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The reef tank: What makes up a clean-up crew?

11 October 2016
All tropical reef tank aquariums need essential cleaners, by this we mean sea creatures that are actually known as a ‘clean-up crew’. A clean-up crew will remove nuisance algae and dirt that builds up over time from excess waste and pests.  Providing your reef tank with a good clean-up crew will not only leave your reef tank looking clean but it will ensure healthy, happy fish and corals. Read below for information on what types of critters make up a good clean-up crew:

dwarf hermit crab

Dwarf Hermit Crab
A dwarf hermit crab is a common critter to have as part of your tropical reef tank’s clean-up crew because they tend to be very useful in keeping the nuisance algae and uneaten excess food under  control.  There are different species of dwarf hermit crabs but they are all considered suitable cleaners. 

Emerald Crab

Emerald Crab 
The emerald crab hides in rocks, caves and coves during the day and scavenges at night on nuisance algae’s and any meaty food waste. If there is not enough for the Emerald crab to feed on, it could turn to feed on corals, small fish, good algae, invertebrates and coralline. To avoid this from happening you could supplement the food in the tank by providing dried seaweed and shrimp. 

Peppermint Shrimp

Peppermint Shrimp
If your reef tank is experiencing an Apatasia nuisance, the Peppermint shrimp will be good to have as part of your clean-up crew as they are known to eat Aiptasia where other clean-up critters do not.  When you first introduce a Peppermint shrimp to the reef tank it will be quite shy and hide away in the rocks but in time it will venture out to feed. Apart from Aiptasia they also feed on decomposed scraps and debris. 

Turbo Snail

Snails and Turbo Snails
Snails are natural grazers that move between rocks and glass. Snails are particularly good for consuming large hair algae, Turbo snails are seen to be even better for this because they are larger and consume more. Supplementary food like dried seaweed is also good for them.  

Sand Sifting starfish

Sand-Sifting Star Fish
The sand-sifting star fish are commonly used as part of a clean-up crew if you have a sea-bed of sand. They are very useful for keeping the sand clean by consuming all food debris and turning over the sand bed. However it is important that your sand-bed is healthy in the first place and the water quality is good, else the starfish could decompose to the detriment. 

Cleaner Shrimp

Cleaner Shrimp

A cleaner shrimp is particularly good to have in a reef tank because it cleans parasites off the fish. Not only do the fish benefit from this but the cleaner shrimp gains nutritional value. Having more than one cleaner shrimp is ideal when you have a lot of fish and a lot of parasites. You will find that cleaner shrimps have a lot of character, they congregate cleaning stations.

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