News / Species Spotlight / Species Spotlight - Cleaning Crews (02/09/17)

Species Spotlight - Cleaning Crews

Species Spotlight - Cleaning Crews
Cleaning crews are essential for managing your aquarium while also reducing your work load. Knowing who does what is an important aspect to make sure your crew is successful. Check out these great suggestions!
The Blue Tuxedo Pincusion Urchin is a great addition to any aquarium for multiple reasons. They got this name due to their formal appearance. Add this urchin to help control coralline algae growth. Be sure there is enough space and food if you plan on adding more than one to an aquarium. They have a very unique way of moving around the aquarium by using a water vascular system. There are water canals through the inside of the urchin that pump water through the madreporite (red eye) and that allows their small tube feet to move around the aquarium. If you see this urchin begin to lose some spines, be sure to check the water parameters because shedding is usually an indicator of poor water quality.
Every aquarium needs snails, so why not the Chestnut Turbo Snail? They are a very important component when creating a balanced reef aquarium. The Chestnut Turbos job is to eat the hair algae, among snails, there arent many that compare to their ability. Chestnut Turbos will do better in aquariums that offer significant rockwork, as this provides the largest amount of room to graze. One snail for every 5 gallons of tank water, is usually ok unless the tank is very lightly stocked, then prescribing fewer of them is a good idea. No special feeding is needed, as typical reef aquarium nutrient loads and illumination will promote the growth of necessary algae for their ongoing nutritional requirements.
The Sandsifting Periscope Olive Snail is a little guy with a big appetite for detritus. Add a group of them to the aquarium and watch for their periscope poking out of the sand while they eat fish waste, detritus and uneaten foods. Do not be too concerned if you do not see this snail all the time because they like to burrow into the sand in search of food. When they burrow into the sand it has the added benefit of turning and aerating the substrate. Since they are known to nibble on other invertebrates, this snail is not considered reef safe. They prefer an established aquarium with live rock and a deep sand bed. Be sure to feed them chunks of frozen meaty foods to help avoid exhausting the sand bed of food, leading to starvation of the snails. Their shell has a striking resemblance to the highly venomous Cone Snail but do not worry because the Olive Snail is not dangerous to the fish or their aquarists.
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 that shell over; smaller snails are especially at risk. The Blue Knuckle hermit crabs are very hardy, but are sensitive to copper.
The Spider Decorator Crab has mastered the art of disguise while assisting in keeping the aquarium floor clean. The Decorator Crab starts off with a very white shell, so for camouflage the crab will cover their body with algae, sponges, shells and coral. This behavior can result in harm to some soft corals, but in large reef aquarium, this act may actually 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. They will scavenge through the aquariums floor for food, but for continued health provide a supplemental diet of meaty foods and algae.
The Halloween Orange Band Crab is an ideal addition into any saltwater aquarium. They will scavenge fish waste, hair 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. 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 that shell over.
The Emerald Crab would make a valuable addition to any aquarium because they will take care of bubble algae problems as well as clean up the live rock. They are reef safe and very easy to take care of, which makes them ideal for beginners. They are very hardy and can with stand harsh conditions, like larger temperature changes or parameters out of their optimal range. The Emerald crab typically stays hidden during the day in small crevices in the rocks and then comes out at night to feed. Their diet consists mostly of organic debris, but still should be supplemented. Provide a meaty diet a couple times a week to help this crab thrive.
The Top Crown Snail will be a great resource for cleaning the glass of algae. It is very adept at keeping your aquarium clean. In fact, this small snail prefers to feed on nuisance hair algae, as well as cyanobacteria and diatoms. The Top Crown Snail will do best in a well-established aquarium with ample hiding places and sufficient room to roam. Keep an eye on these little guys because they have a difficult time righting themselves if they fall or get knocked upside down. Like other invertebrates, they are sensitive to high nitrate levels and will not tolerate copper-based medications. If sufficient food levels are not present, supplement the diet with vegetable-based tablet foods or dried seaweeds.