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I'm growing CPs in the Desert of Tucson, Az
Alright it's about time to start adding snails and crabs and such to my tank... So setting up a quarantine seems unstable and prone to issues since it is a bare tank with a crappy filter and a heater. Anyone have something to add to this? Should I do one? Is it over rated? Etc...
I guess it would be the most prudent thing, but I've never quarantined snails, I just make certain not to introduce any bag water into my aquarium. You can't use copper (anti-certain fish parasites) on inverts, so even if you did quarantine them, you'd want to do so for 4-6 weeks to have any hope of effectiveness, by forcing potential fish parasites to hatch and ultimately die without prey. I definitely have bought snails repeatedly from sketchy (tanks with some sick fish on the central filtration system) places, and I've never had a problem. That's obviously equivocal advice, but it's still true that routinely being less than optimally prudent with snails has come at no cost for me. One thing I would say about snails is that they are very sensitive to salinity changes, it is well worth the effort to very slowly adjust them to your water by floating the bag for temp adjustment, and then slowly adding a little bit of water repeatedly at intervals for 12 hours. retailers often run their salinity low, I routinely run mine high, so YMMV, but I still think it's more important to worry about the salinity adjustment with snails than it is to worry about quarantine.

Once you get to the adding fish stage, it would definitely be wise to quarantine, though it is true I have often skipped it without being punished. ich magnets like tangs would be my highest priority for quarantine, and obviously once you have a nice healthy group of fish in your tank, any future addition poses that much more threat, and really ought to be quarantined.
Mike pretty much hit the nail on the head, but depending on the species you're talking about, snails can be practically indifferent to rapid salinity changes. Several of the common species (small black Ceriths, Mexican and Zebra Turbos) are routinely collected not from reefs but from tidepools. The pool sits disconnected from the ocean for several hours, getting slowly warmer and saltier due to evaporation. Until the tide rolls back in and temp and salinity rapidly return to those of the ocean. . I often acclimate these species by seeing how far away I can stand and still have them land in the tank when I throw them in. As far as crabs go, understand two things. #1 All crabs are evil until you cook them. #2 The level of evilness is logarithmic in relation to the size of the animal. True Blue Legs, Hawaiian Zebras and Scarlets stay small enough that you may be able to accept their evilness. Arrow Crabs are kind of neat as long as you have no plans to keep Tubeworms of any sort (with the possible exception of hard tube varieties). Anemone and Acropora Crabs are fine as long as you have their host. Pom Pom Crabs are nice if nothing else in the tank is big enough to eat them. Other crabs have little redeeming qualities beyond their value as food. As far as maintaining water quality in a qt tank, get an air driven sponge filter and run it with a small powerhead ( the last thing you want in a sw aquarium is bubbles breaking the surface spraying salt everywhere!) in your main tank starting as soon as possible. Then move it to your qt when you get your first fish. Between that and water changes it's not difficult to keep good water quality. Also understand something about wild caught fish. They practically all carry sub-clinical infestations of ich and flukes which are no problem under normal conditions in the ocean. Under less than ideal aquarium conditions they can cause serious problems. Unless you prophylactically treat every fish going into the tank, regardless of the length of qt, the tank will likely have ich and flukes that may well stay sub-clinical as long as you maintain optimum conditions. Show me a tank which gets wiped out by ich and I'll show you one that had water quality issues to begin with.
Thanks both for your comments, much appreciated! In what way are you meaning crabs are evil? I see they're included in typical algae clean up crews and that's why I was looking at them, I'm not really super into how they look so was only going to get a couple. The ones suggested to me were dwarf zebra, pom pom, mithrax (red and green) and porcelins- and to stay away from red legs, scarlet and blue legs. ...which is a little bit backwards from what you've said. :-\ arrow crab is interesting but I do plan on having tubeworms (both feather duster and coco worms catch my attention).
Snails suggested to me were heavy trochus, few turbos, nerite, cerith, strombus, bumble bee, and nasarius.
Open question: What's your opinion in preventative treatments in QT to further help reduce the possibility of adding bad guys to the DT? I read an article suggesting hyposalinity treatment for all surgeonfish/tangs as well as de-worming agent and adding garlic to the food (general immune system stimulant?) for all quarantined fish.
Lastly, I have a HOB waterfall style filter laying around, would that work for the QT?

