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Scuds and tubifex in shrimp tanks?


19 Feb 2010
I’m reading ‘An alternative Aquarium: A Robust Habitat‘ by Matt Owens as it is free with my Kindle subscription. The author recommends adding pond snails, tubifex and scuds as the top three invertebrates to add as a natural part of the tank ecosystem.

When I first got into the hobby I remember being told to avoid Tubifex as they grow in disgusting conditions and carry parasites and scuds should only go in tanks with bigger fish where they act as fish food and detritivores as they can be predatory and kill tiny baby shrimp and fry.

The book also includes hydra in the list of other invertebrates to possibly add and I thought they were a nuisance and, like tubifex and scuds, hard to eradicate when a colony is established in the tank.

I’ve have had a tank for the last 10 years but not kept up with the latest info on forums and in magazines. Info on the web differs a lot from one source to the next.

Are these considered safe to add as clean up crew and fish food?

The largest fish I have Congo Tetras and they’d welcome the live food.

The smallest are ember tetras and pygmy corys. I also have cherry shrimp and snails. Any fry and baby shrimp would be tiny. Would they be at risk?



20 Nov 2010
Lostock Hall
I had a tank with similar stock and without any fish.
Ramshorn snails
Bladder snails
Asellus aquaticus
Crangonyx pseudogracilis ( type of safe scuds to have in tank as Gammarus sp may be ricky)
Californian black worms.
It was active ,robust and healthy tank.
I definitely saw the benefits of having them.
I seed all my tanks with the above before adding fish but with predators arround colonies are not booming and need restocking.
Regards Konstantin


13 Nov 2019
I can’t help with Tubifex, (and I can’t imagine intentionally adding Hydra!), but Scuds are a tricky one I’ve had some experience with. I have them in two of my tanks.

In my low tech, five Endlers are the only potential predators, and they aren’t even remotely interested in hunting them. As a result the population has boomed out of control. I’m fairly sure they’ve attacked and killed almost every snail in the tank, and I can well believe they’ve likely gone for moulting and baby shrimp too.

Last spring I also ran a Moina tank, and at one point added some scuds to help maintain the tank. Again their population soon got out of control and they wiped the Moina out - I actually saw them grabbing the Moina.

In my high tech, I’ve seen both my Chocolate Gouramis and Chilli Rasbora actively hunting baby scuds amongst the moss. As a result I only ever see an adult scud once in a blue moon.

It’s a stark contrast between the tanks. I would say, in a tank with definite predators, scuds can be good - they do clean up detritus, and provide a useful food source.

In a tank without suitable predators I’d avoid adding them in - I wouldn’t have them anywhere near a dedicated shrimp tank for example.