Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs about Marine Snail Compatibility and Removal 1

Related Articles: GastropodsSea SlugsMollusksAbalone

Related FAQs: Marine Snail Compatibility 2, Marine Snail Compatibility 3, Pest Snails (Pyramidellids...), Marine Snails 1Marine Snails 2Marine Snails 3, Snail ID 1, Snail ID 2, Snail Behavior, Snail Selection, Snail Systems, Snail Feeding, Snail Disease, Snail Reproduction, MollusksSea SlugsAbaloneMarine Algae Eaters,

Live Shell Collecting?...Banned Or Not? Salty's go   7/6/06 Hi Bob and Crew. Hello Lloyd> I have a question I haven't seen addressed on your website (although I suspect its there somewhere - you have a very comprehensive website).  I know that there are state and federal bans on the harvesting of wild live rock.  Most of the definitions I have found for "live rock" relate to marine life growing on coral structure and rocks.  I like to snorkel with my kids (I'm fortunate enough to live in South Florida, hurricanes aside) and when I do, its not at all unusual to find large shells (no snails inside) that are encrusted with coralline algae, as well as all kinds of other stuff.  I'm not aware of any general ban on the collection of empty shells.  Would it be your opinion that shells, after becoming encrusted with coralline algae, would be considered "live rock", and if not, is their any reason they couldn't perform the same function in a marine aquarium? <Lloyd, in my opinion, a shell is not a rock, so I'm thinking it would be legal.  Folks go shelling along the shores and this isn't banned.  I like going shelling at the seaside taverns...One large shell of Bud, please. OK, I am thinking that, should the conch shell have soft coral(s) growing on it, this could present a problem.  To be on the safe side I'd go here (Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation) and click on the "ask FWC".  http://myfwc.com/ Mr. Fenner may know if this is legal.  What do you think, Bob?> I've attached a picture of a horse conch shell I found a few weeks ago off Florida's gulf coast.  If you look closely, you can see (in addition to the gorgeous purple algae) two fan worms (I think) on the bottom to the lower right of the hermit crab, and another three at the top. <Neat!> Thanks for your thoughts, you guys perform a very valuable service. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Live Rock (shells)   7/6/06 Thanks for your help, James.  I've e-mailed the Florida FWC, and will let you know their response.  Now that I know how easy this is, I have another quick question (or two).  Can you direct me to a single location that lists the acceptable high/low range for the various factors that determine marine aquarium water quality (i.e., PH, copper, calcium, phosphate, alkalinity, nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, etc.), and what steps to take if your readings are above or below those ranges (i.e., what to add and how much)?  Obviously, nothing's going to apply in all situations, but there must be some kind if "norm."  Is it safe to say that if you use RO/DI water and a commercially available salt mix, there shouldn't be a problem with the water going into the tank, and any water problems arising after that would be the result of other things being introduced into the tank (waste, excess nutrients, medicine, biological pests, etc.)? <Lloyd, this info can easily by found on our site.  Do look/search. I'll start you off here.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/watrqualmar.htm> Thanks again.  Lloyd <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Live Rock (shells). RichardB's response   7/6/06 Hi Bob and Crew. < Hello! > I have a question I haven't seen addressed on your website (although I suspect its there somewhere - you have a very comprehensive website). < Your flattery will get you everywhere! > I know that there are state and federal bans on the harvesting of wild live rock.  Most of the definitions I have found for "live rock" relate to marine life growing on coral structure and rocks.  I like to snorkel with my kids (I'm fortunate enough to live in South Florida, hurricanes aside) and when I do, its not at all unusual to find large shells (no snails inside) that are encrusted with coralline algae, as well as all kinds of other stuff.  I'm not aware of any general ban on the collection of empty shells.  Would it be your opinion that shells, after becoming encrusted with coralline algae, would be considered "live rock", and if not, is their any reason they couldn't perform the same function in a marine aquarium? < There is not restriction on the collection of empty shells, and unless you are intentionally collecting them with intent to sell, there should be no problem. In small numbers, the shells can be a beautiful addition to an aquarium. Unfortunately, the stagnant water inside of the shells may cause problems in the long run, especially if there are too many shells present in too small of a body of water. The "live rock " has much more surface area, and can therefore house more bacteria for more biological filtration. The surface of a shell cannot compare in that aspect. Piles upon piles of shells would also become a sink or deposit of detritus and mulm over time, thereby even further increasing the risk of oxygen depletion. One or two would not be a problem. Ten or twenty would. > I've attached a picture of a horse conch shell I found a few weeks ago off Florida's gulf coast.  If you look closely, you can see (in addition to the gorgeous purple algae) two fan worms (I think) on the bottom to the lower right of the hermit crab, and another three at the top. < The shell is beautiful. It must be wonderful for your kids to be able to grow up with a "backyard" such as South Florida. > Thanks for your thoughts, you guys perform a very valuable service. Lloyd < Thank you for your compliments, I know everyone here appreciates them! RichardB >

Whelks in Reef Systems, Incomp. gastropods, not the bubble machine guy   6/23/06 Hi there!! Quick question here.  How harmful are whelks to a reef tank? <Can be real trouble: http://www.google.com/search?q=whelks+to+a+reef+tank> I found a few in my nano tank and believe there are more hidden.  I have in my tank, colony polyps, mushrooms, and frogspawn coral.  I found this little whelk with its siphon tube on the top of one of my colony polyp. Seems to be sucking at it. <I would remove this/them. Bob Fenner> Pyramidellids On Astrea Snails? - 03/12/06 Hi, <<Hello>> My tank has been setup for a little over a year and I never had a clam.  Occasionally, I've noticed what look like Pyramid Snails on the under side of some of the Astrea Snails.  I am now considering getting a Crocea Clam, but am worried that these might be Pyramid Snails. <<Possibly...have read of this.>> Also, where would these snails attach to a clam? <<Wherever they can reach the flesh, usually along the edges under the mantle or around the byssal opening.>> And would it be noticeable before the clam just dies? <<Not always...can happen virtually "overnight.">> Do these Pyramid Snails eat Astrea snails as well as clams? <<Don't know honestly, but have heard others state it is so.  Try going to this clam forum ( http://www.clamsdirect.com/forum/index.php) and post your questions re.>> If not, does that mean that they're not Pyramid Snails? <<Possibly>> I thought I read somebody here say that if you don't have clams, then they're not Pyramid Snails. <<Mmm...may not always be the case.>> Is it possible that they are some other type of snail? <<sure>> I have seen some of these on the LR at night, only about 1/16".  I also have a Bodianus bimaculatus and was wondering if he might be eating some of them?  I know they're actually a wrasse, so not sure if he might be controlling them. <<A possibility, small mollusks (bivalves, gastropods) do make up part of their diet.  Other possible biological controls would be the "lined" wrasses (Pseudocheilinus sp.) or wrasses from the genus Halichoeres.>> Thanks, Craig <<Regards, EricR>>

