Lysmata spp. of shrimps (they'll take up uneaten food rather than specifically detritus).  Marina <<Mmm, the Hawkfish will eat the shrimps, and possibly/eventually the Hermits... RMF>> Re: SCAVENGERS >I am sorry, what is Lysmata spp. of shrimps? >>Look here, many, many species.   http://www.google.com/custom?q=lysmata&sa=Google+Search&cof=AH%3Acenter%3 BGL%3A0%3BAWFID%3Ac12f9ba1e9294d73%3B&domains=wetwebmedia.com&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com

Cleaning Crew Run-Down Ryan, thanks for taking the time to answer my question. <surely!>  I have read the FAQs re: sand sifters and decided against the sand sifting star. <You'll be glad, believe me.> This time around I would like to let the animals do most of the clean up work.  When I stated in the previous email "an assortment of snails", I was thinking about Nassarius, Cerith, Bumble Bee, Turbo, Trochus, and Astrea snails.  <Nice assortment, but you may starve this many snails without a heck of a lot of algae.  Turbo and Trochus seem to be the most productive in my tanks.  My bumblebees are a bunch of freeloaders!> I've read that these guys should help with the detritus and algae. <Yes, to an extent.>  Just how many do I need for a 125g tank?  <25-35 max.  Start with 15, add them as your tank matures.> Also, I've had a problem with Blue Leg Hermits eating my Astrea snails (not for their shells), and don't want this type of hermit again.  <Most hermits are opportunistic by nature.> My Scarlet reefers have never bothered any of my snails, and I like them a lot. Would about 50 of these guys be sufficient or should there be a mix of hermit species? <50 is way too many.  Try 20 to start, and see how this works.>  I was also thinking of a sleeper goby, but don't want to have him starve. <Skip it.  Not sure what kind of aquatic life you plan on keeping, but many fishes will take care of algae growth better than a sleeper goby.>  What would you suggest re: a clean up crew for a 125g?  <My "dream team," first off, would include a refugium.  Prevent the algae from growing by diminishing the available nutrients.  The snails and hermits sounds fine.  Look into opisthobranchs, commonly known as Sea Bunnies.  A great algae eater for bigger setups.  Also consider Cypraea annulus.  What I've found with grazers is that diversity is the key.  Each of these animals occupies a different niche in nature, and therefore in your tank.  The more diversity you add you cleanup crew, the less you'll have to intervene.  Talk to you soon! Ryan> Thanks again for your help and patience with my questions.

Selecting a "Cleanup Crew" Hey Guys <Scott F. your guy tonight> I am somewhat confused about what "critters" to use for cleaning up detritus etc. I have had a few crabs, a few snails, and some shrimp. I need to purchase a restock of "critters" Could you give me a list of the BEST ones? <Well, it all depends on what you need them for...If you're looking for algae control, you may want to consider Strombus, Trochus, and Turbo snails. I like some of the herbivorous hermit crabs, too. For detritus control, you could look into some of the so-called "Margarita snails", or the interesting "Sandbed Clams" that you can obtain from my favorite source, Indo-Pacific Sea Farms in Kailua-Kona. IPSF has a great selection of "cleanup crews" and diversity animals...Inland Aquatics, LiveAquaria, and other e-tailers offer a variety of animals that can do the job nicely....Do check out the many possibilities...Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F> Thank You Rudy Clean up crew help Hi Guys, <Hi Louis, Don here tonight> I have a 55 gallon salt tank that has currently cycle very nicely with about 30-40 lbs of LR from  Florida.  Things have started to proliferate on the rock including green algae.  Don't know if you would consider them Macros, but I don't think so.  No real developed leaf structures.  They are more grass like.  All chem. levels at this point are perfect at 0 with Nitrates at 10ppm, temp at 77 deg f..  These reading have been constant for well over two weeks now. <Good for you, but if you are going with corals, need to see the nitrate at 0.> I would like to move to the next step in my tank process, but as always, due to past failures I am afraid to make the wrong decisions.   <Nothing wrong with going slow, actually can be a benefit.> Can you suggest a combination (numbers and names) of snail/crabs etc that I would need to place in the tank for clean up?  I have no fish at the point, and in the future I plan on only some simple soft leathery corals.  Fish species still up in the air, definitely a Yellow Tang somewhere in the picture.  Still learning about fish species. <I don't like using any type of crab. I had red leg hermits that decimated my snails and have moved to snails only. Astraea, Nassarius, Cerith, Trochus, a good mix is what you are looking for. Numbers will depend on the load of the tank. I would start with 6-8 of each except the Trochus, maybe 3-5 of those. See how they handle the clean up and then modify from there.> Lastly, I would like to continue as well by adding another 30+ lbs of LR and probably stop there.  Would it be detrimental to add the LR to the tank to cure at this time?  Will it hurt the current flourishing LR?  Can I add the clean up critters simultaneously  with the next batch of LR or do I need to wait out the next cure phase before moving forward on inhabitants? <If you are going to add more rock now, I would wait to see if there is an ammonia/nitrite/nitrate spike, maybe a week or two. Then start adding livestock.> Thanks so much as always. Louis Rizzo