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I have minimal experience with crabs. I had one little green crab early on, but he picked at my corals so I fired him, and resolved to have no more. I like all the snails you list except strombus, I have no experience with those but you should be careful because some get huge. The nasarius and (I think bumblebees too) are carnivores/detritovores, you'll want to make sure at least in the beginning that there you are adding pellets for nasarius. It may be better initially to focus on the algae eaters, and then add nasarius later on when there's more detritus/food available for them.

An HOB filter will work for quarantine, depending on how it returns water to the aquarium it may increase your evap rate and thus create a little more work for you than a sponge. From my reading hyposalinity comes highly recommended, but I've never tried it. My only qt/therapeutic experience is from using copper on a harlequin filefish, he had one little pimple when I bought him so I quarantined for 2 months I believe, with however many weeks of copper are recommended, don't remember offhand. Anyway he did fine, he was pretty easy to train onto HUFA spirulina brine in qt, and he gets some supplemental food from my corals. I have never been able to get him interested in mysis or human seafood, even if disguised/packed onto a coral skeleton as pederson recommends. It's really adorable because he sleeps one inch away from my female puffer mimic filefish, he has been well worth the trouble, though he did immediately identify my best acans and went after them. I thought they preferred sps, which I grow but don't especially care about...anyway this is a digression, so--
Crabs are the ultimate opportunistic feeders, and as they get bigger they have more opportunity to feed on things you might not want them to. There are two general classes of Porcelain Crabs, those which host in Sea Anemones and free living ones. Avoid the free living ones. They're usually a grayish green color with a weird striped pattern. The commensal species are white with reddish spotting, and rarely leave their host which keeps them from spreading their evil. Mithrax species are too variable in behavior, too difficult to tell apart, and have too many similar appearing species in other genera which are too truly evil to bother with. Mithrax are often touted for their eating of Valonia (Green Bubble Algae), but they're hit or miss on even that. Get a Red Sea Desjardin's Tang if you want something to eat Valonia. The main reason to avoid Blue Legs and the other Hermits is similar to reason to avoid Mithrax, other similar appearing species that get large. I see no reason to avoid Scarlets, because theres a sure fire way to id them. Look for the yellow smile when the crab is facing you. They do get a bit bigger than true Blue Legs, but I haven't experienced problems with them. Trochus are the poster child for the sensitivity to salinity change in snails that Mike referred to, and the "Strombus" that stay tiny aren't Strombus at all. Conchs are genus Strombus, and they all get somewhat if not excessively large. There is a snail commonly known as a "Dove Snail", which is shaped very similarly to a Conch, but they only get 1/2" or a bit larger. Probably what whoever recommended Strombus to you actually meant. They also breed like flies. If you want some, pm your address and I'll send you some for the cost of shipping. As far as prophylactically treating fish, I'm all for it. When I ran a retail fish room every fish that came in got a 24 hour praziquantel bath to eliminate flukes, which kill way more captive fish than ich does. Additionally once they were eating prepared food, they would get my own little concoction of prazi, metronidazole, and a sulfa based antibiotic in flake/pellet food. Hyposalinity definitely works, but it's tedious, stressful on the fish, and if you don't take salinity down to 1.010 you're wasting your time and effort. If you want to prophylactically treat for ich, use copper in ionic form. Forget about chelated forms like Copper Safe. Garlic for fish is highly overrated medicinally speaking. But it is a wonderful appetite stimulant for fishes, and it was a main ingredient in my previously mentioned concoction because it masked the awful taste of praziquantel. Captive fish health is a combination of 3 factors, water quality, diet, and suitable physical surroundings, ie suitable tankmates and hiding places. Anything which gets a fish eating better is good, and garlic does just that.
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