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>>

Question about whelks  10/6/05 I just received an order yesterday from an online live fish and  coral company.  I found in a separate bag a bunch of snails I never ordered. I've been waiting month's for the order, so I guess it was a freebie.  I don't know.  Anyway, I decided to go onto their site and see if they sell these "Unknown" species.  It turns out that they do, and are called Eastern mud whelks.  They grow locally on the shore of Long Island where I live. I have no experience with these species of snail, and was wondering if you know if they are "Reef  safe" or not. The aquarium I was going to keep them in has no coral species as yet, but will in the very near future. Any information would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you, Eddie  V. <These are considered to be safe.  There is some information on them here, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mollusca.htm .  Enjoy the "bonus". - Josh>  <<... these are cold water animals... not intended for tropical aquarium use. RMF>>             Snail help please  8/31/05 Dear Bob, <Carole> Hello and thanks for being here! <Glad to be so> I was hoping that you may help with some information about a snail. it is an olive snail, family Olividae ~ possibly either Netted Olive ~Oliva reticularis or Lettered Olive ~ Oliva sayana. I have seen several references, including one of yours to suggest they are not reef safe, but you did not say why. And some that said they were common, and perhaps predatory of other snails and crustaceans. I also saw some info that said they ate dead animal material, and plants. <Mmm, the sixty or so species of Olivids are mainly predaceous on other molluscs... and hence hard to keep in reef aquarium settings> Any help is surely appreciated. We purchased 5,and were told by the wholesalers' they were reef safe {darn wholesalers'. We have the same problem as a customer sometimes experiences with misinformation about species, just to make a sale.} We do not want to sell them, only to have our customers have problems with them. Thanks, Carole <Carole... spaces, please, between your sentences... and not a worry re "reef safeness" per se, but how will you feed these Oliva spp.? Bob Fenner> Re: Snail help please Hello again, Well, I guess it was a mistake buying them. That is why we should always research first, not after the fact. We are ordering an invert handbook, that we can take with us. I always say " there is a reason that you only usually see certain types of inverts available " This would fall into that category. Thanks for your help, Carole <Ah, yes... welcome my friend. BobF>

Turbo snails harming my polyps? 7/5/05 Hi Crew, <Hi - Ted here>           I wondered if you could help me? I have a 30 Gallon tank, fully cycled, has been running for about 10 weeks now. Vitals are as follows; SG - 1.022, Temp - 77, Ammonia - 0, Nitrite - 0, Nitrate - 15ppm, pH - 8.1 Lighting is only 2 x 30 watt fluorescent tubes (1 x daylight plus - 1 x Actinic blue moon) Inhabitants are; 1 x red legged hermit (about 3/4 inch in size) 2 x unidentified "hitch hiker" crabs ( 1 tiny one and one about an inch) 2 x Turbo snails Some Chaetomorpha. I have some Yellow Parazoanthus polyps on a small piece of live rock positioned a few inches beneath the surface because I know my lighting leaves a lot to be desired. I am concerned for the polyps' health though. I sometimes notice a turbo snail on the rock, it doesn't appear to be eating them but it does look as though it could be harming them through pure clumsiness (knocking them and pressing against them with its shell) The same goes for the hermit crab too. Their health does seem to have declined since I started adding other livestock (they were the first live inhabitants). Some of them never open now and one of the smaller ones has actually vanished, some of them sometimes look as though they have been squeezed at the base as they go thinner (almost as though they have had fishing line tied around the base and tightened). I feed them weekly with a small amount of Mysis shrimp (soaked in SeaChem reef plus) squirted on to them with a syringe which they appear to eat in earnest. There is also an abundance of pods and bristle worms in the tank. Do you know what may be causing the decline of these polyps? I really like them and would love to keep them. (they have been in the tank about one month) Sorry for the long message but I wanted to cover as much as possible in one mail. Best regards and thank you for whatever you can tell me. <Your water quality seems fine although I'd like to see the nitrates lower. The presence of pods and worms are an indication of good water quality. While polyps will retract when disturbed, they should extend again so the snails are not likely the problem unless they are constantly disturbing the polyps. Your lighting may be contributing to the polyps decline. Keeping the polyps near the light is a good thing but adding more light would be better. You might also check the water flow in the tank. Chaotic water flow will help the polyps. Finally, true crabs are opportunistic predators. I would caution against keeping them in the tank as they may view your other inhabitants as food.>            Leif, Birmingham, UK. <Good luck with your tank - Ted>

Nassarius snail question and fuge feeding question 7/4/05 Hi! <<Hello>> I am about to buy some Nassarius snails for the benefit of my sugar fine DSB. I already have 135lbs of Fiji LR in the tank. There are mini brittle stars in the sand and on LR (I like them!). -Are the Nassarius vibex going to cause any trouble with the mini brittle stars (outcompeting them in the system or being eaten by them...)? <<No. N. vibex are benign scavengers>> -Are Nassarius hermaphrodites? <<My quick and dirty research indicates that N. vibex is not hermaphroditic although the sex organs develop late in the maturation cycle. See http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/oup/mollus/2001/00000067/00000001/art00037;jsessionid=1nthoamjkcyn1.victoria>> -I would like to buy the minimal number to seed the 90 gal display and another batch for the 25 gal fuge and let them reproduce and create a balance... How many of them in each tank do I need to be sure they reproduce? <<A couple of online vendors sell them in lots of 12. You might try 12-24 and put 2/3 in the tank and the balance in the refugium>> To have a good population of pods in a fuge it is recommended to feed the fuge a little bit each day, dropping a bit of fish food there. At least that is what I understood from my readings on the WWM. But to limit the number of bristle worms (which I do not like no matter how beneficial they are...), it's recommended to strictly control nutrients. When I feed the fuge some bristle worms are coming out to feed so it is somehow counterproductive. Any solution to that dilemma? How to reach a balance? << Sorry, I don't know what to tell you about the dilemma/balance issue. I don't know how you could feed the refugium without the bristles partaking. IMO, bristles are a vital part of a thriving system and I wouldn't stress over their presence. Feeding the tank and the refugium is going to feed both the pods and the worms.>> Thanks a lot and sorry for sending that many questions/e-mails today! Dominique <<You're welcome and no worries. Good luck - Ted>>

Snail Removal - 06/13/05 I have a 55 gallon reef tank with a snail problem.  I have thousands of tiny snails.  Their shells are about 2-3 mm wide, light brown or red and cream striped which seem to spiral up to the tip of the shell.  Their shells resemble a Hershey's kiss. <<Impossible to say what these are without a good close picture.>> My water quality is good.  Nitrates less than 10. <<Hmm...the elevated nitrates (strive to keep this below 5 for a reef system) may indicate possible overfeeding, the presence of uncured live rock, a build up of detritus...all of which could be spurring your snail population.>>   I have several herbivores including a hippo tang <<Not a great choice for a herbivore really, and this fish is unsuited (grows too large) for your tank.>>, many blue legged hermits, turbo snails, emerald crab etc.  The snails have become unsightly.  At night they almost completely cover my live rock. <<Likely feeding on detritus/organic matter.>> I was going to remove as many as possible with some tweezers, but feared an algae problem if I did. <<Not all snails are obligate algae feeders, many are omnivorous, if not outright predatory.>> Would you expect water quality issues If I did this?  And if you do recommend removing them, do you have a better idea than my above mentioned method?   <<You don't mention any problems concerning these snails with any other reef inhabitants.  It's possible they are doing you a service cleaning up excess food/detritus, and as such their numbers will wane as the food supply diminishes.  If you really can't stand their presence, or if you discovery they are doing harm, using a siphon may prove expedient for their removal.>> Thanks, Corey <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Cone Snails--Steer Clear (6/3/05 I am a chronic pain patient. I now have the cone snail venom medicine in me called Prialt. (just approved by the FDA December 31, 2004) <I hope it is helping you.> I am fascinated by these snails and want to get one or a very small group. <I would only keep one of these if I had a death wish. Prialt, like Botox, is safe because it is so dilute and weakened. Like botulinum toxin, some cone snail toxins are among the deadliest toxins on the planet.> I have 20, 30, 50, 100 gallon tanks (although not in use because of my pain problem, 11 back surgeries). <yikes!> Anyway, do you need a permit? <Probably not, just a death wish.> If so, how do you obtain one? <not sure> And how would you go about obtaining a group? I am very well read on care, feeding and safety. <If so, you should be able to find some, but I strongly advise against it--see what Dr. Ron Shimek says about them in "Marine Invertebrates.> Thanks, Brent Ryther, Salt Lake City. <If you really want more info on the possibility of keeping these extremely dangerous creatures and how to get them, you might want to speak to Brad at The Aquarium in Sandy (fantastic new store) or Randy at Mountain Shadow Marine in Centerville. They know a lot about marine aquariums. Steve Allen, Taylorsville.>

