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Blue Collar Workers: A tribute to the Manual Laborers of Our Aquariums

Welcome back Patty Little to That Fish Blog.

Labor Day in the U.S. is dedicated to the workers and was originally conceived to celebrate the strength and spirit of trades and labor organizations.  I thought it might be nice to recognize some of the laborers that make the microcosm of the home aquarium successful to keep up with the Labor Day spirit.  They may not get a paycheck, but they give it their all.  Since they can’t enjoy a day off and a barbecue (though some of their relatives may be on it), let’s put on a blog parade for the little guys.

Kudos to the parasite cleaners, cleaner wrasses and cleaner shrimp, whose dedicated services are invaluable to the health of other reef citizens.
Mower BlennyThanks to the cucumbers, gobies, burrowing snails, sifting stars, and others who keep the substrate aerated and algae free, and to the Mower blennies, urchins, hermits, snails and tangs, the gardeners of the tank who keep the algae hedges trimmed and the macro algae forests at bay.
Hats off to the pest control squadron, peppermint shrimp, arrow crabs, flat-worm eaters, and others whom Nature intended to keep those pesky little critters in check.
And we can’t forget those who stay in the shadows, the detritivores.  Though not very attractive, and often downright creepy, they are a key element removing and processing the crud (for lack of a better term) that accumulates from the stuff in our tanks.  Amphipods, bristleworms, scavenger stars, snails, and nematodes to name just a few.
The freshwater community may not appear to be quite as complex, yet there are those who deserve a big pat on the dorsal (or maybe a special treat) today.  The upkeep of a freshwater tank can be attributed to some specific characters in the tank.
Give a nod to the ever cleaning algae eaters, From Otos to Apple snails, their work is never done, scouring the glass, the rocks, and the other furniture tirelessly to keep the green monster under control.
Then there are the bottom feeders, the plecos, loaches, catfish whose lowly yet secure positions can only be replaced by the gravel siphon.
Perhaps the biggest honor should go to the dedicated aquarists out there who work hard with endless enthusiasm for their tanks and the creatures within.  Though it is a “hobby”, and the labor involved is sometimes frustrating, exhausting, and messy, it can pay off when you look at your tank in awe.  So thanks to all of you who dedicate your time and energy to your amazing tanks, to help out the little guys inside and reward everyone who you share it with.  Happy Labor Day (Well, one week later)!


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