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FAQs about Pest Marine Snails Identification and Removal 1

Related Articles: Gastropods, Sea Slugs, Mollusks, Abalone,

Related FAQs: Pest Snails 2, Pest Snails 3, Pest Snails 4, Snail Compatibility 1, Marine Snail Compatibility 2, Marine Snail Compatibility 3, & Marine Snails 1, Marine Snails 2, Marine Snails 3, Snail ID 1, Snail ID 2, Snail Behavior, Snail Selection, Snail Systems, Snail Feeding, Snail Disease, Snail Reproduction, Mollusks, Sea Slugs, Abalone, Marine Algae Eaters,

Small Fishes for a 30g'¦and a Snail ID -- 03/15/09
Hey Eric, hope all is well.
<<Hello Erik'¦doing fine thanks>>
Well the angelfish is leaving today; I can't wait to watch him or her swim a couple of laps in that new tank!
<<Excellent news'¦ While Centropyge species are generally considered a 'small' fish, they do much better with/require more room than a 30g display provides'¦is comparable to the smaller Tang species (e.g. 60g+)>>
I have decided with your input of course on adding that other pair of scarlet cleaners.
But now here is the big fish question for you! I am thinking about adding Firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica) to my tank. But as I have been reading around your site it seems many other aquarists have issues keeping them alive?
<<Indeed'¦ I think there is a key aspect of this little fish's husbandry that we hobbyists have not quite figured out yet. Most all in my experience/observations have simply just disappeared within a year or less (often much less). And while considered a 'social' species that suffers when kept alone'¦keeping more than one in a captive system of most any size has also proven problematic>>
So here goes!! Would it be alright if I added Firefish to my aquarium?
<<I think there are better options'¦ Perhaps one of the smaller Cardinalfish species'¦ Maybe a trio of Apogon cyanosoma or Sphaeramia nematoptera'¦or even better in my opinion for your 30g display, a small group (5) of Apogon leptacanthus>>
From what I've read it seems three are pretty much required but I don't know how they would fair in my quarters.
<<There are some who would say this is fine 'I am not among them. I feel certain you would only have one after a while 'and then not even that>>
And if it is ok, would they leave my scarlet cleaners alone or, would I have to worry about losing a sizable investment?
<<Neither the Firefish or the Cardinal species I have mentioned are a threat to adult cleaner shrimp>>
I haven't read anything that says I should be worried about that but... I would much rather be safe than sorry. Especially as I have grown attached to my little cleaners!
<<Not a problem>>
Oh, I also finally took a picture of those little snails that are "thriving" in my tank! So if you would kindly take a look see I would really appreciate it! If you need a closer shot or anything else don't hesitate to ask!
<<These appear very much to me to be a Pyramidellid species (look up the genus and see what you think). If you have no clams, and they aren't attacking any corals, they will likely wane on their own>>
Looking forward to your advice,
<<Cheers, EricR>>

Re: Small Fishes for a 30g'¦and a Snail ID -- 03/16/09
Thanks for the info about those snails!
<<Quite welcome, Erik>>
I think they are leaving my sponges alone and don't seem to be bothering anyone...yet.
<<If not bothering anything in the tank now, they are not likely too>>
But after I read up on them I've decided that I would rather get rid of them now before I upgrade. I can only imagine the hassle it would be to try it in a 300 gallon tank. Especially since I plan on placing the same rock from my current tank into the new one.
<<If my ID is correct, yes, you do not want to introduce Pyramidellid snails to your new display>>
So With your approval I was wondering if adding 1 six line wrasse to the equation would be a good idea?
<<I find this wrasse species to be more trouble than it's worth in most cases, due to its nasty disposition towards similarly sized and/or shaped fishes. But in this instance, it may be worthwhile to introduce one to the 30g tank 'let it take care of the Pyramidellids (hopefully)'¦and then return it to the LFS before stocking any other fishes>>
I know that they can eat small inverts but I don't plan on adding it right away.... not until I get those other 2 shrimps and when they are a big enough size, so that way they won't seem so...tempting.
<< Pseudocheilinus hexataenia isn't likely to be a problem re your cleaner shrimp, unless VERY small 'but I have seen them attach and harass other small fishes to death on too many occasions>>
And from what I've read the Sixline is reef safe and would hopefully be a wonderful little addition to my aquarium.
<<This seems to be the conventional wisdom'¦ I am inclined to disagree'¦ But as with everything else we discuss 'do research other sources and use your own good judgment to make a decision>>
By the way the Sixline would stay the only resident in the tank (fish wise).
<<Ah'¦okay'¦different scenario. As the ONLY piscine resident of the 30g, yes, I do agree it would make a 'wonderful little addition' as you say>>
Now if you don't think it's a great idea, I'll go for those cardinals!
<<Up to you (one or the other)'¦but the Cardinals will be of no help re the snail eradication>>
More specifically the pajamas they just seem safer as far as aggression and invert safe. And 'they are pretty cute lil buggers!
<<A great little fish (I have a dozen in my own reef display)>>
Oh! I almost forgot, my scarlet shrimp (the not preggo one) is acting a little withdrawn. He seems to not be so into eating as much as the pregnant one, they both were voracious eaters until today now she seems to be eating enough for the both of them. So do you think that maybe he is preparing to molt?
<<A possibility>>
Or should I be concerned?
<<Don't know 'and even if so 'what would you do?>>
Water parameters are all stable and pristine.
<<Then likely nothing to worry about/nothing you can do>>
A penny for your thoughts'¦eh make it a dollar lol. Thanks in advance!
<<Is a pleasure to share... Eric Russell>>

R2: Small Fishes for a 30g'¦and a Snail ID -- 03/17/09
Once again thanks for the prompt response.
<<Always welcome>>
I must say you all do an amazing job here and your advice is greatly appreciated not only by your readers but also the little guys in the tanks!
<<Thank you 'this is indeed our intent>>
I am sure the wrasse will be a great pest controller and beautiful addition!
<<Very nice/attractive little fish (love the green tails)'¦just so dang mean!>>
BTW the shrimp did molt he's back to normal!
<<Ah, excellent>>
Thanks again for all of your help!
<<Any time my friend>>
Best wishes!

