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FAQs on Mollusks

Related Articles: Mollusks, Sea SlugsChitons

Related FAQs: Sea Slugs, Marine Snails 1Marine Snails 2, Marine Snails 3

Cyphoma gibbosum.

ID on snail/bivalve thing!     1/11/14
Hello! I've been recommended your site as a great place to get things identified. I don't even know what section to put this thing in. It looks like a bivalve but moves like a snail! Every time it came out of the shell and I tried to take a picture, I startled it and it retreated. It's about the length of a little finger nail and about half that in width.
Thanks in advance for your help!
<This appears to be a bivalve of the genus Arca. Bob Fenner>

Re: ID on snail/bivalve thing!     1/12/14
Thank you!!! I've literally spent all day trying to identify it, I can sleep now ;) he's back in my tank now... Scooting along the sand!! I'm surprised at how fast he moves!
<Strange to see the genus moving thus... all I've ever encountered were attached... Is there some other animal (like a hermit) occupying the empty shell? BobF, down in FLA diving>
<Ahh, I see some species are "slow moving":
Re: ID on snail/bivalve thing!      1/13/14

Thanks for the link! The speed he was moving at was what initially made me think it couldn't possibly be a bi-valve, I watched him crawl across the sand about 8" in half an hour then up onto a rock. He found a shaded area under a rock full of Zoas (the exact same area he was headed for before I fished him out!) and is still there this afternoon.
I have a few other bi-valves in my tank that have never moved more than doing a little "jiggle" or an inch or two when I moved a rock and disrupted their shade. I don't have any hermits so it's definitely just a fast moving little guy!
<Ah, cheers. B>

mystery animal     9/7/13
Dear Crew,
    I was cleaning the glass on my reef tank today and discovered this animal. It looks like a sea slug of some sort.
<Mmm, yes; from the vague body-shape, something like a limpet.
I don't know if you can tell from the pictures, but the tips have "flower-like" feelers.
<Mmm, yes; more like a Nudibranch:
and the linked files above>
 It is about an inch long. Is this creature safe to put back, or should I remove it?
<I would vacuum it out on/for GP (general purposes). Bob Fenner>

Pondering Mollusks      4/23/13
Dear Crew,
Good Afternoon!
     I have three pictures of an interesting maybe mollusk/Polyplacophora in my reef tank. I do not want to send pictures that are bigger than they are supposed to be. I was wondering what the size should be, as I am not sure what exactly this animal is.
<A few hundred Kbytes per... B>
Re: Pondering Mollusks
Okay. Thanks.
<Might be a Chiton... any under-side pix? BobF>

Re: Pondering Mollusks      4/23/13
Hi Bob,
I think the critter in question is a sea hare, perhaps something in the genus Dolobrifera (like Dolabrifera dolabrifera - common, wide range in warm seas, extremely variable in color).  Unfortunately, all links to the  SeaSlug forum are out of commission (yikes - hope it's only temporary!!), but here's a link w/a photo at the bottom of the page:
Good photo here: http://www.nudipixel.net/photo/00015298/
Hope that helps!  Take care, Lynn
<Ah yes, now I see the "horns" top right... does look summat like this from above. Thanks, BobF>
Re: Pondering Mollusks      4/23/13

Thanks, it could be that or something else entirely but those "Shrek ear" appendages/rhinophores/tentacles (whatever they are) caught my eye.  Hope you're doing well and enjoying life! Take care, Lynn
<Thank you Lynn... have a painful malingering foot issue (gout plus), but trying to do what I can. Cheers, B>
Re: Pondering Mollusks      4/23/13

Thanks, it could be that or something else entirely but those "Shrek ear" appendages/rhinophores/tentacles (whatever they are) caught my eye. 
Hope you're doing well and enjoying life! Take care, Lynn
<Thank you Lynn... have a painful malingering foot issue (gout plus), but trying to do what I can. Cheers, B>
<<Ouch, that's got to hurt - hopefully you'll be back running and having a good time hashing soon.  Get this...of all the idiotic things - I tore my rotator cuff swatting a fly(!) about two months ago. 
<D'oh!... Yowch!>
Can you believe it? The funny part is that the fly got away!  If I were a more enlightened person, I would
consider this a lesson and allow flies to peacefully coexist in our house.
Instead, I bought a fly-swatter because rolled up newspapers don't work worth a darn!
Take care, Lynn>>
<And you! B>

