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FAQs about Marine Snail Identification 26

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Related FAQs: Snail ID 1, Snail ID 2, Snail ID 3, Snail ID 4, Snail ID 5, Snail ID 6, Snail ID 7, Snail ID 8, Snail ID 9, Snail ID 10, Snail ID 11, Snail ID 12, Snail ID 13, Snail ID 14, Snail ID 15, Snail ID 16, Snail ID 17, Snail ID 18, Snail ID 19, Snail ID 20, Snail ID 21, Snail ID 22, Snail ID 23, Snail ID 24, Snail ID 25, Snail ID 27, Snail ID 28, Snail ID 29, Snail ID 30, & Marine Snails 1Marine Snails 2Marine Snails 3, Invertebrate ID, Snail Behavior, Snail Selection, Snail Compatibility, Snail Systems, Snail Feeding, Snail Disease, Snail Reproduction, MollusksSea SlugsAbalone

Shell IDs, Maine    10/3/12
Charlotte wanted to know about what kind of shells/snails she collected... can you help?
<Aye, periwinkles. B>

Lynn, does this look like a cowry to you? B 10/2/12
<Yep, it sure does.  I'll gladly take a stab at an ID if Wei can get some good close-up photos of the cowry when its mantle is retracted and not obscuring the shell.  Also, I'd need to know the size.  Take care, Lynn Z>  10/2/12
Wei, can/would you send along a better resolved, close-up pic or two? BobF 10/2/12
Hitchhiker Snail ID / Fuzzy, Oval Snail with proboscis

Hello WWM Crew!
I had the pleasure of seeing Bob speak this weekend at MACNA.  Definitely an insightful and fascinating talk.
We encountered this snail-like hitchhiker while acclimating our corals from MACNA for quarantine.  It is dark colored and oval with a proboscis.  The unusual aspect are the pale fringe like fuzz that covers the entire shell when the snail is active.  The fuzz disappears when the snail is in its shell -- the fuzz gives it a fuzzy Chiton-like appearance, but doesn't have the requisite segments.  I also haven't seen the proboscis in pictures of Chitons I've looked at.  It is about half an inch ling and about a quarter of an inch wide. It is fairly fast - I would say it is comparable to a Trochus in speed.  I've attached a picture for your reference.  Please let me know if you'd like me to send more photos.  Would definitely appreciate your insight on what it is and whether we should be wary..
Thanks so much!

Re: Hitchhiker Snail ID / Fuzzy, Oval Snail with proboscis: Cowry – 10/2/12
Hey Bob,
<Sorry Wei, Lynn here this afternoon (but I’ll pass this along to him).>
Absolutely!  I've attached two full resolution shots that seem to be better lit than the initial one..  Let me know if these help.
<They do, thanks! Your little hitchhiker is most likely a cowry of some sort. The branched, soft tissue covering the shell is the snail’s mantle.  I’d be happy to pursue this further in hopes of identifying which species you have, but I’d need a couple of photos of the shell itself (without the obscuring mantle).  Also, if you could tell me the size of the shell, that would be super.  In the meantime, here are several links for more information/comparison:
http://liveseashells.seashell-collector.com/browse/Cypraeidae  >
Thanks again for the wonder work you do - it was great to finally see you talk in person after all these years of reading your work and insight virtually.
Talk soon,
<Take care, Lynn Z>

Snail I.D.     9/6/12
Hi folks,
<Hi Richard>
 once again I turn to the experts with a question. I have tried to figure out the exact type of snail in this picture but without any luck.
While they seem to do a good job as a clean up crew, they have reproduced in such numbers as to be almost scary. They came aboard as hitchhikers, and are now in the literal thousands. They cover the tank walls and most of the live rock during night time hours. Should I allow them all to stay or should I try to "thin" the herd a bit?  They never get any larger than an English Pea.
<Looks to be a Collonista sp, likely C. amakusaensis. Beneficial algae grazers. There are a number of Wrasse that will gladly eat them. Manual removal is up to you but there numbers will likely return given proper food supply or lack of predators. They will never grow to any size and there small shells can clog up pump intakes.>
<Quite welcome.>
Snail I.D.     9/6/12