Astrea Snails Explosion 11/04/08 Hi WWM Crew, This is perfect timing for my problem since I do not have a camera. You posted a question on 11/2/08 by Matthew entitled "Astrea Snail Spawning." He sent you a great picture of all these tiny snails. I have a 29 G reef tank and have recently had an explosive growth of these snails. <Possible, but unlikely... there are some hitchhiker look-alikes that reproduce more commonly.> They are becoming a problem though. I have a chiller hooked up to my tank. The snails have obviously crawled onto the large Rio pump that is connected to my chiller. There are now many of these tiny snails attached to the inside of both the intake and output tubing of my chiller, as well as inside the tank. I am worried that they are going to clog up my chiller! What can be done to remedy this problem? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. <Please send in a picture if you can. It would be helpful to be more sure of what we're dealing with here.> Thanks so much. Bonnie <De nada, Sara M.>

Re: Astrea Snails Explosion 11/05/08 Hi Sara, Thanks for your reply, but as I said, unfortunately, I do not own a camera. <Maybe borrow one?> The snails look "exactly" like the small snails in the picture that Matthew sent in on 11/2/08 entitled "Astrea Snail Spawning". <I understand this and I was not ignoring your observation. However, a lot of the shells of these different snails look "exactly" like each other. You simply can't ID a snail from merely a photo of the top/side of its shell.> Sorry, but hopefully you can try to give me some information. I sure would appreciate it. <The best advice I can give you is to wait it out. Even without knowing for sure what kinds of snails these are, most such aquarium creatures don't maintain large populations for very long. They experience "booms" and "busts." You can try manual removal, but that would likely only delay the "bust" as it would likely allow a smaller population to persist for longer. If I were you, I'd just wait for the population to "naturally" start to decline. This might take several months.> Bonnie <Best, Sara M.>

Fighting Conch? (I'm Doubtful) - 03/09/06 Hello WWM Crew, <<Hello Glovanna>> Just a quick question. I was needing some more algae eating snails for my 55 gal. tank. My son in law brought me several turbo snails, 1 Mexican turbo snail, and then a few days later he came over with a Fighting Conch snail. The LFS guy told him that it's an algae eater and safe in a reef tank. <<True, for the most part...if this is in fact a Fighting Conch (Strombus alatus).>> After quarantine, I added the snail to my tank about a week ago. Almost every morning, I've found the Fighting Conch latched onto a turbo snail. <<And the suspicion starts to build...>> This morning he was latched onto a bumblebee snail. I'm having a hard time believing that this Fighting Conch is eating snails that have died. <<Me too>> As a matter of fact, after leaving the bumblebee ( dead now for sure ), he is now latched on to my large Mexican Turbo snail, which was not dead earlier this morning! <<Time to ditch the conch!>> I actually had my son in law return the Fighting Conch to the LFS a couple of days ago, where he was told that the fighting conch would only eat a snail after it was already dead. Then he was shown a tank full of Turbos with 1 Fighting Conch and was told that they've never lost a snail to the Conch in that tank. <<I'll wager what you have is not Strombus alatus, but quite possibly is a Crown Conch (Melongena corona ). If so, these can be quite predatory on snails. Of course this is all speculation with a sharp close-up photo to view.>> All I can go by is what I'm seeing this snail do in my tank. I don't have a picture of the snail, but it is large, probably 4 inches from tip to tip. Its shell is orange in color. Its foot is also orange in color. I've never seen its "mouth" like you do with Turbos when they're grazing. <<Mmm, no...Fighting Conchs have a protruding "snout" with which they feed...you should see this, and eye stalks, from time to time.>> It has occasionally climbed onto the glass where a mouth should have been able to be seen. Have you ever had any experience or heard of this snail being a predatory snail? <<While it is a possibility, "Fighting" conchs are not considered snail predators. I think you have something else.>> Waiting eagerly for your answer, so I'll know whether this is all in my head, or if he should be removed immediately! <<Whether this is S. alatus or not, based on your information I would remove it (for good) if you wish to keep your snail population.>> Thank you, Glovanna <<Quite welcome, EricR>> Heliacus areola Infestation - 01/03/06 Hello, <<Hello>> I believe I have an outbreak of Heliacus areola snails in my reef tank, hundreds of tiny white snails with dark radiating pattern devastating several Zoanthid colonies. <<Mmm, trouble indeed.>> Is there any safe natural predators that are not going to harm my leather corals, bubble corals, mushrooms, xenia, anthelia, colt, Candycane, hermit crabs (Calcinus sp. , red leg, blue leg), snails (Nassarius, Cerith, Astrea, Trochus), Tridacna maxima, clown fish, cleaner shrimp? Would appreciate any advice, struggling to save zoo's. Allan Larkins <<Well Allan, I would begin by manually removing as many as possible...And you'll likely need to do this a couple times a week as you'll never quite get them all. As for a biological predator, one of the "lined" wrasses (Genus Pseudocheilinus) may prove helpful. But be aware these fish can be little terrors toward other fish sometimes (opinions vary)...you'll have to weigh the risk yourself. If the tank is large (more than 100 gallons), you might want to consider adding two different species. I think the eight-lined wrasse, as the largest commonly available of the species, would be your best bet, but it is also the more aggressive. You might do better to go with the six-line, or a six-line and a four-line, space permitting. Tis your call. Regards, EricR>>

