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FAQs about Marine Scavengers 1

Related FAQs: Marine Scavengers 2, 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

Cryptocentrus cinctus, the Yellow Prawn Goby.  Common  in the hobby.

Lunare Wrasse Rescue, comp. scavengers    9/5/06

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

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

Stocking "cleaning crews" (hermits, snails), lighting coral help on WWM Bob, Thanks for the reply. I've read the WWM sections about inverts and the quantity, and also noticed that you're not such a fan of these cleaners. <Yes> To be more specific, I have 20 blue leg hermits, 10 red leg hermits, 3 margarita snails, 8 Cerith snails, 5 Astrea snails, 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 serpent star fish (only 4-5"). Can you give me your insight on why you don't agree with so many inverts? <In a small volume (your 24 gal. cube in this case) the hermits often "cross the line" between being scavengers to predating desirable organisms... including each other... The snails die, en masse sometimes... and their dissolving takes most everything with them...> I read somewhere that this many inverts was the perfect amount to keep an almost maintenance free tank for a 24 gallon tank. Were they just full of B.S. so that they can sell their product? <Mmm, well.... there is at least a "difference of opinions" here... there definitely are a bunch of "pro" cleaner uppers as well as "cons"... Each must decide for themselves... but if you take a look in the wild, you will see there are few parts of natural reefs so arrayed> Also, currently I don't have any corals, how many hours should the lights be on? And how many hours if I do get corals? Thanks. Perry <Please put the terms: "lighting corals" in the Google search tool here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/  Bob Fenner> 

1st Tank - Clean up crew for my 40 gallon (UK) Hi, <How goes it? I've been advised by my LFS to buy his 'critter pack', what a surprise! It consists of: 6 blue legged hermits 6 turbo snails a choice of a brittle starfish or emerald crab. Would this be sufficient to for my tank or too much?? <Probably not enough, and not much variety in species, either.  Check out the clean up packs at www.garf.org or www.liveaquaria.com> I am going to stock 2 percula clowns at the same time. <Don't add any fish until your tank is completely cycled!> Cycling should finish in about 2 weeks time. <Wait until then> Thanks Dave <Anytime - M. Maddox>

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

Gammarus attacking snails 8/19/04 Dear reefers,  My quarantine tank has been "idle" for some time  -  i.e. no new acquisitions during the summer holiday period - and a large population of small amphipods has developed, presumably a Gammarus species. While observing the inhabitants ( I use surgeon's goggles and can see small creatures well) I noticed 2 Gammarus shrimps "worrying" a Cerith snail. They were picking at its flesh, and at one point extended a "string" of attached flesh.  <Hmmm... These critters are often carnivorous on dead things, but few are predatory.> The snail did not seem too concerned and carried on feeding, but I do not think that the attention was doing the snail any good. I have had a couple of snail deaths in this tank over the last 2 months, and in each case there were Gammarus in the shell when I removed it. Is it my imagination or do Gammarus nibble at snail flesh if hungry? <As above, it is no surprise that the 'pods would eat an already dead animal, but it is very unlikely that they killed it.  The shells also make an outstanding home! I suspect that if they were doing harm to the snail, it would retract into it's shell.  A simple solution that will prevent this problem (if it is a problem) is to add some food for the 'pods.  Some fish food or crumbles of meaty sea food will work very well.> Would it be a good idea to add a Rainford's Goby to the quarantine tank - no fish in there otherwise - to reduce the Gammarus population, or will the Rainford's eat my baby Cerith ( Dove ) snails which breed in the tank? The baby snails range from only 2 millimetres long. The adults are only 1/2 inch long.  <A Scooter blenny, Mandarin fish or six line wrasse are all much better choices to reduce the 'pod population  the scooter and mandarin are low risk to your snails, the wrasse is moderate risk.> Best wishes, and thank you for all your help in establishing a successful skimmerless tank - a year old now. Eric Brightwell FZS  <Best Regards!  Adam>

