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Benefits of Hermit Crabs in Saltwater Aquariums

Hermit crabs in a saltwater aquarium can be very beneficial if you employ them in the right situations.

As your saltwater aquarium evolves you are going to eventually need to employ some sort of "cleanup crew" in your aquarium.

What is a cleanup crew? This term usually refers to the creatures that will inhabit the substrate and live rock in your aquarium and eat all kinds of stuff such as:

  • Fish food that has fallen to the bottom of the aquarium

  • Fish waste in the rocks

  • Algae and Cyanobacteria

... and other good stuff that you probably don't want in your aquarium.

Why Hermit Crabs?

There are many options available when it comes to a cleanup crew in your aquarium. Snails, starfish and crabs are the most commonly thought of bottom dwelling critters.

If you can choose between the snails, starfish and crabs, why choose hermit crabs?

There probably is no clear reason to choose hermit crabs over snails, but these factors might sway you either way:

  • Availability. You can first of all only buy what is available to you. Maybe your local fish store or other source of critters for your tank only has a certain hermit crab or snail for sale. If you have access to hermit crabs but not snails, you might be tilted that way for that reason.

  • Fun to watch. I find it more entertaining to watch hermit crabs mill about in the tank over snails. Just my preference.

  • Hermit crabs eat. They can be voracious eaters. I find that a hermit crab will eat more algae and junk in my tank than snails€¦ typically.

Smaller hermit crabs will also be able to climb into crevices and get into tight spots to eat junk.

Targeted Cleanup

Certain hermit crabs also eat certain types of algae and other specific nasty stuff in your aquarium. Some examples are:

  • The Dwarf Yellow Tip Hermit Crab - This hermit crab will eat many types of algae including red slime algae, and it will sift through sand, which is always a good thing.

  • The Halloween Hermit Crab - This hermit crab will eat detritus, uneaten food and lots of algae types including red slime algae. It also sifts sand.

  • The Electric Blue Hermit Crab - This hermit will mow down green algaes and will also go after red slime algae. They can climb rock quite amazingly well and are fun to watch.

  • The Scarlet Hermit Crab - This hermit crab will eat a lot of different types of algae, including green, red and brown types of algae.

This is only a small sample size, but each hermit crab will bring with it it's own traits. You will want to make sure that whatever type of hermit crabs you decide to add to your aquarium are compatible with what is currently in your aquarium. Other than that, besides looking at what a hermit crab will eat, it might even just comes down to personal preference!

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