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FAQs about Marine Snail Foods, Feeding

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Related FAQs: Marine Snails 1Marine Snails 2Marine Snails 3, Snail ID 1, Snail ID 2, Snail Behavior, Snail Selection, Snail Compatibility, Snail Systems, Snail Disease, Snail Reproduction, MollusksSea SlugsAbalone

sea snail eating    5/12/11
Dear wet web media,
I'm a wildlife sound recordist and composer/musician. Thought you and your followers might like to here a sound recording I did with a hydrophone (underwater microphone), recording a sea snail eating seaweed underwater in a rock pool on the North Norfolk Coast.
Here's the link: http://soundcloud.com/tolly-music/whelk-sea-snail-littorina
<Neat! Am conflicted now w/ making song/rhymes w/ "Nothing would be finer than to be a Littorina..." and making/eating a crunchy Cucumber sandwich!>
Best wishes,
Tolly (Peter Toll)
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Feeding Snails 05/23/08 I have a curious problem, I think. I have been cycling my 65 gallon tank with approx 75 lbs of LR for 3 ? months now. My parameters are; ammonia = 0, nitrites = 0, nitrates = 0, phosphates = 0, SG = 1.024, temp 78-79 ?, calcium 430. I have a trickle filter sump system that includes vigorous skimming, phosphate reactor and carbon filtration. I also have 4 power heads attached to a wave maker. My lighting is a total of 450 watts, 2 x 150 halide and 150 watts of blue actinic T5 HO. I also run a chiller to maintain the temp.  Three weeks ago I added 15 snails (astro & Inca, I think) along with 35 blue legged hermit crabs. <... this is way too much...> All seemed fine and all algae was looked after quicker than I thought. There seems to be next to nothing for them to graze on other than the micro algae on the glass. I have lost at least two snails now, maybe more and a few crabs. I added 4 Berghia Nudibranchs last week to control the Aiptasia but I have not seen them since they crawled into the rock. <Typical> I also added 5, ? ?blue green Chromis (after a two week quarantine)which are doing fine. I control their feeding very carefully giving them only what they will consume. I have a variety of hitchhikers that I have seen such as a bumble bee snail, an emerald crab, worms, I have some macro algae, coralline algae lots of copepods (I think that's what they are). <Copepods perhaps... there are many groups of small marine crustaceans> My question now is whether there is anything I can feed the snails and hermit crabs to keep them alive; I am worried about deteriorating water conditions if they die. <Small pelleted or tablet food/s> Is it also possible that the Nudibranchs could have met their demise at the hands of the crabs? <Yes> I have 4 more on order hoping that this time they hang around. <I would use other control means... covered on WWM> Any help or comments you can provide would be greatly appreciated. I have tried to do it right by reading all the books and going slow. <Good approach> Regards and thank you, Robert Pacheco <Keep reading Robert... holding off on any livestock purchases till you have done so re. Bob Fenner> Newmarket, Ontario

Turbo snail diet = microalgae   12/28/06 Hello crew! <Hi Michael, Mich with you today.> I just started with saltwater about 3 months ago, now it seems all my time and money is devoted to it! <Yes, welcome to the obsession.> Your website has proved to be an invaluable resource to my new hobby! <A terrific tool, we hope you find it most useful.> My question is, will turbo snails eat my coralline growth on my live rock? <No.  Urchins are known for this.> or do they mainly stick to the looser material? <Turbos typically graze on microalgae, often on the glass as well as the rock.> Thank you so much for all the help you've provided me with!! <Welcome!  Glad to hear this!  -Mich> -Michael

Lighting Whelk   11/19/06 I was out in Seabrook Island SC a few weeks back. My daughter was out shelling and found about 30 Whelk shells. They were all empty, or so I thought. When I got home to the Cleveland area a day later, I went to clean the shells she collected. I noticed that one of the smaller Whelks was not empty, and still had the muscle in it. When we shell I always tell the kids to put these back in the ocean. It had been out of water for over 24 hours, but I thought, why not put it in my 25 gallon quarantine tank, just to see if it was still alive. Well it was and is doing well three weeks later. Whelks are very interesting, and boy do they move. I have been feeding it a piece of raw shrimp every week, and it seems to like this, and consumes the whole piece. Now for my questions. I have not seen much on Lighting Whelks other than they are carnivores, and eat clams and such, Will raw shrimp work or should I try clams from the market? <Best to expand on the diet here> (I worry about clams because of introducing unwanted life to my system) <I would use frozen, defrosted meaty marine foods... likely there is a sort of "mixed bag" of such to make into soups...>   Do they need any supplements or are their requirements similar to most snails? <Can derive complete nutrition from their foods, water/changes> Also is there any risk of putting the Whelk in my display tank (no clams in there) or should I leave it where it is? Thanks for your help   <Might consume slower/sessile tankmates. Bob Fenner>

