Mark Martin on Adding to Your Clean-Up Crew
Mark Martin is the Director of Marine Ornamental Research at Blue Zoo
To maintain the effectiveness of your clean-up crew, it is essential to replace losses or adapt your clean-up crew to new situations. Some clean-up crew animals will be lost as a result of natural causes, and, even in the best planned systems, some clean-up crew animals will be lost to predation. As a result, it is essential to supplement your clean-up crew with new additions as a part of a regular maintenance schedule.
In addition to replacing animals, in a new aquarium (any system less than a year old) or in an aquarium that has recently undergone major changes in livestock, flow patterns or aquascaping, the number of clean-up crew animals required to handle nuisance algae and detritus may change.
Constantly monitoring and adjusting your clean-up crew is the only way to maintain a balanced aquarium.
To determine when to add new clean-up crew members, you must use careful observation and testing to closely monitor the tank’s overall health. If you see, for example, an increasing amount of nuisance algae, you may want to add some algae-grazing clean-up crew animals IF all your other parameters (e.g. phosphate and nitrates) are consistent. Be sure to only add a few animals at a time until the daily growth of algae is fully removed overnight. It is far better to add slowly and observe then add too many animals and experiences losses with an accompanying ammonia spike resulting from the dead animals.
Maintaining an effective clean-up crew requires observation and adjustment, but it can be the key to a healthy marine aquarium.
Have a question for Mark? Please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published 20 Feb 2009. © Blue Zoo Aquatics