Predatory Mollusk?    1/21/07 Good Morning Crew -  Last night I came home and my Flame Angel didn't come out for his night time feeding in my 75 gallon reef tank. <Unusual...> He's had no signs of disease or lack of health and the tank parameters have been steady at 0 ammonia, 0 Nitrites, <5 ppm Nitrate, Calcium 420, 8.3 ph, 1.023 sg. There are no other fish or Invertebrates that have/are showing signs of sickness in the tank.  Although a couple months ago while we were off diving in Turks and Caicos my 3" Kole Tang disappeared w/o a trace. <...?> I ripped the entire tank apart upon my return and didn't find any remnants aside from a slight algae bloom that I was expecting anyway as my vacation fish helpers like to over feed my tanks, hence them being instructed to feed every other day... Also there was no obvious predator present as the Tang and the Flame were the 2 largest fish and nothing in the tank was looking worse for the wear. So back to the present, unfortunately I had prior engagements last night and wasn't able to go hunting for the flame angel until this morning.  While pulling apart the live rock this morning I found my angel being eaten by the mollusk I've attached a couple pictures of.  I've searched the site and haven't found whether or not this mollusk is my killer or just an opportune scavenger. <Mmm, the latter...>   I mangled/killed him while removing him from the live rock (hence the damage in the photos).   It has a shell inside of all the fleshy tissue and is roughly an 1" long.  So I guess after that long winded background on my issue, my questions are... what type of mollusk did I have? <Perhaps a Cypraeid... maybe a Limpet of some sort> and was this most likely my killer?   <Mmm, no... maybe the angel got "stuck" somehow... perished, was then consumed> Or do I need to look further for a mantis or other predator as I'm 99.9% sure my angel was healthy and happy Thursday night. <It would be worth baiting, seeking such a possible predator> The live rock is all Tongan if that helps w/ IDing the hitchhiker.  Although I am unsure of the origin of all the rocks that came w/ mushroom and polyp corals attached. Thanks for your time and help. Andy PS... I'm not a very good photographer, so hopefully these pics aren't too lousy to id w/ :-(  And as I said before, I did damage it prying it out of the live rock. <Please read on WWM re Mantis, Crab, Alpheid detection, removal. Bob Fenner>

Conchs, Scallops and a 20 Gallon Tank...Not Enough Research Beforehand - 08/25/06 Hello, <<Howdy>> I'm new to the site and the marine world. <<Ah, welcome....>> I have a 20g that has been running for 2 months now.  In this time I slowly added 2 queen conch snails, <<This tank is woefully too small for even one of these gastropods.  They will grow (if they don't starve first) to more than 6" (12" in the wild) and require a tank with a mature substrate/live rock of some 75+ gallons...each...for their long-term survival>> a coral shrimp, 3 blue hermit crabs, a feather duster, and a flaming scallop. <<The scallop is another poor choice my friend...will starve to death within weeks to months.  Please learn to research your purchases "beforehand"...believe me, you and the hobby will be better off/happier if you learn to pick livestock you have a chance of keeping alive>> All has been going good until today. <<Mmm...>> Well, it is still going good, but I found one of the snails on its back and inside its shell. <<Not a good sign, these snails have the ability to "right themselves" very easily>> I moved it and put it upright.  Now it is acting as if it has seen a ghost.  It'll take a look around and then goes right back in.  It has not moved from the spot I put him. <<likely something environmental is malaffecting the conch...your system is awfully "new"...>> Also, the weird thing is as it did look around it picked up some rocks and built what looks like a sac with rocks covering it.  I was looking around online about the reproduction of these snail and these guys are way too young to even think about that.  That is if those sites are right about the reproduction of a queen conch.  Or, that they are queen conchs to start with. <<Indeed...several species of Strombus available to the hobby...with Strombus alatus (Florida Fighting Conch) and Strombus gigas (Queen Conch) being the most readily available>> No one else in the tank is acting weird.  So, could this be that it is reproducing or dying? <<My guess would be the latter>> Or, is it just sick? <<Will yield the same result>> Thank you for your time, Brian <<A little more reading/researching and a little less buying for now my friend.  Regards, EricR>>

