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Aquatic, News | November 15, 2010

Pest Removal Using Invertebrates

There are many different types of invertebrates that will help you control common aquarium pests. All of these should be maintained in a copper/medicine free invert only or reef tank. Some of them also will cause some problems of their own, and I will attempt to list them all. Caution is always required when adding new species to any tank. Every tank is different, and the interaction between species is difficult to predict. Remember, invertebrates and fish do not know how to read, so they often don’t know what they are supposed to eat and what they are not supposed to eat.

Blue line slugs are an excellent candidate for the removal of photosynthetic pest planaria/flatworms. These are the little reddish brown guys that will occasionally “bloom” into plague proportions in an invert tank. The blue line slug eats these flatworms, and only these flatworms. They are no danger to anything else, although they are in danger from the intakes of powerheads and pumps, also strong stinging corals pose a risk to them. That having been said these little guys have quite an appetite and will rapidly lower the population in your tank.

Sea Hares are aggressive algae eaters of nearly all types of common algae. They are also very hardy and will often accept algae wafers when/if you run out of natural algae. I have seen a sea hare commonly clean a large reef tank of hair algae in a matter of DAYS, not weeks or months. The only danger from them is that if you scare them they can release an ink cloud that may max out your protein skimmers abilities. This is very rare and in general they are a great addition to a tank.

Peppermint Shrimp can and will eat aiptasia, and other pest anemones in your tank. It is a team sport for them, so please add more than a couple at a time for best results. They can grow to good size 2″ plus and will occasionally steal food from some corals, but they are widely considered safe for the reef tank.

Camel shrimp will eat some of the pest nudibranchs that are killing your montiporas, but they will also harass and possibly damage some of your soft corals, so be careful with them.
Emerald Crabs and Sally Lightfoot Crabs are the two best non hermit crabs for controlling algae in the crab group. Although they both get good sized, they are usually well behaved. However, an occasional large Sally Lightfoot will attack small fish.

Article by Brian Wagner

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