Controlling Pyramidellids 5/23/05 Hi whoever is there tonight, I have been doing some reading on keeping clams and a few aquarists suggest adding a six line wrasse to the tank to keep clams clear of parasites.  <Six lines are about 50/50 for controlling Pyramidellid snails. Other wrasses, including P. tetrataenia (four line), several Coris sp. and Halichoeres sp. are better but equally or more destructive as they grow larger.> I previously had a six line and it killed all my cleaner shrimps. Would a neon goby be as effective in keeping clams parasite free? I am reluctant to re-introduce a six line wrasse into my tank. Thanks, Sharon  <A neon goby would be useless for this purpose. Your six line sounds like a particularly destructive specimen. If you don't want to add another one, I would suggest aggressive and persistent manual removal of the snails from your clams. After a few weeks of carefully removing adults and egg masses, it is often possible to eradicate them. Best Regards. AdamC.> 

Bristleworm biting Astrea snail 3/22/05 Hi there. Firstly thanks for all the information on your site - I am just starting out and it has been of great use!  <Glad to hear.> I was wondering if you had ever come across bristleworms biting snails? <<RMF has>> <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.> I have had my 50 gallon tank for about 3 months and have 20kg of live rock in it. A couple of weeks ago I added three Astrea sp. snails to the tank which were doing fine to begin with, sharing their home with three red legged hermits and 2 common clownfish. However, over the past four days I have lost two of the snails. The other seems ok - he is foraging about the live rock for algae but this morning I saw this grey/beige coloured worm with bristles down both sides emerge from the live rock and start biting at the snails foot. It was only about 1-2mm wide - got no idea how long as the rest is in the rock - I presume it is a bristleworm. I saw the same thing before the other two snails died and one had problems staying attached to the rock - it kept falling off. I wondered if these worms could be the culprit - perhaps biting the feet of the snails which is leading to adhesion problems or infection as there seems to be nothing wrong with the water quality... Thanks for your help and keep up the good work Sarah <It is possible, but unlikely that the bristle worms are irritating or injuring the snails. More likely, the worm was just "checking out" the snail. I would consider the hermits to be much more likely culprits. Also, snails are often mishandled and die early. I would consider the worms innocent until proven guilty and keep a close eye on the hermits. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Stocking "cleaning crews" (hermits, snails), lighting coral help on WWM Bob, Thanks for the reply. I've read the WWM sections about inverts and the quantity, and also noticed that you're not such a fan of these cleaners. <Yes> To be more specific, I have 20 blue leg hermits, 10 red leg hermits, 3 margarita snails, 8 Cerith snails, 5 Astrea snails, 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 serpent star fish (only 4-5"). Can you give me your insight on why you don't agree with so many inverts? <In a small volume (your 24 gal. cube in this case) the hermits often "cross the line" between being scavengers to predating desirable organisms... including each other... The snails die, en masse sometimes... and their dissolving takes most everything with them...> I read somewhere that this many inverts was the perfect amount to keep an almost maintenance free tank for a 24 gallon tank. Were they just full of B.S. so that they can sell their product? <Mmm, well.... there is at least a "difference of opinions" here... there definitely are a bunch of "pro" cleaner uppers as well as "cons"... Each must decide for themselves... but if you take a look in the wild, you will see there are few parts of natural reefs so arrayed> Also, currently I don't have any corals, how many hours should the lights be on? And how many hours if I do get corals? Thanks. Perry <Please put the terms: "lighting corals" in the Google search tool here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/  Bob Fenner> 

Xenia eating snail?  Or snail eating xenia? First off 40 gallon Temp: 78 pH: 8.5 KH: 8dKH Gravity: 1.024 Ammonia: 0 mg/L Nitrite: 0 mg/L Nitrate 5mg/L Phosphate: 0.25 mg/L Cu: 0 mg/L Ca: 400 mg/L My tank is almost 6 months old (Day 186) Thanks for the calcium help I have effectively reached 400 mg/L CA. I have a question about xenia. I have several Xenia pulsing away, I have had them for about 4 months. A couple of days ago I noticed one of the xenia kind of wilting and looking constricted as it sometimes does. Wondering I reached in to examine, on the other side of the small piece of LR in noticed a snail shell, completely covered in coralline algae (White flesh) that the xenia had attached to holding it fast. I did not purchase this snail and the xenia has been wilted on and off since I got it. I twisted the snail free and placed it a foot away from the xenia. A day past and I noticed that the wilted xenia was recovering but another stalk was withering. Looking I found that same snail right beside the withering stalk. My question is, "Are there snails that eat or attack xenia?"  < Not that I knew of. But hey, maybe you found one. In this case I'd put the snail in a trap or remove it entirely and see what happens. >  The snail's flesh is white, the shell is covered in coralline so I can't tell what it is naturally, any help is appreciated.  < Well I think it would be fun to test this out. Keep the snail in separated from the Xenia for a few weeks, then put him back by the Xenia. See what happens. But this is really strange to me, as I've never heard of this happening. >  Thank you, Troy  < Blundell >

Xenia eating snail continued Did as you said, I separated the snail for a day then released him into the tank. Within 4 hours it was right back on top with the xenia, and the xenia was withering. This is strange, I guess I will have to abandon the snail.  < Yep, I guess so. Crazy but I too would remove him. >  But I would like to positively id this little xenia stalker! Any ideas? < Nope, may want to continue searching. > Troy < Blundell > 

Bristleworms and snails I have read a lot of the FAQs and noticed that a couple of them dealt with bristleworms and snails. <Heeeee, more than a couple> I have a 55 gal reef tank about 6-8 years old. I discovered a rather large population of bristleworms that isn't quite as large as it used to be since I read some things on the web and cut down on the amount I have been feeding my fish (have been doing this 3-4 weeks). Tonight one of our turbo snails was 3/4 way up the front wall and my wife noted a bristleworm wrapped 1/2 - 2/3 around the foot of the snail which was still quite firmly attached. then we looked at our other turbo snail who was on the side wall just above the substrate. It likewise had a bristleworm partially wrapped around the outside of its foot. Do bristleworms ever attack snails like this? <Oh yes> I thought maybe with cutting down on the food supply that they might be getting more aggressive. We did pluck out the one that was on the higher snail and made the other one retreat. I just don't know if we need to worry about this. I thought that was awfully high up the wall for a bristleworm to still be on the snail and couldn't find the answer in the FAQ. TIA for the help. Dave Jones <There are species of snails and Polychaetes that do indeed eat each other... Bob Fenner>