Hi folks, once again I turn to the experts with a question. I have tried to figure out the exact type of snail in this picture but without any luck.
While they seem to do a good job as a clean up crew, they have reproduced in such numbers as to be almost scary. They came aboard as hitchhikers, and are now in the literal thousands. They cover the tank walls and most of the live rock during night time hours. Should I allow them all to stay or should I try to "thin" the herd a bit?
<See email with image for response. Jordan>

Conch or Cone Shell? Strawberry Conch:  Conomurex luhuanus - 8/17/12
Hi Rob,
<Hi Chris, Lynn here today.>
The guy at the store claimed that this was a conch. I'm not so sure.  Check out these photos (taken with my phone so maybe a bit blurry) and let me know what you think. Currently using tongs to handle it just to be on the safe side.
<Better safe than sorry! Thankfully, what you have is a beautiful little Conch called Conomurex luhuanus (synonym: Strombus luhuanus) in the family Strombidae, commonly known as the Strawberry Conch.  The overall shape of the snail, with relatively straight sides and a short spire on top, makes it easy to misidentify as a species of Cone snail (family Conidae).  What gives it away as a true Conch is the “stromboid notch”, or small indentation, that’s located on the lip of the shell, towards the anterior end.  This is where one of the eyestalks protrudes when the animal is cruising about, foraging for micro and macro-algae.  The notch can vary from slight to pronounced, but in your snail, it’s the latter!  Also differentiating strombids from conids is the way each moves.  While strombids tend to lurch and “leap” across the sand, giving the animal a somewhat ungainly appearance, conids tend to slide or glide.  Another helpful differentiation involves the eyes.  Strombids tend to have obvious, almost knob-like eyes on the ends of long stalks while conids’ eyes typically appear as little more than black dots on the tips of tapered stalks. 
In the wild, Conomurex luhuanus inhabits areas of open sand, seagrass beds, and coral rubble in the Western Pacific and ranges from 2-3 inches (50-80mm) in shell length.  As juveniles, they tend to bury themselves in soft sand, either partially or fully, so don’t be too surprised if your individual disappears for a bit under the substrate.  As far as care goes, these snails are harmless, beneficial herbivores with big appetites for micro and macro-algae, so if the supply starts to run low in your system, you might want to try offering it some Nori that’s been rubber-banded to a rock on the sandbed.  You should be able to find dried, packaged Nori at the grocery store in the Asian section (used for sushi).  Also, make sure that the rubber-band is a new one – not one from the newspaper!  Please see the following links for photo comparison: http://www.gastropods.com/5/Shell_205.shtml 
http://www.poppe-images.com/?t=33&search=conomurex+luhuanus >
<You’re very welcome.>
<Take care, Lynn Z>
Re Conch or Cone Shell Part 2: Strawberry Conch:  Conomurex luhuanus - 8/17/12

Hello again,
<Hello Chris, Lynn here again.>
I dug up some info:
"There is, however, a surefire way of discerning whether you have a real conch. When the animal extends from its shell, look closely at its eyes. In all of the animals in this group, the eyes are large and evident, located at the end of a long stalk, and they possess an evident eyeball with a visible pupil. They are visually oriented animals and will watch you."
-R. Shimek, The Grazing Snails, Part III: Conchs, Ceriths, Cowries, and Columbellids
In the photograph with the unidentified creature on its back you can clearly see its eyes. I wonder if that fits the above description?
<Yep, it sure does.  As mentioned in the last message, there’s a definite difference between strombid and conid eyes.  Strombid eyes are much more obvious and recognizable.  Here are some photo links for comparison:
Conomurex luhuanus: http://www.poppe-images.com/?t=17&photoid=924709
Conus species (black dots on the end of white tapered stalks): http://www.divegallery.com/cone_venomous.htm >
<Take care, Lynn Z>