Invert ID  - 03/05/06 Here are the pics I was able to get,  Thanks for your assistance.  My regards to Bob, John <Bob is out on a well earned vacation.  James again.  John, the pics dictate a type of cucumber or slug, I'd probably lean toward a Cuke.  Bob may know exactly what it is.  Hopefully he will insert something here.  James (Salty Dog)> -- "FAQ Crew" <crew@mail.wetwebmedia.com> wrote: Thank you for contacting us at WetWebMedia.com Your reply is below Invert ID Anyone have any information on an Invertebrate "Crytoplax <Cryptoplax> larvaeformis" I believe I found one in my tank last night. I found a close illustration in Julian Sprung's Invert book. It is about the size of your little finger 2" - 2 1/2" long, 1/2" in Diameter. It has a leathery type skin and a row of what looks like plates or points along the top length and a white cartilage looking thing running the Length of the underside. It resembles a garden slug. I will try to post photo's. <Do send photo and we me be able to identify.> Thanks <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> John Janda <<? They are/were attached... some 4 plus megs worth. Is this not uncommon Chiton. Bob Fenner>>

What is this??  9/13/05 Hi WWM, Found this critter in a tank that had been set up since Feb.  The live rock came from a three year old established tank, however the sand was new.  I did not add this critter, and find it hard to believe he was a hitchhiker on  the rock that came from the other tank as I have fish that would otherwise eat things like this (trigger, harlequin tusk, bamboo shark).  Is it possible he came from the live sand?   <Not likely... is a Chiton... a Polyplacophoran... lives on hard substrates> It looks like some kind of sea cucumber to me, and I have read the cautions and warnings about these guys, any suggestions??  I don't want/ need any wipeouts!! Thank You for your help!!  Jen Marshall <No worries. Bob Fenner>

Help with identification Hi, I'm trying to figure out what this is.  I found it my reef tank last night.  I showed the photo to my LFS and they told me it could be a Chiton, Cryptoplax or Stenoplax.  I've looked hard doing google searches to find exactly what it is to no avail.  Do you think it is reef safe?   >From what I can tell so far it grazes on algae. Thanks in advance, ART KOUNS <It is definitely a Chiton of some species... and reef safe enough (an algae eater. Bob Fenner>

Re: Help with identification thanks, it narrows it down slightly.  at least i appears to be reef safe.  it's kind of funny this was the first time I've seen it being that my tank has been going for 2 years. <Amazing, but happens "all the time"... and testimony to your consistent good care. Bob Fenner>

Seashells & Shellcrafts Dear Friend, Hi! Please visit our new website:     http://www.mactanshells.com We hope you'll enjoy watching our beautiful shells and handmade Shellcrafts. Kind regards, Mactan Shells

Chiton ID 9/9/03 I found this guy this morning right in the middle of my hammer coral.  It is about size of a thumb, does not appear has a shell.  It will be great if you can ID it for me and like to find out if it is reef safe. Thanks, Wayne <your critter is a Chiton, and likely an algae grazer as most are. They move very little if there is sufficient microalgae to graze upon. No worries... but do keep an eye on it. Best regards, Anthony>

- Critter ID - <Brendan, JasonC here... that photo is a little dark, but if I'm not mistaken that looks like a Chiton to me - they eat algae and rocks. Cheers, J -- >

Re: Sea shells Dear Sirs,   We came through the web site of Bizcoralshells and understand that you are interested in import of Sea Shells.   We are one of the exporters of polished sea shells and we are regularly exporting to Israel, Hong Kong and Germany.  If you will inform us the species of shells which you are interested, we will sent our price for that. Expecting your  list of sea shell species.   Thanks and best regards   E. Wellesly  Fernando <We don't sell shells. Do you know of Tideline in Los Angeles? Bob Fenner>