Troublesome Cowry Hi, guys.... <Hello Ralph> First, thanks so much for your outstanding website, and all the information you have provided to us aquarists; you are truly in incredible resource.  Second, I would like to ask what I hope is a simple question. I have a 140 gallon reef tank, and all is generally going well. However, due to an algae problem in the past, I introduced into the tank, among other harmless but algae-eating creatures, a large 3" tiger cowry. Mr. Cowry and friends (including several tangs) seem to be doing their job, as the hair and "turf" algae is much reduced.  However, I have a blue "night light" in the tank, and saw something last night that disturbed me. The Cowry appeared to be nibbling on the large orange Scolymia that I've had in the tank for quite some time and which had been doing very well up until about two week ago. The Scolymia hasn't been looking good recently, and I am wondering whether the Cowry is trying to eat it? A green and purple open brain coral has also not been looking very good during the same 2-3 week time period.  One other question, if I might ask? Within the past week, a torch coral and a green star polyp rock have fallen from their perches on the live rock to the bottom of the tank (they, unlike most of the rest of the corals, were not affixed with epoxy). Could Mr. Cowry be responsible for these accidents? I am wondering how much damage this little rascal might be doing.  <Cowries are not a desirable reef inhabitant. Some are known to eat other invertebrates and because of their size, they tend to be bulldozers as you describe. To be on the safe side I would see if I could trade it in on a more desirable and effective algae eater such as a Sailfin Blenny (Lawnmower Blenny). James (Salty Dog)><<Mmm, actually, some of the small cowry species are quite beneficial to have in most all reef set-ups. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gastropo.htm RMF>>

Troublesome Cowry - II Hi, James...Thanks much for your suggestion. Yes, I think your analogy of the cowry to a bulldozer (like a bull in a china shop?) is a good one. I will try to trade him in for something less wild and crazy, such as a lawnmower blenny. Thanks!  <You're more than welcome Ralph. It will be a beneficial trade to say the least. James (Salty Dog)>

Troublesome Mr. Cowry in the Neighborhood, Caught red-proboscised - As told by Mr. Rogers Hey, Salty Dog...Here's an update on the cowry situation.  I caught Mr., Cowry red-handed tonight, with the help of the blue light posse. He was hunched over Ms. Scolymia with weapon in hand, and when I put the net into the neighborhood to capture the assailant, he had a tight hold on Ms. Scolymia and I had to shake her loose. The defendant (Mr. Cowry) was arrested and tried for murder, then promptly convicted by a jury of his peers on the basis of eye-witness testimony. He has been sentenced to life imprisonment in the sump (though he may get out for good behavior if the social worker who comes to service the tank next Thursday is willing to find him a new home...if not, I'll get him to the local half-way house (LFS)).  The victim is in shock, and in critical condition. Her future is unknown, and we are praying for her survival.  <Very comical way of describing the action> Yeah, I want to laugh, but only because I feel like crying. So much to learn in this hobby. What have I learned? When tiger cowries get large, they can be very dangerous characters. :-(  <I hope your Scolymia recovers, Ralph. James (Salty Dog)>

Distressed Leather (Coral)! I have a Toadstool Leather and have had it about 3 weeks. It opens up nicely and it  have a yellow stalk with a tan-colored cap. Its polyps are yellow in color also. My problem is that at the very bottom of the stalk there is a hole about the size of a dime. I poked my finger in it to make sure there was nothing in there and there was nothing I could feel. The hole, however, widened. The tissue just sort of dissolved into a cloud. The part of the stalk that has the hole is this curved bottom part that is attached to some gravel. Do you think I should cut off the curved bottom part or do you think there is something eating it. <Hmm.. hard to say without a lot of observation. I'd definitely cut out the damaged areas. Keep an eye on the coral for a while; if something is eating the coral, you'd want to identify what it is.> The only thing that I can possibly think might be munching is a cowry that I have. I had a bluish sponge growing the skeleton of my torch coral and the cowry completed ate it all off. The sponge had the same sort of feel as the leather so I'm wondering if he is doing the damage. <Definitely a possibility. Consider this Cowry your suspect, but do run some water tests to confirm that water quality is up to par. There is most likely a single cause, and your continued close observation will help zero in on it.> Other than that, I just have some Damsels, a Firefish and a Tomato Clown. Thanks, Kevin <Well, Kevin- just keep up the observations, and do consider excising the damaged tissue. With good conditions, these corals are remarkably resilient and virtually indestructible! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Predator in my tank Hello, I am have 300litre reef tank which I am still learning to build, I have a major problem, my fishes go missing in the tank!! I lost a clown and a Anthea. Last night I looked really hard and seemed to find the body of my fish in between my live rocks and next to it was a black snail like creature which was feeding on my fish!! Can you please tell me what on hell this is and how can I stop it from attacking my fish. I think he lives in the rocks and is very shy, he only creeps out at night. Please advice. Thank you, Regards, Prem Kumar <Yikes... there are a few such predator groups... likely a Cone Snail species here... that can/will feed on good-sized fishes by night... while they are settled down "resting" on the bottom. It must need be removed... carefully... as these animals have a potent toxiglossal mechanism (a poisoned dart so to speak). It may be baited out with a meaty food item by night... when you can net it out... or you may have to systematically dismantle, remove the rock/decor till you find it. Bob Fenner>

Coralline Eating Snails Hello saltwater fellows. I've searched many forums including this one for a way to rid my reef tank of thousands of pest saltwater snails. I've read countless articles on how beneficial snails can be to a saltwater tank and I have several of the good kind in all 4 of my tanks. However, I have infected my main reef tank with a saltwater snail that eats coralline algae, yes eats coralline, not dead coralline but healthy vibrant coralline algae. My tank is several years old, is well established and has virtually zero bad algae, at one point all my rocks, back and sidewalls, feather duster tubes were completely covered with coralline algae. Heck all of my snail and hermit crab shells were covered in the stuff, I had to chip the coralline out of the pump heads. About 3 weeks ago we added some fully cured rock to the tank for some additional aquascaping. The rock had the pest snails seeded in it. By the time I noticed something was wrong I had thousands (yes thousands) of them. The come out after the lights go off and cover the rock and walls of the tank. Most of the ones I net out of the tank are 1/32 to 1/8 of an inch in diameter. For the past 2 weeks I've spent hours every night pulling out pieces of rock and picking them, and netting as many as possible off the sides of the tank. They only populate the surfaces that have coralline growth on them. They've stripped half of my tank barren of coralline algae, as well as completely removing it from the shells and tubes of my snails and feather dusters. Is there anything on the market that will kill snails without harming corals or fish? After two weeks of spending 2-4 hours a night hunting these snails, only to see them come back stronger each night I'm at my wits end. My six-line is about ready to burst from the amount of snail eggs he must be finding. After believing for so many years that no snails eat coralline it's amazing to find one that multiplies so fast and seems to only eat coralline algae. Even if you don't believe that a snail eats coralline algae please let me know of any produces you've come across that kill snails. Sincerely, Sam >>>Hi Sam, Very strange indeed, I've never encountered such a snail. I CAN tell you that there is nothing you can add to your water to poison them while not killing everything else in the tank. There are wrasses that enjoy eating snails of this size, but they are the larger variety (hogfishes and such) and may not be compatible with your tank. If you don't have any small shrimp, I'd consider this option. Sorry I can't be of more help. Good luck Jim<<<

Cowry: Cypraea miliaris Hello crew!      You guys/gals are the best!  What an incredible website!  I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it must have been when a wealth of information wasn't readily available at one's fingertips.  This hobby is very lucky to have such an active and knowledgeable community.  Thank you all for your hard work and dedication.   <Thank you>      Just a quick question, I am looking for information on a cowry which arrived with some live rock.  I am fairly certain it is a Cypraea miliaris which is pictured on WWM.  I did several searches but I can't find anything relevant.  Is it reef safe?  Anything particular I should know about it?      Thanks,      Michelle in the Poconos <Should be fine... does eat different algae, small invertebrates associated with same, some sponge material... not fishes or large (macroscopically appreciable) motile or sedentary invertebrates. Bob Fenner, who has in-laws in the Poconos>

