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FAQs about Marine Snail Compatibility and Removal 3

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

Related FAQs: Snail Compatibility 1, Marine Snail Compatibility 2, Pest Snails (Pyramidellids...), 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,

Ilyanassa <sic> Obsoleta snails, stkg., using      8/20/13
Several months ago I recently purchased a large number of Ilyanassa obsoleta snails for my display to keep the sand bed free of detritus and uneaten food. They have actually done a great job and I haven't had any problems with them. In fact my system is doing better now then it ever has. I only keep a one inch sand bed in the display as I have 2 additional separate
refugiums in my system.
<With deeper fine sand I hope/take it>
 I recently came across an article written by Mike Greenemeier describing how these snails can wreak havoc on a sand bed and more importantly, harbor parasites/flukes/Trematodes that can give an aquarist a rash referred to as swimmers itch.
<Mmm, a smallish possibility of both... I see your notes below; and would not be concerned re>

 The vender claims that all snails are tank raised and that he is a licensed aquaculture facility. He advises snails 4 snails per gallon
<Way too many.
You're free to read my posted comments/stance on such use of gastropod and hermit "cleaner uppers"; archived on WWM>
and I have a 300 gallon system so you can imagine that I have quite a few.
Many of them are in my sump. As of yet, I haven't had any issues but I don't want to wait for something bad to happen if there is a high probability that it will so I have the following questions.1) Since they are omnivores, will they harm coral and or other inverts?
<Not likely; unless very hungry; another reason to only harbor a few>

If so which ones?2) If they are farm raised as claimed, do I need to worry about the Fluke/Trematode that causes swimmers itch?
<Much less likely to be a problem/vector>
3) I could easily run a UV if I absolutely had to since it is already plumbed in for emergencies.
<... wouldn't kill... And I'd run this tool all the time regardless>
 I don't like running it and everything does better when I don't.
<Really? I wonder "why"... What do you think is changed therewith?>
 If I did run it, would I need to run it as long as the snails were alive or would running it for say a few weeks suffice?
<... again. See WWM re UVs>
4) Do you advise removing them as I could easily trap them. Any overall suggestions would be appreciated
THANKS SO MUCH
Steve
<Welcome, Bob Fenner>

Snails… problem:  Overabundance – 2/5/13
Hey Crew,
<Hey Paul, Lynn here today.>
I have snails... I didn't think the problem was bad but now I took out about 300 (hand-picked) out of my 125 gallon tank...
<Yikes, that’s a lot of snails!>
I have a fish only saltwater tank.... Controlling them simple?
<What kind of snails are they? If they’re beneficial herbivores, you might want to share them with/sell them to other hobbyists through perhaps a local aquarium club.>
Just get a wrasse or two?
<If you do decide to add a wrasse, I’d recommend sticking with just one.>
But here is the problem.. I have shrimp... I have heard the 4 line wrasse or sometimes called the 12 line wrasse would be good to eat and control the snails but they may leave the shrimp alone.. these are the bigger cleaner shrimp that I have... true?
<It’s a risk, especially during/right after the shrimps molt. There’s just no way to guarantee that they’d be safe – or that the wrasse would even be interested in whatever snail species you have.  If they’re tiny snails, like a Collonista sp., pyramidellid, or rissoid, they may be consumed.  However, if the snails are larger, (like a columbellid) then they’ll probably be left alone (or picked at, but not consumed).>
Okay, now... I also have hermit crabs.... They help control algae in the tank.... Will these become dinner for the 4 line? Will the larger electric blue hermits be targeted...
<Again, it’s a risk. Unfortunately, I haven’t had any experience with four-line wrasses (Pseudocheilinus tetrataenia) but I’ve had two different six-line individuals (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia) over the years.  One was awesome - never bothered my cleaner shrimps, hermits, etc., but the other was an absolute terror.  It harassed every shrimp I had (bit off antennae and the occasional leg), killed my hermits, picked at the snails (knocked them off the glass, but wasn’t able to kill), and bullied a large tomato clown (that had been a terror herself) into hiding below a filter out-take.  In the end, I had to practically tear the tank apart to get the pain-in-the-wrasse out.  These guys are fast swimmers that can dart and hide in the most inaccessible places!>
So now that I have listed my problems... is the best way to control the snails while not losing the shrimp or hermits, would be to just hand pick them out of the tank.... No clams or coral to worry about... just the darn snails.
<I’d still like to know what kind of snails you have, but no worries.  Since they’re apparently reproducing like crazy, I’m guessing they’re more than likely one of the common/harmless herbivores, like a species of Collonista, Stomatella, or perhaps a collumbellid (Euplica sp.) of some sort.  Of the three, Collonistas (typically ~3-4mm/~1/8” across) and Columbellids (~12mm/.5” long) can, on occasion, become numerous and get hung-up in equipment (filter/pump intakes and such), but otherwise, they make nice additions to a system.  Stomatella spp. are mostly nocturnal, terrific/innocuous little grazers that don't have enough shell to hide under/within so are thus typically preyed upon by hermits and various shrimps (esp. peppermints/Lysmata wurdemanni). 
All in all, I’m thinking that if your system is doing well right now (as far as livestock) – that is, everyone’s getting along, then I wouldn’t want to potentially disrupt the status quo by adding a fish that could cause more problems and still not solve the snail issue.  Instead, I’d opt for continued manual removal of the snails, and try to control/reduce their numbers through the reduction of their food supply (= nutrient/algae control).  In the meantime, do try to find some local hobbyists that might well love to have some of those snails.  It’s nice to have a self-sustaining population of herbivores.  It’s just not so great in cases such as yours where the population has virtually exploded.  Please see the following links for more information:
Nutrient control: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm?h=
Collonistas (several related FAQ’s here): http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snailidf14.htm 
Columbellids:  http://wetwebmediaforum.com/showthread.php?336-Critter-of-the-Week-Columbellid-snails&highlight=columbellid 
Stomatella spp.:   http://wetwebmedia.com/MolluscPIX/Gastropods/Prosobranch%20PIX/Limpets%20Scutus/LimpetF1.htm?h=   >
Thank you for your opinions and comments.. as always have a good day
<You’re very welcome, and the same to you!  Please feel free to contact me/us if you have any additional questions or would like to ID those snails.  Just include a couple of close-up, detailed photos and we’ll take it from there.>
Regards,
Paul
<Take care, Lynn Z>

