What size cleanup crew is appropriate?

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Aquarium Advice Regular
Jan 15, 2006
Whilst waiting for my tank to settle, I'm thinking about how to start re-stocking. My line of thinking is that I should install an invert cleanup crew first and let them settle in. My LFS regularly has
- Banded coral shrimp (stenopus hispidus)
- Camelback shrimps (rhynchocinetes spp)
- Fire shrimp (lysmata debelius)
- Pacifica scarlet (lysmata amboinensis)
- Snails (pyramid top shells or star shells, I can't tell)
- Blue-leg hermit (clibanarius tricolor)

My tank is 480L (140cmx65cmx65cm), with 40Kg of LR and I'm aiming (at some distant point in the future) for a non-aggresive FOWLR community.

1. Any dos/don'ts in the above list?
2. How many of each would be suitable?
3. LFS suggests, later, a single decorated or orange-spotted sleeper goby to stir the sand. Yes/no/something else?

And the most important question:
4. Do inverts need to be quarantined before being introduced into an empty tank?

Thanks in advance for any advice
1. Camelback is not reef safe. They eat corals. Get peppermint shrimps instead if u want. Banded coral shrimp is somewhat more aggressive than other shrimps and might attack ur fishes and other inverts. Lots of ppls have got their hermits crabs being eaten by this shrimp. Get a variety of reef safe snails, such as astrea, nassaurious, cerith, etc.

2. 1 snail/hermit crabs per gallon is recommended but i think 1/3-4G is enuf. U can get a pair of peppermints, 1 fire shrimp, 1 skunk cleaner shrimp.

3. U might be able to keep a sleeper goby if u have enuf substrate for him to "sift", but im not sure about the size. I'll let the other guys answer this. Other options that would clean ur sand bed are: nassaurrious snails, conches. hermit crabs, cucumbers (more sensitive than other inverts, avoid large ones and choose reef safe ones), sand sifting stars (not sure if u can keep one). Im sure there are other options but those are the ones i can think of right now.

4. U can QT inverts but it's not necessary. It's important to acclimate them tho, don't forget ;)

The shrimp are not going to really help your tank at this point. They are mainly for your pleasure. I would avoid the CBS and camel as FF said. Stick with astrea, nassarius, cerith snails. Red and blue hermits and possibly a conch. The sand sifter gobies and stars are not a smart purchase at this time. I would probably do around 75 snails and 25 hermits
TheRealFF said:
It's important to acclimate them tho, don't forget ;)
By "acclimate" I'm assuming you simply mean "leave the plastic bag in the tank until the temperature equalises, add tank water slowly, etc" right?

"75 snails" *gasps*
"25 hermits" *faints*
Here in Switzerland, that's about US$500 in inverts. Are you sure?

*retires to bed, shaking* :wink:
Here in Switzerland, that's about US$500 in inverts. Are you sure?

!!! R u serious?! I would consider migrating to another country if u want to pursue this hobby. JK hehe.

Well, i think he gave u the appropriate number of cleaning crews u will need once ur tank is "mature". Right now, with ur tank being settling down, i would suggest less such as:

20 snails and 10 hermits.

Floating the bag in the tank is only a part of the acclimation process. The whole process is described at: http://www.aquariumadvice.com/article_view.php?faq=2&fldAuto=18

Wow, that IS expensive...that wouldn't probably cost you more than $100 to $150 here in the US...

You could try adding less at a time and see how they do cleaning up your tank. If they aren't cutting it, add more, etc. You will probably find over time you may even need more than that! :)


PS - Why so expensive in Switzerland?
Maurice2 said:
"75 snails" *gasps*
"25 hermits" *faints*
Here in Switzerland, that's about US$500 in inverts.
For a 125 gal/480L tank even that figure is on the lower end of clean up crews for some people.

Still it beats having to scrub the glass and clean it up yourself.

Also I’d acclimate them either the way you mentioned or drip acclimate for 2+ hours. Especially if you have to order them online and get them shipped in.
Too true melosu58. I used to only qt fish as I have for years with FW and brackish and never even considered that inverts or even coral could be infected! Now I qt everything for 6 weeks before adding to the main since I’ve read that article. I even got a pc light on my qt for corals.
"Why so expensive in Switzerland?"

think about how far inland Switzerland is in Europe. Then think about how far away it is from locations where our SW fish are captured/bred/raised.

Its a long haul. Plus, if his town/city isn't a big SW town (same boat I'm in) that just increases the price more.

People in the land down under also run into these price issues, more with FW than SW (since they're a big island). They pay a premium for hardware too, as much of it is US or European countries making/shipping it.

I've never even seen live cerith snails, or a lawnmower blenny...or a lot of things, because I'm landlocked in a town that's not even that big on FW fish. Only 2 independent LFS in town, with 2 petco, 1 petsmart, and 2 walmarts with fish depts - so like I said, 2 LFS ;)
Thank you Malkore, I appreciate your comments.

Switzerland is landlocked and our livestock comes principally from the Indian Ocean (Thailand, Maldives, ...) and some from the Phillipines. This translates into, at best, a 48H journey for the fish, something like Manilla-Bangkok-Delhi-Frankfurt-Zürich-Geneva. On a route like that, 12 hours delay here or there is the norm and my LFS reckons that 50% attrition is par for the course. The result is that star snails are $2 and a hermit crab is around 20$. Should someone like to be really frightened, a juvenile Pomacanthus Imperator (3 inches) runs at 100$ and once in 20 years, if you're lucky, you can pick up a Scott's Fairy Wrasse at $700.
Brenden said:
Stick with astrea, nassarius, cerith snails. Red and blue hermits and possibly a conch. The sand sifter gobies and stars are not a smart purchase at this time. I would probably do around 75 snails and 25 hermits
astrea, nassarius and cerith are rarer than hen's teeth but my LFS promised that he'd try and persuade a supplier. It would appear that some shellfish are venemous and the fishermen avoid anything with which they're not completely familiar.

Now to the upside. On your advice, my LFS sold me 10 star snails and I'm quite delighted with the work they're doing scoffing diatom. They only had 1 hermit left and he's doing his best with the gunge on the sand, you've all given me the best pointers I've had since I started :D

Special thanks to roca64, who explained the correlation between diatom and light, like everything, so simple when a kind soul spells it out to you

@tecwzrd: Followed your advice, 2H drip, 100% success. GJ :)
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