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Contains articles featuring information, advice or answering questions regarding saltwater aquariums, livestock or equipment.

Keeping Finding Dory Characters in the Home Aquarium

The saltwater aquarium hobby has seen huge blooms after the release of Disney’s “Finding Nemo” in 2003 and again with “Finding Dory” in 2016. Many movie-goers want to take a real live Nemo or Dory home for their own aquarium but don’t realize what that actually involves. So, what do you need to take your favorite animated fish home without becoming a Darla?

© 2016 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

© 2016 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

© 2003 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

© 2003 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The fish and other sea creatures featured in these movies are, first and foremost, saltwater animals. That means they need a saltwater aquarium. This isn’t as easy as putting some table salt in your home aquarium. The water has to be mixed to the correct levels (Specific Gravity 1.020-1.024) in a separate container before being added to the aquarium. Most of these creatures are also tropical, which means the tank needs a heater to maintain warm water temperatures (75-80 degrees F). The décor of saltwater tanks is usually different than freshwater as well; unfortunately, ornaments like Mount Wannahockaloogie just don’t work very well in saltwater aquariums. Most saltwater aquariums use natural crushed coral substrates and live rock although non-animated decorative ornaments are usually safe. For more information of basic aquarium care, visit our Saltwater Aquarium Basics Guide.
So what about the fish and other animals? Some of the movies’ characters are obviously impossible and even illegal to keep in home aquariums. Others are very difficult while some are very common and easy for hobbyists to care for. We are only going to discuss those characters here that are within the scope of our hobby.
( ❶ “Finding Nemo”, ❷ “Finding Dory”)

 

Hippo Tang (Paracanthus hepatus)

Hippo Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus)

“Dory” and her parents: Hippo Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) ❶ ❷

Max Size: 12”
Minimum Tank Size: 150 gallons
Difficulty: Moderate
The Hippo Tang is a fairly delicate fish with a weak immune system. They also grow too large for many aquariums. Although tempting, only experienced aquarists with larger, established aquariums should attempt this fish. Like other tangs, Hippo Tang can become very territorial and only one should be kept per tank.

For more information on keeping Hippo Tangs, visit our Tangs & Surgeonfish Care Guide. 

“Nemo” and “Marlin”: Clownfish (probably Amphiprion ocellaris) ❶ ❷

Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)

Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)

Max size: 4”
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Difficulty: Easy
We could debate about exactly which kind of clownfish are featured in these movies, but they are probably Ocellaris Clownfish. Percula Clownfish are also very similar in care and appearance (they just develop thicker black margins). Clownfish like these are some of the easiest saltwater fish to keep and can be kept in much smaller aquariums than many of their costars. Captive-bred fish are much hardier and better for the environement than their wild counterparts. Their anemone home is much more delicate however and has some much more intensive requirements. Most clownfish – especially captive-bred – don’t need an anemone to be happy and healthy.

For more information on keeping Clownfish, visit our Clownfish Care Guide and Clownfish and Anemone Preference Guide.

 

Common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris)

Common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris)

“Hank”: Octopus (Octopus sp.)

Max Size: Depends on species
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons for small species
Difficulty: High
Octopus are very specialized and difficult to care for and need a specially built aquarium to keep them from escaping like Hank so often does in “Finding Dory”. They will also eat almost any tankmates they are kept with. Only expert aquarists should attempt an octopus.

 

“Gill”: Moorish Idol (Zanclus canescens)

Moorish Idol (Zanclus canescens)

Moorish Idol (Zanclus canescens)

Max Size: 7”
Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons
Difficulty: High
Although not as delicate now as they were even when “Finding Nemo” was first released, Moorish Idols are still difficult to maintain for long. It is difficult to keep these fish healthy through collection and it can be tricky to get them to eat in home aquariums. It is best to stick with hardier lookalikes like the Longfin Bannerfish (Heniochus sp.) for new or novice aquarists.