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

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

BoDP? (PF looking for creepy crawlies) Me again, I was wondering if you could aim me at a good source for detritivore propagation techniques.  <sure... the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks for asking :)> Besides some places offering LS, I know of only 2 places offering detritivore kits ('pods, worms of various sorts, mini-brittles, etc.).  <yes.. they are both great suppliers but scary overpriced (or rather... lack competition to keep the prices lower)> I was thinking the market place may well be due for some more competition (once I buy that friggen' house and have room...).  <much agreement... I have made this pitch to many upstart coral farmers that I have talked to. All this far have elected to stay hungry and farm SPS frags rather than make money in the market...Heehee> I was thinking of going to the current sources, acquiring some product, setting them up in their own dedicated culture tanks and letting nature take its course. <helpful yes... but seriously, some fresh rock and sand from the Gulf is seriously teeming with life and targeted species> as for the email title, I think you can figure that one out. ;) <Heehee... yep. I'm almost as smart as I look [insert joke here]> aloha, ('cause I can't remember how to spell au revoir [?]) PF <Hasta potato, because I'm hungry. Anthony>

Mail order You mentioned you could mail order scavengers, who can you buy from this way. Caudill <You can buy livestock from many mail-order or e-tailer establishments. Check our sponsors and our links page. -Steven Pro>

Adding The "Clean-Up" Crew Ok, ok, so I know this is going to make me sound like a total newbie, even after doing this for years I do consider myself one anyway. Every time I set up a tank I feel like it is the very first time, but as you probably know there is a popular on-line vendor who sells clean up crews that include a LARGE number of animals. <Yes, I have seen several of these offers.> They claim that you can add ALL of the snails and star fish and crabs to your aquarium all at one time without a problem. I'm QUITE skeptical. <You should be. All be skeptical of what any person selling you something says.> What are your thoughts on this? <I much prefer to pick and choose what species and how many specimens my particular system needs. I work in the aquarium maintenance business and after setting up many identical systems, I can tell you that no two run exactly alike. There are always differences, even when I take care of all the maintenance, in how much people feed and that makes a big difference in how many cleaners they need. If you do not have enough algae to go around, the hermits crabs will begin to eat all your snails.> I'm more inclined to add a few at a time and let the filter |<And the algae amounts> adjust before adding more. Is it stupid to add upwards of 50 creatures all at once <If you had a 200 gallon tank, I could see adding 50 snails at once. Otherwise, no add a few and see how things change.> (I can't believe I'm even ASKING that :-)? Is it a bad idea to buy on-line in the first place? Wes <No, not a bad thing to buy on-line period. Just take everything with a grain of salt when purchasing anything, anywhere (e-tailer, mail-order, or LFS). An educated consumer is a hobbyist that will never get ripped off. If you choose to not educate yourself PRIOR to purchase, you will eventually get taken. -Steven Pro>

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>

Re: Snail & Hermit Crab waste Hi Steve: I have a 54 gallon corner tank. I guess I should pull out some of the crabs and snails. What do you think? <Yes, I would remove all but two of each hermit crab. I would leave all the snails and if you need more algae eaters, get ten more Astrea, Cerith, or Nerites snails. I like to use a variety of snails as they all seem to prefer to eat different things. -Steven Pro>

Re: Snail & Hermit Crab wasteThanks Steve, FFExpress should redo their Web Site about adding the correct amount of Invertebrates. ~Aram <Nothing in particular about FFExpress, but all of these places are in the business of selling. I never assume any salesperson, selling anything, knows everything about their product or wants to be my friend. Pet stores are all businesses, too. Just approach them as you should any business, as an educated consumer. -Steven Pro>

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

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

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

Janitor Crews & Buying Liverock Hello, Reading a lot about the importance of cleanup crews on the web. Everyone has a little different opinion on what to have. Can you give me an idea on what I should get as a clean up crew for a 90 gallon. <The reason everyone has a different opinion is every tank is different; lighting, feeding, stocking level, nutrient export, water change schedule, etc. All of these play a role in determining algae growth and detritus amounts. The easiest thing is to start low and add over several months until you get a group that fits your tank and your style. I like to use a variety of snails, but keep the crabs to a minimum. I only like the Scarlet Reef Hermits.> I will purchase 90 pounds of live sand, and approx. 180 pounds of live rock for filtration. <You may get some janitors in with your sand and rock, too.> Do you have a suggestion on where to get the sand and rock. I have been on Tampa Bay Saltwater recently. <I am partial to rock of Pacific origin. If you purchase rock through mail-order or e-tailers, please cure the rock in a separate vessel regardless of what they say about it already being cured.> Thank you, Dan <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Clean up crew issues Dear Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> A quick question for you. First the details. I have a 75 gallon tank compact fluorescents and 90lbs of Fiji live rock - just done curing.  <I thought I smelled something when I opened this e-mail> I just purchased a classic clean up crew rated for a 50 gallon tank, figured I'd start small. The clean up crew consists of: 10 Scarlet Reef Hermits 20 Turbo / Margarita Snails 30 Red Leg / Left-Handed Hermits Now after being in the tank for only two days they seem to have eaten almost all the visible algae on the rock.  <yes...they were added too early and now the ability of microfauna in your sand bed will be compromised> Should I start feeding them? If so what?  <most are omnivores. add a mixed frozen meaty food (like Formula 1 and 2)sparingly 1-2 times weekly for starts until they can get incidental matter from fish and coral when your livestock inventory builds> Also could you recommend a place for me to buy bigger hermit shells.  <some bags of coarse beach sand have tons of shells in them and it is cheaper than buying shells by the piece> I heard the hermits will eventually snag the snail shells. <true> Thank you in advance, <do consider tapping a refugium inline (above) the system and QT'ing the critters until your sand bed establishes a bit stronger. Otherwise, don't expect to see too many cool worms and critters in your sand> Simon. <regards, Anthony>