Cowries/Feeding  10/11/06 I am one of the thousands of people wondering what a Reticulated Cowry eats (Cypraea maculata) Not 100% sure that's what these specimens are in my tank. But are very very similar. I have done a lot of research and have come up with the only clear conclusion being that, they do in fact eat... <Yes, all animals need to eat.> Are they herbivores, carnivores or omnivores? <Most are carnivores, will eat some algae, not safe with sponges, corals, etc.  Do best with plenty of live rock in the tank.  Supplemental feedings of shrimp, clam, etc is necessary for their survival.> Hopefully you can shed a little more light on the subject. <Yes, do read here and linked files above.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mollusca.htm If necessary I will send small pictures for identification. Logan <James (Salty Dog)>

Queen Conch and other Critters Questions  09/13/2005 Hello Bob! <James today> Unlike most aquarist who are into corals and fishes, I am one of those people who keep crabs, shrimps, snails, and mantis shrimps.  My problem is nobody out there seems to know the amount of food that they are supposed to be given and I thought you might be able to help. (1) How often and how much feeding should Dardanus megistos Hermits who are living in shells the size of tennis balls be given?  How about large Mantis Shrimps (3" to 5") and Boxer Crabs (3" to 5")? <I would step up the serving. Molting is caused by the animal growing and obviously they are not.  Are you dosing iodine?  This helps with the molting process.> (2) Unlike my shrimps and smaller crabs, my 4" and 5" shame-faced crabs and mantis have never molted.  Is it possible for crabs and mantis to molt only once a year or not at all? <Yes, as above> (3) Lastly, I have a few Queen Conch but they don't seem to be growing.  I don't know how fast they are supposed to grow.  I've heard that they will only eat stuff that are only ground, but mine will eat stuff that are on the LR and glass.  I would like to supplement feed them, but don't know what to give.  I don't know what those people who aquaculture conch feed their conch, but I was planning to use algae disk. <Most conches will starve to death if not given enough food.  You can try the algae disk or try Nori (freeze dried algae) and feed in greater amounts than you have been.  They also prefer a sandy bottom.  I'll run the question by Mr. Fenner pertaining to "what aquaculture places feed conches.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks! Re: Queen Conch and other Critters Questions  09/13/2005 Bob, any idea what aquaculture places feed conches? Thanks,  Salty <Mmm, nope... maybe here: http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2004-27,GGLD:en&q=aquaculture+foods+for+conches BobF>

Flamingo Tongue Snail 6/31/05 Hi, Thanks for the great site.  I can't seem to find the answer to this question; hopefully you can help me out.  I found this beautiful snail yesterday. I know better than to buy with out researching, but the guy said it ate algae and I figured how much harm could a snail be ( I know- stupid me).  It looks just like the picture on your site of the spotted Cyphoma.  When you pick him up, his spots move to the inside of his shell and his back is all off-white colored. The spots come back when he calms down. He has the long black front and I'm pretty sure it is a spotted Cyphoma.  It doesn't eat algae, does it?  Is it poisonous?  The LFS won't take it back, so what should I do with it?  I currently have 2 anemones, a feather duster, a red general starfish, 5 (other) snails, a magenta Dottyback, a velvet damsel, an orange tail damsel, three zebra damsels, a blue damsel, a reef hermit, and a yellow-eye tang (plus about lbs. of live rock).  Will this new snail hurt any of them?  If it doesn't eat algae, what does it eat and where do I get it?  I know I brought this on myself, but I would appreciate any input you could offer.  For my own curiosity, why do his spots move?   Thanks, Stacy <Stacy, I can see why the dealer wouldn't take it back. I'm sure what you have is a Flamingo Tongue Snail.  It won't live long unless you have deep pockets to feed it a diet of gorgonians. I would question the dealer as to why he is selling something like this that won't live.  James (Salty Dog)>

Lightning whelk life history I keep reading conflicting info...way too carnivorous or okay as general omnivore? I was brought back an egg case from Florida ( looks to be still viable...) and not sure if I should place in the tank... Thanks, Greg <Mmm, almost exclusively feeds on bivalves in the wild: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/wildlife_habitat/education/coastal_species/l_whelk.pdf  Bob Fenner>

