5G - What Inhabitants?


New member
Hello All!

Q: What inhabitants should I select for a 5G minibow?

The Setup:
I've got a 5G minibow, and I'm using a 20 Watt 50/50.

The Content:
4+ lbs of live rock, some small (dime/quarter size) feather dusters, about a dozen or so mushrooms, and a healthy serving of coraline algae.

The History:
The tank used to have a mantis shrimp. When it died, I picked up a couple blue legs and snails, which seem to have died over the course of the past year. I'm not sure why. I can count the number of water changes that this tank has received on one hand (maybe that's why? haha. Everything else seems to be living on just fine), and this is not likely to change in the future.

I've currently got some bubble algae, and hair algae growing. I'd like to eliminate this. I've got bristle worms, which while I understand are awesome for the eco-system, they are totally ugly! They also hang out in the algae, which means I'm not able to pluck it. There has been no predator in the tank for over a year, which means that not only do they hang out during the day, but they are all over the freakin' place! = )

I'm looking for inhabitants that are:

1) Self-sustaining
2) Not going to eat each other, or resort to eating the shrooms
3) Require no fancy feeding techniques (harlequins are damn cool, but I don't have the heart to cut up/sacrifice starfish). I'm cool with a weekly feed though.
4) Going to scare the bristle worms
5) Going to solve the algae problem

You guys are totally the experts, so I thought I'd ask you all rather than relying completely on the fish store dudes = )


Animal Behaviorist
Re: 5G - What Inhabitants?

<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9833425#post9833425 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by thesus13

The History:
The tank used to have a mantis shrimp. When it died, I picked up a couple blue legs and snails, which seem to have died over the course of the past year. I'm not sure why. I can count the number of water changes that this tank has received on one hand (maybe that's why? haha. Everything else seems to be living on just fine), and this is not likely to change in the future.

I've currently got some bubble algae, and hair algae growing. I'd like to eliminate this.

You've got algae problems? Then maybe your water changing habits need to change? Water quality depletes quickly in small tanks, and its important to keep up on water changes. How hard is is to change a gal or two a week? I do 5 gals a week on my 26 gal tank, I don't complain, its a part of this hobby...a necessary part of this hobby. If you can't do it, don't complain when you have algae issues.

As far as inhabs that are self sustaining, I'd stick with softies - mushrooms, zoos, rics, leather. None of those will eat each other, or sting for that matter...but they won't take care of your algae or worm problem.


New member
What kind of water are you using? Ro/di water? Also how many hours do you have the lights on daily? As far as inhabitant. You my want to look at a pair of shimp and goby combo. Thats always a nice pair.


New member
I use distilled water purchased at the grocery store.

The tank is currently getting 10 hours/day of light... which it occurs to me may be entirely too much. When I went off to college, the old timer broke and it's possible that the person who replaced the timer might not have used the same time settings! Hrmm... as noob as this question may be, what's an appropriate amount of light for this fairly simple level of inhabitant (shroom/rock)?

I'm gonna try to attach some pictures = ) We'll see what I can do here...


New member
Okay! Picture time!

Front View (hard to capture since it is a bowed front). This demonstrates roughly how much algae we're talkin' about:

Yay for dusters!

Some Shrooms:

The worms act like they own the place... ohh wait, they do = )

Nocturnal Snail (had to turn on light to get pic). There's literally 3 dozen+ of these.
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New member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9835626#post9835626 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by Grunt
Sexy shrimp. :D

Ya know... if they'd scare away the bristle worms, I'm totally game = )

I have to admit, the shrimp/goby combo looks awesome. *noob question* what species of shrimp/goby is good for such a small tank?
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New member
I think I might go with the following - let me know if this is too much, or will cause conflict.

2-3x small blue leg hermits
3x Sexy Shrimp
1x Emerald crab (the smallest I can find)

I would instigate bi-weekly water changes (unless it would need more).