Cowries In The Home Aquarium <Hi, MikeD here> Hi cant seem to find much info at all on cowries<Not surprising as there's not much written> have come by one and it sits still where it is in the day retracting most of its mantle and cruises around obviously at night as it is in a different spot most every morning with its mantle fully over its shell till I turn the lights on which is I believe generally what they are supposed to do.<Correct> It is a beautiful creature so I would like to do my best by it is it eating the algae as I think or should I be feeding it something else? Any other info on this would be greatly appreciated.<It depends on the species of Cowry and the size of the specimen that you have. Smaller ones are often grazers on algae and micro fauna that grows on the glass and LR, while larger species like the Deer or Measeled Cowries turn predator/scavenger as they get larger (up to 4"-5" in some cases). I've got a couple of Atlantic Deer Cowries that I've had for several years now that scavenge for the most part, but as they are in FOWLR tanks with predatory fish, I've often seen them consuming pieces of raw shrimp that the fish fail to eat as well and thus earn their keep in with Lionfish, Squirrelfish and Anglerfish.>

Tech - I from Kent Marine, and limpets 5/22/04 Good morning to all, <and to you in kind> Just a few questions for you, hopefully you can help. You usually have all the answers. I am curious if tech-I iodine supplement from Kent is okay to use. The label says it has free iodine. My test kit says it is a bad thing. <somewhat subjective here. There seems to be two "camps" regarding advocacy of Lugol's strong iodine solution (the nutritive iodine of color/odor) versus clear Potassium Iodide solutions.  The other troubling thing is several keyhole limpets in my hospital tank. I believe both can be useful, both can indeed be abused/overdosed too. I favor Lugol's based solutions FWIW. I'm not a bog fan of some bottled supplements though... then ones that do not date their products for products with a definable lifespan/shelf-life. Iodine loses efficacy over time once mixed ion solution> scoured WWM and have found two different opinions. Bob says okay and Anthony says they will eat soft coral flesh. I did find a big one sitting on my flower leather, so I pulled him off. <some Limpet species are algae grazers, and some are predators on various reef invertebrates including corals (these tend to be the colorful ones with frilly/fleshy mantles). It depends on the species.) Thank you for always being there for me and my tanks. Thanks, Hopeless reef keeper- Daniel <best of luck, Anthony>

Cowry Questions Hey Crew, <Hello Peter> Firstly thanks for all the great info available on your site - it's helped me many times in the past. <Glad to realize> My questions are about Cowries. I've had one of these wonderful creatures for about a year now until the recent tragedy. Normally he moves along the walls of the tank and over the live rock at night and attaches himself to the wall during the day. I noticed about 5 or so days ago that he was his side on the bottom of the tank resting against the wall and he had gone right back into his shell. Upon closer inspection I saw one of our small crabs (probably about 1.5 - 2.0cm across) picking around near him. I didn't see the crab attack the cowry and looked to be trying the eat the algae under him. <Doubtful> I moved the Cowry away from the crab just in case and later that night the cowry seemed fine and had gone back to exploring the tank. This was until about 2 days ago...in the morning the cowry was attached the to the side of the tank as he normally would be. I changed about 10% of the water in the tank that morning. As the cowry was attached near the top of the tank, this left him out of the water for a minute or two - should I have moved him down into the water? <No, I wouldn't have> A few hours later I noticed the cowry had fallen from the side of the tank and was back in his shell. I left him alone as he was close enough to the side of the tank to move if he needed to. The cowry stayed in his shell for about 2 days until this morning. When I got up the lights of the tank were still off but the cowry shell had been moved but he was still in his shell. Then about 20 min.s after I noticed he had been moved again but this time the cowry was out of his shell. <!> I grabbed a torch so I could see what was going on and saw a crab ripping at the exposed cowry with another crab waiting near by. <The animal had been removed from its shell either forcibly or post dying> Sorry for the long description, now to my questions: Do you have any idea what may have killed the cowry? Could have been the first crab, water quality or old age? <Yes to any, combination of the above or other factors> Do you think he had actually been dead for about 2 days and the crabs had gotten him out of the shell so they could have a feed? <Very likely already dead> Do you know how long cowries normally live for? <Yes... I collect Cypraeids (their shells, but am familiar with their life history), several years... some larger species for decades> He had plenty of algae to feed on so starvation shouldn't be the problem. I also don't think my problem is water quality as I've had the cowry for a year and followed the same procedures with water changes throughout, although you never know. I'd love to get another cowry but I am a bit concerned that the same may happen again. Thanks in advance for your help. Peter <I suspect that having crabs in the same system with this animal were a large part of the reason for its loss. Bob Fenner>

Snail Safety in Reef Hi, ,Howdy. Steve Allen here.> Just love this website !! <Happy to hear you like it. It helps me all the time too.> Is it possible that my 3 small serpent stars will eat snails or crabs? <I'd think the crabs could get away, but they might catch snails. However, most species of serpent stars (with O. incrassata as a notable exception) eat detritus.> Also are Ilyanassa obsoleta snails and or blue legged crabs safe for my reef system (mostly soft corals and mushrooms) <No hermit crab can be guaranteed reef safe. Read more in the FAQs. As for the snail, it is likely safe, but what I can find on the internet suggests it is not really a tropical species. Many do seem to keep it in their tropical tanks for over a year, perhaps two.> I have 4 sea Cukes, 75 Nassarius snails, some very large Turbos (appx 20) 1 new scooter blenny, 4 peppermint shrimp, 2 med yellow tangs, 1 blue hippo tang 6 true percula clowns, 1 pr maroon clowns with Xlg rose bubble anemone - 4 green Chromis, this has been set up for over 2 years! <Time to start saving for a bigger tank. Hippo Tangs need a minimum of 125G and two Yellow Tangs are a recipe for trouble in a 75G tank down the road.> Thanks for any help! Kathy <Hope this helps.>

Tulip snail 12/12/03 Hello... Love your website and all the questions and answers. <thanks kindly> Wondering if you could help me as far as I think I have a Tulip snail, large red snail about 4 to 5 inches long, and I do not know what to feed it?. <they are predaceous... offer meaty foods of marine origin and be careful of letting other snails nearby... they are fair game for this snail - yikes!> I think it ate one of my smaller snails and now he has been buried down in the substrate for a few days. <you can be sure of it> How often do they require a large meal and of what kind? thanks and look forwarded to your reply... Tony <feeding several times weekly will be fine. Please do take the time to read more about predatory gastropods in our wetwebmedia.com archives. Best regards, Anthony>

Helpful yes... algae eaters, no: Nassarius 11/14/03 Dear WWM Crew, My local dealer has just received 6 Nassarius Snails from Tonga and thinks they would be good algae eaters for my tank.   <their family is largely carnivorous if not predatory. They do not generally have the mouth parts to graze algae. Nassarius are fairly harmless though... even helpful for stirring the sand> My concern is the fact that they are at least one inch long!  Their shell resembles a conch.  Is this Nassarius variety reef safe?   <yes... likely if you have enough sand to keep them well> Are they carnivorous or cannibalistic in  terms of my live sand bed?   <little burden likely. More good than harm> Thanks for any information you can give me about this variety of Nassarius Snail. Ron <hmmm... without a pic or species name, we cannot say anymore. Now worries... best of luck. Anthony>