Cowry snails... not for aquarium use 1/25/05 Hi everyone, Long time reader first time writer.  <welcome> I purchased two unknown snails rather irresponsibly today because they were really colorful and really cheap. Sorry- I had one weak-unplanned moment. The first one I IDed right away when I got home-flamingo tongue($3.99).  <yikes> He is going back to the LFS tomorrow, I don't have any gorgonians and if I did I don't think I would want him eating them. <ah, yes... good> The other which I can't ID has spots that resemble the flamingo tongue but the snail is snow white the spots are bright pink ($2.99) (each spot is made up of micro pink dots that are grouped together and appear to be one pink dot) and the shell has fleshy white spikes.  <sounds like another cowry... another carnivore... likely obligate, and in need of return> I know the flamingo tongues shell is actually covered with skin and not actually colored in the way it appears and this snail seems the same except that the shell is more rounded instead of long, the colors are way different and the spikes are present. <sigh, yes... another cowry that should not have been imported or purchased likely> The snail moves fast and the foot actually extends to almost twice the length of the shell. The foot is white with pink lines that extend outward away from the center. The 'antenna' are brown. I tried with two digital cameras to get a pic but he just comes out as a white blotch. Thanks for your help now and in the past.  Zane <best of luck/life. Anthony> 

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>

Coralline and limpets (not biscuit) - 8/7/03 Bob: Well after trying to figure out what I can't grow coralline algae in my tank, I think I have finally identified a suspect. <Oh?>  I have a few of those odd little creatures known as limpets and according to an article by someone named "Steneck" http://academics.smcvt.edu/dfacey/AquaticBiology/Coastal%20Pages/Limpets.html These things only eat coralline!! <Not necessarily true. I have a "shield" limpet and he, so far, seems to definitely favor algae. I have coralline growing without issue. Not say that some will and do eat coralline, I am just defending these interesting creatures with a purpose.> It really makes sense now because I could see little patches of coralline one day, only to wake up the next morning to find them vanished! <Hmmm. What type of limpet? Do you have an ID yet?> All water parameters, Ca, dKH, etc. are all perfect - no phos, no nitrates, etc. <Excellent!> I guess I'll continue to let them battle it out (I refuse to attempt to remove one of the limpets for fear of damaging him) and see who wins - right now, it's no contest! <I really admire this decision. Coralline will grow if your parameters are as you say- So you can enjoy these very interesting creatures for what they are and grow coralline at a later time. A great attitude! A tip of the bottle to ya's for being a Conscientious Marine Aquarist! -Paul>

Coralline killing snails? <Good morning, PF here today> To start off I just wanted to say that this site has been a big help to me so far. <Me too, stick around long enough and you'll be talked into answering emails too... ; )  > Here is the problem. I am losing coralline algae but I am also getting it too. I have a 220 gallon tank. I have a turboflotor1000 protein skimmer with a rio2100 pump, and an Amiracle maxi-reef 300 and two wavemaker power filters. My lighting is a custom SeaLife power compact 6x96 watts. Water temp at 79 degrees, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia at 0. P.H. at 8.3 Calcium is 480 DKH Phosphates are 0. I have 170 pounds of Fiji and Tonga live rock and 100 pounds of base rock. <All sounds good> The tank has been set up for about 7 months. After I got the typical startup algae bloom I bought an algae control pack. Turbo snails, emerald crabs, blue leg hermit crabs, scarlet leg crabs and star snails. After they did their deed  I got some damsels after it cycled I bought a clown fish and some more damsels. They have been in the tank for 3 months. I was starting to get new coralline algae growth on some of the rocks and I was happy. So as I was at the fish store I saw  a piece of Tonga loaded with coralline and stony corals so I bought it. I acclimated it and let it be. When I woke up the next day the turbo snails had it covered. And most of the coralline was gone. Not a happy camper at this point. So I rechecked all my levels still ok. Went and bought another piece of Tonga put it in and watched everywhere the turbo snails went after they were done the rock was white. I waited until a snail was on a small piece of rock with coralline and let him do his thing for awhile then pulled him off and looked where he was. All of the coralline algae was gone exactly where he was at. I know from asking and reading that snails usually do not eat coralline right? <Ok, here's my take on it. For whatever reason, the coralline on your new pieces is dead and/or dying. The snails are eating it off the rock because they're opportunistic (or maybe it just tastes good). Given that you have coralline growing elsewhere in your system, I wouldn't worry to much. Eventually the rock will be recolonized by the coralline.> I know that I am not crazy because my doctor tells me that I am not  I am only a little disturbed (joking) Did I get some mutant strain of turbo snails? Please please pretty please help me. Kenny B. <Well Kenny, I don't think the snails are killing the coralline, just cleaning it up. Given the coralline growing elsewhere, there should be growth on it again. Have a nice day, PF>

