Which blennies eat algae?

MantisShrimpMan

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I’m aware that mixing two relatively similar blenny species can result in aggression. For instance- doesn’t seem like a smart idea to mix lawnmower and starry.

Im currently on a waitlist to obtain an Emblemaria Hypacanthus aka gulf signal blenny. They’re absolutely beautiful fish. I keep my tank slightly colder than most, about 73 degrees, and I already have a Catalina goby doing just fine.

But, my tank is dealing with an algae outbreak and I want to get a herbivorous blenny to keep it under control. But given their similar size, if I do get a lawnmower blenny, there’s a solid chance it wouldn’t get along with the gulf signal blenny I should be getting within a month or two.

so, are there any smaller herbivorous blennies worth getting? Also- are there any other nano fish that eat algae? Can’t exactly get a normal tang (although I am beginning to consider buying a tiny juvenile…)
 

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Most dwarf angels are constantly pecking on rocks for algae. Cherub and Lemonpeel are pretty good workers.
 

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+1 Rainfordi or Court Jester or Hector's. The Lawnmower Blenny and the Gulf Signal "may" get along since they have different diets.
 

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Ive a rainsford goby and tailspot blenny in a 20g. Both active rock pickers.
The rainsford is a tunneler.
 
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Most dwarf angels are constantly pecking on rocks for algae. Cherub and Lemonpeel are pretty good workers.
Yeah, I happen to really love centropyge genus angelfish anyways. Obviously a fully grown larger species like the flame angel or eibli is a bit on the large end for my tank, but some of the smaller species, especially if purchased as juveniles, would be a good fit I think.

I’ve seen the cherubs at a few stores, but there’s another species that’s really captured my interest. Granted, I’m not sure if I can afford it, but what would you think of the Colin’s angelfish? (Also the purple masked angelfish seems similar but might get a bit bigger). I happen to think the Colin’s is a far more visually stunning fish than the cherub, but does anyone have experience keeping them or know if they’re good at controlling algae?
 
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MantisShrimpMan

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Ive a rainsford goby and tailspot blenny in a 20g. Both active rock pickers.
The rainsford is a tunneler.
What do you mean it’s a tunneler? I glued together my aquascape so the only thing I can imagine any fish could do to mess with it is set up a jawfish esque den.
 

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He digs the sand out from under rocks to create a tunnel through, underneath.
 

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Tunneling is only a problem if you have things sitting directly on the sand bed. My Twin Spot digs tunnels that eventually turn into pits sometimes swallowing frags sitting on the sand. My rock work was installed prior to the sand so he can't knock that over but if yours is on top of the sand that can be a concern with sand sifters and Shrimp Gobies.
 

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Tail spot blenny and rainsford as mentioned
 

argiBK

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are there any smaller herbivorous blennies worth getting? Also- are there any other nano fish that eat algae? Can’t exactly get a normal tang (although I am beginning to consider buying a tiny juvenile…)

I’m a huge fan of the Ecsenius genus, my favorite being the Pictus/Whitelined. They stay quite small and are pretty entertaining. I don’t think they’re as effective as a Lawnmower/Starry would be, but you can bet they’ll be picking at algae all day long.

I never had a problem with mine, but blennies tend to be territorial with similar shaped fish.

Also, YMMV with a dwarf angel. Yes, they do pick at rocks and algae, but they’re not dedicated algae grazers. I wouldn’t expect one to manage an algae outbreak of any size.

Alternatively, since you are running a lower temperature tank, why not consider some Mexican Turbo snails, or, urchins?
 
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MantisShrimpMan

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I’m a huge fan of the Ecsenius genus, my favorite being the Pictus/Whitelined. They stay quite small and are pretty entertaining. I don’t think they’re as effective as a Lawnmower/Starry would be, but you can bet they’ll be picking at algae all day long.

I never had a problem with mine, but blennies tend to be territorial with similar shaped fish.