Snail or Conch? Likely Columbellid Snails and Spirorbids - 4/17/12
 Hi Crew,
<Hello Dave, Lynn here this evening.>
We've had an explosion of births of some kind of snail or conch in both of our salt water tanks. It happened several weeks ago and the little critters are now about the size of elbow macaroni (sorry, I couldn't think of a better comparison!).  Anyway, I did quite a bit of reading here on WWM and have looked at quite a few photos but I'm still not convinced of what they might be.  I attached a photo showing two of them hanging out on some live rock together. They look like they have a proboscis. Their shells are growing as they grow.
<The snails appear to be harmless/beneficial columbellids (family Columbellidae), aka “Dove” snails that feed on film algae, possibly diatoms, and tend to be prolific breeders.  For more information, please see the following link:   http://wetwebmediaforum.com/showthread.php?336-Critter-of-the-Week-Columbellid-snails&highlight=columbellid >
I guess the reason I'm worrying a little bit is because I've read that some species of conch are not good to keep with other invertebrates and are carnivorous.  We do have several Fighting Conch but they are very peaceful and spend most of their time below the sand bed.  Also, I'm not sure if it's related, but we've also seen an explosion of tiny white circular crusty adhesions, about the size of a pinhead,
<No worries, those are tiny, harmless, filter-feeding, feather dusters called Spirorbids.> 
 …stuck to the glass and all of the structures. They are everywhere. 
<This is typical, especially in new systems.  Eventually, the population will taper off to a more manageable level but in the meantime, you can remove any unwanted individuals from the glass with a scraper (an old credit card works well for this).>
I included a photo of an artificial leaf from one of our tanks showing them. Are these egg packets or something?  Or is this some form of algae?
<Nope, they’re Spirorbids.  If you take a close look, you can see the feathery feeding appendage on some of the individuals in your photo.  For more information/photos, please see the following links:
http://www.sms.si.edu/irlspec/spirorbis_spp.htm >
Thanks, as always, for your help and insight.
<You’re very welcome.>
Things are going quite well in our tanks right now because of your past guidance. 
<Thanks, that’s great to hear/read.>
There is no better feeling than stable fish tanks.
<That’s way up there on the list for sure!>
<Take care, Lynn Z>

ID Please.  Think I know what it is – Cone Snail.  Possible Whelk – 2/28/12
Hello Bob and Crew!
<Hello Mike, Lynn here today.  What’s up?>
Was looking at new corals just in from Australia yesterday
…and noticed his feeler out.  He came from under a chalice!!!! 
<Sneaky snail!>
Only his shell is a little more on the black side from photos I
<Is there some text missing here?  No worries, the snail does not appear to be a cone snail, but instead possibly a Whelk (Superfamily: Buccinoidea), Strombus (Superfamily: Stromboidea, Family Strombidae), or Murex (Superfamily Muricoidea) of some sort.  That covers an awful lot of ground!   Unfortunately, I can’t see enough detail to narrow the ID further or tell you with any certainty whether the snail poses a threat to your livestock.  It could be a carnivorous predator and/or scavenger, or something similar to a Columbellid (Superfamily Buccinoidea, Family Columbellidae) that grazes on micro-algae. I would test this snail by offering a meaty bit (shrimp/fish/clam, etc.) and see how it reacts.  If it takes the bait, and you choose to keep it as a scavenger, do keep it well-fed, watch for damage to livestock, and remove if/when necessary.  Please see the following links for examples of the above-mentioned groups:
Superfamily Buccinoidea:  http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/SuperFamily_BUCCINOIDEA.shtml
Family Strombidae: http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/TN_Family_STROMBIDAE.shtml 
Superfamily Muricoidea:  http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/SuperFamily_MURICOIDEA.shtml 
Also, do please check Bob’s article/photos at the following link, as well as the related links/FAQ’s at the top of the page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gastroart2.htm >
 <You’re very welcome!>
Mike Snyder
<Take care, Lynn Z>