Trematodes came with my snails? 11/13/11
Dear Wonderful WetWeb Crew,
<Kor>
I have a 40 gallon aquarium that has been set up since September. Specific Gravity is at 1.026 and temp is around 78. I added about 10 Cerith snails from a local fish store a week ago and they have some wormish hitchhikers.
<Very common>
At first I just saw a few stuck to their shells. Then I picked a snail off the rock to look at closer and some of these fell out of inside the shell as well. I have attached pictures that I hope will help you give me an idea of what they might be.
<Need much more highly resolved, larger pix>
I was thinking of dosing the tank with Prazipro, but thought I'd try to get some kind of ID from you guys first. They are about 1/16th of an inch long and reddish brown in color. They don't appear to swim in the container nor move at all. I'm slightly puzzled and have never seen this. I didn't come across it on your website either. The first picture are some that fell out of the inside of 2 snails into a clear container. The second is obviously on the snail.
Thank you for any insight you may have on this. It is truly appreciated.
KJ
<Gastropods/Snails are very often vectors/carriers, intermediate hosts for worms of various sorts. IF concerned that these may "be trouble", I would go ahead w/ your Anthelminthic treatment plans. There is a very large body of data, writing re various species (esp. of economic or health to humans consequences)... Some "worms" that get about this way have complex life cycles and will most likely perish in an aquarium setting w/o "causing harm". Do a bit of look/seeing on the Net... perhaps a visit to a large/college library w/ a life science dept. Cheers and thank you for sharing, Bob Fenner>

Polychaete worm and snail comp Name & Advice 10/3/11
Tonight, I witnessed mucous around one of my brand new (and looked to be very healthy) Ceriths...upon closer inspection, I saw a worm that certainly didn't look like my average-Joe bristle. It was thick, more like a Fireworm, and seemed to have a very large mouth that sucked like a snail snout. It was pale in coloration and stout...
I went to the site to research and saw this response to one of the questions in the section:
"Dead ones, yes. Live ones, no. There is a type of worm that is bright red, long and thin that prey on snails by smothering them in mucous before eating them."
My worm was not bright red, nor long and thin--but there was definitely an undeniable ball of mucous surrounding the shell's opening. I've never been able to keep snails in my tank, I always thought it was because I didn't acclimate them properly...what should I do?
<Bait out and remove the worm/s in question>
What is this worm called?
<Harvey? Can't tell from the description>
What are the chances that the mucous was from the snail, not the worm?
<Better than middling>
Is that the defensive mechanism of a snail?
<One, yes>
Thank you for the help and taking the time to read.
- Ruth
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Turbo Snails and Clove Polyps/Snail Compatibility 7/10/11
Hi Bob and crew:
<Hello Edie>
Once again I'm stumped----I can't find an answer to my question. Sorry to bother you about this:
<Is what we are here for.>
I have a 90 gal mainly FOWLR but with several green star polyps, several mushroom types (I'm not looking up the scientific names; I hope that is o.k. in this case),
<No problem. Common or scientific names are fine.>
clove polyps, 3 cleaner shrimp, 7 fishes, (all doing great) and about 5 snails, two of which are the large turbo ones. My concern is about 1-1/2" turbo snails and the clove polyps. I saw one on a group of clove polyps yesterday and now about half the polyps are gone. Do they eat polyps?!!!!
Or do you think he was just cleaning up some dead ones.
<Turbo Snails are not corallivores, likely eating algae on the polyp encrusted rock causing the polyps to retract and/or dislodge from the rock.>
The polyp looked just fine until then. The snails have been in the tank for over a year with no problems until now.
I've had the inverts 4-6 months and am enjoying them immensely. This particular polyp seems to have multiplied, but so far, all offspring are very small.
I don't want to get rid of the snails if I don't have to. They do a good job with algae and are interesting to watch. Thanks again for your help,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Edie

Snail Stuck To The Bottom Of Anemone 2/22/11
<Hello Peanut Butter>
We brought home a long tentacle anemone yesterday and placed him on the sand in the front of our tank since then he has started to move toward our live rock but I noticed this afternoon that one of our turbo snails is stuck to the bottom of his foot. I searched online but can't find anything about this. Should I try removing the snail if so what's the best way to this without harming the anemone.
<I'd try massaging the area in question with your finger tip until you can remove the snail. James (Salty Dog)>