Astrea snails and coralline algae Greeting and Salutations Bob or Anthony, <I'll take the salutation, and raise you a "whassup?", Anthony> Quick question for the experts: I just added some nice cured LR to my system with some beautiful purple coralline algae growth. This morning I noticed one of my Astrea snails "sitting" on top of the coralline on the rock. Will these little guys eat the good (translate: pretty) algae or will they restrict themselves to the green stuff?  <they will only eat microalgae and they favor diatoms (brown algae)> Thanks so much for all the time and quality you guys put into WWM. I hope you're raking in crazy loot with the advertisers otherwise I'm sure there would be many willing to pay a small subscription fee! <actually the wine, roman parties and dancing girls nightly are payment enough> PS-Anthony--didn't realize you were from the 'burgh, me too! Any recs. as to places for good quality live stock/LR around here? take care my friend. <Adam...too cool. Yes, reasonably good stores... what part of the city are you from? Perhaps your best networking might be through our local marine society. We take frequent road trips (subsidized by the club) to the best regional stores within a 6 hr drive! We also have great speakers like Bob Fenner and Eric Borneman annually just to name a few. Do look us up at www.pmas.org or contact me if you'd like more info. I hope to meet you someday, bud. Kindly, Anthony>

Re: Cleanup Crew Question Thanks for the Reply Anthony!!! <very welcome, my friend> I have a follow up question or two: 1) Are you saying I should get rid of the blue legged hermits? <not at all.. I like them very much and use them often. We just have to admit that as a very efficient scavenging omnivore, they will exact some toll on the benthic microfauna. It you were obsessed/enjoyed viewing the DSB with a magnifying glass and really developing the bed to its fullest at the expense of say more nuisance algae, then the hermits have to be reckoned with. For most folks they are good and cheap detritivores> 2) What other inverts should I get to feed off of the algae and detritus? <I prefer to not use many at all but maintain above average water movement (random turbulent) and conduct very aggressive protein skimming to export nutrients and starve algae out> How soon should I begin adding more? <just watch brown diatom algae growth and add as necessary to keep up with it if your skimmer is producing daily dark skimmate (4-8oz per 75 gall tank) 3) Please explain what you mean by mixing corals and emphasizing families within one type? Is there some succinct reading I can do that will go over this? Thanks again! <really quite long to explain here. I'll be excerpting passages from my Book of Coral Propagation for the WWM site in the next few months. And Eric Borneman's book Aquarium Corals is very good with unique info on allelopathy/coral aggression. Bob did a review of my book here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bkcorlproprev.htm. One or both titles are available from some of the advertisers on the WWM site (Di's Aquatics, Custom Aquatic, etc). Kindly, Anthony>

Cleanup Crew Question Greetings! I am a bit unfamiliar with the cleanup crews and what I would need for my tank. Every internet mail order store has a different package. They do not discuss whether these are safe with Corals.  Right now I have a 125 with 160lbs of LR, 4" Sand Bed, A skimmer and about 24 blue leg hermit crabs. What else would you recommend? I am thinking about a goby, some scarlet reef crabs, a pair of fire shrimp, a tiger tail or two, some burrowing snails, and some Astrea snails. I will be adding them slowly as I do not want them to starve after 4 months. Any suggestions or other species that I should consider? I plan on keeping LPS, SPS and mostly soft corals. I have a 3 bulb MH w/NO Actinics. Thanks! <Please read over the marine scavenger and linked files posted on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner> Adam

