Being a hobbyist certainly comes with many benefits. You get to witness your community of fish grow and flourish in front of your very own eyes, as the abundance of colors and personalities thrive together.
Another awesome thing about fish keeping is that you never know what will appear in your tank without you even having to do anything! It is exciting when a somewhat random "hitchhiker" appears and provides many benefits to your community.
Hitchhikers can appear from anywhere; familiar places are on live rock, coral frags, and live sand. Almost every time you introduce something new to your aquarium, expect to find a helpful hitchhiker appear too!
However, not all hitchhikers are good to have in your tank; there are some that pose problems and can spread disease and other unwanted additions.
In this post, we will be discussing the helpful ones “the Good Guys” that come with a plethora of benefits for your tank and fish community. After checking out the list, we guarantee you will start noticing them a lot more.
Here are the Good Hitchhikers
5. Feather-Duster Worm
With a rather amusing name derived from a household cleaning product, these filter-feeders are always a good sign and indicate that your tank has reached a certain level of maturity. They tend to do badly in new tanks as they require a certain amount of phytoplankton, which typically grows in population as a tank becomes more established.
Unfortunately, these worms won't last forever, certain crabs and fish have been known to enjoy them as a tasty snack - longevity is not their thing! Due to them being somewhat difficult to look after and them usually ending up as a meal, they haven't found a spot further up the list than 5th. However, they give off a great indication as to whether you have a healthy tank.
4. The Bristle-Worm
The second worm species to enter the list is the Bristle-Worm, oddly enough, despite being a helpful addition to your tank, many people throw shade and dislike them intently. They do a brilliant job of cleaning unwanted bacteria from your tank, acting as a good clean-up crew. Detritus and leftover fish food are usually consumed by them, they will also eat community members that have unfortunately passed away.
They do, however, become extremely large from time to time, which is why people may find them a little too much. Also, if you have one of these worms, expect to have more, if you start to overfeed them, you should expect to see a lot more at a quick rate. If this occurs, a good fish species to use for population control would be the Wrasses, and in particular predatory Wrasses.
3. The Spaghetti Worm
Who would have thought yet another worm would enter the list, well, what can we say! Spaghetti worms are closely related to the common earthworm, their bodies are split into segments, and they will remain mostly buried or wedged within a crevice or small holes, with their tentacles outstretched and seeking out food.
Much like the bristle worm, these will occupy most of their time going after detritus and leftover foods, which is great for tank preservation. They are pretty slow and not too mobile, once they have found the perfect spot within your aquarium, they will not venture out of it. As far as aesthetics go, they are quite disgusting and scary-looking worms, but also pretty cool too (it depends on what you are into!).
2. Various Pods
Pods come in all different shapes and sizes, there are Arthropods, Mysis, and Amphipods, to name just a few. They are tiny little critters that usually enter your tank via live rock, sand, and coral.
Most, if not all pods are seriously beneficial to have in your saltwater aquarium, mostly because they provide a good feed full of natural nutrients for the rest of your reef aquarium community. They are known scavengers, so will be a useful asset to your clean-up crew, and they also feed off pest algae.
As far as hitchhikers go, this has to be one of the best, not only providing a free cleaning service, but they provide nutrient-rich food for your fish too, as well as being incredibly low maintenance, creating a win-win situation!
Despite not being an actual hitchhiker by definition, mushroom corals have to be one of, if not the best freebie you can have for your marine aquarium! The Hitchhiker Mushroom is a mushroom coral that naturally grows and can easily be found in your saltwater aquarium.
They are also incredibly unique in the way they form and grow, due to them being mushrooms, they can literally grow on anything and have been known to enjoy living on the back of crabs and hermit crabs!
Not only are they extremely helpful with what they eat in your tank, cleaning up both unwanted parasites and bacteria, but they are also aesthetically beautiful, taking up an unusual, flower-like shape and they come in a multitude of different colors, mostly multicolored.
In conclusion, the hitchhikers that have made this list have done so for many reasons, with obviously the more notable being their usefulness as not only tank cleaners, but fish protectors, and you get those services absolutely free.
Although some of the worms are a little creepy looking, the majority of the critters featured in this list are very awesome looking, whether that be by their shape, pattern, or coloration, which adds something aesthetically to your tank too.
These Hitchhikers should certainly be invited into your community with open arms as they will bring many benefits to any community.