What is a Clean Up Crew? What does it do? Do I need one? What makes up a Clean Up Crew? Let's have a quick run through and a starter for 10 in the world of the Clean Up Crew (CuC). 

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A question regularly asked is how often should I test the parameters in my reef tank. There is no 'one size fits all' here but it's important to know why you should test and that, in turn, will answer how often you should test.  

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Copepods are small aquatic crustaceans which inhabit a vast range of salinities from fresh water to hypersaline conditions. They are found all over the planet in virtually all bodies of water so, naturally they form a significant foundation of the aquatic food web. For many fish, copepods are the preferred food source and some will feed almost exclusively on them such as the Mandarin fish. For most other fish, copepods make a great addition to their diets. Copepods are incredibly small but not microscopic! So you won't need a microscope to see them although if you're looking for them with the naked eye you won't see much more than a small white speck or dot on the glass. The glass of your aquarium is the best place to see them, look for small specks which move around, chances are these are copepods. Just because you can only see them on the glass doesn't mean they aren't existing throughout your aquarium though. They will be on the sand, rockwork, coral and equipment; they just wont be as visible there as they are on the glass. 

You can add copepods from packs of live copepods such as these which will help to establish a self sustaining colony. Your best bet to establish a colony of copepods is to use live rock or failing that, you will likely have more success in a more established reef aquarium. You can also culture your own by keeping a small tank of saltwater separate to your reef system and then adding live copepods with a few drops of phytoplankton before leaving nature to take its course. The copepods will breed and you'll have a supply you can dose to your tank. The other option is if you have a refugium you can add live copepods directly to this and let nature take its course again. If you have fish which actively eat copepods then you will likely need to replenish your copepod colony regularly. A way of monitoring your colony levels is by keeping a mental track on the rough levels of copepods on the glass. When you see less or no copepods on the glass you know you're running low and need to bump up the numbers a bit. 

So to sum up, copepods are great to have in your reef. You can add live copepods and cultivate your own colony but its always worth keeping an eye on the colony levels in the aquarium. 

And if you want to read more information about pods, then follow the link below to the 'What Are Pods?' blog post; 

 
CLICK HERE FOR WHAT ARE PODS?

 

What is a frag? 

A frag is just like a plant cutting. It is a piece of coral which has been broken off or cut from a larger piece of coral to grow into a large coral all over again. It isn't a new coral to be exact but rather an exact copy of the original coral from which the frag came. The polyps of the coral will clone themselves and over time will grow into a copy of the original. Fragging corals is a great way to keep on top of corals which are getting too big and also makes for a cost effective way of adding corals to your reef because a frag will always be less expensive than buying the original larger coral. You can get coral frags of SPS, LPS and Soft Corals.

 

There are frags on the RnC website which can be found at the link below;

 
CLICK HERE FOR LATEST FRAGS
 

And if you want to read more information about frags, the pros and cons, then follow the link below to the Frags 101 blog post; 

 
CLICK HERE FOR FRAGS 101

What is a Coral Colony?

A Coral is an animal with a calcium carbonate skeleton covered in tissue and polyps. These polyps can be either small or large depending on the type of coral, hence LPS - Large Polyp Stony coral or SPS - Small Polyp Stony Coral. These polyps are identical to one another and replicate when the coral grows. They essentially 'colonise' an area on the reef by asexual reproduction which gives way to the name 'Coral Colony'. In the hobby we tend to use the term colony to define the size of a coral which can be quite subjective depending on who you speak to. A generally well accepted definition of what constitutes a colony is when the coral visually represents what the natural growth form of the coral is at its full size. This is easier for the likes of Acropora where one branch would be a frag and multiple branches which look just like a miniature version of the larger coral would be considered a colony or specifically in this scenario a 'mini colony'. It's more difficult for corals like Favia or Montipora where the growth is flat and encrusting. Defining 'colony' size of this coral is subjective but I would say it's somewhere around the size of a coffee coaster or larger, but again this is really subjective.