Hello, I'm going to start a 55 gallon saltwater tank soon and I was wondering if I could get some help picking out tank janitors. I plan on having corals and I haven't decided on the fish I will have yet (I'm more excited about the corals). I'm thinking 2 sand sifting stars. I'm just not sure which animals eat the different algae and such. Thanks.
although sand sifters are great... they have the tendency to cause rock slides and crush your nice and expensive corals. it's always 1snail per gallon, so you'll need 55 snails. i recammend getting them off line at reeftopia.com that's where i get mine and they are cheep and arrive alive(which is nice). Get something like an emerald crab, blue legged crab and some peppermint shrimp or a cleaner shrimp. for details on thier specialties i'd recammend liveaquaria.com
at first i was unsure of "tank janitors" until i fully read your thread. i think i understand what you are talking about, which would be reffered to as a "clean up crew" on most forums (CUC if your down with the lingo)
honestly i personally would go with a 75 gallon tank. they are the same length as the 55 however they are wider allowing for an easier aqua-scape of the rock work. if you already have the 55 or money, space, or something else permits you from a 75 then the 55 will work.
i also would personally skip the sandshifting star fish. first of all a 55 will prob. not house enough food for there long term captivity.
i like a mixture of things, everyone has something to pick at and eat.. all doing different jobs.
atrea snails (good for helping to clean the glass and rocks of algae, however if they flip over on the sand they'll usually die because its hard for them to right themselves, but they are a good snail)
nerite snails (same as astrea except can flip back over)
cerith snails (same as astrea except can flip back over)
nassarius snails (good for eating left over meaty foods, ok sand shifters, the large ones are prob. more efficient)
turbo snails (good at algae eating)
i personally would avoid all starfish, sea cucumbers, and crabs.
hermit crabs arnt soo bad but will usually eat your snails for their shell, and alot of times then decide they dont even want the shell and tend to knock corals over.
people do, do coral only tanks.
as for the snails, add a few and slowly increase numbers (basically as you need them or else they will die off from lack of food)
what kind of lighting are you going to run and what kind of corals are you planning on keeping?
I read on about.com that some people cut pieces of PVC pipe as long as their substrate is deep and put LR on top. This way the stars could easily move underneath without disturbing anything. Have you ever tried anything like that? Are snails pretty much the dream team for cleaning the tank or is there anything else?
I'm going to be running a 65x4 watt light. I'm only planning on having soft corals like: frogspawn, torches, bubbles, leathers, etc.
My experiences differ from above. I have always used starfish, blue leg and red foot hermits, and snails, in combination. I have never had a rock slide or had corals knocked over. A bit of careful planning goes a long way in this area.
On the subject of PVC, this has been a long used benefit for those who are not going to use live sand. You can cut PVC to form shelves for your live rock to sit on, with differing heights to form the reef. You would be surprised at how much money you can save on live rock by using PVC to form shelves for your display. In a lightly stocked aquarium with adequate skimming, it doesn't take a lot of rock to function as an adequate biofilter.
Looking back at the sand issue, be certain you use the proper sandsifters based on the depth of your sand. If you want a true DSB to achieve denitrification, then sand sifters are extremely important. This would be a 4'' sand depth. If you only want sand for the appearance, then you would want to use a very thin layer of sand and significantly fewer sifters would be required. In my experience, these systems usually run with higher Nitrate readings than DSB systems.
I use egg crate on the bottom of the tank. When setting up the tank, Place the Egg Crate down, then just enough sand to fill in the egg crate. Place your
bottom rocks on the eggcrate, then fill in with the remaining sand. This serves a few purposes. The egg crate keeps the rock off of the glass, helps to distribute the weight, and keeps the sand sifters from undermining the rockwork. I have several large Nassarius Snails, several Cerith Snails, a Queen Conch, a few serpent stars and at one point a sand sifting star, All of which sift and/or burrow. I have never had any rocks move as result. The one concern you may have in respect to moving rockwork is the Mithrax Crab, which will push rocks around. If you have teetering rockwork, they may push it over.
I don't think I'll do the pvc pipe, but the egg crate sounds like a good idea. I was aiming for somewhere around 3 inches for a sand bed, but if 4 inches will make the difference then I'll do it. I would like to have different snails, hermits, and starfish if I can. What are some tips to avoid rock slides?
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