Snail ID 12/9/11
Hello, I have been keeping, for 10 years now, a 75 gal marine tank that living things appear in from time to time. In general I think it's cool to find these animals and macro algae, and let them live.
However, I just noticed a couple snails at night on the glass and also I found 5 of them in the overflow. I have included pictures below.
(Sorry about the poor quality.) They have kind of a trunk that they appear to use to find their way and the largest is maybe 1/2 inch long. Can you tell from these pictures if these are predatory?
<Mmm, yes>
And should I catch and get rid of them?
<Depends... on what all else you have. Obviously these are eating something>
I have a snowflake eel, Picasso trigger, and a yellow tail blue damsel that I would hate to see harmed by these snails.
Thank You in advance,
<Look to me to be a type of Tulip Snail, maybe Fasciolaria tulipa
Bob Fenner>

Snail -- Gemophos spp. Whelk: 9/20/11
Hello WWM Saviors!
<Hello Jeremiah, how may I help you today?>
I have been having some mysterious disappearances overnight in my new office 2.5G Reef tank (button polyp and a lot of macro algae). I've noticed this hitchhiker snail hiding during the day, but he came out this afternoon so I could snap a picture. Is it a Nassarius?
<It's a cousin of sorts -- a Whelk in the genus Gemophos with what appears to be a harmless Collonista snail along for the ride. Please see related FAQ's at the following link for more information/photos: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WhelkF.htm
Enter 'Gemophos' in our Google search engine at the bottom of this link for more references: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm >
<Most definitely, these snails prey on sessile invertebrates and other Gastropods.>
Should I remove?
It is Florida LR (in case it helps ID).
<Thanks -- yep, this particular snail is a common stowaway on live rock from Florida. I typically get one or several with every shipment, so keep an eye out for others. It's a shame because they're actually very pretty, but unfortunately, they can do some damage to your snail population. By the way, these snails would not be the culprits consuming/doing damage to your button polyps or algae. Check your water parameters and keep an eye out, especially at night, for any other possible culprits.>
Thanks, you guys/gals are awesome!
<Why thank you!>
<Take care, Lynn Z>

Snail ID Please 7/16/11
<Hello Anup>
Hope this email finds you in the best of times!!!
<As good as it gets.>
Could you please identify this snail species for me....these snails are about 1cm long with a black shell and white spots on it...they are always up and around gracing on the live rock and glass panes of my reef aquarium...
<There are a gazillion different species of snails, but my first guess would be a Bumblebee Snail. May want to look here where you will find a few hundred species of snails with their ID.
Thanks a lot
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Snail ID Please 7/16/11 7/17/11
Dear James thanks a lot for the quick reply... The link you gave me was very resourceful...gosh didn't know so many existed...
I found it going through the pics....Lightning dove snails (Pictocolumbella ocellata) that's the one I am having.....they have bred in my tank...many roaming my tank ....but they are tiny and unobtrusive... and hopefully reef safe? right?
<I've asked Lynn, our resident gastropod expert, for her comment re being reef safe. Her reply to me is below.>
<<Hi James,
Hmmm well, I still have no definitive answer. The general concensus seems to be that they're most likely either herbivores, or opportunistic omnivores that consume both algal matter and other small critters like sponges, worms, Ascidians/tunicates, 'pods/small crustaceans, etc. that they come across while grazing. I'm 99% sure they're not purely carnivorous predators. Personally, I'd judge them innocent until proven guilty, but one thing I would definitely do is test them by offering a bit of shrimp, fish, etc., to see how they react. If they go for it, I'd either consider removing/moving them, or keeping a sharper eye on them and offering meaty bits (of marine origin) several times a week. I'd also keep an eye on their numbers. If they're opportunistic omnivores, and they're able to reproduce in captivity (like the harmless herbivores Euplica scripta, Euplica varians in the same family), their numbers can increase sharply. If this happens, and their preferred food starts to run low, they might begin to "sample" other items within the tank (like other mollusks). Regarding reproduction, the querior may notice clusters of clear, round, capsules containing a number of white eggs deposited on tank walls. If they're like the Euplica spp. mentioned above, the young develop within the capsule until ready to crawl out and begin grazing (usually after a couple of weeks). Hope that helps!
Take care,
-Lynn Z>>
<And to you. James (Salty Dog)>
Anup Sadanandan

