How to Keep Your Tank Clean Without Calling The Maids

You want your tank to be as clear and striking as possible. Did you know that you get that accomplished without much effort on your part?

I’ll show you how in this episode of Mr. Saltwater Tank TV.

Note: As mentioned in the video, if you are looking for recommendations for a clean up crew, please write to John @ this link

Note #2: If you ask John for a clean up crew recommendation, please purchase one from him as well. Getting his recommendation, then buying it from somewhere else is lame.

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Comments for this article (41)

  • Rob says:

    How soon after a tank has cycled would you recommend introducing the clean up crew? Before or after the addition of the tanks first livestock?

  • Rob…i’m bring in the CUC as soon as the cycle is over. Then immediately bring in your livestock

  • ALEXANDER says:

    rob…how can i do to keep water clean its gettin really dirty with green algae,what can i do??

  • Byron says:

    Great video Mark. I can’t see having a reef/marine tank without a clean up crew! The crew itself can also be quite entertaining! With that in mind, what do you think about adding sailfin mollies to the list? Mollies can be acclimated to salt water and actually do quite well in it. I have six in my 130 gallon tank and they seem to love any kind of unwanted algae! So what do you think Mark? I’m interested to know your thoughts on this.

  • jeff says:

    mark great video again, can you do a video on coraline algae on your back wall how to purple up your tank, thanks mate.
    regards jeff

  • Danielle says:

    Very timely actually as my tank just cycled and I was in the investigative stages of building a CUC! Since I’m a complete newbie I wasn’t quite sure who to add, but was also referred to reefcleaners from someone on a forum.
    This was after I made the mistake of going to a LFS and getting a very mis-mashed bunch of little critters and a first step. Only to later be told by some reefers that some of my new inhabitants might not all live in harmony. I had purchased a 2 red legged hermits, 2 blue legged hermits, 2 snails, 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 coral banded shrimp and 1 sally lightfoot crab. I’ve now been told the last 2 may cause an issue? Lessons learned I suppose.

  • Bryon…mollies can be great at taking out hair algae. I’ve never experimented with them, but I don’t have any reason not to use them if I needed them.

  • Jeff…the best way to get coraline is to keep your parameters in good standing. I setup a tank right before christmas and I had coraline algae growing in a matter of weeks.

    Whatever you do, don’t buy those “purple up” products to try to get coraline to grow. You are just throwing your money away.

  • Danielle…the coral banded and sally lightfoot can be rouge members of CUC’s. I’m not saying they will be 100% of the time, but they can be. Just keep an eye on them.

  • eric says:

    hey Mark! where can i get some of the great shirts you are always wearing. please let me know so i to can have some hilarious gear.

    thank you, Eric

  • Danette says:

    Hi Mark,
    Had my 28 gal. tank for almost 2 months. 20lbs live rock. I have a CUC. Originally, a lawnmower blenny,2 turbo snails (both just died in the last week), 6 red-legged hermit crabs, a green emerald crab, a red fire shrimp and a African Red Sea Star. A beautiful live rock specimen that had green sponge on it seems to be turning black on one side and almost like concrete on the other.Is the CUC too much for my tank? I don’t see any visible green algae. I have a small amount of purple algae. It was also growing on the snails that died. Had Spirobid worms and featherdusters too. The CUC doesn’t seem to tackle the detritus on the sandbed (not living sand) in the back of the tank. The shrimp is always hanging upside down in the LR “cave”. Emerald hides most of time. Blenny attacking clownfish. Star always on glass at water surface.

  • Chris says:

    i just wanted to let you know i order over the weekend for ReefCleaners one of there Quick Crew . to they get the time to get back to me on what they think i would need to put in my tank.i guess i will be ahead of the game that way.this is the frist time i order something live over the net i’m hopeing for the best. i did let them know i watch your shows. so next time you need something he might so you some love on the price.

  • Phil Watson. ( England ) says:

    Hey Mark,

    have only just found your site, love it and have been catching up on all your vids and Q and A’s. Love it.

    My question is, I have green hair algae, and purchased two seahairs, one seems to have disappeared, and the other does not seem to be eating the algae. Do you have any suggestions on how to get rid of it. Would really appreciate your help.

  • Phil…do you have any algae eating fish such as tangs or blennies (lawnmower or bicolor)?

  • mitchell says:

    i have a 30 gallon fish only tank im just starting what do you recomend i should buy?

  • Daniel says:

    I have 125 gallon tank with a good amount of live rock. Wanting to turn it into a predator tank . I was currently dealing with a tremendous build up of green hair algae, and brown on sand bed that i recently scrubbed off and followed with a water change. I am looking for a clean-up crew to help prevent another break out , but do not know what to get or how much. Tips and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • Terrence says:

    I have a 65 gallon tank with about 8 blueleg and redleg hermits combined,2 turbo snails,6 small nasurius snails,2 Sally lightfoots, and 1 pompom crab. Is this a decent clean up crew or do I need some more help? I can’t seem to get rid of brown algae on the sandbed and glass(acrylic) front and sides?

  • Matt says:

    Hi Mark,
    Im starting an nano 120 litres reef aquarium(mainly because of you )i was wondering what kind of CUC would i need to keep everything in good condition.I had trown away my last tank as i scrached it cleaning the glass would this not happen with an CUC?

  • Cal says:

    I have a 10litre tropical tank with a couple of plants and 7 fish
    Now I always have the problem with algie so what should I do?

