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FAQs about Tube Snails

Related Articles: Tube Snails, Mostly Family Vermetidae, Gastropods, Mollusks, Sea Slugs, Abalone,

Related FAQs: Tube Snail ID 1, Marine Snails 1, Marine Snails 2, Marine Snails 3, Marine Snails 4, Marine Snails 5, Snail ID 1, Snail ID 2, Snail Behavior, Snail Selection, Snail Compatibility, Snail Systems, Snail Feeding, Snail Disease, Snail Reproduction, Mollusks, Sea Slugs, Abalone,

Vermetid Snail Info      9/1/15
Let me start by saying this should be a quick and easy question to answer. I tried to contact the author of the associated and informative article , Ronald Shimek PhD, but his expertise/opinion comes at a literal cost. This is yet another indication that your website is absolutely invaluable. I have a single vermetid snail hitchhiker in my 65 gallon mixed reef. I want to know how it reproduces, if it is a solitary creature can I approach on a live and let live basis?
<Mmm; if only one specimen is present, not a worry. Vermetids are dioecious ("two houses"); separately male or female>

I have read horror stories of them reaching plague proportions, perhaps only under certain conditions?
<Well; yes...>
There seems to be a variety of larger less reproductive types of Vermetids, so of course I included a photo on the off chance it could be identified as one of the larger or more prolific smaller,
<I can't make out where this animal is in your photo>
I have no reference by which to compare. It isn't great detail but I wanted to include the xenia and canary blenny for size reference. Much appreciation of your time and effort.
<Again; I would not be concerned here. Bob Fenner>


vermetid snails       8/23/15
We are buying a used tank saltwater system (today). We looked at it yesterday and through research have discovered it is full of vermetid snails. They cover all the front surfaces of the 100+ lbs of live rock. We are getting all corals, fish, crabs etc. We are now hesitant because of these invasive? Nuisance? Things.
<Are things; biota; not harmful... may pester some types of benthic/settling life; but not generally problematical>
What is your opinion? We have a very successful yet small 30 gallon, saltwater tank going now and are hoping to expand.
<You could trade, sell off some of the older rock, buy new and build a separate area/bommie.... Bob Fenner>

Brown Round Tube on Rock Casting Web Around Zoas, Soft Coral: Vermetid Gastropod Control -- 4/15/10
<Hello Selah, Lynn here today.>
First Timer
<Welcome to WWM!>
Another what is this?
<Fire away>
Brown round or doughnut shape tube (white opening at the end or in the center) of circle. It is very small on rock, casting web (not like pic of Spaghetti worm) around corals.
<It's a Vermetid Gastropod, a snail that crawls around as a juvenile, but eventually attaches itself to a hard surface and remains there for the rest of its life. They feed by means of casting out, then reeling back in, a sticky mucous net that catches particulate matter and plankton that drifts by in the water column. Most of the time, these snails are harmless/beneficial, or at least innocuous, in reef systems but if they're close to a coral, they can act as an irritant. The webs don't actually sting the coral, they just irritate it through continual contact.>
I have been searching thru your website have not found the ID of this creature.
<You're good to go now!>
The web is much finer than a Spaghetti worm, really like spider web material.
<Yes it is. Spaghetti worm tentacles are hair-like, while Vermetids' are web-like.>
The little Kenya tree and Zoas coral are closing.
<Yep, that's a typical reaction.>
I have wiped off the stuff but now since searching WWM again there are more, so felt the need to ask.
<Do you mean there's more web appearing or that there are more of the Vermetids appearing here and there on the rocks? If it's more web, that's normal. These snails don't have just one that they reuse, they create them as needed. If you mean that you're seeing an increasing number of Vermetids, then you may well have a growing nutrient problem. They tend to multiply in high nutrient situations so take action if necessary. Please see the following link for more information re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm >
I sent a picture to Dr Foster and Smith and they can't identify. Enclosed are 2 pictures one close up and the other have 3, the fine line is too small to photograph, can only see with magnifying glass. I see a little critter in the white tube like end and even have seen the very fine line come out of it as it comes out. When I get close they see me and go back in. They are attached to the rock so well it crushes them when I pull them off.
<Be sure to avoid handling these with bare hands. The shells are thin, brittle, and can slice your fingers/hand fairly easily and lead to a nasty infection. It's a good idea to wear gloves and/or use tweezers (or whatever works) when handling/removing these organisms.>
I would not be concerned however the little bit of coral I have are being affected.
<Yes, you'll need to eliminate the offending Vermetids. There's a lot of information at WWM regarding this. If you only have a few, or are only concerned about the ones near the corals, I'd recommend manual removal (with care) or plugging their tubes with something like a superglue gel. If you have a lot of them, watch your nutrients. There are apparently some predators that may eat these (some hermits, fishes and crabs), but they may not be appropriate for your system. Please Google WWM, using the term Vermetid + Control for more information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
More here: http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-01/rs/index.php >
My system is a 55 gal, good water parameters, Nova extreme light, good water movement.
1 clown, LTA, 2 Pajama Cardinals, Emerald crab, Hermits, 1 Conch, 2 Turbo snails. All the guys seem happy and healthy. This website, Conscientious Marine Aquarist and The Reef Aquarium have been invaluable since starting our new hobby. I live in a very remote part of country and LFS have been a bit of a challenge as I have received incorrect info from the surrounding ones.
<Unfortunately, that seems to happen everywhere.>
I took Bob's advice and have returned items that should not have been sold.
<Excellent, he does know what he's talking/writing about!><<Heeeee, only some, part of the time. B>>
Thank you so much for your time
<You're very welcome. Good luck with the Vermetids!>
Selah in the mountains
<Take care, Lynn Z, near the mountains>

