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Old 07-17-2003, 09:05 AM   #1
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Selecting a Cleaning Crew

Good morning all!

Okay, I think my tank has cycled. I have a 40 gallon tank with 45 lbs of LR, and 3 inches of live sand. I've been cycling for 11 days, and it is really getting dirty in there! Last night, my Nitrites were down to 0.25. A chart of the tanks progress can be seen here . . .

http://www.toddwess.com/chart.jpg


1. So, assuming my nitrites are at zero today when I get home from work my next step is to do a 25% water change, right?

2. Once that is done, and nitrates are ~0, I can add the cleaning crew. My question is - how does one decide what to get?

3. I don't really care for the look of hermit crabs - can other crabs be substituted instead?

4. What about snails -- are they a 'must-have'? How many and of what kind should I get?

5. I've heard that I should add two sea cucumbers as well -- anyone have experience with these?

Thanks for reading, and if someone could help me out with how to stock a tank after the cycling process - that would be great!

Todd
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Old 07-17-2003, 09:37 AM   #2
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Re: Selecting a Cleaning Crew

Quote:
Originally Posted by toddwess

1. So, assuming my nitrites are at zero today when I get home from work my next step is to do a 25% water change, right?
I think most folks do a 50% water change. I would recommend that after a cycle has completed.

Quote:
2. Once that is done, and nitrates are ~0, I can add the cleaning crew. My question is - how does one decide what to get?
Your best bet might to order one of the clean up packages from an online dealer. What you get is pretty much up to you.

Quote:
3. I don't really care for the look of hermit crabs - can other crabs be substituted instead?
Not really. The Emerald crab and the Sally Lightfoot are said to be reef safe, but they may not be. I haven't had any problems with mine so far, but most crabs are omnivorous and will eat anything...including fish and corals.

Quote:
4. What about snails -- are they a 'must-have'? How many and of what kind should I get?
Yes, IMO. You will have to have some snails. I would get a mix of nassarius, cerith, and astrea snails. I would probably get 10 astreas, 15 ceriths, and about 50 nassarius. The astreas will stay on the glass mostly. The ceriths and nassarius will be on the glass and in the sandbed. The nassarius are great detrivores. Do a search on them here and you'll find a post where you can order them at a reasonable cost.

Quote:
5. I've heard that I should add two sea cucumbers as well -- anyone have experience with these?
I would wait on the cucumbers. They are sensitive to water quality and, if they die, they can poison the whole tank. I'm not saying don't get them...just wait till things have settled down and the tank has matured a little.
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Old 07-17-2003, 09:40 AM   #3
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(1) - Yes - actually, maybe a little more than that.

(2) - If you want to wait until your nitrates are zero, that's cool. I usually recommend waiting until your nitrates are definitely on the "downswing", and less than 20. Very cool chart, btw!

(3) - Many ppl (myself included) advocate "clawless" tanks. IMO, all crabs will eventually get large, and become opportunistic (read: potentially predatory) feeders.

(3) Yeah - pretty much a "must have". A good mix is essential (all do different things/eat different types of algae/detritius).

I like a good mix of Nassarius & Cerith for the DSB. For a 40g tank, I'd do about 25 Nass/Cerith combined.

Your best bets for the rock/glass are a mix of Nerite, Trochus, & Margarita snails. Maybe a few [b]small[/i] Astrea. Trochus are more expensive than Turbo/Astrea, but work much harder, and are able to "right" themselves if they fall off the glass onto their backs. Turbos & Astreas cannot. All combined, I'd start of with about 20 of these snails. A lot of online vendors insist on 1-2 per gallon, but, I'd rather start off slow, see what you need, and go from there. If there is not enough algae in the tank, and you don't offer enough supplemental feedings, the snails will starve. Start off small, and if algae still grows quickly, add more.

Sand cukes can do a great job on a DSB, but I wouldn't add one initially. I'd do a good mix of snails, then wait to see if you truly need one.

I'd also consider a Serpent or Brittle star (NOT a green/olive one) - these are great scavengers/detritus eaters, and will consume any leftover food & waste.

Another thought is one or two Cleaner shrimp (keep you fish clean of parasites) and maybe a Peppermint shrimp (Aiptasia control).

One last thought - all mobile inverts are quite sensitive to rapid pH/temp/salinity changes. Remember to acclimate very slowly.