Also, YMMV with a dwarf angel. Yes, they do pick at rocks and algae, but they’re not dedicated algae grazers. I wouldn’t expect one to manage an algae outbreak of any size.

Alternatively, since you are running a lower temperature tank, why not consider some Mexican Turbo snails, or, urchins?
What does YMMV mean
 
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MantisShrimpMan

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Alternatively, since you are running a lower temperature tank, why not consider some Mexican Turbo snails, or, urchins?
Great point. I was a bit of an idiot and picked up a tiny tux urchin a bit too early while my tank was still high in nitrite and to be honest I don’t think the urchin was a particularly healthy specimen to begin with. It did not last long.

I am still interested in getting another urchin. The smart part of my brain says tux but the crazy part is saying to try something different. Halloween urchins look cool, but the ones I really think are cool are astropyga radiata, or fire urchins. That being said, my tank being a 20G and me having to frequently target feed my stubborn waspfish, might not be wise to have any long spine urchins in there.

im also tempted to get a lettuce sea slug since they’re cool and are herbivorous.

Snails… bit of a long story. The thing worth mentioning is that I started this tank for a pretty goofy reason. I’ve wanted a saltwater tank for over a decade but my final breaking point came when I found a crab in the wild. I’m a scuba instructor and passionate spearfisherman and general water lover. I was searching for clams (mercenaria mercenaria) in Long Island NY when I found a crab from the genus calappa. Can’t tell the exact species but it looks like a mix of a Calappa Flammea and a Calappa Gallus. It must have been swept up by the currents as a larvae. Certainly not native to NY. Those species are known to hang out in water more like 70 degrees. For reference, I found this crab during my fall break from university, and the water was around 40 Fahrenheit. The crab was acting incredibly lethargic and I realized that as it must have been sucked up and left up north, it would almost certainly die if I left it in the waters where I found it. So I took him home with me and set up my first ever saltwater tank for him! I love him but he is a bit of a pain when it comes to snails. I buy him mussels from the grocery store, and those keep him pretty happy, but every now and then he’ll turn on one of my banded trochus snails (as well as my nassarius snails back when I had decent sized ones, but he leaves the current TINY ones alone) I knew this was the case, and I was going to be away from the tank for a month during winter break, so I picked up 10-15 trochus at the beginning of December. Now, I’m down to maybe 5.

As it is, it takes a trochus snail a few minutes to flip itself over if it gets stuck. During that time, if my crab finds it, game over. If I did the same with Mexican turbos, I’m guessing that would be a death sentence for them if my eyes weren’t monitoring them 24/7
 
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Thanks for the clarification @argiBK

Curious your thoughts on all the stuff I outlined. One other thing I forgot to mention is I’m considering buying a short small juvenile tang to help with the algae and selling him once he gets too big. Even tho my tank is with me at college in St Louis, there’s this really great LFS back where I’m from that sells tiny gem tangs wayyyy under competitors pricing… like, only $350 instead of $600+. I bet I could actually turn a profit by bringing one back with me on my next visit to home, then selling it for more than I bought it for once it outgrows the tank! Either that or some other species of tang, a few others tempt me too.
 

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Thanks for the clarification @argiBK

Curious your thoughts on all the stuff I outlined. One other thing I forgot to mention is I’m considering buying a short small juvenile tang to help with the algae and selling him once he gets too big. Even tho my tank is with me at college in St Louis, there’s this really great LFS back where I’m from that sells tiny gem tangs wayyyy under competitors pricing… like, only $350 instead of $600+. I bet I could actually turn a profit by bringing one back with me on my next visit to home, then selling it for more than I bought it for once it outgrows the tank! Either that or some other species of tang, a few others tempt me too.

I’m in Brooklyn myself and I assume the LFS that sells $350 Gem Tangs is Country Critters, where I bought mine, lol. Once or twice a year, they’ll get a huge shipment of Gems and lower their price to $250. I usually make a trip out there once a month.