Wrasse eating snails
Bluehead Wrasse ate a tube snail 8/27/09

I was removing a few tube snails that had started growing on some coral, and my Bluehead wrasse swooped in and ate a small one before I could catch it..
<Sounds about right. These guys will eat most inverts that they can fit in their mouths.>
Today the wrasse is lying on the bottom. Every once and awhile it swims a little, but goes back to the bottom. I have checked all tank parameters, 0 NH4, 0 NO2, 2.0 NO3, PH 8.3, SG 1.025, and they are good. My other fish are fine, and my corals are all open. This is the first time it has ever done this behavior. Could the tube snail be lodged in the digestive tract of the wrasse, and it is having problems passing it?
<It is possible, although unlikely. Most wrasses will eat small snails.
How big are these snails compared to the wrasse?>
<You're welcome,
Josh Solomon>

Vermetid Gastropods 3-4-09
Ok, here's my set up. I have a 125 gallon saltwater system with approximately 110lbs. of live rock. Only about a dozen various fish but I do have plans to do a reef. (Been taking baby steps.)
<Slow and steady wins the race here.>
I have a 1/3 hp chiller, 40w UV Sterilizer, Aqua C EV 120 Skimmer, and 100mg/hr. Ozonizer. A while back, I developed these spines that are about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch long growing on my rock. These spines are sharp to the
touch and possibly could be injuring some of my livestock.
<As well as the livestock caregiver!>
I was kinda hoping this would just go away but no such luck.
<They generally wax and wane.>
So here's my question WWM. What the heck is this stuff and is it harmful, beneficial, normal, etc?
<They are Vermetid gastropods, perhaps Spiroglyphus annulatus. They are relatively common but can grow rather quickly and can be a nuisance in their location of growth, i.e. clogging outlets, but are not inherently harmful. More here:
What started out as just a little bit has really turned into a lot.
<Is not uncommon.>
My rock is completely covered now. I've attached a couple pictures so you can see what I'm talking about. Is there a cure?
<Physical removal is most effective and hermit crabs can help, but come with their own set of disadvantages.>