That's just the thoughts off the top of my head - I'm sure other ppl can come up with more suggestions!

Good luck!!
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Old 07-17-2003, 09:41 AM   #4
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Oops - sorry loganj - I was typing (slowly!), and didn't realize you had already posted.
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Old 07-17-2003, 09:44 AM   #5
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I think that personal preferance plays a part in clean up crew selection but here is what I would put in a 40 gal reef tank.

Hermits-I would go with about 10 scarlet leggs to start. I''ve had bad experiences with the blue leggs eating other critters in my tank.
Crabs-You could get a couple emerald crabs and/or sally lightfoots. They are supposed to be reefsafe but I have heard a few claims of them attacking other critters.
Snails-Get a good variety, I would suggest to start, 25 nassarius, 10 turbo/trochus/astrea, 10 cerith, 10 margarita etc.
Cucumbers-Be careful with these. Most of the attractive ones(colorful) can be highly toxic when disturbed and can wipe out your tank. I have a tigertail cuke. Not very attractive but very cool and a hard worker. Keeps the sand bed clean. I would suggest only 1 for your tank since they get pretty large. My tigertail got to about 12" before he split into 2.
Fighting Conch-fighting conchs are also good for keeping the sandbed clean. I would add 1 for your tank.
Serpent Star-Another good cleaner for your sand bed. Should be directly fed occasionally to make sure its' not too hungry to go after anything in the tank. I've heard that the Green Brittle stars can become aggressive. I stay with the serpents.
Shrimp-I'm not sure if these should go in the clean up crew category but they are definitely a cool tank addition. Skunk cleaners, fire/blood, peppermints. If you put in a coral banded shrimp chances are he'll kill your other shrimp so you have to choose if you want one of these bad enough.

Well that is just my take on a clean up crew.

Brian
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Old 07-17-2003, 10:09 AM   #6
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Thanks so much for this info, Logan! I truly appreciate it!

50% water change, huh? Wow . . . 50%

Do I have to salt the water before adding, or can I just . . .

a. syphon out 20 gallons
b. then add 20 gallons of RO water
c. adjust the salinity right in the tank after the new water has been added?

Or does the replacement 50% water need to be at perfect salinity before it is added to the tank. The only thing in the tank is the LR and LS.

Thanks again for your help and advice,
Todd
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Old 07-17-2003, 10:12 AM   #7
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Thank you ReefLady!!! Some great info there! I appreciate your time to put this together for me!

BrianH - thanks for the info on the Hermits!

everyone have a great day!!

*Ugh! 50% water change is gonna really be a pain . . .

Todd
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Old 07-17-2003, 10:21 AM   #8
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Todd,

You're welcome, no problem.

As far as the water change goes, I'd invest in some sort of Rubbermaid or Sterlite container which will hold 20 - 25g of water. This way, you can easily prepare for water changes in the future.

We have one split of our RO/DI unit plumbed directly to a float switch in a 50g Rubbermaid tub - the float switch is at the 30g level (this is our standard water change). Anyway, yes, you really should get the salinity, temp, & pH to a comparable level of the water in the tank before you add the water.

Easiest way - Add RO water to a Rubbermaid tub until you have the desired amount. Throw in a PH and heater, enough salt to mix to 1.025, and let heat/aerate for 24 hours. When the water is "ready", siphon the water out of the tank (we use 5g buckets), then replace the water you have removed with your new heated/aerated water.

That's it in a nutshell. Good luck!
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Old 07-17-2003, 11:09 AM   #9
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Sounds good! Thanks again for your help with this.

Glad I asked about the water - I was just going to add it to the tank, and then adjust the salinity once it was added. Your method sounds more efficient!

Thanks again,
Todd
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Old 07-17-2003, 12:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReefLady
Oops - sorry loganj - I was typing (slowly!), and didn't realize you had already posted.
No problem Teri...your advice is always welcome and probably better than mine in many cases.
As Brian suggested also, the fighting conch is a good addition to the clean up crew.
I have both scarlet and blue leg hermits in my tanks. I haven't had any trouble with any of them...yet. The blue legs did kill off a couple of snails...not because they were hungry, but to move into their shells. I now keep a good supply of empty shells in each tank and the hermits seem happy with that arrangement. You can certainly have a successful tank with no crabs if that is your wish. Keep us posted.
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