 

Porcupine Puffer (Diadon holocanthus)

Porcupine Puffer (Diadon holocanthus)

“Bloat”: Porcupine Puffer (Diodon holocanthus)

Max Size: 20”
Minimum Tank Size: 200 gallons
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Although these puffers are usually only a few inches in length when they are sold for aquariums, they can grow to almost 2 feet long! Puffers also have very strong beak-like teeth and can crush through shells. Unfortunately, most of his tankmates in Dr. Sherman’s office wouldn’t have survived being kept with a puffer. Puffers “blow up” as a stress reaction and, while comical to us, this is very stressful and even dangerous to the puffer and should NEVER be provoked for any pufferfish.

 

“Peach”: Starfish

Red Knobbed Starfish (Protoreaster lincki)

Red Knobbed Starfish (Protoreaster lincki)

Max Size: Depends on species
Minimum Tank Size: Depends on species
Difficulty: usually Easy
It is difficult to tell exactly what kind of starfish Peach is but most of the thick-bodied starfish like her are fairly easy. However, most of these also eat snails and other inverts so use caution when choosing your starfish and its tankmates. They are sensitive to water quality and changes in water quality so make sure the tank stays clean and stable.

 

Royal Gramma Basslet (Gramma loreto)

Royal Gramma Basslet (Gramma loreto)

“Gurgle”: Royal Gramma Basslet (Gramma loreto)

Max Size: 4”
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Difficulty: Easy
Royal Grammas are colorful fish found in the Caribbean and western Atlantic Ocean, unlike the Pacific homes of most of the other fish in the movies. They are hardy and easy to keep, but can be territorial. Only keep one basslet in the aquarium unless it is very large with lots of rockwork.

 

“Bubbles”: Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)

Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)

Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)

Max Size: 8”
Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons
Difficulty: Easy
Yellow Tangs like Bubbles were some of the first to be kept by home aquarists and are still some of the most popular. They are hardier than tangs like the “Dory” Hippo Tang but are also more aggressive. Once they establish a territory, they will not tolerate other tangs – or possibly even any other fish – entering it. Only keep in a large tank without any other closely-related tangs or closely-colored fish.

 

4-stripe Damsel (Dascyllus melanurus)

4-stripe Damsel (Dascyllus melanurus)

“Deb”: 4-stripe Damsel (Dascyllus melanurus)

Max Size: 3”
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Difficulty: Easy
Damsels like Deb are some of the hardiest and easiest saltwater fish to keep. They are usually recommended as the first fish for any saltwater hobbyists to attempt. Most damsels can get very territorial however so make sure the tank isn’t overcrowded and there is plenty of territory for these fish. The 4-stripe Damsel specifically is one of the milder-tempered of all damselfish.

 

“Jacques”: Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)

Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)

Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)

Max Size: 3”
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Difficulty: Easy
Like Jacques, shrimp like these will clean parasites and dead scales off of other fish, but they will also eat almost any other food they are given. They are some of the easiest shrimp to keep but, like the starfish, need stable and pristine water quality. Shrimp molt their shell to grow so it is common to find an empty shell every now and then. Don’t keep with predatory fish (like pufferfish, for example) as shrimp are often easy prey.

 

Seahorse (Hippocampus sp.)

Seahorse (Hippocampus sp.)

“Sheldon”: Seahorse (Hippocampus sp.) ❶❷

Max Size: Depends on species
Minimum Tank Size: at least 30 gallons for most species
Difficulty: Moderate to High
Seahorses are easy now than years ago and captive-bred seahorses are becoming more and more available. They are still very delicate though and keeping them with any other tankmates is difficult. It is best to keep them in a seahorse-only tank and by advanced aquarists only.

 

“Tad”: Yellow Longnose Butterfly (Forcipiger flavissimus) ❶❷

Yellow Longnose Butterfly (Forcipiger flavissimus)

Yellow Longnose Butterfly (Forcipiger flavissimus)

Max Size: 9:
Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons
Difficulty: Moderate
Because of their very thin “beaks”, it can be difficult to get these fish to eat in home aquariums. They need small food items at least once or twice a day. They may also eat some corals as well as the tubed feet from starfish and sea urchins.

 
These characters are just a few of the sea creatures that Disney’s revolutionary “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory” franchises have brought to the forefront of the both the aquarium hobby and pop culture, but they are the most suitable for aquarium life. If you choose to bring any of these movie stars into your home, choose carefully so you can give them the best home possible. Remember, as Bruce and his crew have taught us, “Fish are friends”!
© “Finding Nemo”, “Finding Dory” and all the characters within are created by and property of The Walt Disney Company.

