Native marine aquaria are pretty scarce. Little information exists on how to be successful in maintaining healthy coldwater marine systems in domestic aquaria.

Hopefully this record of my failures, triumphs and ideas will assist others interested in keeping some of our fascinating, beautiful and often little known sea denizens in aquariums.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Clean Up Crew

Converting dead vegetable and animal matter, uneaten food, decaying plants, casualties etc to a soluble form is greatly enhanced by the 'clean up crew'. By eating nuisance algaes, uneaten food etc and passing out excreted waste that is swiftly blasted into a soluble form by the strong circulation, the skimmer is able to swiftly remove unwanted organic matter from the tank.

Snails swiftly convert hair algae to faeces which the skimmer removes. Cushion stars, brittle stars, hermit crabs and netted dog whelks all play an invaluable part in converting detritus, dead matter and insoluble faeces to soluble organic waste for the skimmer to easily remove.

To maintain a healthy natural reef aquarium a clean up crew is indispensible.

Unfortunately many kinds of crab - but especially shore crabs and swimming crabs - as well as Shannies love eating snails and hermit crabs. Therefore I've tried to exclude these creatures from nmy aquarium - although they are tenacious hitchers on live rock!


  1. Yes, the clean-up crew do a great job of the unwanted algae but they will also devour your desireable species too, e.g. they'll make short work of Ulva spp.

  2. Have you found any macroalgal species that are resistant to the 'clean-up crew', i.e. don't get munched out of existence?

  3. Yes, it's always a problem with food-chains - predators or herbivores decimating other species - I've found that a 'seaweed-only' tank with a few anemones dotted around is a good recipe for a quiet life!