Snail eating a clown? 09/04/03 <Hello, PF with you tonight> While doing a check on my aquarium this weekend I discovered that one of my small clown fish was missing. After searching the whole tank I discovered him being consumed by a couple of my conch snails. Both the clown and the snails are roughly the same size. My question is do you think that the clown died (?) and then the snails sat down for dinner or is it possible that the snails killed the clown? <It's a definite maybe. Some snails are predatory, but then again, they may well have found a casualty and where cleaning it up. Unfortunately, the only advice I can give is to watch them, and if your tank parameters are fine, but you have continued fish disappearances, I would then suspect them.>

Snails Everywhere! Hi everyone , I am a little concerned about crustaceans that are in my tank. I seem to have small , about a quarter inch, snails and also limpets in my tank , I have soft corals as well as mushrooms and polyps. Are these critters harmful to any of my other occupants . Thanks Rich <Well, Rich- without seeing them for myself, I can only generalize (gulp!)...Most of the commonly encountered snails and limpets are harmless...I'd keep an eye on population levels, and if you start noticing damage or excessive populations, you may need to remove some. The upcoming "Reef Invertebrates" by Bob, Anthony, and Steve Pro may be a big help in identifying these little guys. Take care! Regards, Scott F>

Nasty Snail Tale Hi, <Hi there, Scott F. here today!> I am writing on behalf of a friend who I don't think realizes just how frustrated and irritated he is.  He has two tanks - both very beautiful and very well kept...except for those little, tiny, apparently irritating snails.  These tanks are both marine one of which is primarily for more aggressive fish that cannot realistically be kept with coral that he would like to keep alive.  The other is a smaller tank (for the time being) used for the coral.  This tank has two coral beauties and many different types of coral including a brain coral and mushrooms among others.  He recently acquired a couple of new pieces of coral and tonight while looking at it as I always do, I noticed a couple of snails.  One was a tube snail (pointed end at one end, snail body at the other) and the other was a spiral-shelled snail.  He then pointed out one of the pieces of coral that seems to be undergoing bleaching as we speak.  He has no doubt these snails are the root of the problem, but when he has asked his fish store how to remedy the situation, they recommended a fish that apparently can either eliminate the snails or eliminate the coral. <Well, the snails may not be causing "bleaching", as this is an environmental response. However, some species of snails can be responsible for munching on polyps. There are a couple of ways to prevent damage caused by the snails. First, you should quarantine newly-arrived corals for a period of time, expressly for the purpose of letting these pests "drop off" from the corals. You can place them on a egg crate platform, and add some "meaty" food, such as krill, Mysis, etc. underneath. This will help "bait" the snails and other pests off of the coral, where they can easily be removed. The other thing that you could do would be to add certain fishes, such as Hawkfish or some wrasses, to the tank, which enjoy preying on snails.> He does not like this iffy-ness and so is plucking these snails as he sees them.  However, I am most concerned as these tanks are a source of great joy except this snail issue seems to really frustrate him.  Please tell me there is a remedy for this and please then tell me what it is.  Of course, these snails were introduced via live rock he purchased from that same fish store.  He figures that store sees enough business that those live rocks are turned over before the store sees the snail problem.  I have now spent the last two hours trying to find a solution and while solutions abound for the freshwater problem, I have found nothing that says what to do for marine. <Well, as mentioned above, I'd study those two ideas...Should do the trick> Ok, done babbling now.  Please help.  As a side note, he has mentioned that friends he shares this interest with have similar problems in their tanks.  Of course, they are purchasing their coral, fish, and live rocks from the same place. Just to add more, case I haven't said enough, I know pH, nitrates, phosphates, silicates, and salinity are where they should be.  He, as well as his friends, vehemently maintain their tanks within appropriate ranges and we are all Oceanographers and Marine Biologists with a tad bit of awareness of what marine environments should be like.  But no matter how many Marine Biologists we ask, the answer is unknown as usually, propagation is desired, not removal.  Or so we are finding when the question is asked. <Well, some types of snails, such as Strombus, Trochus. Astrea, Turbo, etc. are really helpful at eliminating nuisance algae. Other snails, such as the "Box" and Pyramidellid snails, are nasty little guys that damage clams and snails with their habits> Ok, really done babbling now.  Please help. <Well, I hope that I gave you a couple of good ideas here. Good luck! Regards, Scott F> Thanks Lori

Snails & Hermit Shells Hellooooo Crew: After much "Google-ing", I have decided to ask what seems like common beginner questions, but I could not find answers to (so many pages come up when you put in "snails shells grow" or "snail replace shell").  I understand from your site that Hermit Crabs need to acquire a shell from somewhere (right?), but do snails?  Do they grow their shells?  I have a particular snail, either an Astraea or Trochus, and it seems as if his shell is getting bigger, but I don't know if that's because the others are smaller.  The main reason I ask is because I currently have 1 Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab and 3 Dwarf Zebra Hermit Crabs.  If I am going to need to buy shells for them, I wonder if I need shells for any of my snails (including numerous baby inhabitants).  Thanks a million, Rich. < Your hermits will need new larger shells as they grow but the snails grow their own. Cody><?! RMF>

Snails & Hermit Shells Hellooooo Crew: After much "Google-ing", I have decided to ask what seems like common beginner questions, but I could not find answers to (so many pages come up when you put in "snails shells grow" or "snail replace shell").  I understand from your site that Hermit Crabs need to acquire a shell from somewhere (right?), but do snails?   >>Hello.  Yes, hermit crabs do indeed need to acquire new shells as they grow, some species require specific shells.  You should always try to match the type when purchasing new for yours.  And no, snails do not need an outside home "purchase". ;) Do they grow their shells?   >>Yes, a snail, as a mollusk (the family includes bivalves such as clams and cuttlefish), terrestrial or aquatic, grows its own shell. I have a particular snail, either an Astraea or Trochus, and it seems as if his shell is getting bigger, but I don't know if that's because the others are smaller.   >>You can expect them to grow if they're getting good nutrition and water quality. The main reason I ask is because I currently have 1 Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab and 3 Dwarf Zebra Hermit Crabs.  If I am going to need to buy shells for them, I wonder if I need shells for any of my snails (including numerous baby inhabitants).  Thanks a million, Rich. >>No worries, Rich.  The hermits are the ones you'll need to provide a source of new homes for, and be sure to provide enough of and enough variety of (sizes) to avoid thievery amongst crabs.

Snacking On Snails! Thanks for all of your help, Scott F. <My pleasure!> I am curious, what other causes could be causing the bleaching and recession for that coral? <So many possibilities, and only theories as to the actual causes. Most bleaching events are thought to be a response to some environmental stress...Really hard to be more specific than that> I wish I could tell you more about the coral, as in name and type.  I do know it is a hard polyp coral and it is a kind of fluorescent green color.  I hope that makes sense. <Hmm...that narrows it down to about 300 species or so...LOL! Probably need a photo to get a real ID on it> As for the snail problem, I have read many things are on this site that say a 6 line wrasse is good.  When I mentioned this to my friend, his first response was to call his fish shop first thing in the morning and ask them to either set aside one for him or order one for him.  Can you tell me a bit more about their temperament as well as if this is a good idea for the snail problem? <In my experience, the Sixline wrasse is a gentle and active fish, that seems to keep itself busy poking and prodding about in the rock structure. It is a known predator of some of the small Pyramidellid snails that attack Tridacna clams, and possibly, some corals. Other types of wrasses that may munch on various snails may include the Halichoeres wrasses, such as the "Yellow Coris" wrasse. Other people employ species of Hawkfishes, which definitely eat snails, but also make short work of desirable hermit crabs, and even other small fishes> And finally, after sending off the original email, I kept searching the site and I found so much great information.  You have quite the amazing and wonderful website here. <Glad that you enjoy it!> Makes me think I could handle a tank of my own (although I want to settle down a little more first, don't want to be moving a reef tank around the country on a regular basis) knowing that if I need help, its all right here and I can ask you all, too.  Great job here, though!  Keep up the good work. <You can do it! Just learn the simple "rules" of reef keeping, employ a healthy dose of patience, and a willingness to adjust your techniques as you go...> Thanks again, Lori <Any time, Lori! Regards, Scott F>