SE Asian Sea Shell info. Good Morning,      I am looking for information about sea shells. Would you know of any web sites or perhaps, a guide that would have such information? Specifically, I am looking for information such as scientific names, color pictures of seashells found in the Southeast Asia region. Thank you, Craig Elliott <There are a few excellent printed works. The ones I use are offered by Sea Challengers (.com). Bob Fenner>

Shells from Seashore Safe? - 2/17/03 Will it cause problems if I put shells I found at the beach in my salt water tank?  I boiled them for 10 minutes before placing them at the bottom.  The tank has been running for about 5 days. Thanks, Michelle <it is not uncommon for shells to carry a disease (even after dry for years... some parasites encyst) or simply be saturated with contaminants from the shore. Most references cite boiling shells for an hour or more to leach potential harms. Best regards, Anthony>

Collected shells Will it cause problems if I put shells I found at the beach in my salt water tank?  I boiled them for 10 minutes before placing them at the bottom.  The tank has been running for about 5 days. Thanks, Michelle <Hey Michelle, it is always risky to add things from the wild into your tank.  The only way to know for sure would be to put the items into a separate container, heat and aerate the water, and test the water for harmful substances. Best Regards, Gage>   

Collected shells Specifically, what should I test for? I am new to all this.  All the usual tests come out fine....salinity, temperature, pH, alkalinity, ammonia, nitrite.  3 out of 5 of my damsels died within 48 hours.  This is a 75 gallon tank; a friend gave us lots of his gravel (and fish poo) to get the cycle started and everything seemed fine, so it makes me think there is something with the shells...what do you think??? Thanks so much for your help. < If all of the usual tests are showing up fine, it is possible that some sort of potential biotoxin or pollution is coming from inside of the shell. Perhaps some residual tissue from the former 'resident" of the shell... or maybe some pollution, unrelated to the boiling of the shell. Many of the beaches on the mainland have high counts of mercury, arsenic, and/or other potential toxic materials. These materials may leach into the water regardless of whether or not the shell was boiled...In the end, it's just not a good idea to use locally collected shells and rocks in our aquariums.  Best Regards, Gage >

Another "what is it?" question You guys have been great at answering all my "What the heck is that?!?" questions. So now I have something entirely new that's popped up. I think it's some kind of snail. Or maybe a sea slug. <shell or no shell?> It's very dark blue, almost black. It's difficult to see what the body looks like because it has an "umbrella" that spreads over it and covers it completely.  <OK... sounds like a shelled creature with a fleshy mantle... could be a limpet species. Many types and shapes of limpets. Common ones have no significant/visible fleshy mantle (keyhole limpets) however others are quite frilly or ornate> I catch an occasional glimpse of something that looks like an eye-stalk on a land snail when a current catches an edge of the umbrella and lifts it. It's photo-sensitive, because it retracts and gets smaller when I shine a flashlight on it. When I first noticed it, it was about as big around as a quarter, but now it's about the size of a half-dollar. I've tried taking a picture of it, but no detail shows up. It lives on the live rock and does a fair job of cleaning up the little bit of green algae growing. <consistent with Limpet behavior... without a pick or knowledge of shell or know I cannot even be certain this is even a gastropod. Do help here if you can... a picture when possible. Best regards, Anthony>

Limpet question Hello again; <cheers> How are you?  <Well with hopes that you are too> I couldn't find much information on keyhole limpets anywhere.  <Huh?!? C'mon... you are computer savvy enough to e-mail us here. Surely you can use the google search feature on the index page (or any search engine!) for our site and the Web at large. I just did a general search on Google and came up with 399 hits/links on the first try using the key word "keyhole limpet". And here is our WetWebMedia page that includes them: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mollusca.htm> Do you know if they will multiply in captivity?  <they do easily... and don't get me wrong, we are here to help... and help we shall. And for an easy topic like this, no need for us to re-invent the wheel. As they say, give a man a fish and he eats for a day... teach him how to fish...> I have about 15 of them in my 29 gallon tank right now, and since it is hard to find someone that sells them, I have several people wanting to get some from me, but I don't want to deplete my supply.  <they are extremely common animals and worth little or no money. More importantly... you have fifteen and your fellow locals have none. If they each have two or more and you loose your colony, then you are likely to get babies back. However... if you horde them all... heehee> How many should I keep for myself?  <they are asexual... two will be fine. Be generous> The rest of my clean up crew consists of 25 Nassarius snails, 10 Cerith snails, 2 peppermint shrimp, 1 small queen conch, and 1 Mithrax crab. <the Cerith will breed well too in time. All will be fine until the Mithrax grow large enough to start killing things> Thanks again; Kevin <kindly, Anthony>