Can you ID this creature? 7/16/11
Let me preface by saying how wonderful you guys are! I own a reef store in Las Vegas and tell everyone to check out the site.
<Ah, good to both>
I have a customer who brought me this cute little bug and would like to know if he can keep him in his reef or not.
<Is a Limpet of some sort/species and should be fine w/ most all one might have in a reef system>
His shell is hard and has the appearance of a scallop in shape but it is more like a snail. In the second pic you can see his little antenna sticking out from under his shell. Thanks in advance.
<Please see here: http://wetwebmedia.com/LimpetID1.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/LimpetCompF.htm
Bob Fenner>

unknown snail ? 7/15/11
Hello to the crew,
<Howdy Rich>
One of the main problems with identifying unknowns is not knowing what to search under, and running blind yields literally millions of hits... so I'm hopeful that someone within the crew will be able to point me in the right direction (please). This shelled development of my tank was discovered during the recent tank move. They appear to be only under the substrate (of course I don't get a chance to night view for any length of time) and measures about 1cm across at it's widest point. Sorry about the quality of the side shot, but at least it's profile is discernable. Any ideas of it's identity?
I thank you for your assistance,
Richard J.C.
<Mmm, would like to see the inside of the shell of a dead specimen, but I think this may be a member of the Slipper Shells, genus Crepidula, a calyptraeid. Bob Fenner>

Please help... Nassarius or Whelks 7/3/2011
I have a 110 gallon tank with a 55 gallon tank as a sump. It is a recent upgrade from a 75 gallon non drilled tank. but the system has been running for about 8 years. The system seems to be healthy, all water parameters are in check, tons of copepods & amphipods are thriving. All corals have great polyp extension and showing signs of growth. Other than finding a couple dead hermits, everything else seems to be running great.
<Ah, good>
I have recently purchased Nassarius snails for the tank about a month - month and a half ago. I have included pictures of both the larger snails that I purchased and a baby that I have seen 4 or 5 of in the last 2 days.
<... the larger snails are Nassarius obsoleta.( ILynassarius obsoleta)>
The babies appear to have the same coloration and similar shape as the grey and white striped one in the pictures. Their snout is white in color but hard to see in the photos because they are so small. Any help is appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to ID these little guys.
I am hoping that you can tell me that my larger snails are in fact Nassarius Snails, and if possible an ID on the babies would be much appreciated.
<The smaller animals look like some sort of Whelk to me; and too likely predaceous. I would remove them>
Thanks for your time and help.
<Bob Fenner>

snail hitchhikers (WITH PICS) 5/1/11
I just bought two pieces of soft coral and when I put them in my tank (bobbing around the top in plastic bags) I noticed a very large amount of small snails in the bag with the mushroom polyps, perhaps 20 snails.
I carefully inspected the second bag (containing starburst polyps) in a large glass bowl and found 2-3 snails. I picked the snails off the starburst polyp and introduced it into the aquarium. I'm afraid to open the mushrooms bag because of the sheer amount of POSSIBLY dangerous snails (I could easily miss one). I know they're not pyramid snails and they don't look like the Sundial snail pictures on WWM. I searched all over and didn't see any similar snails. The fish store said they have seen them before but didn't know much about them and didn't think they were a pest.
<I find this hard to believe>
If so many were in with the mushroom coral it made me think they were "mushroom predators" maybe?
<See the Net re Heliacus snails period>
It also had a little anemone on the back of the rock which he said wasn't Aiptasia after I found it at home. Since he didn't know about the snails maybe he didn't know good Aiptasia identification?
<Not Aiptasia; see WWM re Actinarian ID>
I'm attaching three photos to
possibly help.
Thank you,
<I'd be physically removing these snails, looking into other control means... perhaps a Labrid... Bob Fenner>

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