Wendletrap OK with Lettered Olive Snails? With Caution - 4/13/10
<Hello, Lynn here today.>
I brought home some tiny (1/2 inch) Wendletrap (Epitonium humphreysii) shells
<These are beautiful snails but not recommended for systems with corals and/or anemones.>
..from the beach (TX gulf coast)
<Oh, lucky you. Thats one of my favorite places to vacation.>
..today in a plastic container. There was a tiny bit of water in the bottom from washing them off.
<Uh-oh, I know where this is going.>
They were washed up dry with some debris on the beach
<Heeee! Is it seaweed season already?>
..so I mistakenly assumed they were empty or dead. I was wrong. There are a few that are still alive. Lucky me, right? The beach is a 90 min drive from here so returning them isn't an option. I want to know if it would be a mistake to introduce them in my tank.
<Well, theres always the possibility of adding some sort of uninvited guest (pathogen, parasite, pollutant, etc.) to the system. Just how big a risk that is, Im not sure. Bob, any thoughts on this? One thing Id like to add is that Epitonium species apparently secrete a purple substance that has been listed as a toxin and/or anesthetizing agent. Unfortunately, I dont know how much/if any risk this presents to your livestock. If its a toxin, the more water volume, the better (for dilution). Running carbon is also a good idea as a preventive measure.>
The shells are very beautiful
<They are indeed.>
..but I don't want to hurt my current residents.
<I can certainly understand that.>
I have a rather unique tank in that everything was collected in the wild. My tank is about a year old and running fine. The substrate is 2-3 inches of sand.
<If its fine-grained, it would be better to have either 3 or more for a DSB or less than Ã'½ to 1 for a shallow bed.>
There's not much in there, but everything is predatory. I have a Sergeant Major Damsel that is a year old, (very feisty)
<Oh yeah.>
..some kind of striped Killifish who is rather tiny and boring but he's a super cleaner, and about 5 Lettered Olive Snails. I have read that LOS's aren't good in a tank
<Just depends on what kind of tank you want.>
..but in my setup they're terrific!
<There you go!>
They're super efficient sand sifters and I've got nothing in the tank for them to harm. I feed them defrosted chopped salad shrimp about once a week and sometimes they get a treat of scallops which brings them all up out of the sand simultaneously. Watching them eat is really entertaining.
<I bet it is!>
They're even laying eggs lately, but that's another story...
<Id love to know more.>
Once in a while the SM fish will peck at their snorkels (that's what I call them),
<Thats an apt description. Its called a siphon, a structure common to predatory and/or scavenging snails thats used for respiration as well as food detection. As water is inhaled, it passes by chemoreceptors that allow the snail to taste it for any signs of food.>
but they're not hurt by it.
<Good>
Given what's in the tank, would the Wendletraps attack the LOS's?
<I doubt it. Wendletraps/Epitonium spp. feed on corals and anemones, including Aiptasia and Heteractis malu (depending on the snail specie). Also, some species dont actually feed on the tissue, but instead consume the mucus.>
If the LOS's would attack the Wendletraps I don't think I would mind too much. Just more food for them.
<Its possible that they may well go after the Wendletraps, especially if theyre hungry/aggressive enough.>
Also, I couldn't find anything on this site or the web about whether they would be on top or underneath the sand.
<Theyd be on top.>
And if they'd climb the glass and whether they'd be OK in the air and trying to get out. I have cats. I don't want to find Wendletraps in my bed one morning. :-)
<Heeeee! You should be fine. Wendletraps sometimes end up on the beach as a result of a storm, or unusually high tide, but thats about it. The same cannot be said for Nerites though. If you decide at some point to try some of these, beware. I can tell you from personal experience that they have an unfortunate tendency to go on walkabout and end up as cat toys!>
Thanks for your advice and the great site!
<Youre very welcome and thank you!>
The search feature isn't working for me, not sure why,
<Oops, sorry about that. I just checked and it seems okay but do let us know if you continue having problems.>
..but I skimmed all the snail pages looking for anything on Wendletraps and couldn't find anything. Plus I doubt there's another person with LOS's!
<There have been a few, but we mostly discourage them for mixed reef systems because of their predatory nature and possible threat to beneficial DSB fauna.>
Thanks!
<Youre welcome! Take care, Lynn Z>