Keyhole Limpets Hello, How are you today? <well with hope that you are too> I have a 29 gallon tank with 25 lbs of live rock, which I set up a couple months ago. I have noticed over the last several days that I have at least 15 keyhole limpets. Are they a good addition to my clean-up crew?  <generally quite helpful algae grazers> I read that they may eat coralline algae.  <a little when your microalgae wanes... but no worries... the do far more good> Can they cause any other problems? <no problems with the herbivorous species (non-colored)> Thanks again for all your help, Kevin <best regards, Anthony>
Re: Limpet question
Thanks Anthony; I really appreciate your help. I guess I should rephrase the first sentence of my post below from "I couldn't find much info on keyhole limpets" to "I didn't take the time to find much info on keyhole limpets" (guess I'm a little embarrassed now). <heehee... no worries, my friend. I just thought it best not to promote enabling behavior on my part :) The Internet is such a fantastic resource for learning... the very fact that we can communicate within moments while living hundreds or thousands of miles away from each other is inspiring and awesome! I appreciate your understanding and tolerance of my cheeky attempts at wit ;P Do explore and exploit the wonderful resources that we have here on the World Wide Web and carry on gently. With kind regards, Anthony> Thanks very much; Kevin

Unknown creature/Keyhole Limpet Hello: <cheers> Loving your web site, and appreciate all the help you've provided via your answers to others.  <thanks kindly> Was wondering if you could help tell me what this unknown hitchhiker may be (see attached picture)?  <the picture is indeed rather fuzzy and dark... but I believe that I can identify the creature as a keyhole limpet... do look at a related page here: http://www.ocnms.nos.noaa.gov/LivingSanctuary/limpet.html > I have a newly set up 180 gallon reef. The LR has been cycled, and have my cleaning crew in the tank. I just noticed this creature today, and would like to know if it is something that should be removed before starting to put too many other inhabitants (corals, inverts, etc.). It is about 1/2 inch long, and looks like a combination between a slug and snail (slightly visible shell on back that appears flat), the underside slides along like a slug. The front has two probing antennae with a snout that looks like and elephant nose or vacuum tip. It uses it to suck on the rock surface. Would appreciate any additional help you could provide. Thanks. Dr. Mac <this snail is a useful grazer that reproduces easily and east a lot of algae. Without much microalgae they may eat a little bit of desirable coralline algae, but no worries. They are coral safe and do far more good. Keep and enjoy! Kindly, Anthony>

Keyhole Limpet Thanks for the extremely rapid response, now I understand everyone else when they say the same thing. <we aim to please ;) one case of getting more than you paid for I hope <G>> As to a keyhole limpet, isn't that the kind of creature that drills into certain types of clams?  <hundreds of species of limpet, most of which are harmless or beneficial. A few species are harmful but they are rare and far between. Even with a clear image I could not ID this snail to species level for safety, yet by its earthen color would place it in my tank with clams. If you feel bold and have a watchful eye... keep it. It you care to play it safe, remand it to a refugium (although spawns are still possible) or donate it to a local aquarium society> I am interested in placing a Tridacnid clam in my tank at some point. I remembering reading a bad point about keyhole's, but don't recall specifics. Could you enlighten me a little more.  <they really are categorically safe... the bad species are starkly colored (orange, red, etc) and the worst that the safe ones do is eat algae right down to the rock (through corallines). Little harm> As to the picture, sorry, but due to distance in the tank, 1/2" acrylic, and mediocre camera it was the best I could do. <Understood my friend. No worries. > Dr. Mac <best regards, Anthony>

