Best Clean Up Crew For Reef Aquarium
Over 30 years a lot of things change in the industry but some stuff remians the same. These guys are hands down the best clean up crew members of all time (see below).
Best Aiptasia Control - Peppermint Shrimp - A LOT of people might disagree with this, only because of the fake Peppermint Shrimp that make it into the industry. There are two kinds, Lysmata Wurdemanni are the ones you WANT. L. Wurdemanni, please remember this, are the same on their entire body. They are red and white transparent all the way to the tips of their tails. Probably 85% of places try to pass Lysmata Rathbunae off as Lysmata Wurdemanni. The only visible difference is L. Rathbunae have a more black tail where L. Wurdemanni has NO dark spots on their tail. L. Wurdemanni will usually devour aiptasia.
Nassarius Snails - are pretty worthless lol They do bury themselves in the sand, but don't accomplish enough to do anything useful when it comes to moving enough sand to properly eliminate dead spots. The DO NOT consume all detritus at all only uneaten food, which would eventually be eaten by corals or pods.
Cerith Snails - are one step up from Nassarius snails. Cerith snails come out mainly at night and they also aerate your sandbed and consume uneaten food which prevents it from decomposing, but cerith snails will also go NUTS on algae. The destroy huge algae blooms. I've seen 50 Cerith Snails clear a 200-gallon tank of hair algae in a week.
Bumblebee Snails - Entertaining to look at, but they are picky when it comes to either algae or uneaten food. They seem to stick to mainly uneaten food. These little guys actually consume a huge amount of wasted food for their size. If they aren't fed with more than just leftover food from your fish they WILL turn on other slower moving members of your tank as a food source. The only benefit is they will also consume bristle worms.
Hermit Crabs - We have a strict no pincher policy when it comes to the CUC here. One reason is even if unintentional hermit crabs might irritate more sensitive tank members such as clams, stressing them out to the point they might become a food source. But hermit crabs will not just attack clams. They will only go after ones that are dying or dead.
Margarita, Turbo and Trochus Snails - all fo these snails we steer clear of because they seem to rather selective of the algae they consume and very sensitive to water parameter and temperature changes.
Astrea Snails - The best snails. They have a pallet for nearly anything when it comes to algae and they are the hardiest snail when it comes to being able to tolerate water parameter and temperature changes. They usually work pretty fast as well.
Tongan Fighting Conch - we read in a lot of places these can't be kept together but we have never had a problem with it. These unique creatures are the best CUC member a tank can have. They sift your sand, they move tons of it, and they are usually active around the clock. There is almost nothing these things won't consume. They actually move extremely fast as well. Just 2 of them can completely "vacuum" the substrate of a 180-gallon tank in a single night, it's pretty impressive.
Starfish - the ONLY ones we would even remotely consider are banded serpent stars. The rest can become aggressive or dig under rockwork too much (might topple a foundation) or even begin to attempt to eat your snails and clam at some point. Almost all starfish have a downside to the point we don't recommend any of them for a reef tank.
All in all our perfect cleanup crew would consist of 1 Cerith snail for every 5 gallons of tank, 1 Astrea snail for every 5 gallons of aquarium space and 1 Tongan Fighting Conch for every 50 gallons of aquarium space.