Also great story about the crab! My only question is if the crab might be a danger to the fish (if he can catch them)? As far as predation on snails, I think it’s natural for CUC population to fall off over time, though you certainly wouldn’t want them targeted and eliminated, the same concern could be the case for an urchin. Crabs are opportunistic feeders, and unless they’re a reef safe species, anything could be on the menu, including sleeping fish.

As far as urchins, Astropyga Radiatas are beautiful and every bit as effective at algae control as tuxedos/collectors/pincushions, but be aware they grow rapidly. I had one a while back, got it when it was 2” and within months it had grown to 6”.

A few other algae grazers/CUC to consider which would be challenge for the crab to eat:
  • Limpets, Stomatella Snails, Abalone, Cowries or Chitons. They are fully covered by their shells and bear down strongly when attached and attacked.
  • Hermit Crabs. Can retreat into their shells.
  • Pitho Crabs or Emerald Crabs. Pithos are great and relatively large (still 2” max). Emeralds are a little slower at algae control, but also diligent.
Dosing Phyto might outcompete the algae for nutrients, but since it seems you feed the crab heavily, this might be futile.
 
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MantisShrimpMan

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I’m in Brooklyn myself and I assume the LFS that sells $350 Gem Tangs is Country Critters, where I bought mine, lol. Once or twice a year, they’ll get a huge shipment of Gems and lower their price to $250. I usually make a trip out there once a month.

Also great story about the crab! My only question is if the crab might be a danger to the fish (if he can catch them)? As far as predation on snails, I think it’s natural for CUC population to fall off over time, though you certainly wouldn’t want them targeted and eliminated, the same concern could be the case for an urchin. Crabs are opportunistic feeders, and unless they’re a reef safe species, anything could be on the menu, including sleeping fish.

As far as urchins, Astropyga Radiatas are beautiful and every bit as effective at algae control as tuxedos/collectors/pincushions, but be aware they grow rapidly. I had one a while back, got it when it was 2” and within months it had grown to 6”.

A few other algae grazers/CUC to consider which would be challenge for the crab to eat:
  • Limpets, Stomatella Snails, Abalone, Cowries or Chitons. They are fully covered by their shells and bear down strongly when attached and attacked.
  • Hermit Crabs. Can retreat into their shells.
  • Pitho Crabs or Emerald Crabs. Pithos are great and relatively large (still 2” max). Emeralds are a little slower at algae control, but also diligent.
Dosing Phyto might outcompete the algae for nutrients, but since it seems you feed the crab heavily, this might be futile.
Yep… country critters… I had been debating whether or not to actually list them. time I went was over my thanksgiving break. What a selection! Also, just want to say, it’s been several months and my mind is still blown by the fact that despite being new to the hobby, during my visit there, I was fortunate enough to see a Dr Seuss Soapfish in person!

By the way- you gave a bunch of recommendations about other types of snails. I’m not sure that you fully understand what I mean when I say my crab eats snails, so allow me to elaborate. I believe that from my explanation, you think my crab uses positioning and intelligence to predate my snails. The same way that a harlequin shrimp might flip over a starfish to make them vulnerable, or a hermit crab might force its way into the aperture of a snail shell (the opening). My crab is a bit of an idiot and certainly isn’t capable of finessing his way into eating a snail. However, he is capable of using brute force. This is what a snail shell looks like when he’s done with it:
805430E4-50CE-4C75-9592-D40D9F844EC5.jpeg

He brute forces his way into each layer and strips out the meat entirely; trochus shells kinda look like a Christmas tree worm fan by the time he’s done with them.

So I guess the question I need to ask is which CUC snails are known for having the toughest shells? When I left my crab alone for winter break, I purposefully added a handful of mercenaria mercenaria clams so that I left him with food to access but didn’t just dump already decaying matter into the tank. A few of the clams he ate, but the ones that acclimated the best to the tank, closed tightly, and buried into the sand, he hasn’t broken into despite several attempts. He can certainly crack into most mollusk shells but he’s shown he gets discouraged by the thicker ones and eventually ignores them. If, say, conch or cowries were to have substantially harder to break shells than my trochus, there is a real chance he’d end up leaving them alone after an initial failed attempt.

