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Hermit crabs and snails can be a wonderful addition to any aquarium because of their janitorial tendencies. However, you need to keep in mind the demands of your system as to what sort of hermit or snail to purchase.

What are hermit crabs?

A hermit crab has three legs, which separates it from true crabs with four. Their bodies are vulnerable and therefore they provide their own shelter in the form of a shell, which you will have to provide them.

How do you select a hermit crab?

When it comes to purchasing a hermit size is probably the most important factor. Make sure that your hermit is small enough to get at the hard to reach algae you cannot clean, and also small enough so as to not pose a threat to your fish.

Which hermit crabs should you avoid?

Large hermit crabs such as Anemone Carrying Hermit, Yellow Hairy Hermit, Cone Shell Hermit, and Striped Hermit should be avoided.

Which hermit crabs are OK to buy?

The Scarlet Hermit is colorful and eats algae well, however they can get expensive. The Left Handed Hermit is very small and perfect for a tank with many small crevices. The Red Legged Hermit is also very small and eats slime algae. The Blue Legged Hermit is very small but can kill snails, so stay away snail owners!

How do you select a snail for your tank?

For snails, the pH level of your tank is probably the most important factor. Soft water can wreak havoc on a snail’s shell, so make sure you are aware of your snail environment.

Which snails should you avoid?

Pond, Mystery, or Colombian Ramshorn snails consume egregious amounts of plants, so unless you have plant life to spare in your tank, stay away.

Which snails should you buy?

Astraea snails are famous for taking algae from rock surfaces. Pipipi snails are also good in rocky environments. Turbo, Malaysian Trumpet, and Ramshorn snails in general eat lots of algae, and the Apple snail only eats algae or dead fish.

In general just make sure before introducing a new pet into your aquarium environment that both the existing inhabitants and the newcomer will be able to thrive in their shared space.