Re: Wendletrap OK with Lettered Olive Snails? With Caution. Also, Info re: Olive Snail Reproduction - 4/14/10
Hi Lynn,
<<Hi Amy>>
Thanks so much for your reply and information.
<<Youre very welcome.>>
<Is it seaweed season already?>
Not yet. Although some kind of vegetation is washing up here and there. It's little 1 inch brown segments. I'm finding them in 6 foot wide patterns, as if a plant has disintegrated its pieces washed up.
<<Yep>>
What's mostly washing up right now though are jellies.
<<Yuck>>
I was there (Surfside Beach, TX, south of Galveston), a couple weeks ago and there were tons of cannonball jellies.
<<Its amazing now numerous they can be at times.>>
Yesterday some of those were still there, but now the man o' wars are coming in.
<<Yikes>>
Peak season for the Sargassum seaweed is later in the summer months.
<<It seems like thats what I remember from being a kid but for some reason, the last few times weve been to Port Aransas in early May, its been all over the place.>>
That's when we find some really cool specimens of marine life to look at!
<<Oh, definitely!>>
Funny how much life people walk right over on the beach and never even know it's there!
<<Absolutely!>>
We've found crabs, shrimp, Nudibranchs, anemones, and below the floating clumps of it, before it beaches itself, are beautiful juvenile trigger fish, tons of juvenile Sergeant Majors, and even Sargassum Fish!
<<Neat! Sometimes you can find the little floating purple Janthina sp. snails that eat Man-O-Wars tangled in there as well, or the lightweight little Spirula spp./Rams Horn snails.>>
We found several other species of fish I wouldn't want to name because I don't know for certain that I identified them properly. But it's like a floating reef!
<<Yep, those floating mats become little ecosystems with all sorts of critters living within and around them.>>
Anyway... I'm rambling. It's a favorite subject of mine and I could go on forever!
<<Sounds like were two peas in a pod then!>>
<Epitonium species apparently secrete a purple substance that has been listed as a toxin and/or anesthetizing agent. Unfortunately, I dont know how much/if any risk this presents to your livestock.>
I've seen a little bit of a reddish/purple tint on the tip end of a few of the snails. If that's the volume of their toxin capabilities it's minute, but thanks for the warning and I'll keep a sharp eye out.
<<Yep, its always best to be forewarned.>>
<Running carbon is also a good idea as a preventive measure.>
Got that covered!
<<Good>>
<If its fine-grained, it would be better to have either 3 or more for a DSB or less than Ã'½ to 1 for a shallow bed.>
The Sergeant Major Fish will fan the bottom and make deep depressions in one side, and a big pile on the other side, like he's creating a hidey hole for himself. It's cute so I quit trying to fix it. He's apparently more comfortable like that. One side is 1" and the other is well over 3". My sand does create bubbles so I read that's a good thing.
Re: my Lettered Olive Snails...
They're even laying eggs lately, but that's another story...
<Id love to know more.>
One night I went to the tank to feed the fish and turn the light off for the evening, and there were tiny (1mm) translucent disks everywhere, and millions of dots that I can't describe because they were so small. It was like a heavy snowfall!
<<Wow!>>
My fish were chowing down! I took photos of it because I didn't know if I'd ever see it again and at the time didn't really know for sure what was happening.
<<Im so glad you got photos! You did indeed witness a spawn.>>
I looked it up on your site and read about it later. I never saw anything on top of the sand, on the glass, but it could be that they laid the eggs on top of the sand and either the SM fish stirred them up, or the water flow from the filter output did it.
<<Nope, the eggs actually do float. In the wild, they rise to the surface and drift about on the current before hatching into a free-swimming planktonic form called a veliger.>>
Well, within a couple hours it was all over. Half eaten, half sucked up in the filter. So I wanted to see if any would survive so I left that filter in for as long as I could, and checked in there with a flashlight, but no luck. So then about a month later, it happened again. This time right before my eyes!
<<Neat!>>
I was staring at the tank, noticing that a couple snails were interacting under the sand. I could see it actually undulating. The thought crossed my mind that they were procreating... but I thought nahhh... can't be. Sure enough, 5 minutes later one comes to the surface and the little circles & dots erupted into the water. There weren't as many that time, but it was still a cool show.
<<Terrific observations!>>
The snail went right back under the sand so I didn't even get to see from where in their anatomy they came from. This time I have a brand new filter in there so I hope some will have time to grow. We'll see. I think it would be neat to see one as a baby.
<<It certainly would. From what Ive read, they go through a short veliger stage before settling to the substrate and metamorphosing into crawling snails. What Im unsure of is whether the veliger stage is a feeding or non-feeding one. The young stand a better chance if its non-feeding.>>
In all the internet searches I've done, I have never seen a baby Lettered Olive Snail.
<<Neither have I.>>
A couple of the ones I have are shorter than the others, about 1 inch, vs. the 2 inch older ones, but they're still adults with many layers to their spiral shells. Is there any way to tell how old they are?
<<Not that I know of.>>
<Wendletraps/Epitonium spp. feed on corals and anemones, including Aiptasia and Heteractis malu (depending on the snail specie). Also, some species dont actually feed on the tissue, but instead consume the mucus.>
What would you recommend I feed them then?
<<The best thing would be what they eat in the wild, which is most likely an anemone of some sort, but I don't know which specie(s). If you perchance have any Aiptasia, Id watch for declining numbers. In lieu of that, I'd try various meaty foods on hand.>>
I have some cubes of frozen sea urchin, but my fish won't eat it
<<Can't say I blame them. Im not a big fan myself.>>
..and if it doesn't get consumed it dirties up the water and then sits in the filter. So I don't want to experiment with it if I don't have to.
<<I wouldnt, since its so messy.>>
Also wondering if they would eat the shrimp that my LOS's eat?
<<It never hurts to try. Id offer a variety of foods and see what happens. You might also want to try placing the food up on the rocks (near the Wendletraps) so they wont get overrun by the Olive snails in the sand. If the fish go after the food on the rocks, you can try feeding at night instead.>>
They'll die if they don't have something. Although they're tiny so I don't know how long they'll go between meals, do you?
<<I dont. Some organisms (various Cukes, stars, anemones, etc.) can take a surprisingly long time to succumb to starvation, but unfortunately, I just dont know how long it would take for a snail.>>
So tonight after I got your response, I added them to the tank and they've been in there for a few hours now. So far so good! No LOS siphons. So they must not smell/taste like food yet.
<<Yep. If/when one starts ailing though, theyll be on it. Oliva sayana/Lettered Olive snails have no problem getting through the shells of small clams so I doubt that a Wendletrap's shell would pose much challenge. They're usually pretty thin/lightweight.>>
My fish checked them out but don't seem too interested. The SM did pluck one off the glass but he's ok. They look like they have better footing on the oyster shells I have in there, than in the sand. No traction in the sand I guess.
<<Likely so, yes.>>
I'll let you know if it's a success or if they become food.
<<Please do.>>
Oh, one more question... about the LOS's digestion... I've always been curious about what part of the anatomy this is: When they come up for food, let's say a piece of shrimp, they cover it with their body, head first, but then tuck it underneath in this pouch kind of thing, and then go back down into the sand with it dragging behind. Is that pouch just for storage, or is it their stomach? It's hard to tell from looking at diagrams.
<<It's actually the anterior portion of the foot called the propodium. Its adapted for burrowing, propelling the snail forward, and for trapping prey/food items. Once the snail has the food trapped, it takes it back under the sand so that it can eat at its leisure. Apparently this is accomplished thanks to a radula (a many-toothed tongue-like organ) and the release of fluids into the animal that break down the tissue.>>
Attached is a photo I took of the first LOS egg event where you can see the translucent circles, and the dots, and one of the LOS's eating a piece of shrimp.
<<I see them in the follow-up message, thanks!>>
Enjoy!
<<Thank you!>>
Amy
<<Take care, Lynn Z>>
Follow-up Re: Wendletrap OK with Lettered Olive Snails? With Caution. Also, Info re: Olive Snail Reproduction - 4/14/10
<Hi Amy>
Oops, I forgot to attach the two photos mentioned in my previous reply.
<No problem. Thanks for sending them along, theyre terrific! Take care, Lynn Z>

