Mark Martin on A Clean-Up Crew for the Predator Fish Tank
Mark Martin is Director of Marine Ornamental Research at Blue Zoo
This week's “Tip of the Week” comes from a question I recently received from a longtime customer about clean-up crews in predator fish tanks.
A predator fish tank is an aquarium that houses predator fish such as Puffers, Triggerfishes, Lionfishes, and large Wrasses. For obvious reasons, many of usual suspects when it comes to cleaning-up in the saltwater aquarium are not compatible with these fishes. If you want your clean-up crew to eat algae and detritus (instead of being eaten) then I recommend you go primarily with hermit crabs (for detritus and the scavenge uneaten food) and larger, hard-shelled snails such as Turbo Snails (for algae grazing). These snails, in addition to their thick shells, have a calcareous operculum that completely blocks any opening when the snail is retracted. The Zebra Turbo Snail (pictured above) would be a good snail for the predator fish tank. It is from Belize and will grow to six inches.
Sea Urchins, especially Long Spined Sea Urchins (e.g. Diadema spp.) are lethal in terms of algae control and often do well in a predator fish tank. The Black Longspine Sea Urchin (Diadema setosum) from the Indo-Pacific will grow to eight inches. Other urchins, like the Banded Longspine Sea Urchin (Echinothrix calamaris), also grows to the same size and work well in many predator tanks. For an exotic flourish, consider the Red Long Spine Urchin from Bali (Diadema spp.). It is worth mentioning that some triggerfishes will meticulously pick the spines off of urchins. Add urchins with caution if your predator fish tank houses some of the more aggressive triggerfishes..
Finally, be sure to avoid any soft bodied animals and starfishes.
Have a question for Mark? Please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published 20 May 2008. © Blue Zoo Aquatics