Clean up crew/pest control?

christopher27

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I am planning on starting up a reef tank and was curious about what pests I have to worry about? And how to prevent them (im gonna be dipping and potentially quarantining corals) I was curious about the best reef safe way to prevent zoa spiders, aptasia, bristle worms, pest stars, nudibranchs, etc. I really don't want bristle worms and was curious what fish consistently eat them or any of these pests. (they have to be suitable for a 20 gal tank)
 

saltwater60

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Why don’t you want bristle worms? They are harmless. I doubt you will be able to keep them out.
Also there are way too many pests to list with the remedies to keep them out of your tank. I doubt any fish largest enough to eat large bristle worms could handle a 20 gallon tank. I had some bristle worms 6” long or greater. They don’t bother much of anything. Arrow crab and wrasse will eat them. A 6 lined wrasse is suitable for a 20 and one of the best pest eaters out there. They won’t eat large bristle worms though. You can manually remove them though.
Best to do is quarantine stuff and do a dip then inspect, inspect, inspect. Any signs of issue don’t place the coral in your reef tank.
Peat stars are easy to remove by hand. I think your reading too much into the bristle worms and starfish though. They never bothered my corals in my reef tank.
 

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The easiest way to avoid pests is to either go with Dry Rock (which is dead live rock that becomes live again as far as beneficial bacteria is concerned). You also will avoid bristleworms this way. Regular Bristleworms can be beneficial although they can get big and ugly and can be more problematic if they get really large. The other option is go with one of the man made options (ie Caribsea Life Rock, Real Reef Rock) and that way you get dry rock with a man made bacteria coating and zero pests or bristleworms. I use the Caribsea Life Rock in my tank and haven't had a bristleworm in almost 3 years. The only pest I ever had was an aiptasia which came in on a coral frag (not on the rock) but I identified it and killed it early and haven't had another one for over 2 years now.

As for pest removal a Wrasse can work but the 6 lined wrasse is a terrible choice for a community tank as many of them turn into pescacidal maniacs as they mature and are a pain to catch. Just do a google for 6 line wrasse and aggression and you will find no shortage of horror stories across many forums about them. Although not as adept at pest removal the Pink Streaked Wrasse can also provide pest removal services and would be a wonderful tank mate for a tank of that size. There are literally no reports of aggression that I have ever seen for a pink streaked wrasse but there are reports that it makes things like flatworms and a few other pests disappear. If you had a larger tank a Halichoeres Wrasse would be my recommendation (ie Yellow, Melanurus, Red Lined, Christmas).

Incidentally I did a review of the Caribsea Life Rock here if you would like more info on it and weighing the pros and cons of the different rock options:

 

saltwater60

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I agree with dry rock but you will likely add pests with corals being added unless you go with small frags.
that funny about the 6 lines wrasse since I’ve had 5-6 at least and never saw any aggression. I have them with many gobies, fire fish, and other small timid species. Always in a lightly stocked 75 gallon tank though.
 
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christopher27

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saltwater60 said:
Why don’t you want bristle worms? They are harmless. I doubt you will be able to keep them out.
Also there are way too many pests to list with the remedies to keep them out of your tank. I doubt any fish largest enough to eat large bristle worms could handle a 20 gallon tank. I had some bristle worms 6” long or greater. They don’t bother much of anything. Arrow crab and wrasse will eat them. A 6 lined wrasse is suitable for a 20 and one of the best pest eaters out there. They won’t eat large bristle worms though. You can manually remove them though.
Best to do is quarantine stuff and do a dip then inspect, inspect, inspect. Any signs of issue don’t place the coral in your reef tank.
Peat stars are easy to remove by hand. I think your reading too much into the bristle worms and starfish though. They never bothered my corals in my reef tank.
Im planning on getting a six lined wrasse and bumble bee snail because I heard about both of them eating smaller worms and wrasses can also eat pyramid snails and nudibranchs. Im gonna stick to dry rock because live rock is risky and expensive. Im planning on getting really small frags so I can inspect them for eggs because I heard dips don't kill them and only kills the adults. I know most worms aren't harmful but i've heard stories of some fish being stung and some getting so big they crush corals. Im hoping to get a 6 line wrasse (because they eat worms, pyramid snails, and nudibranchs), 2 chromis (because they can eat eggs) and am also planning on getting a 5 gal frag quarantine or an internal box for inside the tank, is a in tank frag quarantine possible (im still gonna be dipping frequently during quarantine)? Im not planning on fish quarantine because im only getting a few fish. I know you can trap bristle worms but I don't want to see them in the first place.
 

saltwater60

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christopher27 said:
Im planning on getting a six lined wrasse and bumble bee snail because I heard about both of them eating smaller worms and wrasses can also eat pyramid snails and nudibranchs. Im gonna stick to dry rock because live rock is risky and expensive. Im planning on getting really small frags so I can inspect them for eggs because I heard dips don't kill them and only kills the adults. I know most worms aren't harmful but i've heard stories of some fish being stung and some getting so big they crush corals. Im hoping to get a 6 line wrasse (because they eat worms, pyramid snails, and nudibranchs), 2 chromis (because they can eat eggs) and am also planning on getting a 5 gal frag quarantine or an internal box for inside the tank, is a in tank frag quarantine possible (im still gonna be dipping frequently during quarantine)? Im not planning on fish quarantine because im only getting a few fish. I know you can trap bristle worms but I don't want to see them in the first place.
Good plan. Quarantine and inspection will be valuable. I know the problems with worms. I somehow after years got these clam and snail eating worms. I lost a few maximas, deserts or two and a squamosa clam. Never could get rid of them.
 