Marine Snails Identification 1/19/10
Hi WWM Crew,
<Hi there, Rafy, Lynn here today.>
I know I have been telling this many times, but this great site never stop impress me :) Keep up the good work, guys.
<Thanks, its always a pleasure.>
The reason I am writing this time is to get your help to identify 3 of my snails, which I first thought all of them are Nassarius, not until I came across a guy at the LFS who told that this snail is actually damaging towards my corals.
<Which snail? Have you noticed any damage and if so, what type of coral?>
I may have oversimplified it by thinking all snails with "antenna" are Nassarius
<Yes, but it's understandable. Not everyone is, or even wants to be, a snail geek like me!>
..but after hearing that remark at the LFS, I start to feel uncomfy.
<I can certainly understand that.>
Appreciate your help to verify whether these snails in the pictures are Nassarius or otherwise.
<I don't think they're Nassarius spp. snails.>
If they aren't Nassarius, then, what are they?
<Heheeee! Would you like the short answer or the long one? How about both? The short version is that I personally dont think any of these three snails are harmless herbivores so Id remove/relocate them all. Now, here comes the long version where things get a bit sticky. First of all, Im sorry, but I cant see enough detail in the photos, and dont have enough information (size/location of origin, etc.), to give a positive ID. However, I can offer some possibilities for you to research on your own. If you havent seen any coral damage, the snails could easily be relatives of Nassarius spp. snails (Family: Nassariidae). That is, theyre in the same Superfamily: Buccinoidea, which also includes Whelks (Family Buccinidae), Tulip snails (Family Fasciolariidae), Dove snails (Family Columbellidae), etc. (see below for links). I'm leaning towards the Whelks. Snails in this Superfamily are mostly predators of other snails, bivalves, Polychaetes, and even Sipunculans (peanut worms). They also scavenge and some have been reported to eat detritus. Others, like some of the Dove snails, dine on film algae and possibly diatoms. The second possibility, and large group of snails, includes the predatory Murex snails (Superfamily: Muricoidea). There are many species within this group that eat corals, so if youve seen any damage, its possible that at least one of your snails belongs to one of the following families: Muricidae Coralliophilinae, Muricidae Rapaninae, or even Muricidae Ergalataxinae (see below for links). One thing to bear in mind while comparing snails to the photos is that there can be a surprising amount of variation in color and shape within even a single specie, so be sure to see all examples. Finally, please know that I would be more than happy to help you with these IDs, but Id just need a bit more information. Anything you can tell me about origin, or size would be helpful, but most importantly, I'd need some good detailed photos that include at least one taken from above each snail, and one from the flipside, showing the opening/aperture side.
Superfamily Buccinoidea. Go through the various families listed above (include subfamilies). See the links to thumbnails on the right side of the following link: http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/SuperFamily_BUCCINOIDEA.shtml
See especially: Buccinidae Pisaniinae: http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/TN_Family_BUCCINIDAE_PISANIINAE.shtml
Superfamily Muricoidea:
Muricidae Coralliophilinae: http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/TN_Family_MURICIDAE_CORALLIOPHILINAE.shtml
Muricidae Ergalataxinae: http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/TN_Family_MURICIDAE_ERGALATAXINAE.shtml
Ergalatax margariticola (this species has been noted as a corallivore): http://www.gastropods.com/1/Shell_1131.shtml
Muricidae Rapaninae: http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/TN_Family_MURICIDAE_RAPANINAE.shtml >
Are they harmful to my reef tank in any way?
<Again, if it were me, Id remove/relocate them.>
I have provided 2 shots of each of the 3 snails to give you a look at them from various angles.
<Thanks>
Appreciate it guys :)
<Youre very welcome. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.>
RAFY
<Take care, LynnZ>


Question for the experts. Hermit, snail in/comp. 11/3/09
Hello,
Thank you so much for your informative website, and generous dealings with newbies to the saltwater/reef hobby. About 3-4 weeks ago, I went to PetCo (I prefer my LFS but they are the only place open after 6pm...) and bought two pieces of live rock, transferring them to my 20g aquarium. I didn't notice anything until about 2 weeks after I had the rocks, when I turned the lights off. There were several tiny, maybe half to 3/4 the size of a dime snails that didn't look anything like the other snails Petco had advertised! I had a suspicion that they were something unusual, and did some research.
Although so tiny that one would need a good magnifying glass to see details, the shape of the shell is pretty textbook. So I really enjoyed having these little guys, as they were the only moving thing in the aquarium big enough to watch! I went out of town for 5 days over thanksgiving, and forgot to tell my boyfriend (who was taking care of my freshwater thank) to watch the water level on the saltwater. When I got back, I thought the evaporation might have caused high of salinity levels, and wasn't sure what would have become of the abalone. A day or so later I saw one empty shell on the sand, and sadly thought all of them must have died. Then in a couple days I decided that since the aquarium levels were all good (0's on phosphate, nitrites/ates, ammonia) I would get some hermit or mithrax crabs as "janitors". I purchased two "red legged" hermit crabs yesterday. Then yesterday night after turning off the lights, what do I see but the two little abalone I had thought were dead! So my big question is this (and I'm sorry if this was too long-winded of a message but I wanted to be clear):
Do the abalone have any chance of escaping the hermit crabs?
<Mmm, some, yes. If the Hermits are well fed...>
I have found on your website and others that hermits are voracious and not to be trusted with smaller snails, but pointedly because the crabs wanted the shell.
<Mmm, no, not just the shells... but for food as well>
Your website definitely mentioned that one should stay away from housing hermits together with any similar sized snails, with attractively shaped shells, but that if kept well fed and given extra shells the crabs probably would not bother snails, especially those much bigger or smaller than themselves.
<Size bears little relation to predation here... the Hermits will eat the largest of Gastropods if hungry>
I want to keep the abalone, but would rather not keep them as the only thing in the tank, I really want some crabs or shrimp for interest. Would another
type of sand-sifter/algae eater be a less predatory tank mate for the abalone?
<Mmm, yes... but really better to counter algae here in other ways.
Competition, nutrient limitation, removal...>
Do the abalone have the possibility of growing to near-full-size?
<If conditions are propitious, yes>
I read elsewhere that they are very sensitive to changes in salinity, and usually don't last long in captivity. But if they would continue to grow, and the hermits are a real threat, I will gladly take back the hermits to keep the abalone. Please let me know what you think, and thank you SO much for the great resources and info you provide!
Cheers,
Katie P.
P.S. you can, of course, edit this email to a reasonable length if you wish to post it!
<No worries. Katie, if you're very interested in these snails, I would return the Hermits. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

