After cycling and after appearance of algae, it's time to add the Cleanup Crew. This is a crew of invertebrates to help keep your tank clean. Some will eat algae; some will eat detritus; some will actually clean your fish of parasites. They all perform a purpose. Again, this is just a guideline. Choice of characters and researching them I'll leave to you. The inverts have to be acclimated the same as livestock. Again, here is a good acclimation guide:
Try and balance out your crew so you have a broad spectrum of cleanup function.
General recommendations are 1 snail/1-2 gallons. As you add them, remember not to add too many of one kind...you don't want to add 10 snails that eat algae and then no one who eats detritus. Here is an example of a cleanup crew somone used in their 20 gallon:
5 Nassarius Snails
3 Astraea Snails
5 Cerith Snails
1 Turbo Snails
1 Fighting Conch
1 Scarlett Reef Hermit
Astrea--these have sharp, conical shells with circular ridges. They remain small
- they stay small
- great herbivores
- very hardy.
- easy to find at the LFS
- can eat cyanobacteria
- if they fall, they can't right themselves and may die
- can be pray for certain fishes (hawkfish)
Nassarius--These are small snails that burrow in the sand and eat detritus. They
are more scavengers than algae eaters. They are becoming more popular and
receive a lot of good comments from others. By burrowing, they can help to aerate the substrate and help prevent it from concreting.
Turbo--They have black shells and grow to 3".
- Excellent herbivores
- Easy to find at the LFS
- They can knock things over in the tank; rearrange your landscaping
- it is not uncommon for them to die from poor acclimation.
Cerith--small, less than 1" snails with pointed shells, usually covered with coralline algae.
- Good herbivores.
- Hardy and long lived
- reasonable glass cleaners
- Not effective against hair algae
Nerite--small, less than 1" with a rounded shell covered with coralline algae. Sometimes has a stripe or spots
- Good herbivores
- hardy, long lived
- may wander out of the tank
- less common at the LFS
Use caution in selecting the following snails:
- Chestnut Cowries: may pray on soft corals when larger
- Bumble Bee snails: although I have no experience with this snail, I have heard some negative comments about them. Choice is up to you