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>

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

- Snails and Hermit Crabs Dying - Hi: <Hi, JasonC here...> I have had my system up and running for almost a year now with no major problems. However within the last 2 months my snails and hermit crabs have been dying. I have enough algae growing on the Live Rock to keep them busy. My Ammonia and Nitrates are zero and the PH is 8.4. Any ideas on what could be wrong? <Probably nothing - most likely a form of natural selection at work, and none of these live forever... I wouldn't be too concerned.> Thanks, Aram <Cheers, J -- >

- Re: Snails and Hermit Crabs Dying - Hi Jason: <Hello again...> Thanks for getting back to me. I checked my Ca level last night and it's down to 200, Could this be causing the dye off. <I doubt it.> Also my ALK is really high about 800 mg/l. <Egads, that is high, and would explain the low calcium.> I add 2 teaspoons of KENT Super Buffer once a week to maintain my PH, could this be a problem also. <Potentially... could be your water is already pretty 'hard' and doesn't need supplementation - stop adding the Kent product and test your source water.> Thanks, Aram <Cheers, J -- >

Stirring The Sandbed Good evening every one <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I have a couple of questions about maintenance of my new 4 inch sandbed.  I perused your FAQs and got confused. I could swear Bob said to use a wooden dowel and punch holes and gently stir once a month - all the way to the bottom of the sandbed. I'm pretty sure Anthony said to do this, but only to the top 1 inch.  Is there a consensus here?  I am not a scientist but want my sandbed to work.  I currently have my old crushed coral substrate on top of the sandbed in mesh bags to seed it, plus my live rock. <If you're working on developing a true "deep sand bed" (I think that Bob's reference was to a "fish only" setup with a more shallow substrate...), I'd keep my stirring limited to the top 1/2 inch to 1 inch, to avoid disrupting the denitrification processes that you're trying to foster. To be honest, I really don't stir my DSB at all. You may want to utilize the services of a brittle star or two to do it naturally for you, without excessively disturbing the sand bed> I read an article today saying that I should seed it with a kit (rotifers, etc.)  Is this correct? <There are a number of e-tailers that offer "starter kits" of appropriate sandbed animals. My favorite source is Indo Pacific Sea Farms in Kona, and other folks swear by Inland Aquatics, or other firms. Most of these kits contain beneficial worms, snails, bacteria, and other useful creatures to help "jump start" your sandbed. Do some searching on the net for some good sources.> Also, I had lavender/purple algae all over the sides of my tank and in the substrate.  I left it on the sides when I cleaned the tank, but it is vanishing fast.  Why is this?  And will it come back?  I have plenty of it on my rocks, don't want to lose all of it.  Can you explain? <Well, if the lavender/purple stuff is coralline algae, then you will need to maintain proper calcium/magnesium/alkalinity levels to keep it going. If it is a Cyanobacteria (a nuisance algae), then you don't want it back! Do a little reading on the WWM site, using the Google search feature to get more information on exactly what kinds of algae you are seeing> A note to Anthony:  I took your advice and went through all the crabs.  Just have six red-legs now, along with snails. I will watch them carefully, and if I lose any more Shrooms they will get fired. <I'm sure Anthony will be stoked to hear that!> I also got a new Remora skimmer, and wow, what a difference. <It's an outstanding skimmer, and really will do a great job for you! Glad to hear that it's working so well for you!> Thank you all so much for your continuing support  I have been doing this for a little over a year now and have come a long way.  It is a very rewarding "hobby" (more like "addiction". And it would not have been possible without your continued support and advice. Connie <Connie, we are so happy to be able to be of assistance for you! Sharing experiences and growing together in the hobby is what this site is all about! Keep growing in the hobby, and feel free to call on us if you need any additional assistance! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

