Indiscriminately scrubbing live rock can destroy much of the life you paid for, and thus the benefit of doing soQuestionI’ll be receiving a shipment of live rocks in a few days, and I could use some advice on how to clean them up before putting them in my tank. Do I just need to give them a good going over with a scrub brush?” – Submitted by Chuck S. Answer I wouldn’t use the term “good going over” with respect to cleaning your new live rocks. Remember, you paid good money for the organisms encrusting those rocks, so you don’t want to scrub the entire surface of each rock indiscriminately. Rather, what you want to do is very selectively scrub/scrape/pluck away any obviously dead/decomposing organisms, slimy films, unwanted algae, and clinging sediments or debris. Encrusting sponges that have been exposed to air will also need to be removed, as they’re likely to die and decompose. Otherwise, if a rock looks pretty “clean” and healthy right out of the box, all it needs is a good rinse.
Astraea snail chowing down on nuisance algaeThis past year, I rediscovered how great an army of snails can be. At Tidal Gardens, we go pretty light on cleanup crews in general. For example, there really aren’t any hermit crabs to speak of in our systems. In 5,000 gallons of reef tanks, there may be only one or two hermit crabs. Most likely they arrived as refugees from local customers taking their tanks down who needed to re-home some of their inhabitants. I am not a fan of crabs because there is always a risk they might kill something they should not be killing, like another member of the cleanup crew or a coral. Long story short, I don’t trust them. I don’t have the same level of distrust for snails
Blue-legged hermit crabs (Clibanarius tricolor)Clibanarius tricolor, the blue-legged hermit crab, is very commonly introduced to marine aquaria, either in conspecific groups or as part of a multi-species “reef janitor” package or “cleanup crew” (aka “CUC” for those who just can’t get enough of those marine aquarium acronyms), for the purpose of aiding in detritus and algae control. But does this little hermit really perform as advertised and is it truly reef safe? Based on my personal experience with keeping blue-legged hermits, I would answer both of these questions with a resounding “maybe.” Before adding C. tricolor to your aquarium—especially in large numbers—consider the following four caveats:1. It’s an opportunistic omnivore What this point should tell you is, C. tricolor won’t necessarily limit its menu to the algae, detritus, and uneaten food you want it to consume.
For me, it is about a healthy ecosystem, a learning experience, a pastime or hobbyThis is an easy question. Our tanks can be as good looking as we want. Of course, we can always throw more time and money into our tanks to make them look even better—but better looking to whom? And why? Do we want to have dynamite-looking tanks so we can win TOTM and tell everyone how much we dose, what types of lights we have and their PAR rating, where we keep our parameters, how often we perform water changes, what our quarantine practices are, which pests we’ve dealt with, and how much time and money we’ve invested? Or do we just want a tank that we can sit in front of and enjoy?It’s a hobby, not a beauty pageant (supermodels notwithstanding) For me, that’s easy too. I think my tank looks okay, but that is not why I have a tank. Unlike my interest in supermodels, my fascination with aquariums has nothing to do with looks.