A Guide to Clean-Up Crews

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Liz

AC Members
Mar 25, 2005
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I think there should be a sticky on clean-up crews. I've read several threads talking about various snails and crabs and such, but I think there should be a simple compilation list of clean-up crew members and their individual roles, a simple reference to aid anyone who needs help on deciding which to purchase.

So far I have collective info on various organisms and what uses they serve, feel free to correct me or add:

SNAILS

All need to have an established tank (sg 1.021-1.026) with possible supplements of Calcium and proper pH and kh in order to use calcium. They are highly sensitive to copper-based meds- never ever use one in your tank! In a full reef I'd recommend as many as 1 snail per gallon to control algal growth.
Turbo
*hair algae

Astrea
*cleans glass
*green, brown film algae

Trochus
*cleans glass
*stirs sand
*Variety of algae

Nerite
*cleans glass
*suggested for refugiums

Nassarius
*stirs sand
*detritus

Cerith
*stirs sand
*film algae
*diatoms
*cyanobacteria
*detritus
*hair algae (? I've found conflicting info)

Margarita
*not suggested, will die at tropical temperatures

CRABS
Also require sg from 1.021-1.026. They are sensitive to copper also and you must provide the hermits with spare shells or they'll kill your snails.
Hermits
Red-Legged
*detritus
*”best” algae eater
*hair algae
*cyanobacteria

Bue-Legged
*detritus
*hair algae
*cyanobacteria
*comparatively bad temperament

Others
Emerald
*bubble algae
*hair algae
*generally herbivore

Sally Lightfoot
*micro & macro algae

STARFISH
Are great detrivores and sand-cleaners, all need adequate hiding places and no aggressive critters! They are very sensitive to copper and nitrates.
Serpent
*detritus
*left over food
*dead fish

Sand-Sifting
*stirs sand
*detritus
*infaunal organisms

CUCUMBERS
Are great detrivores and sand-cleaners but are most all toxic, so you have to make sure there are no aggressive fish in your tank or they'll eviscerate themselves, in which case the toxic guts or bronchial area will rapidly foul your tank. They are very sensitive to copper and nitrates.
Sand-Dwelling
*detritus
*infaunal organisms
 

bigb1112

AC Members
Dec 17, 2006
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I have a sufficient clean up crew, but i have dead brown algea on my sand and nothing seems to eat it. What should i do?
 

TrevDizzle

AC Members
Aug 1, 2006
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Dead Clean-up Crew

I bought about 5 snails and some hermits, within about 4 months after tank was cycled they had all died. What would be the cause of this. My ammonia and nitrite levels are 0 ppm and my nitrate is above 40, which I understand is way to high. I have a 55-gal tank with a Coralife Super Skimmer. Could the cause of death possibly be due to low calcium levels. Any advice welcomed.
Thank you!
 

Moonshadow

Registered Member
Jan 1, 2007
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Michigan
bigb1112 said:
I have a sufficient clean up crew, but i have dead brown algea on my sand and nothing seems to eat it. What should i do?
I have used a toothbrush to remove the dead algae. It seems to work well but you have to be careful on some of the rock so that you don't harm the critters living there.
 

Catch23

AC Members
Dec 26, 2006
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compatibility

I think this is a great thread; I thought I would add my $0.02:

I dropped in 2 cerith snails to a band of red-legged hermits and within minutes, one of the hermits quickly preyed upon the snail...ate him and stole his shell.

I have several shells in the tank and the hermits shouldn't be that hungry. They have never done this to any of my other snails.

Guess the hermit really liked the way the shell looked (and felt)? Maybe I should have expected this, since these hermits were already wearing a cerith snail's shell to begin with?

Good thing a cerith snail only costed me $2.
 
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VanQvreef

AC Members
Jan 20, 2007
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Vancouver
urchin algae mowing machine!

I was always against adding urchins to the tank as I thought they were boring and ugly. Well, I changed my mind and my favorite denizen is now my ORANGE, Purple, and deep green urchin who is cleaning the algae from my rocks quicker than my 4 turbo snails, 2 emerald crabs, 2 blue legged hermits and one red hermit combined over the past 2 2weeks..
But the urchin does seem to put out a lot of waste as he tears through my algae.
Have a 30gal cube only 6weeks old. The algae in the picture with the clown and crab has vanished in the past week since I got my urchin.

Urchin 2.jpg Urchin maroon gold clown emerald crab.jpg
 
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