Cleaner Clams care in a reef tank

If there’s any type of fish that all types of people with different interests are aware of, it’s clams. Like much other fish, these play an important role in the ecosystem as a whole and all kinds of living things. They’ve proven to be good for humans and animals alike.

Clams are finally getting the awareness that they deserve regarding their significance. But who takes care of these shellfish? When adding them to a reef tank, there are some things and factors to keep in close consideration to keep them healthy and well so let us discuss all of them extensively. 

Cleaner Clams

Clams are generally found to be very beneficial to the water that they are living in. Cleaner clams, as their names suggest, are also very good at cleaning the water and getting rid of algae by eating them. If you have yourself a reef tank, then a cleaner clam is a fish that you’ll want in your tank for the better life of both the other fish and you. 

Why You Need To Get Them 

It is obvious why cleaner clams are a need for any reef tank but there are a lot of other benefits of clams that are at times overlooked. Let us talk about them all. 

Water Cleaning by Filter Feeding

When clams feed, currents have created that move in and out of the animal and the suspended particles in water are moved to the mouth of the animal for ingesting. In this way, water clarity is increased and it is much cleaner as the microorganisms, detritus and even phytoplankton is filtered out. 

Removal of Nitrogen

The cleaning done by clams is not specific to the filtering of microorganisms. Instead, they are also very useful in removing nitrogen from the water. Too much nitrogen can give way to the birth of algae and so excessive nitrogen is something that must be avoided. For that, clams show great benefit and help in the removal of this excessive nitrogen by using it for their growth. 

Body Structure of Clams

While clams may seem like a simple fish with a simple body structure, the truth is far from it. These animals have complex organs to themselves and even have gills, a stomach, kidneys and a heart. The body structure doesn’t stop there. Clams even have eyes, siphons and so much more. 

For this very reason, the resources required by clams for survival may seem less if you think about it but they’re much more. Even if someone has enough for corals to survive which in itself is an appropriate amount, it might not be enough for clams so let us talk about all the things that a clam needs for a healthy living. 

How to Take Care of Clams

If there’s any kind of fish that is underestimated in the care and attention that it requires, it would be the cleaner clam. Because of its size and generally the image of clams for the general public, it is considered that they would be very easy to manage whereas it is not as simple. 

There are a few factors that are important to understand when thinking about the care that is to be done for a clam. So let us view all of the influences that are to be understood for cleaner clams care in a reef tank.

Water Parameters

For the growth and survival of clams in a reef tank, it is necessary to have a certain percentage of the water be nitrates. If the nitrates aren’t present, the clam will starve and can also eventually die. Other nutrients should be present in a water tank for a clam as well. 

Water parameters are a factor that is understood by only the most experienced aquarists and can be a place of failure for caring for a clam for many, many aquarists. A tank is supposed to have a stable amount of salinity, alkalinity, calcium, pH value, iodine, strontium, and of course nitrates for clams to thrive


Lighting is another factor that many aquarists somehow end up missing when taking into consideration all of the resources that a clam needs for a healthy life. Clams need intense lighting and if you’re planning on getting yourself one, any experienced or well-informed person will recommend you a powerful LED with it. 

Younger clams don’t need as intense lighting and can even be damaged by it so the way to work with them is to start slow with the lighting.

It doesn’t have to be as intense at the start and then their intensity can slowly be increased as time passes. That being said, cleaner clams can also not require light at all because of all the time they spend under sandy substrates. 


A lot of clams that can be found in the market are less than 4 inches in size. These still require a fair amount of feed that includes microorganisms like bacterioplankton and also phytoplankton twice a week.

For clams that are even smaller like those that are from 1 to 2 inches big at most, there is much more attention that is required by the clams especially in terms of food. 

While baby clams are very tempting to get, they too like any other baby living thing require a lot of attention at that age for healthy growth. Their feeding is to be given time daily until they are at least 4 inches after which you don’t have to worry too much about the feeding. 


Like any other fish, clams are affected by the flow and movement of water. They are used to stronger currents in their natural habitat which is difficult to recreate in a tank at home. This isn’t the biggest problem because clams can and do get used to the plain linear flow provided in a home fish tank or aquarium but that too has to be done properly. The flow should not make the clam mantle fold upwards a lot nor should it be allowed to retract it too much.  

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