Top Five Saltwater Cleanup Crew Helpers

This is a guest post by Nikki of Reef’d Up Aquatics.

We can all appreciate a clean, well-maintained aquarium.  With the variety of cleanup crew helpers available in the hobby, it can become daunting to pick the right cleanup crew.  These are a few of my favorite ways to keep nuisance algae at bay.

Number Five:  Macroalgae

In my refugium I keep a macroalgae display full of Chaetomorpha, Ulva, and Red Gracilaria.  Chaeto grows rapidly and sucks up the nutrients (nitrates and phosphates) that could otherwise fuel green hair algae or other nasty algae.  Ulva and Red Gracilaria are beautiful additions that double as a nice fish treat.


Number Four:  Blue-Legged Hermit Crabs

Although they’re known for killing off snails for their shells, the blue-legged hermit crab gets spot #4 due to the their low cost, interesting personality, and amazing cleaning ability.

Hermit Crab

Number Three:  Nerite Snails

Although Nerites aren’t the best for cleaning rocks, they do an amazing job on aquarium walls.  As an intertidal snail, they like to try to climb their way to freedom, so I recommend these only in aquariums with a lip on the top or a lid.  The photo below shows a Nerite snail with its eggs, but there are only a few known cases of successful Nerite reproduction in home aquariums.

Nerite with eggs

Number Two:  Nassarius Snails

Aquariums with short sand beds often have a problem with detritus buildup over the years, and the Nassarius snail can help prevent that.  Nassarius often dive into the sandbed and wait for their next meal with their snout poking out between the grains of sand.  They will rise up and devour any remaining fish food with lightning speed.


Number One:  Collumbelid Snails (AKA Hawaiian Strombus)

Collumbelid snails get the number one spot due to their ability to reproduce faster than rabbits in most home aquaria.  Their shells are too small for hermit crabs to want, so these are a great choice for aquariums with crabs.  These snails will only reproduce  to the level of their food supply, so there’s no need to worry about overpopulation.  They will quickly cover every surface in the aquarium and devour many types of algae.  Imagine never buying snails again due to this sustainable snail.  More information

Collumbelid Snail

Of course, there are tons of other really great clean-up crew helpers available.  What are some of your favorites?

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