Snail without a shell I have a question for you guys. The other day I found what seemed to be a snail in my 20 SW tank. Only it didn't have a shell. I compared it to the Astrea snails in my tank, and it looked the same, foot, mouth, coloring, size and so forth, only it did not have a shell. Is this possible? <Yes, if you are interested in identifying the species see here http://www.rshimek.com/Invertebrate%20Key%20to%20Major%20Taxa.htm> Thanks, Jon <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Snail without a shell Damn! You guys are quick. When I read the FAQ's and people said you responded fast I thought it might be a day, not minutes. Thanks <We do aim to please. With four of us answering questions, many times you get lucky. -Steven Pro>

"Balamus" on Live Rock ...? Hi Bob ! I am a beginner in the saltwater hobby in Sweden. I am truly impressed with the amount of information you have put together. Its a real help (and inspirer) to me. <Outstanding. Glad we have found each other> I have 10 days ago set up my system (150 gallon tank with RO water, 130 Pounds of coral sand and 45 pounds of Live Rock). All the machinery in now running. The Live rock I have is populated with "sea tulips". This term is a direct translation of the Swedish term for a similar animal we have in our cold water sea in the Nordics and is most certainly wrong. The Latin name of the family we have here in the wild is Balamus, and they looks like calcareous round white cones (0,5 - 1" wide) with a hole on the top where they put out their waiving hand. We often find them near the surface and beneath the water line on boats. <Yes, we actually have this genus of "barnacles" off our coast here in San Diego, California. For instance, Balamus balanoides is our Acorn Barnacle. A shrimp-like creature that settles as a juvenile in the water column, cements its head to rock, builds a calcium carbonate "house" around itself, and kicks food into its mouth.> They seem to be well and waving their "hands" all the time. The Live Rock is imported from Kenya through my local dealer. Some of them have had their shell hurt in the transport and are now covering the damaged opening with a white cover. I guess they are repairing their shell... ? <Yes, hopefully> Are you familiar with the "sea tulips" ? <A little, yes> I can't find any information on them in the books I have bought to educate myself or in the vast amount of information on your website. Will they survive in my tank ? <Hard to keep in most systems... not enough planktonic foods to keep them going... and where folks try to make a mash/preparation of foods and spray these in the tank, a source of pollution...> Do you have any experience with the Kenyan Live Rock ? (to me it seams very compact and heavy and not as porous as I would like it to be.) <None with the live rock from Kenya. It isn't economical to ship all the way to the U.S., compared with South Pacific, Florida varieties> I will at least triple the amount of Live Rock as soon as I can get hold of a "brand" I'm more confident with. I'm looking for Fiji but not found any supplier in my area yet. I guess you would not recommend shipping from Flying Fish ? <I would try a more local supplier. Could you have your local shop contact the folks at TMC re Fiji live rock: www.tmc-ltd.co.uk They will likely be able to find a way to get you this product. Be chatting, Bob Fenner> /Magnus

ID for slug-looking thing Hello there Bob, hope all is well. <Yes my friend> I found this thing today in my aquarium. I looked over your Crustaceans' section, and did not find anything close, except a slipper lobster. But it looks more like a slug with a hard shell. It moved slowly, and slug like. Any thoughts? <Yes, that even though I spent a good deal of yesterday trying to clear my light tables of present images of mollusks I don't even have one pic of this group, the Polyplacophora, or Chitons placed! Oh if there were just more time in the days!> I'm sure it's not a threat to my fish, so I'm not worried, just curious. Please look at this link if you can... thanks as usual. http://www.the-lee-family.com/aquarium/P1010076.JPG <Yes, a Chiton of some sort... no worries... an attached algae eater. Bob Fenner>

hello. I've got a question for you... I have a 125gal reef tank. the lighting is 2 175w MH and 2 160w VHO's.. I have plenty of water movement and 200lbs of live rock.. recently my 2 large derasa clams have pulled their mantles into their shells a bit.. my 2 maximas are doing fine and their mantles are way out. any clue to what's going on?? I've had the 2 derasas for about 2 yrs and the 2 maximas for about a year and a half and the other for 2 months. >> Could be just a fluke... a bit of "undigested potato"... a subjective difference... does anyone else notice this change? I wouldn't panic just yet, but do look into the in/excurrent siphons to see if there are any snails... other animals bugging your Derasas... Do you have a Pseudocheilinus wrasse of any species? When's the last time you switched out your lamps?... when in doubt, or real danger... the big water change and chemical filtrant action is warranted. Bob Fenner