Jesterrace

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saltwater60 said:
I agree with dry rock but you will likely add pests with corals being added unless you go with small frags.
that funny about the 6 lines wrasse since I’ve had 5-6 at least and never saw any aggression. I have them with many gobies, fire fish, and other small timid species. Always in a lightly stocked 75 gallon tank though.
If you go with small frags and QT them you won't have a problem. I prefer going small frags anyways since they are much cheaper to buy and you get to watch them grow out in a much more dramatic fashion. As for the 6 lined wrasse, how long did you have them? usually it's the 18-24 month mark where they go nuts and given that they are not an easy fish to catch it presents a problem.

christopher27 said:
Im planning on getting a six lined wrasse and bumble bee snail because I heard about both of them eating smaller worms and wrasses can also eat pyramid snails and nudibranchs. Im gonna stick to dry rock because live rock is risky and expensive. Im planning on getting really small frags so I can inspect them for eggs because I heard dips don't kill them and only kills the adults. I know most worms aren't harmful but i've heard stories of some fish being stung and some getting so big they crush corals. Im hoping to get a 6 line wrasse (because they eat worms, pyramid snails, and nudibranchs), 2 chromis (because they can eat eggs) and am also planning on getting a 5 gal frag quarantine or an internal box for inside the tank, is a in tank frag quarantine possible (im still gonna be dipping frequently during quarantine)? Im not planning on fish quarantine because im only getting a few fish. I know you can trap bristle worms but I don't want to see them in the first place.
Once again as a Wrasse enthusiast I would strongly encourage you to avoid the 6 line, especially in a tank that small as they are very active and aggression would likely be compounded in that tank. You will be much happier with a Pink Streaked Wrasse in that tank.
 

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I read up on saltwater once and based on information I saw, I would not do a 6-line wrasse in a 20 gal.

Just my .02 :)
 

saltwater60

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Jesterrace said:
If you go with small frags and QT them you won't have a problem. I prefer going small frags anyways since they are much cheaper to buy and you get to watch them grow out in a much more dramatic fashion. As for the 6 lined wrasse, how long did you have them? usually it's the 18-24 month mark where they go nuts and given that they are not an easy fish to catch it presents a problem.
I did reef tanks for about 15 years and never went without one. I probably bought 3-4 of them in that timeframe. Everyone I had was over the two year mark.
theu do a good job of eliminating pests but it’s not like they will eliminate every one of them. So go with one or don’t I don’t think it’s the end of the world.
magazine I had a 75 gallon tank with about 90 lbs of love rock. I had clowns and a chromis at those times as well. I also only had 4-5 small fish in that tank at a time with and 1-2 slightly larger fish.
maybe in a smaller tank with less places to hide or more fish maybe I’d have seen aggression. I also had multiple tanks at a period of time and had one in each tank so I probably had 5-6 over the years. All they ever did for me was swim in and out of the rock work. I also always had small peaceful gobies, fire fish, and other wrasses with these fish.
maybe I was always just lucky??

Seems like the aggression seems more prevalent in smaller tanks. The smallest I ever did was a46 gallon. I also love possum wrasses. They stay small, do a good job of eating pests, and are visible a lot of the time. I had one for a while and loved it. They have quite the color variation but aren’t very commonly seen.
 
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christopher27

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Jesterrace said:
Possum and Pink Streaked are great additions for smaller tanks. Possum tend to be a bit more shy than the Pink Streaked but still a gorgeous fish, particularly the Tanaka Wrasse:

https://www.liveaquaria.com/product/3043/?pcatid=3043
I actually changed my mind on tank size to a 30 and I am now thinking about a Christmas wrasse, they are more attractive and better community fish and still provide decent pest control, I am gonna go with dry rock and 1lb of live (ill cure for a few months) just to seed it, same with sand. I have always found smaller frags more attractive and that way I can dip easier and inspect for eggs. I just want to avoid pests at all costs because of how much money this is all gonna cost and I don't want it to go to waste.
 

