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Clean-up crew numbers for lightly stocked 45gal mixed reef?


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How many snails do I need for a lightly stocked JBJ 45gal tank? 


I currently have two scarlet reef hermits, a left-handed hermit, a money cowrie, a couple regular ceriths, half a dozen or so lightning dove snails, and some number of dwarf ceriths and dwarf planaxis snails. Don't think I could accurately count those without tearing everything down. One 4ish-gal pico worth of cleanup critters, basically. 


I want to get a tuxedo urchin and one of those giant knobby ceriths from ReefCleaners. Beyond that, I'd like a mix of algae-eating and detritus-eating snails. No nassarius- the ceriths will stir the sand well enough, and the sandbed will be fairly thin anyway. Also not planning to get any more hermits, except maybe a couple more scarlet reefs eventually.


To the critters listed above, I want to add a small number of nerites, some number of assorted normal-size ceriths, some number of lightning doves (which get to about 1/2" long), and some number of tiny snails like dwarf ceriths and periwinkles. Roughly how many of each is likely to be a good number for the final crew? I'm not going to add them all at once, I know that needs to be done over time. I'm probably going to under-stock a decent bit on the cleanup crew, so the lightning doves can multiply, but I gotta find out what regular-stock would be so I know what under-stocking looks like. 


The ReefCleaners website says that prickly ceriths are about 4 times the mass of the other ceriths. Does that mean I can directly swap one of them for 4 other ceriths? Does snail math work that way? 


How many snails, roughly, would a Halloween hermit replace? Assuming the hermit was getting opportunities to scavenge fish food.


What about one of those chitons that gets to about 3" long? I know they don't roam around much, but they do seem to be really 

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The hermits are good cleaners, but they could potentially reduce your snail population.  That can be OK; but might make it necessary to replenish the snails from time to time.  I'd be tempted to add some Astraea snails too.


The actual numbers are hard to say, each tank is a little different.  If you don't get enough, you might find that you need a little more help, and have to buy some more later on.  If you get too many, their numbers will eventually reduce as there won't be enough food for all of them.  To prevent starvation, most people recommend that you error on the light side, and add more as needed.


For a light bio-load, I'd recommend that you concentrate more on herbivores and omnivores.

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I'm hoping that the hermits will leave snails alone if I give them enough shells. The Halloween hermit, if I do get that one, should hopefully leave everything alone due to it being the wrong shape and mostly too small. And I really do like hermits! They're fun to watch bumbling around in there. I think the left-handed hermit is most likely to cause trouble, since scarlets are pretty chill. I can put it in the HOB 'fuge if needed, with a heap of shells. 


I went to ReefCleaners and checked what they'd recommend for a 40gal tank, since I already have about a 5gal worth of snails. For a 40 breeder with only snails, they suggest either 16 nerites, 20 ceriths, 11 nassarius, and 42 dwarf ceriths, or 16 astreas, 20 ceriths, 15 nassarius, and 40 dwarf ceriths. I'd probably want to start with half that (minus the nassarius), and add later. I'm starting with ocean live rock, so there should be plenty of food. I'd probably also want to start with a young urchin and a smaller knobbly cerith, so they won't be too heavy of a demand on the algae and whatnot at first. 


I need to leave a chunk of room for snails. I'm planning to go to Port Aransas in spring to birdwatch, and I'm going to try to collect some snails while I'm there. I know I can get lots of periwinkles, they're all over any of the pillars supporting the wharfs, and I'm hoping to catch some lightning nerites and virgin nerites. Also shrimp and porcelain crabs, but those aren't really cleaner critters, they're just critters. 

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