Quick question regarding Tridacna, pyramid snails - 6/5/08 Good morning! At least up here in Alaska. <A lovely one down here, too!> I have hopefully an easy question regarding a T. Squamosa in my tank, but I suppose it applies to all of the Tridacna species. <Okay> If this clam is bored (as in drilled, not as in being not interested) by a small predatory snail to the point that it actually has a small hole in it's shell... if the snail and all others are removed, will the clam remake the shell and the hole fill in? Or is that a permanent hole from that point on? <I believe that with time the hole would fill in, clams add material to the entire inside of their shells as they age. The big concern would be entry by a errant Polychaete, or a microscopic pathogen of some sort.> I don't have a real good grasp of how clams actually make their shells, I would think the mantle somehow deposits the shell material at the edge of the shell, but I've seen pictures of old clam shells that were approaching 4 or 5 inches thick at their bases, so it must also put shell material down even on the parts of the shell that have already been around for quite some time. <You bet. The mantle actually is a lot more than what sticks out over the edges, it lines the entire shell.> Anyway, I hope that makes sense, it is one of those things that is hard to type out in words but I could explain easily face to face. <Understand entirely.> For what it's worth, this situation hasn't even happened to me yet. <Glad to hear it.> I did find a small snail on the glass last night though and it certainly looks like a pyramid snail. I don't see any holes in my clams and the clam is acting quite healthy, I'm just wanting to know ahead of time what to expect, I've learned that in this hobby it is always better to be armed with knowledge than to be armed with hindsight. <Well said! I would recommend that you check your clam for Pyramidellid snails along the byssus- some people recommend this as often as six months or a year in Pyramidellid-free aquaria. Otherwise, it sounds like your clam is healthy. Thanks for writing! Benjamin>

Vermetid Snails, control 05/23/08 Hey guys, thanks for all the great information. I desperately need your help on something. I'm approaching my wits end fighting a plague of vermetid snails!? <?> Almost to the point of giving up. I've tried Peppermint Shrimp, Copper Banded Butterfly, Wrasses, Manual Removal, Super Glue Injections, etc. and nothing makes a noticeable difference. Today someone opened a new door to this situation and I need your opinion. He suggested quarantining the infested rock in a separate tank and adding a Trigger fish to eat them off. Would this work? Would one type be better than the other? Are there any other non-reef safe predators that would efficiently and voraciously remove these pests? Any input would be much appreciated! Thanks again! Will <Mmm, myself... I'd just ignore/enjoy them... but there are a few "Aiptasia control" chemical approaches to try that may well work to kill the larger ones... Bob Fenner>

Re: Vermetid Snails 5/23/08 Thanks for the reply Bob. Not sure why all the question marks are at the end of every sentence. <Me neither...?> So what chemical approach would be effective without killing all the beneficial goodies in the live rock? <... see WWM re... have just witnessed a new one at Red Sea's booth here at Interzoo (in Germany), the industry's largest trade show... that is administered via a syringe... that somehow induces the pest organisms (in their demo. Anemonia and Aiptasia) to "eat" then dissolve... really neat... and evidently very "reef safe"> I did like the snails at first but now have more than 25-30 per sq inch.?On average, they are 1/8th to 1/4th of an inch in diameter and about an inch long. They have completely overtaken the aquarium that I have put so much work into over the last six years. It's to the point that the aquarium just looks nasty. What do you think about the Triggerfish idea? Thanks again, Will <Worth trying. Bob Fenner>