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

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>

What to feed algae lover - 3/26/03 I have 90gal with 90 lbs Kaelini rock setup since 1/10/03. I have 1 coral beauty clown and have gone thru the brown diatom algae period and I now have green hair algae. Last Thurs. I received a standard algae attack pack of turbo snails, dwarf hermits and red tipped hermits. They are doing such a fantastic job that I am already worried about having enough algae for them to eat. What and how much should I supplementary feed them? <How much is to be determined by how many you have and a visual check as to who eats what, but as far as what to feed them there are many choices to choose from. Gosh......Ummm mmm.....Spirulina pellets, blanched spinach, seaweeds sold for the pet fish industry and in many Asian food markets now and days, uh..... meaty foods for hermits as well i.e. frozen Mysids and plankton>  What is the correct photoperiod length for inverts? <standard lighting scheme applies. Whatever goes for your fish and corals will likely be fine for the rest.> Thanks <You're welcome. Paul>

Hermit crabs - algae Dear WWM: If you were to choose 5 species of hermit crab or crabs in general, for routine cleanup of green hair and filamentous algae in my reef tank, which would they be? I intend on having corals and want "reef safe" varieties. I live in Ft. Lauderdale and can collect hermits from the tide pools.  Can I use these?  If so, what species...blue legged, red legged, etc Thanks, Steve < I would do mainly red leg hermits.  Sally Lightfoots are good at eating hair algae also. Cody>

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

Adding A Cleanup Crew... Thanks a bunch for your advice on stocking fishes. Now I have a question about tank cleaners. I have read you should only add a few at a time due to the bioload. I was wondering if this is necessary since www.liveaquaria.com sells packages with all of them at once. My 100 gal tank with live rock is stable and algae seems to be plentiful. Thanks in advance. Lynn <Good thinking, Lynn...I think that most of these "cleanup crew" packages are sized for specific sized tanks, so there shouldn't be too many creatures involved...However, I don't think that you are going to have a problem adding a "crew" to an established, healthy system, you should be okay...These creatures (like snails, hermits, etc.) do not give off tremendous amounts of waste, so the system should handle it okay...Have fun! Regards, Scott F>

Feeding The Fallow Tank... Scott, thanks for the info.  One more question.  When I let the tank run fallow, what and how often do I feed the inverts in the tank? <I would continue your "normal" feeding schedule> I have a brittle star, sand sifter star, various hermits, cleaner and peppermint shrimp, sally lightfoot, colt, green star polyp and polyp rock.  Should I just add the phytoplankton? <As above- I'd feed the same foods/quantities to the inverts tat you were doing previously> I know the critters have been scavenging when I feed the fish, so should I continue to feed small amounts? <Yep...I'd try to "target" the feedings to the "cleanup crew"; as always, try to eliminate the possibility of excess food from hanging around the tank! Don't forget to carry out all regularly scheduled maintenance activities (water changes, media replacement, etc) during the "fallow" period> Thank you for your assistance, YET AGAIN!!!! Scott <My pleasure! Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Re: cleanup crews Ok guys here goes...Hey Anthony and Bob And all. <Hiya. Paul here this evening playing both Bob and Anthony> I am sure you have answered this before to many of us, yet I am dizzy with too much info. <Been there before> What is recommended for a reef clean up crew? Which snails? Which hermits, if any at all,? Abalone or no. Mini-stars? Brittle Stars? <While there are a great many "reef cleanup crews" (pre-made deals et al) out there, there are only a few necessary additions to consider in my opinion. Mostly though it depends upon the function and need, as in tank size and type of application (algae, scavenger, or for biotopic aesthetics): One being mini brittle stars, a few snails (Nerites, turbo, Astrea, and Cerith, if heavy feeder ((heavy in additional bioload)) then I would recommend Nassarius) Hermits are too opportunistic for my tastes. Although I do employ them from time to time they can be a burden on other inhabitants. In any event see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algeatrcontfaqs.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/crabs/hermitcrabs.htm. Hope this helps>