Mollusk Mania! (Snail Compatibility> Dear WWM Crew, <Scott F. your Crew member this afternoon!> I have a 120 gallon Fish and Invert Tank, well one invert, and that's a 2" Tiger Cowries. I would like to add a conch of some sort, however I am aware that many conches are omnivorous and if given the chance will even eat other snails. Is there a conch that would not eat my Cowries? Thanks in advance ~ Justin <Well, Justin, I'd say that you could be reasonably safe with the rather common, yet ominously named "Fighting Conch", Strombus alatus, which is mainly an herbivore. Do a bit more research on the WWM site to find other suitable species, and don't forget to check out Bob and Anthony's "Reef Invertebrates", which has lots of information on all kinds of Mollusks!> P.S. On a side note I appreciate you guys so much for the work you do in educating marine hobbyists. It's wonderful to have a source of honest reliable information, it seems it is otherwise hard to come by. <Thank you very much for the kind words, Justin! Honest reliable information is what the WWM site is all about! We hope that you continue to enjoy the site and grow in your hobby, while sharing your experiences with others along the way! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Who snacks on baby snails? >I have a 55 gal reef tank, DSB, Aqua C Remora Pro, 45 lbs LR, 194 watts PC lighting. Inhabitants include a coral beauty, percula clown, 2 damsels, a camel shrimp a skunk cleaner shrimp, several mushrooms, button polyps, a lovely blue clam. I also have a gazillion, okay, maybe well over 200 baby snails. These range in size from a dull pencil point to a pencils eraser in size, so I may be looking at several generations. There are 3 adult (1.5 inch) snails whose resemblance they bear. I have about 5 small (3/4 to 1 inch) red leg or similar hermit crabs. Will these hermits snack on these snails and I simply don't have enough to control the population? >>Not that I am aware.  The only animals that I can think of that WOULD eat the snails are triggers and puffers, not exactly appropriate tankmates. >Is there an alternative, other than picking them off by hand? I was thinking of adding some more crabs anyway. I fear that even if a small fraction of these continue to survive and they have babies and their babies have babies and so on...that they will take over the tank, the basement, the whole house!!! >>Egads!  Scary thought, but as I said, the only animals that I believe would eat them aren't good in your tank at all.  Of course, there could be any number of species of Nudibranch or sea star that would do the same, but there could be no guarantee (if I did know specific species) that they'd be safe either.  I wish I could be of more help.  Marina GASP!!!! Thanks for any info you can provide.

No tip-toeing with this tulip... boot his butt out! predatory snail 8/5/03 Hello WWM folks, <whassup buttercup> Long time listener, first time caller.   <Excellent... welcome to the Lithium Network! You're on caller...> Ahem.  Many months ago, I added some live rock to the system.   Lo and behold, an interesting hitchhiker came along too, though it appeared innocent enough--a small brown snail with a periscope like proboscis.   <a hitchhiker got into your tank from un-quarantined rock... Noooo way?! <G> Ahem> The novelty of this creature disappeared in about three minutes, and I soon forgot about it.   <we'll call you Rainman> In fact, I assumed that it died, since I hadn't seen it in many months.  Over the past week I've added several turbo snails to the tank in an effort to control the diatoms.  I noticed that all of a sudden my periscope wielding hitchhiker reappeared after this addition, and became quite active. I came home from work today, and saw the "innocent" hitchhiker was attached triumphantly over an up-turned (dead) turbo-snail.  Any idea of what this guy is?   <yep... a Tulip snail or the like> I took a picture of him before his execution, which is attached below. <a fine pic> Perhaps he just came upon the turbo snail after it died, but that's really convenient, now isn't it?   <... and OJ didn't do it> By the way, he was a small rascal--2" long at the most. <Tulips are voracious predators. Do compare the shell-shape to the pic on the bottom of page 201 of your NMA RI book> Regards, Chris Stuhlmueller <kindly, Anthony>

Limpet Attacking a Flame Scallop? Last night I saw a Limpet attached to the bottom of my Flame Scallop and I didn't think anything of it until I looked at my Scallop this afternoon and when I tried to get the Limpet off of my Flame Scallop he felt like he was locked on my Scallop, and I had to actually pry him off. <Yes, it is very difficult to remove a Limpet from any surface. They have an incredible suction power.> My Scallop looks like he was dying. <Agreed> He is shrinking up on the inside and I don't know what is wrong with him. <Please perform a search of Flame Scallops on www.WetWebMedia.com for the reasons.> He is not responding to touch like he used to, his shell does not close right away when he is touched, and when you try to close him it feels like he is almost locked in the open position. I did some research on Limpet's this evening and I didn't like what I read on some of them. <Perhaps do some research on Flame Scallops. I am positive you will not like what you find about them.> Is it possible the Limpet was boring a hole in him and getting ready to eat him? <Nope, your scallop is and has been starving to death.> My scallop was fine for months until now. <No, you just did not notice its duress.> Please give me your suggestions on what could have happened to him <It is starving just like almost all do.> and what his chances of survival are. <Next to none.> Thank you for you great expertise! Connie <Please research your animals and their care prior to all purchases. -Steven Pro>

Marine snails-destructive? Hi again Guys, My question has to do with snails that have appeared in my saltwater reef tank. I do have mature Turbo snails to help with cleaning my 65 gallon tank but within the last three weeks these others have appeared and are growing. Their shell comes to a point in the center but they also have gray and white vertical stripes. Would these be immature Turbo snails? Someone told me that they may be a destructive type of snail  spawned from the live rock in the tank. Please help. Thank you, Tim <Hi Tim, Not to worry, there are quite a few varieties of marine snail and most of them are quite harmless. If you are worried about these guys, try checking out marine snails on WetWebMedia.com (type snail into the Google search).  There are photos on the web of the snails you are concerned with.  Most are beneficial algae/detritus eaters.  Craig>

Heliacus Box snail eating invertebrates Hi Gentlemen: <none were available... I'll answer instead> I have been reading your site for months now.  It is a font of helpful information.  Thank all of you for your time and energy in helping to keep these beautiful creatures alive and happy. <thank you kindly> Generally, I find the answers to my questions or concerns among the FAQs and articles, but...We have a 21-gallon tank with about 30 #s of live rock that we are slowly working on as a mini reef.  The only animals in there now are a true Perc, a few margarita and Nassarius snails, and a nice rock with some Parazoanthus gracilis and two species of what I believe are Protopalythoa spp.  Yesterday, I found a snail that appears to be eating (?) the polyps.   <very common. You have a Heliacus sp Box snail.  I could not find a picture of one on WWM (will post one of ours shortly). I did a search on Google at large and found a many site hits ("search Heliacus picture" for image sites.) Here's the first one I followed with an image (please not the color is variable): http://reef.esmartweb.com/polyps.htm> He was attached to one of the yellow polyps and I had to pull him loose.  I searched your site and others, but have not found any identification for him.  The snail is perhaps 1/2 inch in diameter and is disk shaped (i.e., very flat).  He is somewhat variegated in brown and white markings and has a notable spiral to his shell.  (Sorry, I tried to take a photo but my camera is not up to the small scale of the creature!)  I removed him to the sump of my larger aquarium, but now wonder if he might reproduce and become a menace later.  Any help would be appreciated.  Thanks again for all the hours that you guys give to all of us!!!! Greg Fickling Washington, DC <pull the bugger out soon... reproduction is possible. Spot check months after wards... little reason for concern though. And I noticed you are in DC... how about a road trip in May to NY when Bob speaks to Brooklyn or me at the Atlantis Aquarium (20,000 gallon reef tank!)? Rock on my brother. Anthony>