Pest/Predatory Snails 4/16/08 James. Hope everything is well. Long time no talk my friend. <Ah, yes, didn't think I was with the crew that long.> I don't know if I am just unlucky with reef keeping or what. <Luck has very little to do with this hobby.> My tank is two years old now (Ahhh...has it been that long???) and I think it is healthy. I say "I think" because I never seem to have an absolutely fool proof tank. From day one, I have battled ich (no fish death yet up to this point), high nitrate, imbalanced water parameters (learned why I need to monitor magnesium too), hair algae, and Cyano bacteria. I won in all those battles. I thought I am home free up until now. About 1/2 month ago, I purchased a Crocea Clam. Up to this point, it is very healthy - smooth mantle (not pinched) with gorgeous purple, blue, and green coloration. Has grown from 1.5" to 1.53" (using caliper to measure accurately). It is not attached to anything yet as the clam is still in my quarantine tank (water fed from main system then overflows back to sump). For my question. Remember my Cerith Snails, the ones laying eggs all over the place. Remember I mentioned on my previous emails to you that I see small snails creeping up at night? <Too many emails to remember individual ones, especially that long ago.> Please look at the photos. Are these Pyramid snails? <Pic not that detailed, but appear to be a Cerithium of some kind.> I have had them loooong before I had a clam. In fact my clam is not even in my main display tank yet. From your website let me quote one of Mr. Fenner's response (you, Bob, Anthony and the rest of the crew should be called Drs. 'cause that's what you are guys in my book) <Bob and Anthony may be worthy of that title but scratch me off that list.> "If these small snails aren't causing direct trouble, I would ignore them... there are MANY gastropod species... Most are not predaceous. Bob Fenner". I see 8 Cerith snail shells (now down to 22 from previous 30) but these were taken away from them by my dwarf hermits. I still have my aqua cultured Fighting Conch, Turbo snails down to 4 from 12 (again I think was due to hermit attacks). <More than likely if they are large hermits.> 8 Nerite and Nassarius snails respectively. I still have 20 hermit crabs. 4 in main display tank while the rest is has been in my refugium for about 7 months now. For two years, I have not added nor removed any of the snails. Same photo. Am I seeing sundial snails? I can't seem to find any luck with Zoanthids. <Is because of the Sundial Snails, very predatory toward Zoanthids.> That is why I stop keeping them trying to keep them. For more 9 months now, I never have these corals. If they are indeed Sundial pest snails, then what is sustaining them? <Some of the snails in the photo are sundial snails or appear to be and they really need Zoanthids to survive for any length of time. I'm sure they will soon die, but if it were me, I dispose of them before that happens. No real use in a tank other than to control Zoanthids.> Note: Photo - snails with maiden's hair plant for size reference. Vermetid Snails. They seem to be not causing any harm. Was kept in check by an Emerald crab (a hitch hiker about 2 inches wide now) and low system excess nutrient. Initially, I thought of this crab as a gorilla crab as I have seen it eating the v snails. When I caught the crab, closer inspection reveals claws with blunt tip. That together with its shape (except being brown and tan in color) led me to believe it is an Emerald crab. It was eating coralline algae off my LR too. Witness it myself. Anyway, since it took me years before I finally caught it, I figure the crab can help remove excess coralline off my refugium/ sump. It is in there now. Mr. Calfo's book of coral propagation mentioned that Vermetid snails is a "normal" thing. He further reinforced that here at WetWebMedia "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". How bad are they as other website (sorry won't name them) seems to focus on their total eradication? This made me think that maybe I should put the crab back to help in controlling. Decisions...decisions...decisions. Please help fully understand and hopefully choose the right path. <Best to have you read here on this snail, will further educate you. http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-01/rs/index.php> Solution. I was thinking of getting a 4-line or 6-line wrasse not just for their beauty but also for helping me remove these pest snails. Your thoughts here please? <The wrasse may work, Copperband Butterflies have been known to eat them along with Hermit Crabs but much cheaper/easier to just remove.> Reef Fish Status. I have some really crazy fish. I have a Hippo Tang (3 1/4 inch) that does eat veggies (ich and HLLE scars, uneven fins - deficient but very fat), a trigger fish that prefers dried seaweeds over flakes and frozen foods (except live brine shrimp), and a cardinal fish that is a tank bully - chases my trigger fish (even if the trigger fish is a bit bigger than him; about 2 3/4 inch long). I smile every time the cardinal fish tries to chase my Red Tooth Odonus Trigger; tries to run after him for just a couple of inches and then stop and hovers back again. The cardinal fish actually tries to bully everyone that crosses his path. Already talked to my LFS in trading these fishes for some corals and a 4-line or 6-line Wrasse as he witness my reef fishes and finds them intriguing - funny he sold me those fishes :) pH - 8.3 to 8.4 (controlled by Neptune AquaController) Ammonia and Nitrite - absolutely 0 Nitrate - 5 to 10 ppm Phosphate - low 1 ppm (red sea); 0.3 ppm water sample tested locally yesterday CA - 425 (Calc Reactor) Alkalinity - 9 dKH Mg - 1350 ppm <Jon, as Bob mentioned, most snails are harmless and is best to keep an eye out for would be predators/pest snails and remove. Good to hear from you again. James (Salty Dog).> Sincerely,
Jon Glorioso

Pyramid snails on Cerith Snails? 04/14/2008 Hello Guys, <Howzit?> I have a very successful, although unintentional, breeding program for Cerith snails in my aquarium. For the last couple of weeks I have seen another variety of snail riding along on many of them. They are small white snails that meet the description of a Pyramid snail, and sometimes a Cerith will be carting around two or three of them attached to the front portion of its shell. I have Zoanthids and a clam that are all untouched and in perfect health, no snails present. None of my corals have been touched in the least from what I can see so far. I also breed Checkerboard Nerites and they are not bothered by them. I understand that Pyramid snails are specific feeders, but are they this specific? Is it possible I am seeing something other than Pyramid snails? <Oh yes, of a certainty> I am not noticing an increase in snail deaths in my aquarium at this time, as judged by an increase in empty shells, but I have a couple of hundred Ceriths so a small change would be difficult to detect. It's hard to tell an occupied shell from an unoccupied one when there are so many of them. If these do turn out to be Pyramid Snails that are specific to my Cerith snails is there any way to get rid of them without harming the Ceriths? <Mmm, not easily... but some small snail-eating fishes (e.g. wrasses, see WWM re) might reduce and keep small snail numbers down...> Hand removal is impossible, there are far too many of them. Never mind, I already know the answer to that question :) I have a 6-line wrasse, and maybe he is picking them off the clam but can't get to the ones on the Ceriths, since they are primarily active after dark when the wrasse is asleep? <Maybe...> I have seen these snails climb the glass on occasion, but it's not where I would look for them first if I wanted to find one. If a picture is important to you it would be easy to obtain one, if I knew how to use the macro on my camera. I will figure it out if need be though, don't hesitate to ask. Thanks in advance, Barbra <If these small snails aren't causing direct trouble, I would ignore them... there are MANY gastropod species... Most are not predaceous. Bob Fenner>

Vermetid Snails -03/17/08 Hi Crew, A few months ago I wrote in for suggestions on how to stop the Vermetid snail explosion that was consuming my 6 year old, 75 gal tank. As suggested, I tried peppermint shrimp, arrow crabs, a copper banded butterfly, and even manual removal and nothing has worked. <Hmm... none of those things reliably eat these critters.> There's just too many. I'm almost at the breaking point. There's so many of them(5-15 per sq inch) that they are starving my corals with their 'webs' and making my tank look really, really ugly. Are there any other alternatives to get rid of these pests? I'd hate to start over and lose the last 6 years of hard work. Thanks so much for your help! <What did you try for manual removal? You might try spraying them with a little vinegar, Kalk solution or even NaOH if you dare. I do believe they will eventually go away/die down. But it may be awhile before that happens, unfortunately.> Will <Best, Sara M.>

