Cleaner suggestions needed

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Aquarium Advice Regular
Jul 20, 2005
White Plains, NY
I'm looking to build an eventual cleaning crew for a tank I just started. It's 40 gallons and I plan to eventually have clownfish, firefish, cleaner shrimp, and maybe something else in the future. I don't know if I want corals, but I want to keep that option open down the road. After my live rock starts cycling and an algae outbreak occurs, what sort of cleaners should I put in that would be compatible with what I want in the future? I know some people say you shouldn't get crabs or hermits, but others swear by them. What would be safe for my tank?
I also wanted to add that since this is a new tank would that affect what choices I had in my cleanup crew as opposed to someone with a fully established tank. I don't want my cleanup crew to die shortly after getting them.
main thing, make sure the tank has fully cycled before you add any form of life. inverts are much more sensitive to ammonia, nitrite and nitrate than fish.

Look for stuff like blue leg and red leg hermit crabs, astrea snails, turbo snails, cerith snails, sand sifting conch's, maybe a sand sifting starfish (but only one). has some great cleaner and detris packages...even if you don't order from them, they'll give you good combinations of cleaner types to look for locally.

some starfish are coral eaters, like chocolate chip watch for 'reef compatible'. its almost inevitable that you'll get a few corals, even if they are just low light mushrooms.
So the hermit crabs won't bother the fish then? That was a major concern of mine. I really don't want to get something that is supposed to clean the tank only to have it eat my fish ;) Thanks so much for the help!
right, the 'electric blue leg'd hermits' dont' touch fish or corals. the scarlet leg'd hermits get larger, but are still just scavengers.
i've also bought the hawaiian hermits at live and they were fish/reef safe too, though not very hardy IMO.
I have many blue legged and one scarlet hermit, and many Llynasa(sp?) snails in my 30 gallon. I also added two peppermint shrimp to keep my small aiptasia under control. The peppermints are very cool creatures, IMO. My word of advice is to make sure you keep the hermits well fed because they WILL pick your snails apart...even if all they want is the shell. I will not be replacing my hermits when they die...I can't keep snails with them. Lots of sights have great clean up crews for sale as packages, like already mentioned.
So, just for future reference, what should I feed the hermits so that they won't attack the snails? I'm guessing I should also make sure I get a bunch of empty shells for them to migrate into. I really can't wait till things start taking shape in my tank, but I have the patience to make sure it is all done right. Thanks again for the help!
IMO hermits will go after snails regardless of how well fed they are. The are looking for a new home. Even with plenty of empty shells around they seem to like shells that are currently occupied :( It doesn't matter if it's occupied by a snail or another hermit.
I have not replaced my hermits and relegated them to the fuge.
So is there a type of snail that is a good replacement for the hermits, or should I just get a larger quantity of them? I really want to do this all right from the start and I'm planning well in advance. Thanks for all the help everybody!
You want a variety of snails and some peppermitn shrimp and perhaps a serpent star fish. As for snails, this is a post I found somewhere a while ago....

Astrea Snail-most common of all saltwater tank snails. They are excellent algae eaters and will forage all over the rock, sand, and glass. These guys fall very easily and can not right themselves up and die easily.

Banded Trochus Snail - Large snails that are excellent algae eaters although are very slow about it. These guys have a hard time picking themselves up as well if stranded in the middle of the sand.

Bumblebee snails- Not very hardy. Marginal algae eaters, but more of a detritus grazer. They can prey on other snails and sand bed critters.

Cerith Snails (Cortez) - Good algae and detritus eaters that forage rock, glass, and sand. Some can pick themselves up and some cant.

Cerith Snails (White)- Good algae and detritus eaters that seem to stay in the sand more than the cortez, but can be found on the rock and glass. Once again, some can pick themselves up and others cant. These guys are good sand bed snails to shift the substrate around.

Conch Snails (Mine-Strombus Alatus) These guys are all about the sand bed and are very cool to watch. They usually dont get flipped over, but if they do, they can kick around and turn themselves back upright.They very hardy too.

Mexican Turbo Snails - super fast grazer that will knock out some algae in no time. They mostly stay on rocks and glass, but will work the top of the sandbed too. I think these are cold water snails that dont do so well in a reef. (I have had a couple of batches of these and only about 30% of them survive a week. But, once they are adjusted... they seem to be very hardy and active.)

Nassarius Snails - They mostly stay in the sand, but will sometimes make short trips up the glass. They are mainly detritus eaters and do an excellent job cleaning and shifting the sand. I think these are also some of the most hardy snails out there. These guys can flip themselves upright very easily and quickly.

Nerite Snails - Mostly a rock and glass snail that are all about the algae. The dont move very fast but the areas they have been in are clean as a bell. These guys like to crawl outta the water some, but i have never found one that "jumped ship." These are great snails, but also have trouble turning themselves back over.

Stomatella Snails - my They are supposed to reproduce very well. No personal experience w/ them.

Strombus Snails (Strombus maculatus (sp?))these are excellent snails that reproduce very well. They seem to be mostly sandbed snails and will occasionally make there way up to about the 1-3 inch line of my rock work. I assume they are mostly detritus eaters.
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