Snail ID- spot on. Heliacus box snail Anthony: Thank you for the rapid response (are you guys chained to the table by the computer or what??).   <Bob has us duct-taped to office chairs and he feeds us applesauce with a slingshot> You were exactly on the ball with the ID!   <yeppers... been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt and cut the sleeves off to make it a muscle-tee (Italian heritage)> It is amazing what information you can get from the web once you know what you're looking for! <agreed... I have often thought that I could learn a new language on the web if I spend just half of my time on linguistics sites rather than browsing picture galleries of 'nekid women. But enough about me... you have another aquarium-related question?> Another interesting aside to my question...I labeled this query "Dangerous Looking" and then realized that I had not included the dangerous looking part of the critter.  The snail that I found looks exactly like the darker versions of some of the Heliacus sp (I'm sure that is what it is), but it also has a "horn" covering its opening.   <all in this genus do> That is what initially worried me about it.   <and it should! That proboscis is the business end of the animal. Venomous in some other gastropods> It looks as if it could puncture the polyps (I was a little wary to pick it up even...please don't tell anyone that I was afraid of a snail <laugh>!!)   <don't worry... we won't even post this for 7-10K people to read on the daily FAQ page tomorrow... or in the archives after that for the tens of thousands of readers in the future to see ;) Ahem... have you ever checked out this fascinating daily page?: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/daily_faqs.htm > Ever seen that?  Thanks again for your help.  G. <hmmm... yes, my friend. I must admit that I have. A few hundred times in fact :) There's a picture of that Heliacus "snout" on page 231 of my "Book of Coral Propagation". Wow... I wish everyone gave me such convenient segues to shamelessly plug my books <G>. With kind regards, Anthony>

Question re Conch snails Hi, I am trying to find out if a crown conch will eat a feather duster? Thank you. <long story short... yes, quite possible. Even likely in some cases. Conch snails in general are voracious omnivores... and some are outright impressive predators, decimating worm and mollusk (even other "snails"). There are very few herbivorous exceptions to this general rule (like the queen conch). Conch are too large and or disruptive for invertebrate aquaria in my opinion across the board. Not recommended for reef aquaria but can be great for fish only. Anthony Calfo>

Pyramidellid & Coral Eating Snails??? Hi guys, I was wondering if you could confirm two snail ID's for me. Recently I discovered several 1/4" long snails in my tank that resemble the description of coral eating snails (whelks).  <the second photo is a whelk or like mollusk... probably omnivorous, may be predatory...likely harmless but I would still remit it to the sump or refugium without corals> Also, I've just noticed a population explosion of A LOT of tiny snails which I fear may be Pyramidellids.  <the tiny black "snails" in the first photo are Cerith and are HIGHLY desirable detritivores! They breed easily and scavenge well. Please do share them with other aquarists and spread the love around> If they are indeed Pyramidellids, is the 6-line wrasse the only fish that is known to eat them, <nope... many/most wrasses in that genus will eat them... some other fishes too, but not always reef safe. Even a six-line is no guarantee. Giant clams need to be inspected regularly and Pyrams harvested manually (4-6 times yearly)> or would they serve as food for a mandarin as well?  <mandarin won't touch them... feeds on copepods and fine plankton> I would much prefer adding a mandarin then a 6-line. I've attached some pics to help in the ID. Thanks for all the help. <best regards, Anthony> More Pyramidellid & Coral Eating Snails? Thanks for quick reply Anthony. <Steven Pro here is afternoon.> Are Ceriths and Pyramidellids one and the same? <No> I've always heard that Ceriths are good and Pyramidellids are bad. <Correct> Are they just considered bad for clam keepers? <Ceriths are good for everybody. Pyramidellids are clam parasites (bad) and die without a clam host.> I don't have any clams at this time, and probably won't for a while (inadequate lighting and don't plan on upgrading soon). Again, good morning to ya and thanks for the quick help. <Have a nice day. -Steven Pro>

Tulip snails A have a medium sized Tulip Snail. I'm trying to determine whether this snail is aggressive.  <they are very predatory on other mollusks. Just like most whelks and conch snails> I lost a small Abalone and I suspect this snail is responsible. Is this possible. <almost assured> Thanks for any advice. Don Tope <Anthony>

Nassarius snails and brittle stars  I recently purchased some brittle stars and I was wondering if they will get along with Nassarius snails or will the stars try to eat the Nassarius since they are so small.  >> Wowzah, there's a genus of gastropod mollusks I haven't heard in a while... It's a possibility... some of the brittle stars are really ravenous predators... Bob Fenner

Snails and hermit crabs Hello, I have a couple of questions about bottom feeders.... Do I need to quarantine snails and hermit crabs when I get them?  <Only if you suspect they may die easily, polluting your main/display system... if there are DOA's, the water smells badly... I would> How about dips, do they need that too? (I have read your book from cover to cover so I know about quarantine and dips :-) <I don't generally dip/bath snails or hermits> Also, I was wondering if cleaner shrimp and crabs get along alright (I'm thinking your book says "NO")? <Most species, most cases, no... many crabs will consume the Cleaner Shrimp, particularly at molting time> Thanks, Jana p.s. I am putting together my own, homemade protein skimmer right now and I tell you what - even if the dang thang don't work, I sure had fun doing it ! Everyone should make their own simply for the self-satisfaction. <I agree with your go-getter spirit. Good for you. Bob Fenner>

Crab Control Bob, I discovered a crab in my 75g reef tank a couple of months ago which I assumed to have been a hitchhiker on my live rock. I didn't give it much thought at the time but I did some reading which indicated that some types of crabs can be detrimental to the tank including corals, hermit crabs, small fish, and snails. Well - this weekend I saw him again for the first time in about a month and he is now about the width of a quarter, light brown (almost beige) color, and has a hairy appearance. I noticed that he has taken refuge on the bottom of the tank under a large piece of live rock. I monitored him for while and much to my chagrin observed him sneaking out from his refuge and capturing small Nassarius snails which he then transports back to his hideaway and assume he then consumes their meat if he can. Given the obvious difficulty in trying to capture this nuisance - I'm writing you to ask for any insight you may have in trapping and removing this crab short of removing all my live rock to find him. Your thoughts would be appreciated.. <Bait, trap this crab out and remove it. Some instructions on how to do this under "Crabs" on the WWM site. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Rocky Phillips

Fish eating Turbo snails Dear Mr. Fenner et. al., <Steven Pro here this evening.> How do you do? <Ok, but awfully hot here now.> I have a question regarding Turbo snails. Are they scavengers? <No, more algae/diatom eaters.> I was away for a 3-day vacation and noticed that my bicolor Pseudochromis went missing. I removed all my 25 lbs. of live rock, flushed it, ran my fingers throughout the substrate but still no Chromis. Could he have died and eventually consumed by the snails? <They are many other creatures in your tank that could have worked on consuming this small fish; copepods, amphipods, worms, etc.> I have 7 Turbos and 1 Astrea in my 20G. Thanks in advance. Best, Mimi Eliza <And you too! -Steven Pro>

LR and Snails (8-4-03) Hi guys, Is it O.K. for my turbo snails to graze on my live rock?? Will they harm it?? <Nope, they are just eating the algae.  Cody> Thanks 

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: