• Looking to buy a cephalopod? Check out Tomh's Cephs Forum, and this post in particular shares important info about our policies as it relates to responsible ceph-keeping.



Dec 22, 2004
Hi everyone,

How do you keep your tanks clean? I'm about 3/4 of the way through my cycle and I'm getting detritus and algae on my sand. The usual snails and crabs I would use for a clean-up crew seem like they will be easy pickings for my future octopus. Does a gravel vacuum work on sand (I'm used to carbonate gravel--I would expect sand would get sucked right up!).

I don't have a ceph in my tank yet, but like you I have been looking into cleaning crews.

Others on the forum have stated that bristle stars are left alone so I have 2 and I plan on trying a sand-agatateing (sp?) star to keep the substrate healthy.

I hope to introduce a sea hare species that I have had great luck with in my reef tank. It does not ink and is strictly vegitarian. It will either be great or a great snack:wink:
I have to talk them into breeding again though....

I have also read here that pencil urchans can be used.
Brittle stars, small urchins etc are great. I would hesitate to put in any form of sea slug as they can exude a toxic slime if they feel threatened (this include sea hares even if they don't ink). Can be pretty unpleasant. Some folks get away with snails too. It depends on the individual octi!


I have a chocolate chip star in my tank and it cleans up some stuff but not all that much. I'm thinking most any kind of star would be okay -- although I have heard that certain stars will steal food from octopus. Any info about this?

Also I am wondering, will any urchins be ok? Can larger ones hurt an octopus? I don't know about urchins but I think they are very interesting! Would they clean up a lot of mess?


Urchins are ok as long as they arn't the spiny ones and you're not planning to decorate your tank with a lot of plants since urchines love plants. ( They has been cases where octo pluck urchine spines and eat them by drilling a hole into its shell with it radula thing.)
Hi Robert,

I like urchins, too, and I think you'd like having a pencil urchin. Get a small one and it will grow.

I believe Colin had a problem with a serpent star stealing his octos food (or at least, the octo thought it was stealing the food).

Actually, none of these are excellent on clean up. The best I've found is to put a few little shore shrimp in the tank. Mabye they'll get eaten, but probalby a few will escape. They are excellent scavengers. Bristleworms and amphipods help, too.

by algae on the sand do you mean diatoms? If so they are just part of teh cycle and will go in time...

Get red brittle stars, they dont seem as bossy as the serpents... also, lots of bristke worms will appear in an octo tank if you have live rock and they do a great clean up job :smile:
CW have a read about diatom algae, very interesting and normally happens in new tanks
I've had a suspision that they're diatoms. On the GARF page the description of diatoms is very similar to what I have (even though the pictures look nothing like it!). I don't remember having them when my other tank was cycling, however.

So when my cycle is over they will disappear? Since all of my sand is aragonite, I would presume my water is undersaturated with respect to silica. I'm more worried about it smothering my live rock in the mean time. My ammonia and nitrite levels have peaked, so I hope they get out of here soon.

it shouldnt affect the live rock, if it does it wont last long... dont beleive all the hype about diatoms spreading all over and never going away... let your tank cycle fully and it will use up the silicates... silicates often come in with the water...
chrono_war01 said:
sea cucumbers sprayed their predators with sticky gut thingys don't they?

Yup! But the octi seems to leave them alone! We have NEVER had a problem. We even keep our bigger cuc's (Stichopus mollis) in our touch pools and a class of kids have'nt made them spray. I think it's energetically very expensive for them so it's a last response type reaction!


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