- Adding Clean-up Crew - more questions...90 gal..90lbs Kaelini rock...5 weeks old...nh3-0..nitrite-0...nitrate- 10..sg 1.023...ph-8.3..1 coral beauty..2 percula clowns...will not be adding more fish for a long while...when and how many crabs. snails etc do I add and do they have to be qt <Greetings, JasonC here... I'm not a huge fan of the typical snails or crabs as they just don't seem to do the job they're meant to do and spend more time killing each other. I would consider adding a Nassarius snail or two to keep the sand bed clean, and depending on what happens with problem algae... perhaps just wait. The Coral Beauty should be able to keep some of that in check. Cheers, J -- >

Clean up crew Thanks for the help with the FW dip.  Now I have another.  The tank I purchased was from an LFS.  It is a 25 gallon with an IFS.  I already read the article pertaining to small bubbles in the tank on a previous tip you advised another, but my question is should I downgrade my water pump, is it too strong, it's a RIO 1400? <It's rated for 375 gph right? I'm sorry but I don't have all the info that I need. Is this a pump used as a powerhead, submerged in the display tank? If yes then I suspect it may be too powerful. Is it a pump that is moving water from a sump, through the plumbing, returning to the tank? If yes then the pump may or may not be too strong. Does the tank look like a whirl pool or is there a brisk but reasonable current? Can the fish in a seemingly normal fashion? If yes the no worries>   Another question, I may be freaking out with my  Angler and all, but I really don't want to lose it (Gus). <Me neither> I have two other fish in the tank and they have no problems at all.  One is a 4 stripe damsel <This guy will be history soon. The scorpion will eat him...very soon> and the other is a scorpion.  Both have been in the tank for over three months with no troubling signs. <In the long term this tank is small for a scorpion and/or angler> My problem may be with the amount of cleaners in my tank.  I have about ten Scarlets, eight blue legs, two Mithrax, one sand sifter star, one fighting conch, and a serpent star plus a minimum of 12 assorted types of snails (Astrea and Trochus with at least two baby snails somewhere on the sand that I have seen).  Is that too much? <Seems like a lot but that alone won't cause a disease problem...if that's what you are asking. In fact, if the little critters can't find enough to eat they will die off soon any way> Could that be the case, too many critters, too little Oxygen? <Not IMO> Thanks, <You're welcome1 David Dowless> Jamie

Dying cleanup crew I have a 45 gal. tank and recently I purchased a cleaning crew to keep the tank active yet ready for fish. Lately I noticed that most of the  of the cleaning crew is dying. I have live rock, a clown with an anemone, some flower anemone, urchin, 1coral banded shrimp some snails, crabs. most are still alive but the Nudibranch died. <It would be more of a surprise if the Nudibranch survived. These creatures have a miserable record in aquaria. Replacing it would be a waste of time and money> I supplement with strontium, calcium and iodide, and I also use ChromaPlex, but they are dying off. I have a small glass anemone I noticed in the tank, could it be that they are eating the anemone and poisoning themselves? <I don't see this as a possibility.  What are your water parameters (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and salinity)? Did you acclimate these critters over an extended period of time? A drastic change in salinity will kill these animals quite easily. David Dowless>