Vermetid Snail Mucus Causing Frogspawn Polyp Ejection? - 11/14/07 Hello Wet Web Media, Since launching my 24g nano earlier this year, I have been an avid reader of your site. Thank you for contributing so much information to the reef-keeping world. <our pleasure, thank you> Your site has helped me to diagnose a problem, but now I need input on how, or whether, to "solve" it. The pride of my tank is a bright florescent frogspawn that I added about five months ago. Since that time, two remarkable things have happened: first, the frogspawn has rapidly divided: from four heads to ten or twelve, and dividing still. <wow> Loving my frogspawn as I do, I was initially enthused by its reproduction. I've placed this coral in a nice space where it can expand and be a real showpiece in the tank. But I recently read a post by Anthony Calfo on this site that described polyp ejection (featuring the clear bubble that has developed on a few of my frogspawn heads as they've split) as a "stress induced strategy of asexual reproduction." <Interesting, but I'm not yet convinced that this is what is happening here with your coral. There is certainly plenty of reason and academic research to support the notion that polyp bail out is a response to stress (and method of asexual reproduction). Polyp bail out is when the soft tissue of a polyp detaches and drops out of the coral skeleton. If conditions are right, these dropped polyps will form new skeleton, and ultimately new colonies. (see "Polyp Bail-Out: An Escape Response to Environmental Stress and a New Means of Reproduction in Corals" by Paul W. Sammarco, published in Marine Ecology, Vol. 10: 57-65, 1982). Thus, if your corals polyps were bailing out, I'd expect them to be dropped from the mother colony and forming new colonies (not forming new branches on the same colony).> This got me thinking about the second remarkable thing that has happened since I acquired the frogspawn: in the last several weeks, a great deal of mucus or webbing has accumulated around the stalk or stem of this coral. Today, with the help of your site, I at last found the likely cause of this mucus: the frogspawn came with what I originally believed to be two tube worms attached, but what I now believe to be Vermetid snails. A small colony of Vermetids has since grown up on the frogspawn and the surrounding live rock. (Perhaps they thrive on the phyto I feed my feather duster.) Recently the web of Vermetid mucus has grown pretty thick on the frogspawn and has even trapped a bit of detritus. <Indeed, this is what the webs are for. If you watch them, you can actually see them "reeling in" these webs to collect their catch.> So now I am wondering: could this mucus web be irritating the frogspawn, resulting in stress-induced asexual reproduction? <It's *possible* but I'm not sure how likely...> If so, is that a bad for the long-term health of the coral? <It's hard to say since I'm still not sure your coral is truly stressed. Could you send in some pictures maybe?> If so, what if anything should I do to prevent it? Would you recommend or advise against an effort to baste or vacuum some of this mucus off the coral? <Likely a futile effort...the snails will just make more.> Dare I attempt to remove the snails? Some sort of dip? <Eek, don't dip it. If you MUST kill the snails, use a needle/syringe to inject vinegar/Kalk/etc. into the tubes.> Thank you very much for your time and expertise. Ben Irvin <De nada, Sara M.>

Attn Sara M: Vermetid Snail Mucus Causing Frogspawn Polyp Ejection? -11/14/07 Hello Sara, Thank you again for your time and insight. So, if polyp ejection or bail out results in a complete detachment of the polyp, that is definitely not what is happening to my frogspawn. However, some, but not all, of the heads that have divided on my frogspawn have developed a clear bubble similar to the one pictured on this page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caryfCorlsaqs.htm And the frogspawn does seem to be splitting very fast. <Yeah, this is odd...> Here are two pictures: the first, #546, shows the frogspawn from below. You can the see largest, green worm-like structure, as well as a web of greenish-whitish mucus-like material accumulating on the coral and the rock. <That actually doesn't look like Vermetid snail mucus web. If anything it kind of looks like sponge.> The second, #550, shows the frogspawn from above and behind. You can see more worm-like structures, as well as a web of mucus-like material that is catching detritus. This is the first I've noticed, but there seems to be some algae now growing on the mucus-like material as well. <That wouldn't happen with Vermetid snail mucus.> One last thing that perhaps I should have mentioned earlier: this frogspawn is hosted by two true Percs. <Hmmmm... interesting. Normally I would tell you that clown hosting is very stressful to corals. But this is such an odd thing with your coral growing so fast.> I'll confess, I thought I had it all figured out, so I await your judgment: is this bad for the coral? need it be addressed? if so, how? <I'll be honestly with you, I'm a little baffled myself. Hosting clowns usually stress out corals quite a bit. But if your coral is growing this fast, and if it keeps growing this fast, I'd question how stressed it must be. Typically, stressed corals don't grow so fast (if much at all). Let me ask you, do the clowns feed the coral?> Thanks once again. Ben Irvin <Thanks for writing, Sara M.>