Dave’s Bucket list and the Great Barrier Reef

School of Yellow and Blueback FusilierDave here. Most of you have heard of making a “bucket list”, a list of things that you feel you have to do before you die to make your life complete.  Well, I am far too disorganized to have much of a list, but one thing that I would have had on by bucket list if I were to have made one, I have been lucky enough to do:  Diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

Maxima ClamI just got back from a long awaited vacation to Australia, part of which I spent in Northern Queensland, where I was able to make a couple of visits to the outer reefs for some amazing diving and snorkeling fun.  Having been born in Australia, and still being an Australian citizen, there are questions that I have been asked all my life from friends and acquaintances. Have you ever seen a Kangaroo? Have you ever held a Koala Bear? What the heck is Vegamite?  Yes, I have seen a Kangaroo, and held a Koala, and Vegamite is an Aussie thing that defies description, if you know, you know.  The question that I have been asked a million times over the years that I have always had to answer “NO” to, I can finally answer “YES” to. YES, I have been diving on the Great Barrier Reef.  I have been a certified diver for 16 years, and ever since I began thinking about diving, the Barrier Reef has always been one of my target sites.

Tomato Clown in host anemone The reef was everything that I had hoped it would be, truly amazing.  I have done many interesting dives, mostly wreck diving in the Carolinas, and some diving in Florida and the Caribbean.  It just does not compare. The shear size of the Barrier Reef is overwhelming, you could spend a lifetime exploring, and still only see a small portion of it.   The pictures that are posted in the blog are from my trip out to the Agincourt Reef System, which is a portion of the outer Great Barrier Reef system about 40 miles off shore out of Port Douglas, Queensland

You could tell that I was the only reef geek on the dive boat.  While most of the divers on my boat were hoping to see a shark, or a turtle, or maybe a migrating whale (don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to experienced a dive with a whale), I spent most of my time in shallow water, looking in all the nooks and crannies, taking pictures of “nothing” as I heard someone say.  The diversity was amazing, and some of what I saw was quite surprising to me.  There were huge colonies of brown Sarcophyton and Lobophytum leather corals, growing very near the surface, and large colonies of White Pom Pom Xenia on the outer reef.

Fromia sp. starfishA couple of the things in particular that I was looking forward to seeing were some wild Clownfish, and Giant Clams, neither of which I have had the opportunity to see here in the Atlantic.  The reef delivered big time.  I saw some massive T. gigas clams that had to have been at least 4′ long, as well as T. maxima, T. crocea and T. squamosa.  Some of the clams were in fairly deep water, one of the T. gigas that I saw was in about 50 feet of water.

Clownfish litter the reef, wherever their host anemones can gain a foothold.  Common to many of the large coral boulders were clusters of Green Bubble Tip Anemones (E. quadricolor), which hosted mostly Clark’s (A. clarkii) clownfish, and also some Cinnamon (A. melanopus) clowns.  There were also quite a few spots where what I believe were Long-tentacle (M. doorensis) Anemones hosting mostly Clark’s and a few Maroon (P. biaculateus).  The most spectacular anemones that I saw were a few bright blue and purple colored Magnificent or Ritteri (Heteractis magnifica) Anemones hosting Pink Skunk Clowns (A. perideraion).  There were others that I caught glimpses of, but I was not sure of the species.

Soft Corals as far as the eye can seeThe large schools of fish that dart about the reef are equally impressive, one of the more brilliant schools that I saw was one of hundreds of Yellow and Blueback Fusilier (Caesio teres), which are quite common to the reef.  Also seen on the reef were large schools of Green Chromis that dart in and out of the reef formations as they sense danger.

I hope you enjoy the pictures from my visit.  I think that this experience needs to appear on my list a few more times, as once was definitely not enough.

You may check out lots more underwater pictures I took of the GBR at the That Fish Place Facebook page.

Until Next time,

Dave

Popular Pistol Shrimp for Home Aquariums

 

Like their fellow hitchhiker-turned-aquarium-stars, the Mantis Shrimp, Pistol Shrimp are coming into their own as popular aquarium additions. Unlike the Mantis Shrimp, most Pistol Shrimp can actually be kept with other tankmates.  They may even form bonds with some tankmates like Shrimpgobies that can be fascinating and entertaining to watch. Here are a few species of popular Pistol Shrimp for home aquariums.

