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FAQs about Marine Scavenger Rationale/Use

Related FAQs: Marine Scavengers 1, Marine Scavengers 2, Marine Scavengers 3, Sand Sifters, Sea CucumbersShrimp Gobies, Sifter Gobies Marine Algae EatersHermit Crabs, & FAQs on Scavenger: CompatibilitySpecimen Selection, Clean Up "Crews"Worms As  Scavengers, Snail Scavengers, Shrimp Scavengers, Hermit Scavengers, Crab Scavengers, Cucumber Scavengers, Sea Urchin Scavengers, Serpent Star Scavengers, Seastar Scavengers, Fish/Groups as Scavengers, Losses/Troubleshooting,

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


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>

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>

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

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>

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 ½ 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 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>

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 Blueleg 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>

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>> 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 Revinski >> 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

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

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>

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>

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>

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 star fish 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>

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>

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>

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>

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 waste Thanks 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>

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>

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> 

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