I wrote you earlier bout my clams closing up on me.. well I found those little snails on them. I have a 125 gal with 1 6-linewrasse in it. someone told me peppermint shrimps will eat them too, which I also have 1 of.. what's your opinion on getting rid of them? should I get more wrasses and shrimp? >> >> I would look to another wrasse species if your Sixline is not doing the job. A couple of Halichoeres species that have shown utility are H. melanurus and H. chloropterus... As juveniles two of the more commonly available Coris wrasses do a good job on Pyramidellid snails as well. C. gaimard and C. formosa (really C. frerei)... do try to get the latter ones as juveniles, about four inches... and keep your eyes on them. Coris wrasses can be too unruly as they get bigger... but by then, your snail problems will be long gone. Bob Fenner

Live mussels my local grocery store sells live mussels......can I add any to my 40 gallon  reef, and what are any consequences? >> You intend the mussels as livestock? I wouldn't... unfortunately, though Mussels (probably the family Mytilidae) are warranted for human consumption, they way too often perish (from stress, warm water... they're cultured in cool/cold) and pollute small volumes like aquariums... You might try just a few of these filter feeders in a separate (from your tropical) system... and see how they do... going forward you would need a chiller and to provide suspended foods for them to filter feed... Bob Fenner

Question: I have two 75 gal reef tanks set up. Everything is living and growing beautifully. However, I do find myself having a problem with anemone's and snails. Every time I get anemone's, (species doesn't seem to matter) or snails they don't seem to last long. After about 4 month's the anemone's shrink slowly away and die. I feed them worms fish and scallops. The snails clean the tank than they die off or disappear. The fish and corals that I have just keep going and growing. I do add Reef plus, reef calcium and reef iodine by Seachem weekly. Is there anything else I can do to keep these guys alive?

Bob's Answer: Hey Jeff, thanks for your note. First, the anemone losses don't surprise me. Many of these animals are roughly removed and handled prior to getting to your retailer. They wouldn't live for anyone. Secondly, many, by far the vast majority of anemone species should not be utilized for ornamental aquaristic purposes anyway: Most have extraordinary needs that will not be met by aquarists. For instance, many of the larger species are detritivores or even coprovores (they eat fish poop)... and the associations afforded them in aquarium settings are totally inadequate. If you must try an anemone, do research that species particular needs and learn how to pick out healthy specimens. The best place to start is the Internet at the "Breeder's Registry". Look to the works of Joyce Wilkerson and Daphne Fautin for much more. Now the snail losses do concern me otherwise. I'm curious as to why these aren't making it. Maybe you have some crabs (like the so-called "picker-upper types"). All crabs used in the trade are opportunistic omnivores and will gladly eat your snails. Many fishes like to munch on them too, as do a great deal of the interstitial fauna like Errantiate polychaetes (e.g. bristleworms). I'd skip on these, unless you want to go back and forth on the net winnowing out who the culprit(s) might be.

Question: I believe I have Chitons in my aquarium. Small white creatures approx. 1/8"X1/4" oval and perhaps 1/16" thick. They come out at night and work the rocks and 'glass'. There is a fine pattern of scratches on the plexi now wherever the Chitons have been. My question -- how can I control these beasties? Is there anything I can do to prevent more damage to the plexi?

Bob's Answer: Hey John. Chitons? Neat, but with their rasping radula/odontophore grinding ware, a real problem I bet. If you can catch them in the act, a credit card scraper and vacuum job ought to get rid of them in a while. They (Polyplacophorans) are not capable of reproducing like the plague of freshwater snails... and I would not stoop to some sort of chemical control.

  • TFH 2/73, 2/77
  • Aquarium Digest Int'l #17(3/1977)
  • AFM 8/93
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