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Every saltwater aquarium needs a variety of marine invertebrates to complete its natural biodiversity. Marine invertebrates provide an important function in keeping algae under control and eating excess food.
Sea slugs are shelless snails that when put in a saltwater aquarium are used usually to solve a problem. Berghia eats aiptasia, velvet nudibranchs eat flatworms, lettuce nudibranchs eat some algae and so on.
Marine crabs play an important part in maintaining a saltwater aquarium. The two most important uses for crabs are the removal of algae and detritus. There are many different kinds of crabs and some are better than others in the removal of detritus and nuisance algae. Some crabs are just cool looking while others like the arrow crab are know to eat bristle worms.
Snails are another vital part of natures clean up crew in the reef aquarium. Care should be used in selecting the approprate snail species because different snails are better in providing a balanced eco-system while others are not reef safe.
Some sea cucumbers would be a great addition to a clean-up crew taking care a a live sand bed. While others like a Sea Apple look cool and filter the water. Cucumbers need good water quality and an established aquarium to be the most successful in the long term care.
When buying a saltwater shrimp, it could be important to choose a shrimp that would fullfill a purpose in the in your marine eco system. Cleaner shrimp will help saltwater fish fight off ICK by removing it from their body. Blood shrimp can also help but are not as good as cleaner shrimp. Peppermint shrimp can eat aiptasia but prefer other food first and can get aggressive with other anemones and corals when competing for food. This is just a start, as there are many other kinds of shrimp that can also help your aquarium become a sucessful marine eco-system.
Starfish come in many varieties, are fascinating, and depending on the variety can serve a utility type purpose in the marine aquarium. Some starfish can help clean-up the aquarium by eating food missed by fish. While others like some Brittle stars are useful in that they can get to and remove dead fish that can',t be removed by the aquarist. The hardieness of starfish range greatly depending on the variety. Brittle stars are hardy and easy to keep while Linkia starfish are much harder to keep long term in the marine aquarium.
Scallops make a great addition to the variety of a saltwater aquarium. Scallops are filter feeders and require the feeding of phytoplankton for their long term survival. Although the water quality should be very good, not using a protein skimmer my allow other food sources to remain and improve their long term success in keeping them.They should also only be added to an established saltwater aquarium.
Sea Urchins are a great addition to a clean up crew in that they can eat nuisance algae and left over fish food. They are reef safe but care should be taken in that they can knock over corals, small live rock, and anything else small and not attached well.
Fan worm which are also know as feather dusters add variety to the home aquarium. They are reef safe and once established in the aquarium do not move. They are filter feeding and should not be place in high water flow.
Jellyfish are a fun and unique addition to any home aquarium. They are considered high maintenance.