Sundial snail babies? Hopefully harmless Collonista snails! 3/3/08 <Hi there.> I recently found a few sundial snails in my tank. <Yikes, hopefully not dining on your prized Zoanthids! Do you keep Zoanthids or were these just incidental hitchhikers? Sundials only eat Palythoa and Zoanthids, so unless you have those, they'll simply die out. If you do have/keep Zo's, definitely remove any Sundials you see.> I now have many tiny, tiny snails I think could be their babies. Are there any natural predators for these snails? <I don't know of any that prey exclusively on Heliacus/Sundials, but I'm sure there are other predators that include them in their diet. Unfortunately, it's always possible that the predator(s) could have a taste for more than just Sundials (as in other beneficial invertebrates)! Complicating matters is the fact that Heliacus are mostly nocturnal. They're able to hide very effectively within Zoanthid colonies during the day when snail eating fishes are active. Regarding those tiny snails, there's a chance that they might not be juvenile Sundials. There's another very common snail in the genus Collonista (aka 'mini Turbos') that has a similar appearance, but is a harmless herbivore/grazer. They're mostly nocturnal, reproduce readily, and stay small (usually around 3mm). Color/pattern varies, with some being all white, while others are combinations of white with varying amounts of mottled tan/brown/even pink markings. A sure fire way to differentiate Heliacus from Collonista is to grab a magnifying glass and take a close look at the operculums (the 'trap door' at the opening of a snail). Heliacus have conical/pagoda shaped operculums while Collonista's are relatively flat with a characteristic pit in the center. Basically, if it's pointed, it's a Sundial. If not, it's likely a harmless Collonista. I'm hoping that you have the latter! Please see the following links for comparison/more information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snailidf14.htm (Collonista snails) http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-05/rs/index.php (Collonista - operculum shown) http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snailidf13.htm (Heliacus - see pointed operculum in photos about halfway down the page) I've got my fingers crossed for you! Take care, -Lynn>

Snail eating coral? Possibly. Remove? Definitely! 2/3/08 Hello Crew, <Hi there!> I recently purchased an order of hard/ soft corals from GARF and have found two snails on what I believe to be Seriatopora guttatus or Stylophora pistillata. <Uh oh.> I broke the snails free and the coral was completely bleached underneath. <Ouch!> I'm assuming that this is just because they stayed there for such a long time. <Could be.> There is no trail of bleaching leading me to think that the snail is feeding on the coral, but I have never seen a type of snail that stays on a coral so long as to bleach it. Any input? <Yep, any snail that damages a coral like that has to go! After looking at the photos, I can tell you that it's not Drupella cornus, a snail species with a taste for the two corals you mentioned, plus others. Unfortunately, there are many other coral-eating snails, and I can't quite see enough detail in the photos to tell if yours is one of them. As mentioned before, I'd go the safe route and get rid of them.> And one more semi-related question, when do you decide that a bleached coral (Acropora sp.) no longer has a fighting chance? Take care. --Lynn>

Snail ID/James' Input 1/6/08 Hi Bob/crew, <Hi Sara> One of my friends is asking me about this snail he found in his tank. It definitely looks like a whelk or murex of some sort, but I wish I could narrow it down more than that for him. The body coloration is not like that of any other snail I've seen in an aquarium before (not that that means much). <Sara, this looks more like a Tulip Snail to me, no expert though. If so, they are predatory, will feed on Astrea, Turbo, and other snails.> Thanks,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Snail ID/Lynn's Input - 1/6/08 Hi Bob/crew, <Hi Sara> One of my friends is asking me about this snail he found in his tank. It definitely looks like a whelk or murex of some sort, but I wish I could narrow it down more than that for him. <I'm in agreement with you and James. It does look like something in the Buccinoidea (Whelks, Tulip Snails, etc), or Muricoidea (Murex) superfamilies. I haven't found an exact match, but I do have some candidates that are similar. Unfortunately, that's about as close as I can get without a super clear photo of the shell front and back, or knowing where this little guy is from. Here you go: http://www.conchology.be/en/availableshells/shellsforsaledetails.php?uniquenumber=164124#f http://www.conchology.be/en/availableshells/shellsforsaledetails.php?uniquenumber=201755#f http://www.gastropods.com/5/Shell_7095.html http://www.conchology.be/en/availableshells/shellsforsaledetails.php?uniquenumber=370154#f .> The body coloration is not like that of any other snail I've seen in an aquarium before (not that that means much). <I have some photos of a Whelk hitchhiker from my tank (Cantharus tinctus) with similar tissue coloration/markings (may provide a clue): http://wetwebfotos.com/usermedia/high/0/2470_50.jpg The focus could be a lot better on the tissue here, but you get the idea: http://wetwebfotos.com/usermedia/high/0/2470_51.jpg .> Thanks,
<You're very welcome! -Lynn>

That's no Nassarius! That's a predatory Olive snail! -- 12/24/07 Hey WWM crew. <Hi there.> I have been reading lots about identification of snails, and have identified the snails that have been trolling my tank as cap snails. <Neat. Stomatellids are terrific little grazers that make a nice addition to a tank.> Also have been reading on some other snails people have encountered and found this one interesting. Attached below. I also bought 4 of these snails at one time (sold as Nas) <Ugh -- don't even get me started!> and watched them eat one of my Astrea snails. <Yep, what a shame. These Olive snails are beautiful, but are predators/scavengers, and look nothing remotely like a Nassarius. How they can be sold as such is beyond me.> After hours of searching I found out what it was. I got rid of them right away. <Understandable -- hopefully you educated the seller!> Just saw a few people had questions and that you guys were unsure of the identification. Lettered Olive Snail Oliva sayana <Much appreciated! Here's another photo of one, as well: Take care -Lynn>

