The Top 5 Clean Up Crew Critters for Your Reef Tank
Keeping your reef tank detritus and algae under control is an ongoing process. To help ease the burden, use a crew of clean up critters. Certain starfish, snails, crabs and shrimps can help keep your tank clean and healthy. Choosing which clean up crew critters can be a difficult decision, so to help make the choices easier we present our list of the Top 5 Clean Up Crew Critters for your Reef Tank!
Sand Sifting Stars:
These guys will burrow down into your sand bed and eat the detritus that has collected there. As they move through the sand, they break it up and keep it from becoming compacted. This allows your other filtration (ie; carbon, protein skimmers) to do their job better. The only downside is that once you place them in your tank, you will rarely, if ever, see them again once they are buried in the sand.
There are many types of snails available for your reef tank that specialize in one cleaning task or another, but the Cerith Snail is the Swiss Army Knife of the clean up crew. These multi-tasking snails will sift sand, eat detritus, eat algae, eat left over food and will even eat fish waste. This impressive skill set makes Cerith Snails a must have for your reef tank!
Red Leg Hermit Crabs:
An army of Red Leg Hermit Crabs scurrying about on your reef is a sure fire way to control detritus and left over food. More peaceful than their Blue Legged compadres, the Red Leg Hermit Crab is an excellent candidate for a reef clean up crew.
These green reef janitors specialize in eating valonia (bubble algae) and some are known to also graze on green hair algae. Several of these in your reef will help control both types of undesirable algae, and as a bonus, they also like to eat detritus and left over meaty food chunks. They can exhibit aggression towards smaller and slower fish in the reef, so keep an eye on them in your reef.
While there are several varieties of shrimps available for your clean up crew, we choose the Peppermint shrimp because of it's appetite for Aiptasia! A couple of these red and white striped janitors in your reef can help keep the dreaded glass anemones under control without the use of harsh chemicals and repeated injections. As a bonus, they will eat left over food, and they are very entertaining to watch as they move around your reef!