Also, as for fish, I currently have 2 onyx perculas, a red rooster Pygmy waspfish, and a Catalina goby. The Catalina goby is the latest and most timid addition (not sure yet if it will start getting bolder in a few weeks time) but all 3 of the others have at some point or another made their way over to investigate the crab. He hasn’t attempted to grab them during those instances. Frankly, he’s too slow anyways. Also, I had a skunk cleaner shrimp for about a week but molted and died a few hours after. During its time in the tank, it would get pretty close to the crab when the crab was working on a clam on a half shell, and try to steal a piece for itself, and never once did the crab turn around and try to eat the shrimp.

I’ve yet to start adding corals. I’m a tiny bit worried about my crab trying to eat a softie, but honestly, I think his diet is based on scavenging, mollusks, and snails, and I think it’s unlikely he’ll eat Zoas or leathers or anything like that. For the period of time I had an urchin, he left it alone. Also- im not sure if he would try to eat a sea slug. That being said, I’ve always seen lettuce sea slugs on the rockwork not the sandbed, and he doesn’t climb up onto my aquascape. Lastly, I’ve been considering adding some smaller crabs like Pom Poms or emerald, but I’m not sure if those would be on the menu.

again, I know I haven’t posed much of an obvious question here, but any thoughts are appreciated!
 

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Hah, I have to admit that if a crab really wants to make a meal of something, they’ll manage it, lol. So, Introducing a CUC might be an initial solve, but it would give you leeway to figure out your nutrient management which is the root cause of algae in your tank.

What other equipment do you have in your tank? Do you have a sump, is it AIO? How do you nutrient export? Adding Chaeto or an Algae scrubber would certainly help. Mechanically, a UV sterilizer would help control algae. I hate to even introduce the subject of carbon dosing or chemical management, but also a possibility there.
 

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Hector's or Rainfordi/Court Jester. My Hector's is great! He doesn't back down from my Fang Blenny or Tang either. Everything seems to leave him alone and they're cool looking. Constantly picking at both the rock and the sand.
 
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MantisShrimpMan

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Hah, I have to admit that if a crab really wants to make a meal of something, they’ll manage it, lol. So, Introducing a CUC might be an initial solve, but it would give you leeway to figure out your nutrient management which is the root cause of algae in your tank.

What other equipment do you have in your tank? Do you have a sump, is it AIO? How do you nutrient export? Adding Chaeto or an Algae scrubber would certainly help. Mechanically, a UV sterilizer would help control algae. I hate to even introduce the subject of carbon dosing or chemical management, but also a possibility there.
It's an AIO. Specifically the JBJ Cubey 20g. It has a lid with a built in light fixture. I actually just sent it off in the mail today to a company I found via eBay that will upgrade the internal light fixture. The one that comes built in is only 20W which is MAYBE enough for some softies. Its coming back with 60W, and Im hoping at the very top of my aqua scape I can eventually have success with an acro.

Lid doesn't give me room to use HOB or extruding equipment. Im strongly considering cutting a hole in the lid above the rear sump baffles when I get it back so I can use the bubble magus mini Q protein skimmer and the cup actually has the clearance to sit above the water level as it needs to. Moreover, my tank doesn't allow me to use a HOB refugium and because of the thick rim that the lid sits on, I was worried using a simple in tank refugium box with no top would allow my macros to simply float out. So at the moment, Im using an acclimation box as an in tank refugium. That said, I've been thinking about it and I strongly suspect that if I were to make a refugium box with roughly the same volume but a different shape, it would drastically reduce its felt presence in the tank- not cutting into my rock work as much- and maybe provide more surface area for my macros to get light. So im starting to look into where to buy thin polycarbonate or acrylic sheets I can use to make a box in the size I want.

No ability to plumb in a UV as far as Im aware, and same appears to be true of algae scrubbers.
 

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