Mr. limpet and the Pyramids -12/15/2007 Hello crew, I try to avoid asking questions and believe I have only asked 2 so far. Usually I can find all my answers with research on your site and or others. This one seems to allude me though. I have been running a 55g reef for 2 years now. The last year has been really great. Anyway this question doesn't really pertain to lighting or water parameters so I will skip that this time. I was doing some research on clams because some day I would like to own one. I then stumbled across something called Pyramidellid snails. To my amazement I have recently noticed these little guys before. They were on my turbo snails!! After I found out what they were I promptly brushed them off of my snails and waited for dark. ("the freaks come out at night") Here they were by the hundreds! Now at this point according to my calculations manual removal of such little creatures would take somewhere between 100 to 1,000,000 years. I also have hundreds of limpets that don't seem to bother anything in my tank including the Montipora. Now here it is, will the pyramidella's feed off of the limpets? Therefore removing the snails for a long period off time to remove the pyramidella's food source thus starving them to death would not work, correct? I also cannot use a six line wrasse or other type to help control nor do I think a wrasse would work effectively anyway. Any Ideas? <Well, first things first... please make sure you have the "bad guys" before you start to worry (or start killing them en mass). There are several harmless/beneficial snails which look very similar. Please see here: http://www.reefland.com/rho/2006/05/identify_rissoid_pyramidellid_snails.php> I apologize for the incomplete e-mail. <no worries> Any help on this subject would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Nick <De nada, Sara M.>

Snail Id's: Babylon and possible Limpet - 12/6/07 Hi Crew, <Hi Russ> Great site you've got going on here, <On behalf of Bob and everyone here, I thank you!> and, as you people seem to be the font of all marine knowledge, I'm here to ask a couple of (hopefully not too dumb) questions about some snails I've got. <Heee, no worries there my friend - ask away!> First up, I bought some Astreas from the LFS the other day (they were sold as Turbos, but as they can't self right, I'm guessing I have been had), and a couple of 'Nassarius'. <Unfortunate. The incorrect labeling was most likely unintentional, but it serves as a reminder for all of us to confirm exactly what we're getting before bringing it home. Thankfully, most stores offer a selection of books that can aid in this. If they don't, and you're the least bit unsure, don't buy. LOL Just step away from that tank! The best thing to do is go home, figure out what it is and whether you can provide for its needs. Just doing this one thing could save many, many, lives, and so much frustration! Okay, I'm stepping off my soap box -- for now, anyway! ;-)> One of the Astreas had a 'growth' on its shell, which I noticed was moving, so I pulled it off to discover it was a snail of some sort, and was wondering if you could ID it - the photos show it in situ on the snail, and then on the glass. Its got a real odd shaped shell. <<snail1.jpg>> > > <<snail2.jpg>> <Unfortunately, I can't see the shell well enough to Id. My first thought was that it might be a Nerite, but the shot taken from underneath indicates otherwise. The margin shouldn't be sharp like that all the way around. One end of the shell should be curled/extending underneath. Without additional photos (top view and any view that would show whorls/lack of, etc), I'm going to guess that it's a species of limpet. Not all have the classically pointed cone shape.> Secondly, I'd like to ask if you could ID what I believed to be Nassarius <Is similar, but not in same genus.> - they are beautiful <Indeed!> but I can't find a reference to anything like them on the web. They do live under the substrate and show only their siphon, but it seems they may be a bit on the large side for Nassarius vibex - any ideas would be gratefully accepted. <The color pattern, and the deep suture along the whorl, give it away. Its common name is a Babylon shell (genus Babylonia), and depending on where you look, is either in the family Babyloniidae or the family Buccinidae. Taxonomic flux/synonyms drive me nuts! I won't even go into it here because it would take up way too much space, but suffice it to say that this little guy is grouped in with whelks (predatory/scavenging snails) and I wouldn't trust it. Please see these links for comparison/related info: http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/TN_Family_BABYLONIIDAE.html http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-11/rs/index.php > What would you recommend in terms of keeping or returning these?> > <<snail3.jpg>> <Need to know what other inhabitants are in the tank/conditions therein. If you have a full blown, mature, reef tank, the Astreas should be okay with enough available food (just keep an eye on them). As for the limpet (tentative Id), it could go either way. Some are harmless/innocuous grazers, while others are capable of putting a serious dent in your coralline, or even your corals! Not too long ago, I caught one on my favorite Blastomussa wellsi! Last, but not least, the Babylonia spp. Of the three snails, this would be my biggest concern. Not only, because of its possible predatory nature, but because I can't find any information on its needs. For example, it might not even be suitable for the warmer temperatures of our reef tanks. It's not unusual to see snails sold online/locally that are from more temperate regions. Snails such as this live an accelerated life - surviving for a brief period, then dying. Hopefully, that is not the case here, but I honestly don't know. I think it comes down to what Dirty Harry said: 'Are you feeling lucky?'. Personally, I don't like the odds. That snail would have to go!> Many thanks for your help <You're very welcome.> Russ (Sheffield, UK) - resent with capitalized 'I's :-) <Much appreciated :-) Take care -Lynn (Seattle, USA)

ID help for others... Sundial snail (Heliacus sp.) 11/25/2007 Hi Crew, Chris here again. <Hi Chris, Mich with you tonight.> I believe I have ID'ed this as a sundial snail from what I've seen on the ID pages. <Does look to be so, but the pagoda shaped operculum (trap door) would really confirm this as a Sundial snail (Heliacus sp.)> I just wanted to send these pictures to help others as I did not find any pictures as clear as these anywhere in the FAQ pages. <Thank you for sharing. Always appreciated. Mich>

