Selecting Cleaners for your Aquarium
When setting up your saltwater aquarium, don’t forget to pick out a “clean-up crew” for your tank. Reef cleaners such as crabs, snails, and shrimp are the janitors for your tank. They play a vital role in keeping your tank and fish healthy by removing old food or decomposing materials. There are four very common cleaners that are both hardy and low maintenance making them perfect for almost any tank.
Four Common Reef Cleaners
Peppermint shrimp, cleaner shrimp, and banded coral shrimp are all excellent choices for a clean-up crew. They are hardy reef cleaners that are great sizes for both nano and larger tanks. Not only that, but they are fun to watch as they interact with the fish in your aquarium.
Keep in mind, like most invertebrates, they cannot withstand abnormally high levels of nitrates, copper, and iodine. If you need to treat your fish with a copper bath, it is best to remove them and treat them in a separate tank to protect the health of both your invertebrates and corals.
Dwarf hermit crabs are excellent when it comes to aquarium cleanup. They are inexpensive and typically only grow .25 to .50 inches in length. Unlike snails, they don’t grow their own shell. Instead, they will find an empty shell within the tank so you may find them shell hopping as they grow. If you have an algae problem, they love to snack on hair algae and cyanobacteria.
Perhaps one of the best additions to your tank, snails will work double duty to clean your glass, gravel, and rocks. They come in a variety of species so you can add many different snails to your saltwater tank.
Turbo Snails work great in larger tanks because they can cover a lot of ground. However, due to their large size, you’ll want to make sure rocks are secure or they may cause them to topple over.
Nassarius Snails are excellent cleaners for the sandbed of mature tanks. They will bury themselves within the gravel but you can find them by searching for their siphon tube that will protrude above the sand/gravel.
Conch Snails are unique in appearance with their long elephant-like “trunk” and two beady eyes peeking out of their shell. Because they like to scoot around on the soil and will help keep the sand both clean and aerated. They will do best in mature tanks 55 gallons or larger with lots of gravel for them to forage for food.
Sea cucumbers are another excellent addition to your aquarium’s clean-up crew. They help to filter the water by catching organic food particles. However, do keep in mind that they could potentially poison an aquarium. This would likely only happen if they were sucked into a power pump and suffered lacerations.
Starfish are also great tank cleaners, however, they are more sensitive to changes in alkalinity and water chemistries. For this reason, they may be a better option for the advanced aquarist.
Get Your Saltwater Cleaners Aquatic Dreams in Clearfield, Utah
Research the different cleaners for your aquarium before introducing them to your tank. A good reef cleaner crew will maintain the clean tank between water changes to keep your corals and fish healthy. For more information, contact Aquatic Dreams, your local saltwater fish store in Clearfield, UT. Call for questions at (801) 525-0033.