  • Danny foss says:

    hi mark
    I have a 500 litre system wat clean up crew and how much would u recommend, I also have a problem with a sort of algea that nobody I talk to seem to now what it is. It’s even killed some corals by smothering them is there any way I could send u a picture to see if u have seen it before and how I could get rid of it
    Thanks for your help Danny

  • Grant Troutman says:

    Hey everyone, don’t hesitate to email John about the custom cleanup crew. He will get back to you quick, and answer any questions you have. I just received my crew in the mail, and everything seems to be healthy and doing good.

    But, like Mark said… don’t be lame and get the free recommendation from John and then order the stuff from somewhere else. That really is just lame, his prices are really reasonable, and there is just a flat rate for overnight/two day shipping.

  • craig says:

    hi i have a 13 gallon tank just wanted too knw whats the best clean up crew for my size tank thanks

  • Brian Davis says:

    Oh man! I’m revisiting this discussion after someone’s questions regarding CUCs. LOL, it cracks me up to see others who made the same mistake I did taking my LFS advice and putting a Sally in my reef tank, just say’in! (: Dang, Sally should’ve come with a trap! LOL!

    About a half dozen assassinated snails later, I caught Sally mowing on a cleaner shrimp-ka-bob. I then noticed Sally swiping at my prized fish roaming by, I was like WTH! Uh uh! Oh no you just didn’t! Three frustrated days later trying to catch PITA Sally and a sacrificing not one but two nice cleaners to that bastards sick blood thirst rampage in my reef tank, I built a Sally trap and it was on like Donkey Kong! Mmm…Sally Trap, that has a nice ring to it! Fifteen minutes after setting my Sally Trap it was caught!

    Dang, that was a heightened moment throwing my ninja skills down on that damn crab! Live and learn, this hobby is so dang fun! If you purchase a Sally, might as well get a trap to go along with it! lol, then you can take it back and put it in your LFS reef tank who sold it to you to begin with! Granite it was my mistake to begin with (: anyway, just say’in!


  • Ninja skills on crabs…that’s funny. Sally light foots are interesting looking but a member of the CUC that I won’t touch for the reasons you outlined Brian…they are too aggressive for me and they have the hardware to get the job done.

  • outrun17 says:

    Hey mark

    Great video. How can we contact John because I have a 24 nano tank and wanted to know how much I’ll need for my tank and what kind


  • outrun17 says:

    Hey mark

    The link that you have for John no longer works.

    I have a 24 gallon nano tank and
    I’m looking for a clean up crew

    Anything will help



  • Peter says:

    Hey mark

    The link that you have for John no longer works.

    I have a 24 gallon nano tank and
    I’m looking for a clean up crew

    Anything will help



  • Peter…here’s the link to John @ reef cleaners:

    Looks like he’s updating is website so that might be why the link wasn’t working.

  • vinnie says:

    i have hair algae what clean up crews should i get

  • cheryl says:

    hi could you tell me what i need in my tank. its not salt water just a normal aquarium. its 3.5 feet long and about 2 foot high


  • Stacey says:

    I would purchase a new clean up crew but they don’t ship to Canada boo 🙁

  • paulhr says:

    Every link to reefcleaners is broken on this page. I get 404 errors.

  • paulhr…I just checked the link above and it works. Here’s the link for you to try again

  • Matt says:

    If you cycle your tank with dry rock, should you add the cleanup crew after the cycle completes or after There’s some fish and livestock that dirty up the tank? I feel like with dry rock and sand, there’s no detritus or anything that will be built up for the cuc to eat…

  • Prodigy Rhymz says:

    I have a 75 gallon saltwater aquarium that I’ve had running for about a year and half, I recently just redid my tank (as a new tank) but didn’t remove anything though. It’s cycled but I’m flushing it and replacing with all RO water. I don’t have any did in tier REALL aside of some damsels just to monitor the water. I need to know what type of clean up crew I need to get. I have about 60-70 pounds of live rock (more to be added) and no softies or corals as of yet. Please help. Thanks!

  • Kyle Larsen says:

    Hi Mark, Love you videos, very helpful. I’ve ordered a CUC restock from John, but am wondering how/if you quarantine your CUC, if adding to an existing tank. My BioCube 29 is 2 years old, and my original CUC has dwindled. If you quarantine your CUC (I assume so), how long do you hold in quarantine, or are there any signs you look for in sick inverts as a warning before introducing to your DT?


  • Paul says:

    Hey! I am new to Marine Tanks and have a 100L tank with 2 clown fish and a small box puffer. I want to eventually add more. What clean up crews would you recommend to keep the algae at bay?

    Many Thanks


  • Salomon Gil says:

    Hello Mark. I recently set up a 2 gallon nano reef tank, it is cycling now and i will like to now what my cleaner crew should be like. What type of invertebrates should I get and how many of them.

  • Ashley Leonard says:

    Hey Mark,
    Great video, as usual! I was having some trouble I hope you can help me with, I tried to click the link to email your friend John and it says it is nonexistent. I have done this several times and it just will not work. Is there another way I can try to get in touch with him? I have a 55gal tank with two scarlet hermit crabs and had some questions about adding some more members to my clean up crew. Please msg me back, this is my first tank lol. Thank you! -Ashley

  • Chris hill says:

    I have a new tank. It’s a 50 gallon cube what should I get for my clean up crew. I have 2 clown fish and a carpet aneome

  • Zee says:

    Hey guys my tank just cycled i have a 135 gallon tank what would you suggest to get and how many

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