Pistol shrimp get their name from the loud popping sound they can make by quickly opening or closing their specially adapted claws. This is used as a defense mechanism to frighten off would-be predators and, unlike the Mantis Shrimp they are sometimes confused with, they are harmless to most tankmates. They can be kept with most fish that will not prey on them but should not be kept with some other crustaceans, especially small shrimp or lobsters.

Tiger Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus bellulus)

Tiger Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus bellulus)

Tiger Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus bellulus)

The Tiger Pistol Shrimp is one of the most common and most popular pistol shrimp. It’s one of the species we get in to our store most often. These shrimp aren’t as striped as one would expect from a “Tiger” Pistol Shrimp but has a mottled, vaguely striped coloration in shades of tan, cream and reddish brown. The legs are striped and its claws have dark bands like the rubber bands on the claws of a lobster at a seafood restaurant. These pistols are true commensal species and may bond with any shrimpgobies – genus Cryptocentrus, Amblyeleotris, Stonogobiops and others. This species can grow up to about three inches in length and is one of the larger pistols.

 

Randall's Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus randalli)

Randall’s Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus randalli)

Randall’s Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus randalli)

The Randall’s Pistol Shrimp is also known as the “Candy Cane” or “Red-banded Pistol Shrimp” and is one of the other species that we get in most often. While the Tiger Pistol Shrimp has a more mottled pattern, the Randall’s Pistol has more solid bright red and white stripes over a somewhat translucent body. The body and legs may be yellow – sometimes bright yellow – in some shrimp. This pistol shrimp only grows to about an inch and a half in length but, like the Tiger Pistol, isn’t too picky about which shrimpgoby it forms a pair with. It is better for smaller nano-reefs than the Tiger Pistol Shrimp.

 

Red Caribbean Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus sp.)

Red Caribbean Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus sp.)

Red Caribbean Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus sp.)

These pistol shrimp aren’t usually identified down to the exact species since several different species are almost identical. All are red with white markings, some with purple accents or banded antennas. However, these shrimp don’t usually pair with shrimpgobies. Instead, they form a relationship with the Curlycue Anemone (Bartholomea annulata), a common Caribbean anemone with long spiraling tentacles.

 

 

 

Green Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus euphrosyne)

Green Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus euphrosyne)

Green Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus euphrosyne)

The Green Pistol Shrimp is one of the more understated species. These shrimp have a brownish, olive green color more suited to the environment where they live. Rather than the rocky coral reefs of many others, the Green Pistol is found in muddy estuaries at the mouths of rivers, usually in full saltwater but some can tolerate the more brackish waters closer to the bays and mouths of the rivers. These shrimp are best kept in tanks with deeper, finer substrate closer to the muddy bottoms they have come from.

 

 

Pocillopora Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus lottini)

Pocillopora Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus lottini)

Pocillopora Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus lottini)

Pocillopora Pistol Shrimp are fascinating and rare pistols with a different modus operandi than other pistols. Like its common name suggests, these shrimp live within Pocillopora colonies. They will sometimes live alongside other coral-dwellers like Trapezia crabs where they may even work together to fend off attacks from coral-eating starfish like Cushion Stars or Crown Of Thorn Stars. They stay fairly small, usually well under two inches, and can vary in color. Most are yellow-orange with purple markings like speckles or a stripe down their back. Some of these may be regional variations, others may be subspecies.

Bullseye Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus soror)

Bullseye Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus soror)

Bullseye Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus soror)

The Bullseye Pistol Shrimp is one of the most stunning in appearance. The body is bright yellow-orange and the claws, legs and antennae are bright purple. Although they are also sometimes known as “Michael’s Pistol Shrimp”, the name Bullseye Pistol Shrimp comes from the white-ringed black spot on the middle of each side. This pistol shrimp is another that doesn’t usually form a bond with shrimpgobies. Some may share a burrow with some shrimpgobies, but they aren’t as reliant on the bond as other pistol shrimp and will often live on their own without a goby and may leave a pair at any time. This species also tends to be more active and will venture further from home and more into the open than others.