Moving tank/lighting/cleanup crew Hi Guys, <Scott F. your guy tonight!> Love the site.  I had three questions.  I'm currently running a small Berlin system in a 50 gal. Uniquarium (~35 gal tank, 15 gal sump), 30 lbs live rock,  in sump skimmer, sea gel for carbon, 96W SmartLight.  All I have for tank members are I small yellow tang, 1 Lysmata cleaner shrimp, 1 peppermint shrimp, 5 LH blue legs, 3 scarlet hermits, and 5 Turbos.  Fish load will increase once in place.  The tank has been running for 6 months now. <So far, so good. Remember, the tang will need lots of space as he grows...> I'm going to move the tank upstairs to its permanent location.  What is the best way to do this? I was planning on using new Rubbermaid trash cans to move the bulk of the water, and transport the LR in 5 gal buckets.  The live stock would be temporarily housed in a small tank.  I plan on doing this in a couple of hours ( I hope that's realistic!).  Any advice would be helpful.   <Well, you're following the same course of action that I would. Allow plenty of time; no sense in rushing this process.> After the tank is in place, I plan on adding 2" of washed aragonite. <I'd go for a deeper sand bed, say, 3 to 5 inches, if using fine sand (which you should use!). You'll notice a big difference in the form of lower nitrate> Do I need to keep everything out until the dust settles, and will this harm any of the hard corals polyps, and small Fanworms on the LR?  Hints would be great. <I'd wait a day or so until the "dust settles" a bit, then add the corals. Probably no harm in adding them sooner, but I'd take the conservative approach> I'm still having problems with diatom outbreaks.  I was planning on upgrading my cleaners to GARF's 30 gal cleanup crew, but any other hints?  I perform 10 - 20% water changes every two weeks with water made up with R.O.  pH is 8.3, and nitrates are <15 ppm. <Well, I think that the nitrate will diminish with the deep sand bed. Your water change schedule is quite good. I tend to favor smaller (like 5%) water changes, performed twice a week. Make sure that you have a protein skimmer removing at least a cup of dark, yucky skimmate a couple of times a week. I'd also employ some chemical filtration, such as activated carbon and PolyFilter, and replace them regularly>   Would I be able to use the sump in the back as a refugium?  Do you know anyone who has done this, and if so how? <Well, not a refugium in the true sense, but you can certainly throw on a light over the top, '86 the bioballs, and put a small plastic container (like a livebearer "breeding trap") in the middle compartment, in which you could place some macroalgae (which should be harvested regularly, such as Chaetomorpha. This can be used as a source of nutrient export. Also, you could throw some live Mysids into the Chaetomorpha, and you'll get some of the benefits of a refugium... Don't forget, you could use a protein skimmer in the first compartment...not a big one...but you can find one that will hang on the back, like an Aqua C Remora Pro, or a CPR Bak Pak...> Finally,  Do you know of anyone who runs a combination of PC and VHO? <I have not seen this combination together, personally> I want to increase the wattage for reef inhabitants, but MH would probably heat the tank up too much , and I don't know if another 96W PC would be the way to go. <I like PC's, and use them a lot. I think that you can go with MH if you properly ventilate and fan the hood> I was thinking about adding two 95W VHOs, which I hope would allow me to keep just about anything barring any SPS or Clams.  Any suggestions would be great. <If you could get three or four total 96 watt PC's, you'd really be in good shape there!> Thanks again for your help, Chris in St. Louis <Chris, I think that you're on the right track. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

What type of clean-up critters would you suggest for the following two areas of my FO+LR system. Display: 180 net gallon display tank with a Huma Trigger, Maculosus Angel, Green bird Wrasse, Marble Wrasse, Regal Tang and Raccoon Butterfly.  Approx.175 lbs LR.  Approx. half the rock has hair algae.  The substrate (coral gravel) does not have a problem.  The back wall has some hair algae, but not to bad. <No critters will magically clean up the hair algae. Believe me...I wish they could. Reach into the tank and pull/siphon this stuff out as much as possible and look for the root cause: high nutrients, wrong spectrum of light (old bulbs), silicate and/or phosphates, high nitrates etc > 22"x22"x10" refugium which is located in the center of my sump.  This area acts as a settling pond for detritus.  The live rock rubble has hair algae and the substrate (again a couple of inches of coral gravel) brown from the detritus. I have the upstream and downstream barriers protected from the incoming water and the return section of the sump with a combination of Plexiglas baffle with plastic eggcrate material to the water surface.  I eventually want to purchase macro algae for nutrient export in the refugium from Inland Aquatics, but will have to wait until the temperatures in Fairbanks are 20 degree F or higher.  I think FFExpress will ship clean-up critters. <If you really want a cleanup crew you can order the usual snails and crabs like the ones sold at FFExpress but realize the trigger will make short work of many of them, especially if he's large. David Dowless>

