Marine Setup Step 9 - Add Herbivores

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When algae starts to take off, start adding grazing animals, such as this rabbitfish. Matt Wittenrich.

[edit] Step-by-Step
Aquarium Setup

  1. Investigate
  2. Make Lists
  3. Buy Your System Components
  4. Assemble and Test Your Gear
  5. Mix the Seawater
  6. Add the Rock and Substrate
  7. Rest and Test
  8. Inoculate Your System
  9. Add Herbivores
  10. Add Hardy Fishes

[edit] Bring in the Grazing Troops

By Robert M. Fenner from The Conscientious Marine Aquarist

Within about two weeks, green microalgae will often begin to grow on many surfaces within the system.

This is normal, and you should only be concerned about clearing away the viewing panels at the front and sides of the tank.

To keep live rock looking its best, and to prevent it from being smothered with algae, herbivorous snails and small hermit crabs should now be introduced.

How many to use depends on many factors, with some reef keepers employing as many as one of these herbivores per gallon. These animals tend to starve if overstocked, so it may be better to err on the side of not adding too many all at once.

A tang, rabbitfish, or other dedicated algae grazer also makes a fine addition at this stage, if algae is proliferating.

Skipping this step will almost invariably lead to a tank full of unsightly hair algae that dominates the aquascape and chokes out most sessile invertebrates. The beauty of a properly functioning reef aquarium is that you never have to remove pieces of the aquascape for cleaning—a crew of busy snails, hermit crabs, and algae-loving fishes will do the work for you.

[edit] Recommended Reading

[edit] Good Books for Beginning Marine Aquarists