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

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

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

Hired help for cleaning Hello Mr. Fenner, Short questions today. I've read the articles on starfish, and I want to put some in my 100G. reef tank. I'd like to put maybe 1 blue Linckia, and some Fromias, but in your opinion, how many starfish would you put, I now have 1 brown brittle star, 1 peppermint shrimp, 2 cleaner shrimp 4 red-legged hermits, 2 blue-legged hermits, and 2 big turbo snails along with the fishies, and also what do you think is the most efficient detritivorous cleaner for a reef tank. I know the Fromias are detritivores, but also need supplementing with meaty foods, are they my best bet, or would you recommend something else? ( strictly for detritus, not concerned about algae). I do also clean the bottom, but I just want something that I could say is a live-in maid, if you know what I mean. Greg N. <Three, four small stars total is about the limit. Marine scavengers are covered on the WWM site. Bob Fenner>

Re: Help! Hi Bob -- Thank you very much for the response to my questions. I just had one quick follow-up question! (I see you get this a lot) <Yes> Anyway.. I am going to be getting a clean-up crew and FFE has two, I would like to get the Reef Relief but am concerned about the water temp (80ish)and the lights (96w PC). The Reef Relief has the cucumbers and the stars in it, where as the Classic does not. Do you feel that my lighting will be adequate for this or should I stick with the Classic for now? <The lighting is fine for these animals... but you will want more for your system (a 75 gallon)... for looks and function with other life forms> Thanks again for your time, it is people like you that dedicate your time to this hobby that keeps those of us new and confused moving forward! <Thank you for this... would be lonely w/o my "fishy" friends for sure. Bob Fenner> D

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

Re: Clean up crew Hi Bob, <Should come up with the Google search tool...> Hmmm, that would be a good idea! :-) No, it should read: "You should USE the Google search tool..." Yeah, I got to start making use of the available tools! It's just that I've read through the site so many times, I think I know where all the info I need is... not! You truly provide a ton of info. Thanks for the answers anyway! <Hmm, when do you want to give answering these queries a go? You're about due. Bob Fenner>

Re: Clean up crew (and WWM help) Hi Bob, That's very nice of you, but I don't consider myself in the same league as either you or Zo when it comes to knowledge of aquarium husbandry (Well, of course not! You've been in this industry for over 30+ years!?). The last thing I would want to do is to give someone bad advice and cause them or their fishy friends any suffering. That said, I'd love to give back to the hobby and assist you if I can. Let me know how I can help. Khoi <You do help my friend, and know perhaps much more than you're aware. It is not necessary to be knowledgeable about everything to be of service. As important as useful input is compassion (Latin: "to bear pain with"), apathy/empathy, a genuine desire to assist others. There are reference works, others that can/should be referred to. Consider this. Bob Fenner> Re: Clean up crew (and WWM help) Good morning Bob, Ahhhh, I see you're out diving and Zo is manning the boards! OK, if I can help out you and Zo with some of these questions, I'd be willing to give it a try. Khoi <Outstanding. Will email him this missal. Bob Fenner>

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

Questions about debris cleaner uppers I have one reef tank (55 gal.), and one species tank (40 gal.). The reef tank has a lot of debris, which I would like to recycle by introducing an animal that eats the debris.  <What is the nature of this "debris?"... you would likely be better off improving circulation... filtration... perhaps more frequent vacuuming of the bottom> I have a peppermint shrimp, but I don't see it for months and it doesn't do the job.  <Hmm, "they don't do that"...> It also is supposed to eat anemones "Aiptasia" but they are multiplying very fast. <You may have something other than Lysmata wurdemanni...> I also read that a slug "Berghia verrucornis" is supposed to eat these anemones Aiptasia and also easy to keep.  <Take a read through the "Aiptasia" sections posted on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com> Another slug "Glossodoris valenciennesi" eats debris, but I don't know the slug's English names and where to buy them. Could you advise me on what is the best animal to purchase for this matter. <Hmm, "yourself"... Homo sapiens sapiens> The other tank is a real problem. It houses a porcupine fish, a white-lined  triggerfish, and a cow fish. Do you think it is safe to keep of these in a 40 gallon tank?  <No... at least not for very long> All of these are small except for the porcupine fish. The water is cleaned only by a canister filter and a skimmer. I would like to introduce some kind of scavenger that cleans the bottom because the fishes are eating like pigs. Is there any animal that would not be eaten by these fishes and also survive less than perfect water conditions, since I don't believe that the canister filter would do the job. <Get another filter, like a powerful hang-on model, and a couple of powerheads, aimed from each back corner to the middle front, crossing over> Also, could suggest some food for these fishes: my cow fish doesn't eat well or the other fishes just don't allow it to do so. Thank you. <Please read through the "Boxfish" section and "Foods/Feeding/Nutrition on the WWM site as well. Bob Fenner>