Re: janitorial work needed What's up WWM crew! I have some questions about the cleanup crew I am about to purchase. I was thinking of getting about 75 hermits:     25 Blue Leg Hermits (Clibanarius tricolor)     20 Red Tip Hermits (Clibanarius sp.)     25 Dwarf Zebra Hawaiian Hermit (Calcinus laevimanus)     5 Scarlet Reef Hermits (Paguristes cadenati) <Wow! That's a lot!>      I was looking at around 75 snails as well:     10 Margarita snails (Margarites pupillus)     15 Cerith snails (Cerithium sp.)     5 Turbo snails (Turbo fluctuosa)     15 Astraea Conehead snails (Astraea tecta)     15 Banded Trochus snails (Trochus sp.)     10 Nassarius snails (Nassarius sp)     5 Red Foot Moon snails (Norrisia sp.) <Jeez-o- Petes! You really want a lot of these little critters...eh?> Here are the inhabitants and the parameters of my tank: -125 gallon AG -30 gallon Sump -65 lbs. LR (various) -60-70 lbs. base rock (various) -2.5"-3" Aragonite and sand substrate -3 x 250W MH 5.5K -2 x 96W PC True Actinic >------------------------------------------ -Large Tube Anemone -3" Clam (?derasa?) -3" Pencil Urchin -unidentified corals and sponges growing on LR -2 Green Chr. (1.5") -2 Firefish Gob. (2") -1 Clarkii Clown (1.5") -1 Yellow Tang (3") -1 Coral Beauty (2") >------------------------------------------- Temp = 78 pH = 8.3 Ca+ = 400 PO4 = 0 Fe = 0 NH3 = 0.3 NO2 = 0 NO3 = >10 sp. gr. = 1.022 Does this cleanup crew sound pretty good for a start or do you recommend others or more? <Not more for goodness sake! After these guys have cleaned up your tank what will they eat? In reality many of them will be out competed for food and die> My tank is well-matured, I just haven't had a real cleanup crew in a while. The Hair Algae and Red Slime are suddenly taking over and I need something that is going to be able to keep this at bay. A couple of factors could account for this I think. <The 10 NO3 for a start> I turned off my Filstar XP3 last week because it had clogged and I thought I would see how things would go without it ( loss of some of the bio. filtration ). <You don't need it any way. Stuff with some good quality carbon and change the carbon once a week or so...That'll keep from becoming a biological filter> The food I had been feeding the fish for a couple of days was really smelling after I accidentally left it out, I quit feeding it to them because I thought it was no good ( Uneaten decaying food matter that was already no good ). <Good idea. Food isn't all that expensive> Or maybe it's the fact that all of my powerheads are not on. I ordered a Red Sea Wavemaster Pro for the tank and when I tried to hook it up and plug it in nothing happened. I sent it back and only plugged in half of the p. heads ( loss of heavy circulation ). Your opinions and comments on this problem are very much appreciated. I apologize for the format of this letter but I thought it would be easier for you to read. Thanks for your help. <The more circulation that you have the better. Siphon the hair and skim before it gets entrenched. Unless you are really want all of those little critters, I would divide the top and bottom list and get those critters. If you find that you need more, then get the rest. David Dowless>

Cleaner crew Thanks again for the advice.  I hate to keep "beating a dead horse", so to speak, but I've realized that my main concern here is finding an animal that will help scavenge and keep my detritus clean.  I had a cleaner shrimp for about two years who did a really good job of gobbling up fallen food and such at the bottom of the tank and I was thinking that getting another one would help.  Since his departure, I've noticed that none of my other tank inhabitants really hang out at the bottom of the tank and it seems that the top layer of sand is getting dirtier more quickly.  Also since the cleaner shrimp's death, I got 2 peppermint shrimp because I wanted them to eat some Aiptasia off of my live rock and I wrongly assumed that they would scavenge like the cleaner shrimp.  They are very tiny, under one inch long, so I don't really know if that means they would be less of a threat to a cleaner shrimp.  Also, my peppermint shrimp stay up inside the rocks and are barely ever seen, even at feeding time.  My old cleaner shrimp used to always perch himself on rocks right out in the open or would walk along the bottom of the tank searching for food.  Would this make a difference in whether or not their territories crossed?  If you still don't think the cleaner and the peppermints would get along, do you have another suggestion for a scavenger that would help keep the detritus clean?  To recap, these are the current inhabitants:  maroon clown (Premnas biaculeatus), green brittle star (Ophiarachna incrassata), purple pseudo (Pseudochromis porphyreus), x-mas wrasse (Halichoeres ornatissimus), striped damsel (Dascyllus aruanus), pink and green cucumber (Pentacta anceps), pincushion urchin (Tripneustes ventricosus???), red starfish (Fromia milleporella), two peppermint shrimp, a handful of turbo and Astrea snails and lots of live rock (maybe 75 lbs). Thanks again for putting up with all of the questions.  You guys are a tremendous help! <Shrimp species will eat each other unless you have a large enough area and specifically feed your shrimp. Even then there are times, like upon molting, where shrimp are vulnerable.  Your peppermint shrimp should get out and scavenge food and detritus, probably at night when you don't see them getting around.  The same is true of cleaners. Mine station themselves on a key rock during the day and travel all over at night. I would think your current crew would do fine on your sand, esp. with an urchin and brittle star. Perhaps hand feed the shrimp to embolden them to come out more.  It is helpful at times to go through the tank with a powerhead to stir up detritus and filter/vacuum it out.  Craig>

