Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Altohombre 01-20-2008 10:41 PM

Cleaner Crew advice
I have a 46 gallon that is doing its introductory cycle at the moment. I have 52 lbs of live rock. What do you recommend for a cleaning crew.

bettababy 01-21-2008 01:20 PM

How long has your tank been running? What are your current water params for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and calcium? These things will make a huge difference when adding a cleaning crew, and typically you don't want to add them until the cycle is finished.

What fish are you planning to keep? This will be the other determining factor on what inverts (if any) you can keep. There are a lot of fish that will eat or be incompatible with inverts. Another deciding factor will be your substrate... is it crushed coral or live sand? Crushed coral isn't good for most inverts, it's too sharp and causes injury, plus it's also too large and heavy for them to dig into for food. Food tends to fall between the large pieces where it sinks deeper than what the animals can reach. This causes animals to go hungry and water quality to go steadily downhill, as waste builds up where you can't see it. For this reason I always remind people with a crushed coral substrate to do gravel vac's once/month, just as you would in fresh water. A good indication of this problem is a bloom of red velvet cyano bacteria, that will smother anything growing in/on your rocks. Once growing, cyano bacteria can be quite hard to get rid of.
If by chance you have crushed coral as a substrate, this would be a good time to change it over to a sandbed... before you add any animals.

If you can answer these questions, then I and the others can help make suggestions for your future cleaning crew.

Altohombre 01-21-2008 11:18 PM

I hoped you would remember me because I asked you a million questions on substrate and your recommended Fiji Pink Live Sand. I took your recommendation and bought a bunch of it. As for the cycle I started it on Friday but don't plan on adding inverts till the cycle is done. The fish I am planning is slightly up in the air but will definitely include two Clownfish (one small and one larger for compatibility), prob a Wrasse of some sort, either a goby or a blenny, maybe a Coral Beauty Angel. Pretty much the standard fish for a 46 gallon.

bettababy 01-22-2008 12:36 AM

Yes, I do remember now. Sorry, I answer a lot of posts every day, sometimes I forget or mix them up. I try hard not to.
For starters, that's quite a large stock list for that size of a tank. Expect 3 fish max, 2 of them being the clowns. A coral beauty would need a bigger tank if its going to be there for any period of time, they get pretty good size full grown (I've seen them 5 - 6 inches). As for the size differences in the clowns, get 2 of the same species, they don't mix well. Ocellaris is one of the most peaceful, and will stay the smallest. The females get larger, average 5 - 6 inches, and the males stay smaller, about 3 inches. If you add two, one will be male and one will be female, no question. Clowns are dimorphic, and can change their sex according to what is needed to keep their species going/breeding.
Some inverts to consider for cleanup crew:
turbo snails (not if you plan to keep corals)
emerald crabs
nassarius snails
margarita snails
astrea snails
blue leg hermits or scarlet hermits (don't mix them)
cleaner shrimp
peppermint shrimp
coral banded shrimp (don't mix shrimp species, either... find one and stick to it)
brittle starfish
serpent starfish
sand sifting starfish

This will give you some good ideas to search out while your tank is cycling. If you have trouble finding any info (or accurate info) online, let me know and I'll break it down for you. Rule of thumb for you, especially in that size of a tank: choose one species of something and stick to it. Hermits, shrimp, even some of the starfish will fight until one species wins. They usually eat the opponent. With hermits make sure you have plenty of empty shells so they don't fight over them as they trade off. Hermits can and will kill snails to steal their shells if it's their only choice, and they like to change shells frequently. If you like the corla banded shrimp, beware they get good size and there is only room for 1 in a tank that size. If you put two together and they feel at all crowded they will fight, especially if they are the same sex. Sand sifting starfish are ok with either brittle or serpent, but don't plant to mix serpent and brittle. 1 of those will also be a limit, and the sand stars depending on how much open sandbed you have without rock covering it. Each species of snail I listed eats a different type of algae, so it's ok to mix and match with any of those.
This should get you started, let me know if you need anymore help.

bobo 01-22-2008 04:44 AM

i have a question regarding something you just said beta, why not mix the shrimp species? i mean at my LFS they keep fireshrimp and cleaner shrimp together in the same tank. I`m not saying you are wrong and he is right but i was just wondering if any shrimp species are compatible.

bettababy 01-22-2008 05:17 AM

There are a few (very few) that can work temporarily or under the right conditions (being large enough tank and enough rock for territory). Cleaner shrimp and peppermint shrimp can sometimes work.
The reason I don't suggest it to someone new to the hobby is beause it's not something that always works, or works easily. Most shrimp are very territorial, and very aggressive to other shrimp.
When you see things at your LFS, remember always: These animals are seldom there for long (weeks) and you also don't see what happens behind closed doors or once the lights are out. Most LFS's have quite a high rate of deaths, and you being a customer only see what is in the tank for sale. When a tank empties, who is to say all of those animals found homes? It is much more likely that at least 50% of them died in the store. A LFS will do only what they have to in order to make their money. Their expenses tend to be very high and profit very low.
I always warn not to use a LFS tank as an example of what a home, long term aquarium should be. I know of maybe 2 LFS's in the entire United States that use their sales tanks as show tanks also, for the sake of the animals and better sales. I worked in one of these places for 6+ yrs, and even then, our stocking limits were much higher than a home aquarium could allow. The filtration units in a store are much different than in a home, and not practical for a home setting. Also, in a LFS you are typically dealing with juveniles of whatever you're seeking, and aggression levels, sizes, territories, all change as these animals mature. If that isn't allowed for when the tank is set up, then all of a sudden you've got a lot of animals that don't fit together while for so long they were peaceful and content.
Does that help?

bobo 01-22-2008 04:18 PM

yeah, so i was planning to go fireshrimp with cleaner shrimp, scrap that? :p

bettababy 01-23-2008 02:00 AM

Let me ask my husband before I answer that, he knows better than most what can and can't work in a smaller tank. I would trust any advice he offered.

bobo 01-23-2008 05:59 AM

alright thanks, post or pm when you know :)~

also are peppermint shrimp and fire shrimp the same thing :

fire shrimp:

peppermint shrimp:

because my LFS only has the fire shrimp :/

bettababy 01-23-2008 01:01 PM

At this moment I can answer part of your question. NO, the peppermint and fire shrimp are not the same, not at all. The fire shrimp are going to be much more aggressive, and I'm really expecting my husband to tell me not to mix them in the same tank. Another name for the fire shrimp is blood shrimp, due to the blood red coloration they have. These shrimp were always given a cube of their own at the store, never mixed with anything. There may be something that would mix with the peppermint shrimp, which is what I want to ask my husband, but I don't know of anything safe to mix with the fire shrimp.

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