Adding clean up crews I have a 58 gallon marine tank with live rock, 5 fish, crushed coral substrate, and 2 basic fluorescent bulbs (one actinic, one all spectrum). I am replacing the bulbs with power compacts. To keep nitrates down, I am considering switching out the crushed coral for sand and live sand (which will then be approx. 5 inches deep). I am told to remove the wet/dry trickle filter when I do this. Is this safe for the fish or will there be a deadly ammonia spike? <Likely no problem... but I would remove the trickle filter a few weeks after switching the lamps, changing out the substrate> I also have some green algae. If I add a clean up crew of snails, etc., will this drive the nitrates up, or is it safe to do this? Should I do this before I switch to sand? <Do this after making all the above changes... no problem> Do you have any recommendations for small fans to aid in the heat reduction in the canopy due to the power compacts? <Yes... there are a few muffin fan makes that are worthwhile... but these may not be necessary... do measure, monitor water temperature after installing the compact fluorescents, try making passive "chimneys" and vent holes for venting waste heat first. Bob Fenner> Thanks bunches - Stephanie

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

Clean Up Crews Hello again Bob. Thanks to your quick response on my last question. I recently purchased a 75 gallon clean-up crew (90 different snails & hermits) for my 75 gallon tank from Flying Fish. I was amazed at how quickly and efficiently they cleaned up the tank. They just had a feast, which brings me to my concern. Now that they have had their turkey dinner, will there be enough food available for them to continue to survive? I understand algae will continue to grow in my tank, but is there enough for the many creatures. Is there something additional I should be feeding them? <Only experience can tell here... this is a large number of "cleaner uppers" for a 75 gallon system... if it starts to look a bit threadbare, I might try adding some strips of Nori algae first... removing some of the animals if they are obviously w/o much to scavenge. Bob Fenner>

Re: Clean Up Crews Thanks for the advice! Should the snails/hermits be removed if they die? <Yes... if you can tell they are dead...> Will they cause ammonia spikes? <Possibly... if there are too many, too soon, in too small a volume, inadequate filtration/circulation...> How do you tell if they are dead, since they don't move all the time and can hide in shell?  <Usually can't... unless outright "hanging out" from shells... > I also thought that was a lot of creatures, but trusted flying fish who I have been happy with. Package below BN-30202 "Classic" Cleanup™ Crew 75 Gallons 15 Scarlet Reef Hermits 30 Turbo / Margarita Snails (mix determined by availability) 45 Red Leg / Left-Handed Hermits (mix determined by availability) Package deal saves you $76 March Special - 10% off + Free Emerald Crab <Yes, I know about these package deals... still consider this a bunch myself... Bob Fenner>

Re: Establishing a new minireef tank Thanks for your quick response; I don't know how you find time to respond to everyone. <Fast keyer> In terms of cleanup organisms do you have any favorites? <Yes... all sorts... they're mentioned here and there on the www.WetWebMedia.com site sections, FAQ files> Will urchins, sea cucumbers, Fromia stars or serpent stars do as good a job?  <Not most Urchins for most types of tanks... some of the Cukes are okay, some way too toxic/problematical, Fromia genus stars are fab, the Green Serpent Star is trouble in the long haul...> Abalone? Emerald crabs? Are Hermit crabs reef safe as they get larger?  <No to abalone... Mithrax, Hermits are covered on the WWM site> Does one need to provide empty shells as they grow? <Yes> One last (probably not) question, if you don't mind, before I go. Your opinion regarding U.V. sterilizers. My local retailer recommends that a sterilizer be used routinely for a system with inverts and fish due to the difficulty of treating fish in the presence of inverts.  <It's a high ticket, margin item... No to preventing, curing disease... best approached from careful selection, quarantine, dips/baths angles... > My concern is that the U.V. sterilizer will kill useful bacteria, algal spores, etc. There is no apparent consensus in the literature. <Keep studying... there is consensus of sorts... amongst people who know what they know and what they don't in/about this aspect of the marine hobby... UVs are useful adjuncts to otherwise well set-up, maintained systems... a few percent better in terms of DO, RedOx, lower TBC's... they are not a panacea> Thanks once again for your generosity with your time. I Gross <Press on, my friend. Bob Fenner>