ID for Snail in Dailies - 10/05/2009
Hi Bob,
<Amazing Lynn>
The snail in the photo today looks like something in the genus Babylonia, which depending on where you look, is usually either assigned to the family Babyloniidae, or Buccinidae. Here's an example of one:
http://www.gastropods.com/1/Shell_11.shtml
Main page with others in this family:
http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/TN_Family_BABYLONIIDAE.shtml
<Ahh, Babylonia zeylanica... does look like this>
Do you have any other photos of this little guy?
<I do not>
If so, and if you can tell me where it's from, I should be able to narrow it down further.
<... a fish store>
Take care,
-Lynn
<Thank you dear. BobF>

snail ID - 10/05/2009
Hi everyone,
the snail in today's pic of the day is a Buccinulum corneum as far as I can see. They live in the sand, are predatory and are sometimes used for controlling bristle worms.
Alex
<Ahh! Thank you Alex. Bob Fenner>

Re: snail ID
Bob,
I just took a second look - it might as well be some Babylonia species (also from the Buccinidae family). They do look pretty much alike as far as siphons etc. go. A good reference is http://www.nmr-pics.nl/Buccinidae/album/index.html
in this regard.
Alex
<Yes... my best guess is Babylonia zeylanica.
BobF>

Re: ID for Snail in Dailies - 10/05/2009
Right back at you, Amazing Bob!
<Heeee!>
You're most welcome. Those are neat-looking little snails, but I wouldn't trust them around other Molluscs. They're predators and scavengers. Also, I didn't mention in the previous mail, but the common name is Babylon or Babylonia snail and I've seen them available from time to time on the 'net and locally. Woe be it, though, to the person who puts one in their tank without knowing the possible consequences!
Take care,
-Lynn
<Be chatting! BobF>

Horse Conch: Big Appetite, Potentially Huge Snail 8/20/09
Hello, I have a young horse conch who of course ate all other snails in my tank faster than I could find out he is indeed a cannibal (ignorant me).
<Ouch! Unfortunately thats one of those lessons learned the hard way to research before bringing home! If what you have is indeed the Florida horse conch Pleuroploca gigantea (family Fasciolariidae tulip snails) it will most definitely eat other snails, some thin-shelled bivalves such as pen shells (family Pinnidae) as well as scavenge. In addition, it also has the potential to reach almost two feet in length - as in yikes!>
I now feed him pieces of shrimp tucked into snail shells. Do you know if he eats other life such as corals?
<Nope, it should leave your corals alone.>
Thanks for considering my question, Mary
<Youre very welcome. Take care, LynnZ>

Injured Nassarius Snail 06/25/09
Hi Guys,
<<Hey Robert>>
Couple quick questions.
<<Okay>>
I have a Threadfin Butterfly that bit the siphon tube off two of my Nassarius Snails.
<<Bet that had to sting>>
It attacked them like a pit bull.
<<! As in shaking them violently from side to side?>>
I added about 5 of these snails today to help sift/stir the sand with intentions on getting more.
<<Are excellent for thisand to help with detritus removal>>
They are still moving around and such at this time, but will they make it??
<<Probably Truth be told, I have a Copperband Butterfly that likes to do the same thing, though not as much anymoreperhaps it has tired of it as I do keep it well fed (or maybe the snails are just getting smarter [grin]). But my population of Nassarius snails seems to prosper and grow despite the Copperband>>
Will their siphon tube regenerate?
<<Dont really know. Perhaps>>
Should I find another sand stirrer and if so what kind or type do you recommend?
<<You might try adding some Cerith snails to the mix>>
The butterfly doesn't mess with any other snails or crabs, guess it didn't like the new ones.
<<The siphon tubes are very worm-like...too much of a temptation for the Threadfin (and my Copperband). Im guessing you dont have any Featherdusters either>>
Thank you!
Robert
<<Happy to share EricR>>

Someone's Eating Our Snails/Escargot Anyone (Yuk!)? 3/7/09 Hello. <Hello Nicole.> I am hoping that you can help us. If you need more information, please let me know. My husband and I have a 34 gallon Red Sea Max. It is landscaped with liverock. In it we have a Flame Angel, <Your tank is a little small for keeping a Flame Angel. Most etailers will list a 30 gallon tank as minimum size, but a 50 gallon minimum is more realistic. Behavourial/Environmental issues may ensue here.> Six Line Wrasse, a pair of young (about one year old) False Percula Clowns, and a Fire shrimp. We recently had introduced a small fish to the tank who wound up dead a few days later. (We believe our flame angel killed her). <May very well be, as stated above.> They are supposed to be very territorial fish, but we had never seen her act harshly before. In the past we also had a cleaner shrimp which we found to be dead after a weekend away. A friend had been feeding our fish for us and said it had been alive that morning. After doing some research on your site, we found that six lines develop a hunger for shrimp so that may explain that. However, for the past six months or so we have been unable to keep snails or hermit crabs alive for very long. Someone in the tank keeps eating them. As snails are an important part in the cleaning process of the tank, we are concerned that this is a problem. We are wondering if you would be able to tell us who might be eating our snails and what we should do about it. <The Six Line Wrasse will search for live foods in the form of small crustaceans such as Pyramidellid snails (clam parasites), urchins, and commensal flatworms, but in my experience, I've never saw them eat snails or Hermit Crabs, at least the sizes that are generally kept by aquarists. More than likely you had too many janitors and there was a shortage of food for them.> Thanks, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Nicole Gutermann