 

 


These species are just some of the more common to enter the aquarium hobby. Others are sometimes available as well and each have their own unique behaviors and appearances but all can make for fascinating additions to a saltwater aquarium!

Mantis Shrimp: Popular Varieties Beyond The Peacock Mantis

Skyrocketing in popularity over the past few years, Mantis Shrimp have gone from nuisance invaders to a specialty aquarium niche all their own (and a new superstar among viral animal posts thanks to comedic websites like The Oatmeal and zefrank’s YouTube videos). By far, the most popular of these crustaceans is the Peacock Mantis Shrimp, Odontodactylus scyllarus, but there are many other species that are just as fascinating and deserving of attention. We’ve featured mantis shrimp in general in several previous blogs; in this entry, we’ll investigate some of those other mantis shrimp that you may not hear about or see as much in media.

Gonodactylus smithii Image © 2005 Roy Caldwell

Gonodactylus smithii
Image © 2005 Roy Caldwell

Smith’s Mantis Shrimp, Gonodactylus smithii
Its name may not be too familiar, but this mantis is one of the most photographed species due to its trademark meral spot. As you may remember your mantis shrimp anatomy from our other posts, the “meral spot” is a pair of false eyespots on the mantis’s raptoral appendages (the gonna-hurt-you limbs). If you held your arms in front of you, the meral spots would be on the inner sides of your elbows. The Smith’s Mantis Shrimp is well known for these spots because they are some of the most easily-identifiable: bright purple with a defined white outline. They give the Smith’s Mantis Shrimp its other common name, the Purple-spotted Mantis Shrimp. The body color of the Smith’s Mantis Shrimp is otherwise pretty similar to the Peacock Mantis, often bright blue-green and sometimes with red trim to each body segment. This species is a “smasher” and while it isn’t available as often as some other species, it is very sought-after by collectors when it is.

 

Chiragra Mantis Shrimp: male (top) and female (bottom)

Chiragra Mantis Shrimp: male (top) and female (bottom)

Chiragra Mantis Shrimp, Gonodactylus chiragra
This is one of the most common mantis shrimp that we receive at our store and is one of the best suited for aquarium life. It is the largest of the Gonodactylus genus of “smashers” but still only reaches about four inches in length. Unlike many other species, it is pretty easy to tell the difference between males and females. Male Chiragra Mantis Shrimp are usually blue-green in color while females are a mottled tan and cream. Both genders have a white meral spot that is far less obvious than the Smith’s. The most distinctive feature of this species regardless of gender is the light-colored sprinkles on the front corners of the carapace in the same place as the Peacock Mantis’s distinctive leopard spots.

 

Ciliata Mantis Shrimp and its checkerboard eyes

Ciliata Mantis Shrimp and its checkerboard eyes

Ciliata Mantis Shrimp, Pseudosquilla ciliata

This is one of my favorites. Not only is it a “spearer” when most of the more common species are “smashers” but they have one of the coolest defining traits…checkerboard eyes. All mantis shrimp have extremely complex eyes and three different “sections” can be seen on most of them. The Ciliata Mantis Shrimp also has vertical lines overlaying the horizontal segments so their eyes, if you can get close enough to see it, have a checkerboard-like plaid pattern on them. Most of the Ciliata Mantis Shrimp you’ll see in the aquarium trade are green or yellow but their color and even pattern can change every time they molt depending on their environment and the lighting.

 

Zebra Mantis Shrimp, Lysiosquilla maculata

Zebra Mantis Shrimp, Lysiosquilla maculate

Zebra Mantis Shrimp, Lysiosquillina maculata
It is easy to see where the Zebra Mantis Shrimp gets its name. It has alternating black and cream-colored stripes. It also has white speckled antennal scales and eyes. However, it is unique in that, like the Ciliata Mantis, the Zebra Mantis is a “spearer”. Rather than hiding in rockwork caves like most “smashers”, these mantis shrimp will build deep burrows in the sand or substrate, reinforced with mucus, where they wait to ambush their prey. This species also has the distinction of being the largest of all mantis shrimp. While most of the Zebra Mantis Shrimp that you’ll find available to aquarists aren’t much larger than any other species available yet, they can grow to over fifteen inches in length!