How much is too much clean-up crew? I have a 100 gallon tank with about 110lbs of live rock. I saw a web site "saltwater.com" selling what they called "the clean-up crew" it consisted of 20 scarlet reef hermits, 20 blue leg hermits, 20 turbo snails, and 2 emerald crabs. Doesn't that sound like a lot for my tank? Please help me out if you can. Thank You Harold A. Heineck <For those folks who subscribe to such "clean up crews" (many do) this is actually not too many "helpers". Do keep up with your regular maintenance, filtration, aeration, circulation, testing... even if you have such "assistants" Bob Fenner>

Goby vs. Cucumber vs. Starfish? Hi Bob, Thanks for your time. I have been having green algae problems growing on the sand with my 60G fish tank with LR lately. I already have a phosphate sponge and keep phosphate to <0.03. I have been reading on the subject people are recommending me get the Golden Head Goby, a sea cucumber or sand sifting starfish. Do you have any suggestions and how many of them do I need? Also would I have to keep the Goby in pairs? Thanks. Brian >> <Hmm, well, all of these might do you some good... but for my moolah, time, I'd get a member of the Salarias, Atrosalarias blennies, just one, and watch that algae disappear. Bob Fenner>

Cleaners??? Hi Bob, Was just wondering what your recommendation for a "Cleanup Crew" would be. I've got a 92 gal tank. My rock (being cured now) has some bubble algae and assorted macroalgae on it now. I like the Mithrax Crabs, Blue and Red leg hermits. Do these guys get along? <Yes> I've heard that snails can do more harm than good. Is this your experience? <Depends... the snails that are most often used are not much problem... dying, disease-spreading wise... Just do your best to get some that are initially healthy... FFExpress does a very good job with these> I don't want anything (if possible) that gets large (over and inch or so). I want the cleaners to do their work in the background, and leave the fish and corals as the main focus. I've seen tanks that are over loaded with cleaners. I don't like that look. <The Mithrax Crab will be bigger than this with time (a few inches)> Is there any "cleaner (s)" that would sift and clean the sand bed enough to eliminate the need for vacuuming the sand bed? And no toxic time bombs!!!! <Some fishes... keep reading> If you could be as specific (species, quantity) as possible with your recommendation, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks in advance, Tony PS Do you live in San Diego? <Yes, for most of the year, Bob Fenner>

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

Clean up Crew I'm putting together my clean up crew for my 46 gal. tank w/ 65 lbs. of live rock with lots of Algae. Would you recommend a combo of Turbo and Trochus or Turbos and Astrea snails? How many of each for my size tank? Thanks, Rob O. >> Well... you've asked a pointed, defined question... So... I'll gladly respond in kind. I don't encourage the stated stocking density of Trochus genus Snails, and I do favor the use (if being utilized) of Turbo and Astrea genera gastropods over the use of Trochus... (though in Europe... there are some collected/collectable Trochid family members that are desirable...). Bob Fenner Thanks Bob for answering the question of what kinds of snails. How many would you recommend for my size tank?  <Oops, sorry for missing this part previously... IF I was using snails, five or ten of  Astreas and Turbos... Some Blue Legged Hermits... again five or ten... depends on the types, amounts of live rock used, lighting... other algae eaters... am a bigger fan by far of using fishes... like Ctenochaetus Tangs, Blennies...> I also really want to get some starfish. I was thinking (1)Blue Linckia,(1)orange marble and (1)brittle starfish. Should I purchase these when I get my clean up crew or should I wait until my tank is more established? How many would you recommend for my size tank? Right know the tank is 6 wks. old with lots of Algae mostly brown). <I'd only consider the middle species... and you can place it now... or wait Bob Fenner> Thanks again, Rob O. Suitable Herbivores for Reef Tank I want to add an active herbivore to the tank that will prune the plants (grape and lettuce Caulerpa) without disturbing the other members of the tank community. A tang seems like a logical choice but have some contradictory information on whether or not they are compatible with coral and other invertebrates. I have a 125 gallon reef tank with 100 pounds of live rock and crushed coral substrate that covers about half the bottom of the tank. Wet/Dry filter, protein skimmer and UV sterilizer. The current population includes: Clean up crew, 4 cleaner shrimp, 4 clown fish, purple fire fish, coral beauty, fairy wrasse, a mix of hard and soft corals, 3 anemones, 2 starfish and a horseshoe crab. Can you recommend suitable tank mates? Also, would like to know if I can add an additional dwarf angel to the tank (Flame Angel)? Your articles are extremely informative, and I enjoy reading your responses. Thanks: Dave  >> Thank you for writing and being part of this forum. I would indeed trust a tang of either the Sailfin genus Zebrasoma (like the Yellow and Purple) or the Combtooth genus Ctenochaetus (like the Kole/Yellow-eye, or Chevron) for the job... the only real downside of these fishes is they might eat too much of your "spare" Caulerpa. And I would definitely get a nice Flame as a show piece for your system. For your size system it should learn to get along with the Coral Beauty within a few weeks maximum... Be chatting. Bob Fenner

