Feeding a Fishless tank

Help Support Reef Frontiers:


Hermit D Crab
Nov 20, 2003
Hey All,

I am seeking feeding advice I have been unable to find in the plethera of documentation out there.. This is really a mute point as I am adding a few fish this week but...

Should I or how should I feed a tank with only a cleanup crew of crabs, starfish, snails and feather dusters and mushrooms?? I have been feeding them 3 times a week about 1/4 to 1/3 of a frozen fish food cube.

Yes I am happy with the results as everything is happy and nitrates are nill, but I still wanted to see if anyone else has more difinitive info/advice...

I don't really care for fish nearly as much as critters and corals but my wife would like some pretty swimmers and I am happy to oblige. I will be making my own fish food once the new fishies arrive (thanks to the feeding discussion here).


Seahorse Wrangler
Jul 24, 2003
Auburn, WA
The dusters and mushrooms don't need feeding. If you don't have very much algae growth though, you might need to supplement some food for the hermits and snails. A little bit of nori every couple of days would be enough. No need to feed a whole lot with just cleanup crew.

~ Steve


Free Jolly Jenkins.
Sep 1, 2003
Lynnwood, WA
Like you said, it's pretty much a moot point in your case but what you were doing was probably more than enough. Everything in your tank can pretty much fend for itself, but it won't hurt anything to add some supplimental food. Like already said, you don't really need to feed much, if at all.

The more microfood/debris in the water the more things like feather dusters and your pod population will thrive. I ran my tank fishless for about 8 months, during that time I just added phytoplankton, zooplankton, and food processed into juice. By the time I added fish the feather duster and sponge population was very hearty. I would only add maybe a cube worth of food in the course of two weeks though, pretty minimal.

Ray Pollett

Well-known member
Feb 17, 2004
Blaine, WA
Just so you know, I pretty much do everything different than most people. When I set up new tanks for customers, after the cycle is over; I add the detrivores and cleanup crew. I then feed the tank three or four times a day. I use flake food in automatic feeders. I feed way more than most people can emagine. I want the pods and other detrivores to multiply for 3 or 4 weeks before the first fish goes in. Yes, Sometimes I do get a heavy algae buildup; most of the times I see next to none. The few times I have got an algae build up it has literally clearer up over night at some point.

The tank that stays the cleanest of any I do, is a 125. It was set up this way except the owner likes to feed it. It is still fed 3 teaspoons of dry food 3 or 4 times a day. 2 years old and most would never believe how clean it stays.