Re: Attn Sara M: Vermetid Snail Mucus Causing Frogspawn Polyp Ejection?-11/14/07 Hi Sara, It's really nice of you to take the time, and I'm happy to respond, even at risk of showing my ignorance, so long as I am not taking up too much of your attention. <Not at all... I quite enjoy hearing from other people about their experiences with their corals.> I, too, wondered about the possibility of a sponge, but was at a loss to explain the worm-like structures in the gauzy, mucusy material. <I know it doesn't look like your typical sponge, but I'm 98% sure it's some kind of sponge. Sponges can be mucus-y, web-like, gauzy... all the things you're describing are not inconsistent with some kinds of sponges.> To give you a better sense of what this looks like, if I saw it growing in my fridge, or in a garbage can, I'd think that it was mold. It is whitish-greenish in color, it clings to (possibly grows on) the adjacent rocks. It has developed worm- or tube-like structures in it. It seems to cling to, or grow on, the lower, green portion of the stalk rather than on the white portions of the heads. Now, ugh, here's my ignorance: in response to your question, do the clowns feed the coral, my answer is, I don't know what that means. I feed my clowns Mysis and Cyclopeeze every third day, a reduced feeding schedule that is aimed at reducing nutrients in the tank. (I also add a few mg of phyto twice per week.) I occasionally squirt some of the Cyclopeeze in the general direction the frogspawn, but in general I don't target feed it. The clowns stay close to the frogspawn and swim in and around its heads at night. <Just like how clowns bring food to anemones in which they might be hosting, they will often also bring food to any coral in which they are hosting. This is what I mean by "feeding."> Again, I acquired this coral in May. It had four heads when I obtained it, and I suspect I'll have sixteen soon enough, each heading having split and many now splitting again. <Dear lord that's a lot of splitting. Do you have any pictures of the whole coral colony? I'm just curious to see this thing now.> This coral had been fragged off of a specimen the size of a basketball in my LFS's show tank. So perhaps it is just a quick grower. <Oh cool... I was just going to say that it would be interesting to see if the coral grew just as fast without the clowns (and/or in a different tank). So, if a frag of it in a different tank is growing just as fast, that might tell us something. But I'm afraid I still don't have a real answer for you as to why it's growing so fast. I suppose it could have some sort of genetic "defect" that is causing this. But I honestly don't know. Please do record all this though (take pictures and make notes of observations).> But I want to be sure that whatever is growing/clinging to its trunk is not an irritant. <If you're worried, and if you can easily remove it, go ahead. Better safe than sorry I suppose.> Your insight is greatly appreciated. Ben <De nada, Sara M.>

Re: Attn Sara M: Vermetid Snail Mucus Causing Frogspawn Polyp Ejection? -11/14/07 Hi Sara, Unless you recommend otherwise, I will put some light water pressure (turkey baster) on what we think is the sponge. If it blows off, great, but if it doesn't budge, I probably won't risk any kind of intervention. <Sounds like a good plan. You could also use a pair of tweezers to try and gently pull it off if the baster doesn't work.> Later this evening, I will send you two pics of the coral, one opened and one closed. <Cool, thanks!> Have I told you that I appreciate your expertise? <Hehe, yes, and thank you again for sharing with us.> Ben <Best, Sara M.>

Re: Attn Sara M: Vermetid Snail Mucus Causing Frogspawn Polyp Ejection? -11/14/07 Thanks for the advice, Sara. During a regularly scheduled water change this evening, I attempted first to suction and later to blow this unidentified material off the frogspawn. I was able to remove a little of the detritus and what looked like a bit of brownish hair algae, but the mystery material stayed put. So, since you haven't identified it as fatal coral-killing death stuff, I'm going to let it be. <Yeah, I'd just let it go for now. Most sponges don't pose any real threat to stony corals.> I've attached two pix: the first, #556, shows the whole coral as it's beginning to retract for the evening. For scale, the whole thing cuts an arc a little bit bigger than a soft ball. <Thanks for the pics, looks like a healthy coral. :-)> The second pic, #566, shows the coral closed up a bit. I had hoped to show you a picture of the coral closed all the way, so that you could distinguish the separating heads, but the frogspawn doesn't seem inclined to close up tight tonight. But, just for example, the two heads at the far right of the picture have each developed two mouths and the splits seem imminent. Likewise, on the far left, what appears to be one big head is actually four. It's really been amazing to watch. <Indeed, very interesting.> But so long as it is not an unhealthy response, I'm happy! <Corals are still so mysterious to us humans. All I can really say is that the coral looks plenty healthy. I'm not going to promise you that there's no chance this accelerated splitting isn't a result of some kind of stress. But I don't have any reason to say it is either. And even if it were, it's obviously not killing the coral. So I say just keep doing what you're doing and keep an eye on it.> (Also, in the background of 566, you can see a bit of pink sponge in the vicinity, so maybe this is a sponge-worthy rock.) <LOL... "sponge-worthy"--too funny.> And speaking of rock, you rock. Thanks for all your help. If you ever need a totally noobtastic second opinion, be in touch. <Fabulous, my pleasure.> Sara M.>

