Re:cleaning crew

Pete Giwojna

Dear Don:

That sounds like the basis of a pretty fair cleanup crew, sir! I would go heavy on the Nassarius snails and try to include a few Astrea snails in your assortment as well. Nassarius snails are terrific detritivores and amazingly active for snails. They’ll bury themselves until they detect the scent of something edible, and then erupt from the sand and charge out to clean it up.

A varied assortment of snails is very desirable because different types of snails have different habits, seek out various microhabitats within the aquarium, and prefer to eat different things. Some are herbivores that feed on microalgae, and some of the herbivorous snails prefer to graze on it from the substrate, others like to to clean it from the rocks, and still others love to scrape algae off the aquarium glass. Furthermore, the different herbivorous snails tend to specialize on different types of microalgae and have definite preferences as to the types of algae they will eat, so it’s important to have a nice variety of snails that cover all the bases in that regard. It’s equally important to include some omnivorous snails in your assortment, which will go after meaty leftovers, along with the vegetarians. And you’ll want to have plenty of detritivores, too, which will feed on detritus and decaying organic matter in the aquarium

For best results, Astrea sp. snails should go in the tank as soon as the ammonia and nitrite levels are down to zero in order to keep nuisance algae from gaining a foothold in your tank. Introduced as soon as possible to a new aquarium, that has reached this cycling phase, Astrea snails effectively limit the development of all microalgae. In other words, they are good at eating diatoms, but will consume red slime and green algae as well.

Keyhole limpets are great but be sure to avoid predatory snails such as tulip snails, horse conchs, crown snails (Melanogena corona), and the venomous cone snails (Conus spp.), which can kill a human with a single sting from their harpoon like radula. Tulip snails, horse conchs, and crown conchs will hunt down and eat the other snails in your cleanup crew, whereas cone snails prey on small fishes in addition to presenting a deadly hazard to the aquarist.

Yeah, the Zebra hermit crabs can develop a taste for escargot and may not be the best choice for you.
The hermit crabs I like best are Paguristes cadenati, so you might consider stocking up on them rather than the zebra hermits. The Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab (Paguristes cadenati) is a colorful micro-hermit that’s a harmless herbivore. So cannibalism isn’t a concern at all for these fellows, nor are they likely to develop a taste for escargot. As hermits go, most of the time the Scarlet Reefs are perfect little gentleman and attractive to boot. I even use them in my dwarf seahorse tanks. Best of all, they eat all kinds of algae, including nuisance algae such as red, green and brown slimes, as well as green hair algae.

I’m a big fan of the micro-stars or ministars, which are really cool little critters! They are tiny brittle starfish with an armspan no bigger than a five-cent piece. Unlike other starfish, these little guys are very active and extremely good climbers. They pull themselves along vigorously arm over her arm much more like an octopus than an ordinary slowpoke sea stacks. They are very interesting and surprisingly fast moving. I would only start out with a couple of them, however, because they reproduce quite quickly when conditions are to their liking.

As a final thought regarding your sanitation engineers, Don, I was talking with Leslie Leddo recently and she highly recommended the GARF cleanup crew. If you want to give them a try, just contact GARF and tell them that you have a new tank you’re setting up for seahorses, and they will put together a cleanup crew for you composed of assorted snails and micro hermits they know are safe for seahorses. The thing Leslie liked about them was that they will customize the cleanup crew for your given tank and conditions. For instance, they would take the fact that you are keeping seahorses into account, as well as whether or not nuisance algae is a problem in your tank, and so on, and then come up with a package of cleaners they feel would be best for your particular needs.

Best of luck gradually stocking your new tank, Don!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

America's Only Seahorse Aqua-Farm and One of Hawaii's Most Popular Attractions

Ocean Rider seahorse farm is a consistent Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Award Winner and "Top 10 Things To Do" Kona, Hawaii attraction. Our "Magical Seahorse Tours" are educational and fun for the whole family.

Tour tickets are available for Purchase On-Line. Space is limited and subject to availability.

small seahorse Ocean Rider, Inc. is an Organic Hawaiian-Based Seahorse Aqua-Farm & Aquarium that Follows Strict Good Farming Practices in Raising Seahorses and Other Aquatic Life.

Seahorse Hawaii Foundation

Inspiring ocean awareness by saving the endangered seahorse and sea dragons around the world from extinction through conservation, research, propagation, and education.

Help us save the seahorse and the coral reefs they live in with a tax deductible contribution to the Seahorse Hawaii Foundation. You will be helping to protect and propagate over 25 species of endangered seahorses, sea dragons and friends.

Make A Tax-Deductible Donation Today!

A Different Kind of Farm (Video) »

Ocean Rider Kona Hawaii

Ocean Rider Kona Hawaii
Seahorse Aqua-Farm & Tours

73-4388 Ilikai Place

Kailua Kona, Hawaii 96740

Map & Directions


Contact Ocean Rider

Copyright ©1999-2023
All Rights Reserved | Ocean Rider Inc.

My Online Order Details

Purchase Policy

Site Terms and Conditions