 

 

**A species to avoid: Gonodactylaceus ternatensis
Several mantis shrimp with bright orange meral spots are also sometimes available. Two of these, Gonodactylaceus glabrous and Gonodactylaceus graphurus are almost identical and can be hardy, fun mantis shrimp to keep. A third, Gonodactylaceus ternatensis, is a less suitable choice. When small, this mantis shrimp looks like a juvenile Peacock Mantis but is often found living within coral heads. To collect it, the heads are often broken and destroyed. With all of the other species available, please avoid G. ternatensis and stick with the species collected with safer, less destructive methods!

 


 

These are just a few of the more common mantis shrimp other than a Peacock Mantis Shrimp but there are many other species that become available from time to time. So, don’t limit yourself if you are brave enough to head down the road to try these cool creatures!

 

Aquarium Clean-Up Crew: How Many Snails Do You Need?

Hiring staff for any job can be tricky. You need to make sure you have the right number of qualified employees to handle the job, not just a lot of employees on your payroll that eat into your bottom line or ignore the job you’ve given them. Choosing a clean-up crew for your saltwater aquarium is similar; you need to make sure you have the right snails and crabs and other cleaners for the tank without too many that can deplete your resources or just not even do the “right” work at all. “How many snails do I need?” is only part of the question; making sure you are getting the ones best suited to the job is just as important.

 

 

The White-speckled Hermit Crab. Cute, but NOT an algae eater!

The White-speckled Hermit Crab. Cute, but NOT an algae eater!

Job Description and Qualifications

 

Hiring an employee without knowing their qualifications or describing the job doesn’t make much sense, whether it is renovations on your home or clean-up within your aquarium. Not all snails eat algae. Not all snails that eat algae eat the same kind of algae. Not all “algae” is even algae at all. And snails may not even be the best (or only) cleaners for the job; “detritivores” that eat the leftover food and waste (“detritus”) are also necessary for keeping a tank clean and healthy. The first step to choosing a clean-up crew is to identify what the problem is that you’d like them to help you solve. Algae is normal in any aquarium and having a basic clean-up and scavenger crew is a good idea but beyond that, if you have a specific problem like a cyanobacteria bloom, hair algae, green water or other issues, you may need a solution beyond a few snails. You may be seeing a symptom of a larger problem like poor water flow or lighting quality and unless that problem is addressed, it will keep coming back no matter how many snails or other clean-up crews you throw at it.

 

What are the working conditions?

 

It takes a different kind of person to paint the walls of a house than it does to paint the cables at the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. It also takes a different kind of critter to clean up a nano-reef than it does a rock-filled bare-bottom aquarium or a deep sand bed. Some hermit crabs can have difficulty reaching into small crevices and some snails can’t flip themselves over if they tumble off of the glass or rockwork. Some snails, starfish and other animals popular in aquariums also eat other snails or invertebrates and corals. Are the animals you are choosing suitable for the environment you have?

 

It’s all in the job security

Some of the most popular saltwater clean-up crew snails

Some of the most popular saltwater clean-up crew snails

Contrary to popular belief, snails and hermit crabs are not disposable or short-lived or robotic lawnmowers that feed on nothing but salt and sunlight. If they have plenty of food and proper care, they can live for a long time. If they run out of the right food, they won’t survive so overloading a tank with cleaners to keep it spotless is only going to end up with losses. When snails and other cleaners die and decompose, they affect water quality. When water quality goes down, algae will bloom. When algae blooms, you’ll need to add more cleaners. Starting to see where this cycle goes wrong? Avoid the urge to overload on a massive cleanup crew and start with a basic foundation. Once you can observe where they need the help, supplement with some helpers for that purpose (like aerating the substrate, cleaning the glass, targeting hair algae or other trouble areas).

 

The magic number is…

 

Just like the old “inch-per-gallon” rule that is still floating around for fish, there are some stocking guidelines for clean-up crews. Some of the most common include a snail per gallon or a hermit crab per five gallons but again, this only works if that snail or hermit crab is suitable. To help you out in making some selections, we have basic Algae Packs with recommended tank sizes. You can start with the one closest to your tank size and give it some time. You can always supplement later or get a specialty algae pack to target a specific need like detritus or hair and buble algae. Remember, hiring is always an ongoing process!

 

You're hired!

You’re hired!