Re Someone's Eating Our Snails/Escargot Anyone (Yuk!)? 3/8/09 Just one remark on your reply. I realized that I probably should have mentioned in the previous message. We have seen several of our snails, before they died, with chunks missing from their bodies. This is why we believe someone may have been eating them. Do you still stick to your conclusion that there were too many in the tank? (At the moment there are six snails and one hermit crab.) <Mmm, I assume the snails were intact after you purchased them, and, have you ever observed the Six Line Wrasse nipping at them? The Flame Angelfish has been known to nip at corals and clam mantles, so there is a chance it may have nipped at the snails. Observe this fish. You did not mention what specie of hermit crab you have. Hermit crabs can never be classified as entirely reef safe. They are opportunistic feeders and can/will kill and eat snails to obtain a larger home or satisfy their hunger. If yours is of the Blue Legged or a similarly small sized variety, then it is unlikely that the crab is the culprit. James (Salty Dog)> Nicole

Nassarius Snail vs. Crocea Clam - 10/20/08 Hello, <Hi there, Jeremy.> I awoke this morning to find a Nassarius snail eating on my Crocea clam. <Yikes!> The clam has always seemed healthy and I hadn't noticed any problems with it. I removed the snail and my clam is still alive, extending and contracting most of its mantle except for the part the snail was on. <Okay> Did the snail start eating the clam because it is sick or dying? Or are Nassarius snails a natural predator to Crocea clams? <Theyre not actually dedicated predators of these clams, but they are carnivorous and opportunistic. Most of the time, Nassarius snails make terrific little tank scavengers, but I have read the occasional reports of them snacking on healthy clams. My guess is that in these cases, there wasnt enough readily available food so the snails went after the clam as an easy meal. That could easily be what happened in your case as well, given that you feel the clam is in otherwise good condition. If it were me, I wouldnt put the snail back in the tank, but if you still have others, Id discourage them from straying by keeping them well fed. You can offer something like sinking pellets or any meaty bits of marine origin (shrimp, fish, etc.> Thank you for your help. Jeremy <Youre very welcome. Take care, -Lynn>

Nassarius Snails Eating Hermit Crabs 6/21/08 Hey WWM Crew, <Hi Brian! Lynn here today.> Love the site and thanks for taking the time to sift through everyone's questions. <Its a pleasure.> I have something going on in my clean-up crew in my saltwater tank I haven't been able to find out anything online about. <Lets see what we can do to fix that.> I have a 75g tank about 2 months old now with just live rock. The ammonia and nitrite levels were at zero after a month when I added 10 small blue leg hermit crabs, two Emerald crabs and five Nassarius snails. I have read all over about hermits taking out your snail population <Yes, it can certainly happen. Many, including myself, avoid keeping hermits in reef systems altogether.> ..but in my tank it seems my snails are taking out my hermit population. <Uh oh> I have witnessed on three occasions the snails harassing the crabs. <Calling them names? Telling them bad hermit crab jokes like: How much does a hermit crab eat? Just a pinch! Whats a hermit crabs favorite dessert? Clawberry Cheesecake! I guess I can see where that would be annoying.> The first time the hermit left its shell and headed to the rocks and returned later to collect its home. <Awww, poor little guy.> Then about a week or so ago I saw a snail envelop the crab with about five or six hermits in a conga line on the shell of the crab getting eaten (maybe trying to pull him back?). <It sounds like the crab was already dead or in a significantly weakened state and it attracted every scavenger in the area.> Another snail crept up from the sand bed to help and eventually the crab was eaten. <That sounds about typical, again, if the crab was dead or dying.> Just now I peeked in my tank to see another empty shell and two snails leaving the scene of the crime. <Not good.> Have you ever seen or heard about this before? <Ive never heard of the common Nassarius vibex snails attacking and killing healthy hermits, no. What Id do first is make sure that the snails you have are indeed N. vibex. Please see this link for comparison: http://www.gastropods.com/0/Shell_1930.html . If you have something else, let me know and well see if we cant figure out what it is. Otherwise, I have a feeling that with such a new system, the problem might be one of too many scavengers and not enough food to go around. Keeping everyone well fed will go a long way to ensuring healthy individuals and keeping the peace. Also, it goes without saying that keeping the water parameters stable and in good shape is a must.> Am I missing something as a food source for these snails that is leading to this behavior? <Just make sure that theyre all getting enough to eat any meaty foods of marine origin, sinking pellets, etc.> Any thoughts would be appreciated. <Let me know if you have a different species of snail, or if things dont improve!> Thanks! Brian <Youre very welcome! Take care, -Lynn>