Re: ID help for others... Sundial snail (Heliacus sp.) 11/25/2007 I was thinking that the picture attached showed the pagoda trap door. <You are correct. This picture shows the white pagoda/cone shaped trap door (operculum) quite well.> If not please let me know. <No, you are right. I see you included this pic in your first email, but somehow I only saw the other image. My apologies.> I'm trying to learn as much as possible about as much as possible as fast as possible. <You Cheers,

Pyramid snails....what pests! 10/29/07 Good evening, Longer time reader (3yrs I think now). Probably find 99% of all the info I need in this hobby on this site. great job. Tonight I am not sure if I have done enough reading as it's after 1am and I'm barely able to type and keep my eyes open. Here's the situation: I have a 11-12 inch squamosa clam sitting on the bottom of my tank. I have had it for over a year. It has grown a lot in my tank. Well tonight I was admiring my tank just before the lights went off. At the exact time my day lights shut down, my clam got startled and closed quickly....at that moment I noticed 3 little white snails under one of the mantles. Clam looks awesome and healthy...never seen these snails before. <This isn't uncommon. Usually the snails reach large populations before they start to hurt the clams they feed on.> So now I start obsessing....of course. I get a flash light and start looking around the clam. It closes up more and I see dozens of the little snails. I do some research and learn they are pyramid snails. Wow...this hobby is nuts. Always something. The clam is attached to a flat piece of rock so I decide to take the entire rock and clam out of the tank to brush the snails and eggs off it. OK....there may have been at several hundred on the clam. None on his foot. Crazy thing...my clam looks great. <quite typical> I also have 1 deresa and 3 crocea's as well. I check each of those and it only gets worse. All but one of them had the little pests as well. 3 of the four have no feet (whatever it's called that connects them to the rock)!! <Ah, good news! Those filaments that connect the clams to the rock are not actually its foot, they're called "byssus threads." Funny thing is, I didn't know this either when I first accidentally pulled one of my crocea clams off a rock and ripped the byssus threads. I was so upset I started crying like a baby thinking I'd killed my clam by ripping off it's foot. But the foot is something else entirely (and yes if they lose that, they're probably doomed). Fortunately, unlike the foot, clams can regrow byssus threads fairly easily. That clam of mine is still happy and healthy and fully reattached to its rock. :-)> Question...are they doomed? No feet = death? Do the feet grow back? They are open but...? <As explained above, no feet usually does = death, but it's not actually the foot that attaches these clams to a base.> How do I get them out of my tank? I have a six line wrasse but obviously he sucks... <lol, I think a Hoeven's wrasse (or maybe a green wrasse?) might be more effective if you want to risk it. Do keep manually removing them. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pestsnailfaqs.htm If the clams are otherwise healthy, your regular manual removal (and maybe a little help from the right wrasse) could save your clams.> After I put the clams back I saw several on the floor. I placed all the clams off the sand hoping the snails wouldn't find the clams and just die. <Haha, don't count on it. You might want to quarantine the clams and just keep removing the snails and eggs manually (scrub the clams' shells with a toothbrush) until you don't see them anymore. Don't try any chemicals though. I imagine that anything that would kill the snails could hurt your clams too.> Any hope/help? <I definitely think there is hope. A few of these snails usually aren't a problem. However, you seem to have a true infestation that could hurt your clams. But please don't get too discouraged yet. I do think you can get control of this.> Good night. David W. Boswell, II, E.A. <G'night. :-) Sara M.>
Re: pyramid snails....what pests! 10/29/07
Thank you for your prompt response. OK, great. I removed all the calms again tonight and good news was I only found 8 snails on all the clams combined. A huge decrease from the hundreds I found last night. I figure I'm going to remove and scrub them every other day for a month and then start examining one a month. <Sounds like a good plan.> One more question....can clams be out of water? When I purchased them the LFS pulled them out of the water and directly bagged them. I thought I heard they should not be lifted out and exposed to the air. <You might be thinking of sponges. A lot of sponges will die if any part of them is exposed to air. Clams and corals are quite different though since they can close up/retract. Some from very shallow waters are even used to being exposed to air during low tides. In any case, if you need to take a clam or coral out of the water for any reason, you should "scare" it until it closes up as much as possible. With clams, it's best if they are completely shut tight (or very nearly so) before you take them out of the water.> What are the dangers? The squamosa is so big it is difficult to place a huge pot in the tank and lift it out. My tank is 30 inches deep. Also to scrub its shell is tough because of its size. I need to roll it over and it is quickly exposed to air. <See above. If the coral/clam is not retracted/shut when it is pulled out of the water, it could suffer tissue damage. So just take it slow if you have to, but make sure it's closed when you pull it out.> Plus, I dump the pot with the tank water after the scrubbing session and it would be easier to lift the clam out and place back in the tank from the pot and not risk infesting the tank with any eggs that could be in the pot. Wowo...what a run on sentence.<lol> I think you get the idea. <Yes, and since it's Halloween time, I think you should dress up as a vampire and jump out in front of your clam and say "boo!" Might work... ;-)> As for the other clams...they are small enough that I put them in a Tupperware dish deep enough to cover them with water and lined the bottom with sand. Each scrubbing session I can just lift the dish out with them in it. Quarantining the clams is out because my quarantine tank has no lighting. I usually only place new fish in there for 6 weeks. Maybe I need to research quarantining everything I add. <Anthony says you should quarantine "everything wet." And that is the most prudent way to be. Quarantining corals/clams is really not much different than quarantining fish except that you'll need to keep the salinity at normal levels and some medications for fish (if you use them) you can't use on corals. Here's a nice article on the decision: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i4/quarantine/Quarantine.htm and for quarantining inverts: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quarinverts.htm> Thanks again....G'night David W. Boswell, II, E.A. <De nada, Sara M.>