Jesterrace

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christopher27 said:
I actually changed my mind on tank size to a 30 and I am now thinking about a Christmas wrasse, they are more attractive and better community fish and still provide decent pest control, I am gonna go with dry rock and 1lb of live (ill cure for a few months) just to seed it, same with sand. I have always found smaller frags more attractive and that way I can dip easier and inspect for eggs. I just want to avoid pests at all costs because of how much money this is all gonna cost and I don't want it to go to waste.
30 gallons is too small for one long term. They really need a 4 foot long tank or larger to do well long term. I did keep a Melanurus (same Halichoeres Wrasse family as the Christmas) in a 36 gallon bowfront for a few months but even now at 4 inches or so in length it definitely would be too big for the 36 gallon. The Christmas Wrasse gets between 5-6 inches in length when fully grown and is very active. To give you an idea here is my Melanurus Wrasse in my current 90 gallon tank:

 
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christopher27

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Jesterrace said:
30 gallons is too small for one long term. They really need a 4 foot long tank or larger to do well long term. I did keep a Melanurus (same Halichoeres Wrasse family as the Christmas) in a 36 gallon bowfront for a few months but even now at 4 inches or so in length it definitely would be too big for the 36 gallon. The Christmas Wrasse gets between 5-6 inches in length when fully grown and is very active. To give you an idea here is my Melanurus Wrasse in my current 90 gallon tank:

If Christmas wrasse is unavailable is there any other wrasse good for pest control that won't attack other fish? (hopefully for a reasonable price)

Or is a dottyback a better option?
If the dottyback is introduced last will it still be territorial?
 
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christopher27

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saltwater60 said:
This guy looks pretty cool
Saltwater Aquarium Fish for Marine Aquariums: Four Line Wrasse

I never had trouble with a dotty back being a bully. Again I had more space and a lot of rock work. I think it will depend on how many fish and space you have. Also each fish has its own personality.
The problem with wrasses are they are very active swimmers and generally need Decent space.
Im planning on a royal gramma, banggai cardinal, and a clean up crew with snails crabs and a shrimp. I really just need a good pest control fish that is relatively affordable and won't murder any other fish. Hopefully for bristleworms and nudibranchs (or any other pests common on zoas, leptos, hammers, blastos, candy canes, or duncans)

Edit: the four line wrasse looks like a good option if I can find one for a reasonable price but they are really **** expensive
 

saltwater60

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I really think you’re over thinking the pest control thing in regards to the role of one fish. A fish won’t eat every pest and you have to weigh the chances of you getting said pest that one fish will eat vs other pests it won’t eat. Bristle worms can be removed easily by had at night with a red light. If you’re going to get smaller frags and QT them the chances of getting a pest are reduced obviously. Also no matter what you do you will probably end up with something you don’t really like unless you stick to small frags and a long QT time. I know most people don’t but you seem pretty driven to do so and you may. Don’t agonize over getting rid of bristle worms. They are low priority for pest concerns in my opinion. I never eliminated them unless they were huge but even then I just did it if it was easy to do.
 

Jesterrace

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christopher27 said:
If Christmas wrasse is unavailable is there any other wrasse good for pest control that won't attack other fish? (hopefully for a reasonable price)

Or is a dottyback a better option?
If the dottyback is introduced last will it still be territorial?
Wouldn't touch any dottyback other than an Orchid as all the others have a high risk of being nasty tank bullies (Damsels on steroids).

4 line wrasse is a bit better than the 6 line but still a lined wrasse and will be aggressive to any additions you get afterwards. The Pink Streaked Wrasse really is your best bet for that tank if you want some pest removal services AND a fish that won't be a jerk to it's tankmates. Going with Dry Rock or Manmade will go a long way to you never dealing with pests in the first place and QT'ing your corals will basically make it a non issue.
 

saltwater60

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Jesterrace said:
Wouldn't touch any dottyback other than an Orchid as all the others have a high risk of being nasty tank bullies (Damsels on steroids).

4 line wrasse is a bit better than the 6 line but still a lined wrasse and will be aggressive to any additions you get afterwards. The Pink Streaked Wrasse really is your best bet for that tank if you want some pest removal services AND a fish that won't be a jerk to it's tankmates. Going with Dry Rock or Manmade will go a long way to you never dealing with pests in the first place and QT'ing your corals will basically make it a non issue.
Orchid dottybacks are the prettiest ones anyway I agree cool fish.
 
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christopher27

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saltwater60 said:
I really think you’re over thinking the pest control thing in regards to the role of one fish. A fish won’t eat every pest and you have to weigh the chances of you getting said pest that one fish will eat vs other pests it won’t eat. Bristle worms can be removed easily by had at night with a red light. If you’re going to get smaller frags and QT them the chances of getting a pest are reduced obviously. Also no matter what you do you will probably end up with something you don’t really like unless you stick to small frags and a long QT time. I know most people don’t but you seem pretty driven to do so and you may. Don’t agonize over getting rid of bristle worms. They are low priority for pest concerns in my opinion. I never eliminated them unless they were huge but even then I just did it if it was easy to do.
I just want an easy to maintain tank with as few issues as possible, that's why im opting to understock and get extremely small frags (1 polyp zoanthid, 1 stick birdsnest, etc) and dip, sadly quarantining is out of my budget and space constraints and I was hoping a pest control fish could stop a problem like nudibranchs before they do anything. I wrote my first post when I had first heard of bristle worms (and was terrified of them) and although ive come to accept they are pretty inevitable, I still am going to do everything to prevent them. Is getting a pest control fish before any coral going to help?
 
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