Snail Infestation!! Help 6/16/08 Hi again, <Hi Jarod> 55 gallon tank, water quality average or better, community fish, and many leathers, a few SPS, and cleaning crew. <Okay> I travelled this past weekend and got back last night after the tank lights had turned off. I checked to see if I had any floaters, and I noticed several little white "things" on my rock. I turned the light on, and I had dozens of little white snails on my rock and glass. They are the size a small pea, white roundish shell with brown spots. <Id need a photo to confirm, but what youre describing sounds a lot like harmless/beneficial little Collonista snails. Please see this link for more information and photos: http://bb.wetwebmedia.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=242 > Not only that, there were large "slugs" or snails without shells on the glass, at least 6 that I could see. <Again, a photo would be great, but these could easily be a common, beneficial, hitchhiking snail in the genus Stomatella (related to the ever popular Turbo and Astraea snails). Although they do look very slug-like, theyre most definitely snails, with disproportionately small, flattish shells that are very often overlooked. Please see this link for more information/photos: http://bb.wetwebmedia.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=181 > These guys were the size of my Turbo snails. <Stomatellids can get fairly large.> I have never seen them before, obviously they are nocturnal, <This is often the case with both of these snails. It helps them to avoid daytime predators such as various fishes, etc.> ..but now I am concerned they are nuisance snails and I need to know what they are and how to get rid of them. Should I just pluck the ones I see each night? Should I be concerned that they will kill my coral? <If they are what I think they are, youre in good shape. These are both beneficial and welcome hitchhikers that pose no threat to corals or other livestock. Please check the links provided above for confirmation. If what you have is something different, please let me know. Also, please see the links at the bottom of both of those info sheets. Youll find a link to WWMs Google search engine. Just enter the terms Collonista or Stomatella. Youll find quite a few FAQs related to these snails.> Thanks for your help! <Youre very welcome!> Jared S <Take care, -Lynn Z>

Re: Snail Infestation!! Help: Collonista and likely Stomatellids 6/16/08 Lynn, <Hi Jarod!> Thanks a lot for the links and the information. <Youre very welcome.> The little guys are definitely Collonista snails. <Terrific!> The others I need to confirm and I will try and get pictures of both. <Sounds good.> If these guys are all beneficial, then I can't wait to see them all come out and roam now. <LOL Yep, the terms harmless and beneficial are what you want to see when it comes to hitchhikers. This is especially true when there are great numbers of said hitchhikers!> I had no idea that the night life in my tank was so fascinating and different than daytime hours. <Oh, are you in for a treat! I think youll be very surprised to see the number and diversity of creatures that seem to come out of the woodwork after the lights go out. I have no doubt that youll see all sorts of pods scurrying here and there, possibly some peanut worms (Sipunculids), etc, etc. By the way, a flashlight with a red lens cover goes a long way to improving visibility and not shocking the inhabitants. I can tell you from experience that they do *not* like it when you shine a white halogen flashlight in their tiny little eyes!> Jared S <Have fun! Lynn>

Re: Snail infestation!! Help: Collonista and Stomatella 6/17/08 Lynn, <Hi Jarod.> Big body, little shell, the others are definitely Stomatellids. <Excellent, those are terrific little snails to have around.> I couldn't wait until the lights went out last night to see everything. <Its truly amazing, isnt it?> Of course I grabbed a flashlight and shined it in their little eyes, I will get a red lens tonight. <LOL Theyll very much appreciate that!> I did see some pods scurrying about, AND a small brittle starfish. I have read that starfish aren't reef safe, <Some are most definitely not. Among the Brittlestars, the most notorious is the Green brittlestar (Ophiarachna incrassata), aka The Green Death. These clever stars like to suspend themselves in caves and drop down on unsuspecting fish at night - yikes!> ..should I be worried about him? He was no bigger than a quarter. <No worries. This is very likely a harmless/beneficial species of mini-brittlestar (Ophiuroid). They range from about the size of a dime, up to about a Kennedy half dollar and pose no threat to corals or other livestock. These common little hitchhikers are detritivores/scavengers that like to hide within/underneath the rockwork, many times extending an arm or two out into the water column to catch food particles drifting by. Most range in color from all white to a combination of shades of white and gray, often with bands of darker gray on the arms. A plus with these guys is that given good conditions, they reproduce readily and sustain a healthy population of clean-up crew specialists! For more information and photos, please see these links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestaridfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm > Thanks again, <My pleasure!> Jared S <Take care, -Lynn>

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

Feather dusters with hitchhikers... snail... pred.? 02/28/2008 Hello there, <<Hello, Andrew today>> I am recently new to the hobby and have found your site to be an invaluable tool. However, I have an interesting dilemma and am hoping you can offer some insight. <<Will do my best>> I read the post regarding a feather duster hitchhiking on the back of a snail, but I seem to have the opposite phenomenon- a feather duster I bought from my local LFS has a snail attached to it! The duster itself is of the giant variety (Sabellastarte sp.) and its tube is already approximately 3.5-4 inches long. After I got it home, acclimated it, and wedged it into a rock crevasse, it had disappeared by the next morning. After some searching, I found that the snail, which appears to be a Cerith snail, was dragging it all over the aquarium (most likely in search of food). This has been going on for three days now and the feather duster appears to have had no ill effect- its radiole is usually out and feeding OK- but I am concerned that the constant changes in light, water flow, etc (it's a 50gal tank) will eventually lead to a bad end. <<Snail must be working hard in the tank...he he he>> I read the other post about possibly trying to separate the two with a small scalpel but this seems extreme, especially given the fact in this instance that the snail is located farther up the tube and not near the posterior end. Any suggestions? <<I would do as suggested, separate the tube from the snail shell. All that will happen with the current setup, is the tube worm will constantly be dropping its crown through stress of always being moved and i feel it will stand little chance of doing well as it is>> Thanks in advance! Juli <<Thanks for the questions. A Nixon>>

Thats no Nassarius! Thats 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 dont 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! Heres 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 Pyramidellids feed off of the limpets? Therefore removing the snails for a long period off time to remove the Pyramidellids 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 Sara M.>

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

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

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

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

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

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