Hiring a Crew I have just set up a marine system with a 90g display tank, 20g refugium (with Caulerpa macroalgae) and a 10g sump.  It has 115lb live rock, 1/2" aragonite in the display tank and 4" in the refugium, a large Berlin skimmer, and a Magnum filter for carbon and occasional water polishing.  Temp is 78, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are zero, carbonate hardness is 10 and Ph is just shy of 8. The system has been curing about 5 weeks, and I introduced the first fish today, a percula clown. <Sounds nice. Recheck the pH, just to be safe. I'll bet that the pH will be higher if you check it when the lights are on.> Two Issues: (1)Brown algae has begun to form, and I know it's time for a clean-up crew.  What type of animals should make up this crew?  How many?  Should I put anything in the refugium as well? <Well- brown algae is an unfortunate, but totally normal occurrence in new aquariums with abundant nutrients. "Clean up crews" can help, but it's really nutrient export that's the issue. Keep up regular maintenance, such as water changes with high quality source water, twice weekly in small (5%) amounts, aggressive protein skimming, and keep up the activated carbon use. It will eventually go away if you're diligent. As far as "crew" members, I like some of the blue leg hermits, Trochus, and Strombus snails. other animals, such as brittle stars, are nice, too, but really not algae eaters> >Flying Fish Express sells a 100g clean up crew that features 20 scarlet reef hermit crabs, 40 turbo or Margarita snails (ratio varies), and 60 red leg or left handed hermit crabs.  Does this make sense?   <That seems to make sense, but I don't like that many crabs running around, myself...Granted, there will be some attrition among these animals, so it's probably no problem. You also might want to check Inland Aquatics and Indo Pacific Sea Farms- both offer nice "cleanup crew"/biodiversity kits as well> (2) Should my Ph level be higher?  How do I achieve this, a chemical buffer?  Adding calcium? <Possibly buffer, but many times, regular water changes with properly prepared saltwater, can usually do the trick. Persistent low pH is a sign that something is out of whack with your husbandry techniques...Relatively easy to correct-but do check your pH at different times during the day to verify that you do, indeed, have a problem> Thanks for your input, Jeff <Jeff- it sounds like you're on the right track-system sounds good, you just need to stay on top of things! Do read up on the wetwebmedia.com FAQs regarding pH. You'll be fine! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Which Herbivore? - Thanks Jason, <You are welcome.> I have wanted to add an herbivore as you mentioned, but is there one that I could add considering my present livestock?.  I don't know of any that would be able to "survive". <Well... just how big is this grouper?> Maybe a tang? <Yes, although you will probably need to obtain one of size that would discourage the grouper from making a one-bite meal out of it. Groupers can be bad that way.> What about the little critters, is there something that I might have success with? <You might try an urchin... I've used Tuxedo urchins around more questionable fish, but there is still no predicting what that trigger will do. Might be worth a try, but a tang would probably be better.> Thanks again, Tim <Cheers, J -- >