Sand sifters I recently purchased some live sand and was wondering what are some good fish and inverts for sand sifting? >> Hmm, depends on the size, what other types of livestock you have... some starve easily in too new, too small systems... others are in danger of being eaten, or eating other tankmates. Bob Fenner

What are some ideal sand-stirrers for my 55 gallon tank? Hello again, I have a 55 gallon tank with about 30 Lbs. of Fiji Live rock, 15 Lbs. of Hawaiian Base Rock, and 50 Lbs. of ESV oolite sand. I have recently changed the sand in the tank to make a live sand bed in the tank. Currently the average height of the sand bed is around 2-2.5in deep. Current stock in the tank are 2 Percula clowns, 1 royal Gramma, 1 blood shrimp, 1 cleaner shrimp, 10 scarlet reef hermits, 3 Trochus snails, 1 turbo snail, 1 Astrea snail, 1 colony of green mushrooms, and 1 colt coral. Current perimeters are ammonia&nitrite 0, nitrate 10, Ph 8.3, Alk 3.5, and Calcium 450 I want to know what would be a good sand stirrers for the tank invert or fish. I hear sand stirring fish can eat valuable sand critters in the tank. Is this true? My sand is very fine, slightly finer than sugar size sand. >> Your tank is a bit too small for many of the purposeful stirrers like Valenciennea gobies... and the grade a bit fine for some others... Still others might harass your non-fish livestock... If it were up to me I'd leave the job to the inverts you have and yourself... for you to occasionally (on water change days) move some of the surface about... Bob Fenner

Clean-up crews Hi Bob, I'd like to get your thoughts on "Clean-up crews". I am a blank slate (don't laugh, finish the sentence) on this subject. It seems to make sense that they would help maintain a tank. The problem is that no matter who you ask, or who's website you visit, their "mix" is the best! Red Legs, Blue legs HELP! If you could prescribe a good mix for a 90 gal tank, I'd really appreciate it. Function is more important, but a brightly colored or interesting critter would obviously be better. A larger variety of species would also be ideal. Thank you once again, Tony >> Thank you for joining this forum... and am just as beguiled as you regarding claims and counter-claims on using various organisms as cleaner uppers for marine systems... Of a certainty there are desirable livestock choices in the way of general to specialized algae eaters, Aiptasia predators, sand sifters/diggers/turner overs... and more... Which are better/best is not just a matter of opinion... but also application. Some of these critters get eaten easily by some types of livestock (variable)... get too big, aren't big enough for a given size system... Getting more specific (in my allotted time/space for these responses...) most snails I couldn't be bothered with... some carry disease, many/most die too easily, polluting water... And Hermit( false) crabs, only a few are of more use than destructive... The most commonly offered red legged crab is a good filamentous helper... and the blue legged "variety" slightly less so... Am a big fan of Mithrax Crabs (when small), and sand sifting stars (not brittle/bristle stars though)... many, many fishes for the job... But, and this is where the message always seems to get truncated, am a much bigger proponent of appropriate design, filtration, circulation, aeration, and maintenance (by aquarists) as means of preventing, controlling system appearance and environmental quality. The/a mix of cleaner uppers for your system will depend on what sort of livestock you intend... and gear... and desires (growing... breeding...?) Bob Fenner

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