I'll be asking the following questions at the LFS as well, but was wondering what you think about the following:

1) Will the shrimp need feeding daily, or can I feed them 2-3x weekly? I'm currently traveling mon-weds, but could have someone else feed 'em if needed.
2) Would the shrimp scare/eat the Bristle worms?
3) Will the shrimps be likely to eat my small dusters?
4) Would the minimum of bi-weekly water changes improve the water quality enough to take care of the small aglae buildup (including some bubble algae), or is the emerald def. needed to take care of the algae?

Obviously I would not add all of these things to the tank at the same time... I'd probably stretch it over 3ish weeks.


New member
I would go with weekly WC's till the algae is in hand... and I would use RO/DI from the LFS as it is reverse osmosis and distilled.


Premium Member
....no it's not. RO/DI is Reverse Osmosis/Deionized.

Still, RO/DI is the best water you can get.


New member
When we had a 50 gal, and we used RO/DI purchased at the LFS, we'd sometimes get bad batches that would completely wipe the tank. After 3 total wipes, we purchased our own water treatment system (not a cheap investment, lol). This was a long time ago, and the system has since then been sold.

Anyways, long story short - where do I get RO/DI water that will be reliable? : )


New member

While I'd originally been informed that bristle worms are not an issue, apparently the LFS dude thinks they are cause for high alert. He said, "The bristle worms are out during the day NOT because they lack predators, but because your tank is so stuffed with them that they have no where else to go." He claimed that they'll even eat fish. I mean like... really?

Contrastingly, google searches indicate mixed feelings. Example:

The following is listed as being bristle worm killers that might be candidates for a nano:

Arrow Crab
6-line wrasse
Coral-Banded Shrimp

I feel like these guys would get too big though... and I've heard entirely too many stories of CBSes chowing down on other desired inhabitants. What're your thoughts on putting one of these in a nano? I know I'd wanted to go with some sexys, but my #1 priority ATM is worm removal... especially if they may cause problems in the long-term.

Half of the websites indicate that arrow crabs are reef safe... the other half say that they'll eat fish! haha. I was leaning toward the arrow crab as a 2-3 month temporary inhabitant to clean up the worms... until I read this: "It eats small feather duster worms and other tiny animals that inhabit the coral reef." I like my small dusters TYVM!

On a side note, I saw an awesome looking crab which the LFS dude said was a porcelain crab. They come in electric blue? Eventually, I want one = )
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Premium Member
Fireworms are only nasty fish eaters if they are a certain species and only when a very large size.

Yes those are three options for stocking to eat brisltes. However, the CBS can be very territorial and in that size tank yo ucan't put anymore shrimp in, of any kind. The arrow crab will eat small fish by spearing them, I've had it happen personally. There's nothing wrong with a sixline, four line and eight lines have been known ot eat them as well.

I've used RODI water from the grocery store which ever you prefer. I also have an RO unit for larger tanks, but when thats not setup or I dont want to hassle with it, for one gallon I can get for about 99cents.

Sexy Shrimp as far as I konw do not eat feather dusters, nor have I ever heard anyone complain in any matter about them. My wife loves to watch them, I have a soft spot as well. :p

I have a pocelian crab like the one picture and I love him, specially when he is fed.

hope this helps



New member
The info is def. helpful. I've actually got one worm which is 5 inches long! No joke... maybe even longer. I feel like a 1" wrase isn't going to cut it.

I think what I want to do, given that arrow crabs eat dusters, is pickup a CBS for 2-3 months, and then trade it back in once the worms are under control. As I recal from when we had a CBS in our 50G, a CBS can be extremely agressive (at least for something typically considered to be 'reef safe').

Hopefully the CBS will establish a little bit of law and order in this tank = ) These worms are seriously out of control - they just lounge out in the open.




Premium Member
If they are out in the open I would grab some tweezers and remove the ones I could, at least the large ones. :D
Nice pictures btw


New member
Yep break out tweezers/hemos. I have never seem a bristle worm eat anything alive but understand the wanting to get rid of the sunbathers. lol

When the water changes start(smaller and more often the better at first) this will cut back on there food supply which is dietrus and roting organics.

Also Is the tank all crushed coral?

Might think about vacuuming it a little bit at a time not all at once that might cycle the tank. But you will surly get lots of the little one s that way also.

Happy hunting,