Vermetid Snails 3/30/08 Hi, first off love this site. There is such a great wealth of information here. Ok so here is my problem. I have a 65 gal reef tank. I had an out break of Vermetid snails a few months ago. I had thousands of them, They were everywhere, at feeding time their webs would cover the rock. I winded up redoing my aquascape with mostly new rock. Over the past few weeks, they are again starting to show themselves. I really want to try to combat the problem this time. Manually removing is out of the question ( too many spots I can't get to. I do not want to use chemicals. I read about people have success with zebra hermit crabs. Does this work? Copperband butterflies I also heard, don't really want one in my tank. What other things can I try. <<Hey Anthony please take a look at this; http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-01/rs/index.php .>> Thanks in Advance. Anthony <<Adam J.>>

Tube Snail Problem 11/07/07 Hi, I have searched your site high and low, asked every store in town and can¹t find anyone who has had this problem, or any suggestions on how to resolve it. I narrowed down what the creature is via a picture on your site. A tube dwelling snail, permanent tube spiral base twisting out, with a creature that has two little antennas and spews out web to catch debris in the water column. <Ah yes, Vermetid snails.> The problem, over the last year and a half this has turned into a nightmare due to them spawning. I literally have thousands of them EVERY where. They are in the protein skimmer, pumps, on my clam shell, conch shells, stacked on top of one another covering every surface in the tank. <Yep, the tend to do that sometimes.> This make cleaning the filter and tight areas so unpleasant, <indeed!> I get cuts and scraps from every thing being so sharp. They are close to impossible to remove, and are multiplying at a discouraging rate. At this point I am so frustrated I am either going to have to just shut the tank down, or strip it and start from scratch. <Yikes! I know they're annoying, but they're not worth taking a tank down for. In fact, in time, they'll likely start to die away all by themselves. Their populations typically come in booms and busts. Have you tried killing them with vinegar?> Is there anything I can do? Wrasses, or some other invert carnivore maybe? Starve them of whatever is making them thrive? <Starving the tank will hurt your other animals just as much. Is this a reef tank? If not (if its fish only), keeping the calcium on the lower end of acceptable *might* help. I'd try squirting them with vinegar or lime juice (in minute quantities) first...> I am at a loss, PLEASE HELP :( <Good luck, keep us updated.> Timothy Robitaille <Best, Sara M.>

Vermetid snails taking over - how to control 6/16/04 This question is for Anthony Calfo if available. <in your service> Anthony, I have a 75 Gallon reef with mostly SPS corals. It is a mature tank with much of the rock/corals I have kept for over 5 years. <very nice> You mention in your book of coral propagation that Vermetid snails are a "normal" thing. <yes... inevitable in some quantity> For some reason I have LOTS of these guys. I can live with the stringy stuff they give off but some of them are a real problem. They seem to like to grow on my Montipora (Cap and Digitata). They do not seem to bother the Acropora as bad. In fact, I have one that has planted itself on the back of a large purple rimmed Cap I got from a friend. I also had one climbing up a green digitata and in my opinion has "choked" it out. Can I do anything to control these critters and why do they like growing on my corals? Thanks for the help. Andrew <as you might guess, they are not growing from thin air - or water as it were - but rather, they are filter feeders that are flourishing because of excess nutrients. Better nutrient export (or limiting import) will easy check these creatures and force them to wane. If skimmer performance has waned (less than several dark cups of skimmate weekly minimum), or if the water change schedule has been too modest/small all along and caught up with you (20% per month or less), or if feeding habits are sloppy like mine <G> like thawing frozen foods but not decanting the thawed pack juice which is "rocket fuel" for growing nuisance algae, sponges or Vermetids in this case. Some possibilities to consider. But I can reassure you my friend... control the nutrients and you will control their growth. There is no "reef safe predator" on these snails for the aquarium. Anthony>

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