Detritivores and algae eaters have each one an essential role in an aquarium’s balance. Their presence is necessary to recreate a stable biotope in the long-run. In in their natural environment they are present in great numbers in all of our planet’s reefs. Without them, manual intervention in an aquarium would be multiplied by ten and it would not allow to stabilize the biotope.
At the beginning it is advisable to introduce snails in the 3 weeks following the starting of the aquarium. Hermits and shrimps can provide maintenance to the upper sections. As this part is more exposed to the light, it is more likely to develop undesirable algae.
The second stage consists in introducing within the 2 months following the starting of the aquarium the following species: Archaster, Nassarius, Metallia, Holoturia hilla…to work in the lower sections (sand surface, underneath the sand and under rocks). For reef aquariums it is advisable to not introduce very active fish species (ie Valencianna) as they would risk throwing sand into the decoration and corals. Active fish could even completely cover everything with sand.
3 months after the starting and during the lifetime of the aquarium, the number of light hours must remain optimal. Generally about 12 hours including the lightning on and progressive lightning off phases. It is then advisable to adjust the number of detritivores based on different needs. Algae eaters, sand cleaners, detritivores…
As important as pumping and skimming, the role of detritivores and algae eaters is clearly a determinant element in the success of a marine aquarium. They are certainly not the most attractive or beautiful inhabitants, nevertheless they are vital to the maintenance and development of a rich and stable ecosystem.