Blue-Green (BGA) Slime algae (red too) What inverts eat Cyanobacteria? <very few... almost none. It is unpalatable to most and literally toxic to others> I have hermits blue legs turbo and Mexican snails and one or two emerald crabs. <some limited possibilities there... C. tricolor crabs, Turbo sp snails and some comb-toothed tangs. Not the emerald crabs though> None of them seem to interested in eating the stuff. Please help. Thanks, Peter <it is noxious if not toxic. And it would be better to treat the problem and not the symptom... do examine your nutrient export mechanisms... are you getting daily dark skimmate from your skimmer consistently? Do you thaw frozen food and decant the pack juice? Do you have very strong water flow to keep detritus in suspension, etc? A good skimmer alone can eradicate slime algae easily in 2 weeks or less. BGA is all about nutrient control and water flow. Please browse the ton of content on this subject in out wetwebmedia.com archives. Best regards, Anthony>

Dumping Detritus! I have a 55 gal reef tank with sugar sized sand as substrate. I would like to know what animal/s would be good in helping me keep the detritus off the sand, as it is hard to vacuum? <I like the idea of purposeful animals doing the job, rather than overly disturbing the sandbed through aggressive siphoning> I don't have a preference as to snail, starfish, or fish. I currently have 6 Nassarius snails and 1 serpent banded starfish ( which I read on here are good for this), but they don't seem to be keeping it very clean. Are these good for cleaning detritus off sand and do I just need more of them? Any help would be appreciated. <I guess the definition of "clean" in a sand bed is arbitrary. It's usually impossible for it to be perfectly spotless, with no algae, detritus, etc. Keep in mind that a "sterile" sandbed is neither natural or beneficial-not to mention, pretty much unachievable! As long as you don't see excessive amounts of detritus, algae, etc. in the substrate, and water parameters are within acceptable limits, I think you're doing okay. Keep in mind that some organic materials are required by the animals living in the sandbed. Keeping the sand spotless through "natural" or artificial means can damage the very processes that are keeping the tank in balance, and perhaps even injure or kill the infauna that reside there. You could add one or two more serpent stars, but I think that I would keep it at that. Fishes like Pygmy Angelfishes (Centropyge) are detritivorous, as are some tangs. However, you need to consider the needs of the fishes and the other animals in your tank if employing these types of fishes to assist. Use the resources on wetwebmedia.com to learn more about sandbed management practices. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Adding clean-up critters and LR When should I add clean-up snails and crabs to LS and tank? Then, when do I add LR? <<Add LR first, let tank stabilize, test for zero ammonia/nitrite, presence of low nitrate, do water change and add clean-up as there is food available (algae, detritus, etc.) Low fish load at this time after quarantine. Do a search on stocking and clean-up crews at WWM, much more information there. Have fun, Craig>>

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>

My Sand Dwellers Keep Dying Hi Bob, <Hello Darrin> I have a problem that I just cant seem to figure out. Everything that seems to touch the substrate/sand in my tank seems to die. I have a Tang, Blenny, 4 Mithrax Crabs and 2 hermit crabs that have been thriving in my tank for the past 3 months but everything else just keeps on dying and I don't know why. I have lost one anemone (which was the first death), 6 starfish, 4 sea cucumbers, 4 Astrea snails and one abalone most of which died within 2 days of being introduced to my tank (I did not enter all of them at once). My tank specs are as follows: <Mmm, some good clues here> 60 gal Aqua system w/built in wet/dry (bio media removed) Remora Pro plus protein skimmer Fluval 404 canister filter (bio media removed) 90lbs live Fiji rock approximately 4" of live sand (purchased from LFS not sure or origin) Excellent lighting system Nitrate, Nitrite, PH, ammonia, alkalinity and water salinity all have normal readings but I just cant seem to figure out what is causing the deaths. <Could be a lack of circulation/dissolved oxygen... or perhaps a biological source... something growing in/on the surface substrate> I do have an algae problem though. There seems to be what looks like little greenish pellets that appear on my substrate that I have to clean constantly. These "pellets" look similar to the rabbit food one can find in pet stores. <I see> I'm sure I'm acclimating my new inhabitants properly by immersing the bags in my tank and every 10 to 15 minutes I pour some of the water they were shipped in out and replace with my tank water until eventually, they are in 75% to 100% of my tank water before they are released to the tank. <Would be better to utilize another system for quarantine/acclimation... newcomers may be getting beat up and already in bad shape from being new> What do you think are causing all of my deaths? I'm very frustrated and am considering stripping the tank down and starting all over again. Please help. Darrin

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