News / Species Spotlight / Species Spotlight - Invertebrates "Clean up Crews" (09/01/16)

Species Spotlight - Invertebrates "Clean up Crews"

Species Spotlight - Invertebrates "Clean up Crews"

Clean up Crews are essential for keeping your aquarium clean and reducing the need for manual cleaning maintenance. However, providing a wide variety of choices can be just as important, especially in retail. Check out these unusual crew members and their fun facts! Remember invertebrates are sensitive to copper and high nitrates, so use caution when acclimating.

The Blue Knuckle Hermit Crab is an ideal addition into any saltwater aquarium. They will scavenge fish waste, algae, cyanobacteria and detritus that has deposited on the live rock and substrate. Not only do they eat the aquariums waste but they will also turn the sand, which in return aerates it. These little guys can find their way into even the smallest of spaces. Like all hermit crabs they make their home in empty snail shells, be sure to have an array of empty shells available for them to move into when they grow. They will also take housing matters into their own pincers by occasionally eating a snail and taking over that shell, smaller snails are especially at risk.

The Assorted Trapezia Crab is a great addition to an Acropora or SPS Reef aquarium. This crab creates a symbiotic relationship with Acropora corals where they both benefit. The crab feeds on the corals mucus and detritus, while protecting the coral in return from predators. Since the crabs constantly clean and defend their hosts, those corals have a higher chance of survival and stronger growth. They will need to host a SPS coral to survive, which is important to remember. Their main diet will consist of food surrounding the corals, however, if that becomes scarce supplement their diet with small frozen meaty foods.

The Decorator Arrow Crab has mastered the art of disguise while still keeping the aquarium floor clean. This crab looks like a cross between a spider crab and arrow crab. For camouflage the crab will use spit they produce to cover their body with algae, sponges, shells and coral. This act to blend in can harm some soft corals, but if they are in large reef aquariums this act may assist in propagation (reproduction) of corals. They will then molt out of that shell when it is time for them to grow then will recycle some of their decorations. This crab is very hardy and can be long lived if properly cared for. They will scavenge through the aquariums floor, but for continued health provide a diet of meaty foods.