New little snail's ID needed... Possibly Heliacus snails -- 08/31/07 <Greetings, Mich here.> I have see a bunch of what I thought were baby snails. After 3 days of reading your site and doing Google searches I'm beginning to worry that they may be Heliacus areola. <Sure do look like it I'm afraid, could be something else. Heliacus snails have a small pagoda shaped operculum (trap door). You will need to check for this as there is not this much detail in the photos.> I would be internally <Externally too? Heehee!> grateful if you could give me a positive ID. The first picture is from top it is about 1/4" in size. The second picture is from under side. I will include links to 2 short video's 50sec each. In hopes that you can get a better view. If you think they are Heliacus areola would you please tell me how to rid my little 10 gal tank of them. <In my world there are picker and non-pickers... hopefully you are a picker if Heliacus is indeed what you have. Manual removal is about the only option in this size tank... But at least it's only a ten gallon tank!> My Zoo's seem fine. And these snail's stay out all day and seem to be feeding on algae on the tank glass and rocks. <Mmm, may not be Heliacus sp., as these are typically nocturnal.> I know there are 8 but with the magnifying glass it looks like I have 100+ or these things. <Yikes!> If they are good snails I should be able to get some of my money back from my LFS. <Yeaah... Good luck with that! Mich> http://s200.photobucket.com/albums/aa92/emccullough1/?action=view&current=810aed0e.flv http://s200.photobucket.com/albums/aa92/emccullough1/?action=view&current=6ccd02a0.flv

Snail ID, Whelk - 4/13/07 Hello again <Hi there!> I have a snail which I cannot identify from reading on your site. This snail is about 3/4 of an inch long, black and white. <Pretty!> He mysteriously appeared, I am assuming out of my live rock, last week. I put him in a floating container, to be able to photograph him later. Well, he just up and crawled right out of there. <The nerve!> Saw him again today, so I took a few photos, two of which I am attaching. <Thanks, that makes a world of difference when it comes to these Id puzzles!> He is very pretty, but I am not sure if he is a predator. <Yep, he is!> I am leaning toward that he is because of his bright markings and daytime prowling. Have put him into a container which now has a lid with small holes. Any help would be appreciated. <Well, I'm not sure where your rock is from but I'm guessing it's from the Pacific, western Pacific that is. After looking around a bit I think you may well have a species of Engina, possibly Engina zonalis(?): http://www.gastropods.com/4/Shell_3214.html http://shell.kwansei.ac.jp/~shell/pic_book/data37/r003656.html Here's another link with good photos of snails in this subfamily (Pisaniinae). There are several that look similar to yours: http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/TN_Family_BUCCINIDAE_PISANIINAE.html If this is what you have (or one in this family), these snails are in the Buccinidae family, commonly called Whelks. Whelks are scavengers and predators, and if that were my snail, he wouldn't be going back in the tank! Please read here for more info on these interesting, if not reef friendly snails: http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-11/rs/index.php> Thank you Dietmar <You're very welcome, is was my pleasure! --Lynn>

Tridacna parasite, Pyramidellids 3/6/07 How long will a Tridacna clam last with pyramid snails present? <Depends on several factors; overall health of the clam; size of the clam; level of infiltration...what's important is getting rid of them.> Mike <Adam J.>

Snail ID: Possibly Sundial snail (Heliacus sp.) 3/3/07 Good Afternoon, <Good Morning I guess! Mich here.> While having coffee this morning I observed a moving speck, which turns out to be a snail. <What good eye you must have!> At present my aquarium houses two Astraea and three Turbos. Also there have been no recent additions in the last three months to account for recent hitchhiking. The shell on which the snail is perched is app. 1"x1 1/2" to give some idea of scale. Thanks in advance for any information, <Hmm, Is a bit small, but does look an awful lot like a Heliacus snail, which are predatory on Zoanthids and typically nocturnal. Do you have any Zoanthids in your system that are experiencing any difficulty? See this page, next to the penny: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/polypdisfaqs.htm Heliacus snails have a small pagoda shaped operculum (trap door) this may help with identification. Hopefully is not a Sundial snail (Heliacus sp.)! -Mich> Jane

Re: snail id: Possibly Sundial snail (Heliacus sp.) 3/4/07 Mich and crew, <Hi Jane! Mich with you again.> Thank you for the link to the image--the wee bugger in my tank bears a striking resemblance to the Heliacus. <Not good.> Unfortunately, due to its small size and my lack of x-ray vision, the operculum was/is too small to see. <Magnifying glass?> Difficulty with Zoanthids is now past tense--little left but a rock and red stubs. <Uh oh!> But, thanks to you, I can see the light--now if I can only see the snail(s) again... <Hee!> Regards to all, <And to Jane

Halichoeres melanurus and Pyramidellid snails 11/15/06 Hello crew, <Brandon> I have recently noticed that there are many Pyramidellid looking snails attached to the bottoms of my Astrea snails. <Sure looks like it> I've been thinking of getting a clam once I decide on type and find one I am content with but this is an obvious setback in the plan. <Oh yes> I saw where a Halichoeres melanurus (Hoeven's wrasse) was recommended to consume these pests but have looked at some sites that say it is not a reef safe fish. <Is toward that end of the scale... I'd say/state "largely reef-safe"... how 'bout that?> What is your experience with the fish in the reef setting? There's also a picture attached that I took a few minutes ago. Thank you and have an excellent day. Brandon <The smaller Halichoeres species (there's a bunch!) are relatively peaceful, non-injurious to cnidarians, other sessile invertebrates too small to be eaten whole. Bob Fenner>

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