Having a saltwater aquarium means that you can bring so many cool animals into your home. If you are starting out at the hobby, the amount of information out there can be a bit overwhelming! There are so many different fish, inverts, corals, and plants that could be placed into your tank.
Thankfully, we are here to guide you through your new hobby! If you haven’t already, check out our article about the top ten saltwater fish for beginners. These fish are all super interesting, but pretty hardy and easy to take care of.
However, let us not forget about the inverts. Beginners might feel that sticking with fish is simpler and easier, but actually, adding inverts into your saltwater aquarium will make taking care of the tank much more easier.
Yes, more animals can actually mean less work for you!
So what are the top five inverts for beginners, how are they helpful for the tank, and how do we take care of them?
1 – Peppermint Shrimp
These brightly colored shrimps are a great invert for beginners as they are hardy, peaceful creatures and also love to eat things that you don’t want in your tank!
Coming from the Caribbean, the peppermint shrimp has a transparent body with red stripes, bringing a brilliant pop of color to your aquarium. They are pretty small, only growing to around two inches, and are reef safe if you are wishing to add corals into your tank.
They are easy to take care of as they are not too picky when it comes to food. They are a scavenger so will eat a variety of things, picking live rock for sustenance. They are also great aquarium inverts as they eat aiptasia. This pesky anemone can become a big problem in tanks as they reproduce quickly, overrunning the tank. This will mean the other inhabitants of the aquarium will not get the nutrients that they need. But, peppermint shrimp love to eat these creatures and are great at keeping the levels of them in the tank low.
They are peaceful inverts and can be kept with a range of other shrimp, including other peppermint shrimp. They need a tank with a lot of rockwork and crevices for them to hide out in and are happiest with a decent amount of live rock.
2 – Nassarius Vibex Snail
The nassarius vibex snail is a little snail with a big appetite! A great tank cleaner and only $1.39, these inverts are loved by experts and beginners alike.
This snail is a scavenger and spends its days eating any leftovers that might be floating around in the tank. It will eat food debris and fish waste, helping you keep your tank clean and your nitrate levels stable. They do not eat algae, but they make up for it by being a great member of your clean-up crew!
They need an aquarium with a sand substrate. This is because they will spend a lot of their time buried in the sand, with their siphon sticking out above the surface. This is how they breathe and sense food that might be floating around.
Because they live in the sand, they sift it. This is great for the health of your tank as this keeps the sand clean and aerates it, keeping healthy bacteria and disregarding any waste. The nassarius vibex snail will also clean the sand of debris.
They are peaceful snails and generally keep themselves to themselves. However, do make sure that there is enough food for them in the tank. They are also hardy inverts and are not too sensitive when it comes to water changes.
3 – Left-Handed Zebra Hermit Crab
We have to include a hermit crab on this list, because these inverts are perfect for beginners! Dwarf hermit crabs bring a lot of intrigue to the tank, are easy to look after, and give you a helping hand in keeping your tank clean.
There are a lot of hermit crabs that are suitable for beginner hobbyists, but we are going to talk about the left-handed zebra hermit crab. Perhaps it is their giant claw or their stripy legs, but this hermit crab is a favorite for many! They have the big claw in order to be able to block any predators when they retreat fully into their shell. They have stripy black and white legs, and orange and blue eyestalks. A super cute invert for your tank!
The left-handed zebra hermit crab will spend their time scavenging for microalgae and debris to eat. If there is not enough food in the tank for them, add some dried seaweed for them to feed off.
All hermit crabs need a range of shells available to them. If they do not have a bigger shell to move into, they might attack other inverts for their shell. However, if you provide them with a good range of shells, these crabs will be peaceful. We sell shells in packs of 10, 50, and 100.
4 – Cleaner Shrimp
These shrimp are called cleaner shrimp because they clean fish, picking off dead skin and parasites from their bodies. They will also clean the fish’s teeth! A lot of enthusiasts believe that a cleaner shrimp is a necessity to any saltwater aquarium because of the impact of these shrimp on the health of the fish.
The cleaner shrimp will perch itself on top of live rock and this is their cleaning station. Here, they will wait for the fish to come to them, waving their antennas to get attention. Once the fish comes to the shrimp, it will get to work and clean off parasites or dead skin.
These shrimp are also super easy to look after. They will eat most things and as long as they have got enough food, they are happy and peaceful tank additions. They can be kept with other cleaner shrimp safely, as long as there is enough space for the both of them!
When adding one of these shrimp into your aquarium, do make sure you acclimatize them slowly. They can be a bit sensitive to changes in the water, so take your time to acclimatize them. Once they have settled in, however, they are extremely hardy creatures.
5 – Nerite Snail
Nerite snails come from the Caribbean seas and are famous for loving to eat algae. They are small creatures, only growing to about 1 inch, but don’t let that fool you! They have a huge appetite for algae. They will eat the algae off plants, decor, and glass, making your aquarium look as good as new.
They also have a beautiful round shell with patterns of gold, green, and black. This means that they are really striking, adding something new to your tank. They need a decent amount of hiding places in the tank to make sure they feel safe, but other than that are pretty hardy and can get used to a range of different tanks.
If you keep coral, the nerite snails are a good choice because they are small as so will not knock over or harm any of your coral.
Which Invert is For You?
These five inverts are amazing creatures and are perfect for beginner hobbyists. All five are unique, with their own interesting characteristics and personalities.
Which invert will become your new favorite aquarium inhabitant?
My next invert will be the skunk cleaner shrimp.
I’ve never seen the left handed zebra crab. I might just pick one up
I love my shrimp at night when they all come out my invert tank comes to life and is beautiful the skunks white stripe glows at night under the lights I love them
I love inverts so much that I created an invert only tank that doubles as a coral QT. By far, my favorite on your list is the peppermint shrimp. Mine ever so carefully cleans the spaces between my coral colonies, but also helps out cleaning up anything that happens to perish. I initially got the peppermint so I wouldn’t have to worry about any aptasia that might come in as hitch hikers, as you mention. And I honestly haven’t seen any aptasia since adding my little peppermint friend.
Next order I’ll try the zebra hermit—that fella is seriously cute ☺️
My #1 pick is the cleaner shrimp! We added one to our new reef tank and absolutely love him. We named him Jacque from Finding Nemo, lol. He is an excellent cleaner for both fish and coral. Not only can he not resist cleaning anything that he can, he will also clean our hands when we have to get in the tank for whatever reason. He makes us smile with so much personality and the much needed service he provides to our tank! If you purchase a cleaner shrimp, they won’t disappoint!
I’ve got a Blue Spotted Puffer so I don’t know WHAT inverts I can have if any.
pistol shrimp and yellow goby theyre just fun to watch
The nassarius snail is one on my favorites. It spends most of the time sifting thru the sand bed and also comes up from under the sand bed to clean any uneaten or decaying matter. Highly recommend this invert for tanks with a sand bed.
Gonna have to get a peppermint shrimp and the hermit for my new tank.
I have never seen the left handed zebra crab but now I think that is what I will get. Would they be ok with scarlet hermit crabs?
I love this!! Thank you for sharing!