Limpets and Coralline Crew: Well after trying to figure out what I can't grow coralline algae in my tank, I think I have finally identified a suspect.  I have a few of those odd little creatures known as limpets (Elephant Snail, Keyhole, etc.) and according to an article by someone named "Steneck" http://academics.smcvt.edu/dfacey/AquaticBiology/Coastal%20Pages/Limpets.htm These things only eat coralline!!   It really makes sense now because I could see little patches of coralline one day, only to wake up the next morning to find them vanished! All water parameters, Ca, dKH, etc. are all perfect - no phos, no nitrates, etc. I guess I'll continue to let them battle it out (I refuse to attempt to remove one of the limpets for fear of damaging him) and see who wins - right now, it's no contest! You agree that this is possible? <Definitely. These are voracious grazers. Best, Chris>

Spider Shell Munchies Hi again <Hello> Would a Lambis attack macroalgae (Halimeda, Penicillus, Caulerpa) or corallines, and what sessile invertebrates would be at risk? <Might eat macro's... Most Strombids are mainly algivores. Though can/do eat bivalves, fish carrion in the wild and culture. Bob Fenner> Thanks

Flamingo Tongue Cowry Sorry to bother you but I have another question regarding Flamingo Tongue Snails. My supplier tells me they eat only Gorgonia and I have some in my tank.  <that is correct... and they should never be imported for this reason. Unless you have developed a technique for growing their prey gorgonians species faster that they can eat it> However, after introducing six snails and the Gorgonia all of the snails promptly wandered off the Gorgonia and seem to be grazing contentedly on algae and other food sources in the tank.  <they are definitely starving to death. This is an age old observation and problem. Just because a snail, fish, etc is eating an alternate food in captivity doesn't mean it is surviving on it. They are dying of a dietary deficiency. It may take weeks... some even hang in for months... but slow starvation is inevitable here. I am honestly deeply saddened that yet more have been imported. Were these sent along as freebies with an order of livestock from an Atlantic supplier or were they ordered deliberately?> The question is, are they going to survive or am I just being fooled and they will soon starve to death. <the latter... this has been observed by aquarists for 30 years!!!> They seem to be OK without the Gorgonia. <based on what, my friend? We cannot see that they are gaining or losing mass/muscle tissue so to speak. By virtue of the fact that they are still moving? :)> Thanks for the help. Don Tope <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Flamingo Tongue cowries Thanks for the response. I was aware of the possibilities you mention in your response but wanted to confirm my suspicions. I did not think that the mere fact of movement was proof of a satisfactory situation for the organisms, hence my query.  <understood and agreed my friend> I, like you, do not wish to waste life and that is why I asked the questions I did. Would you suggest that I keep using Gorgonia (I can try to keep it - Can obtain more if necessary).  <hmmm.. at this point it gets a bit discriminating. Some personal decisions here. We are discussing the aquarium display of one not-easily-renewable resource (captively) with another (the slow growing gorgonians). If you were studying the mollusks with a purpose (scientific report, breeding study/programs, etc) I'd feel comfortable with using the gorgonians as fodder. For a merely aesthetic display, however... I'd cut your losses early. No more snails or gorgonians. The problem is compounded by the fact that these cowries eat an aposymbiotic gorgonian that is very difficult to keep alive in captivity. And other hardy gorgonians are not eaten/accepted readily. Alas, neither the host or parasite belong in captivity with most aquarists.> Again, I do not want to waste Gorgonia if it is a virtual certainty that it cannot be kept alive and as a replenishing food source for the snails. Thanks for your attention. <exactly... with kind regards, Anthony> Don Tope

What do Tiger Cowry's eat? Is there a resource where I can look up things like this? >> Of the two hundred or so mollusks that are cowries (family Cypraeidae)... most feeding habits are unknown... For Cypraea tigris, small ones don't need to be specifically fed... larger specimens are predators and detritivores... and readily accept bits of fish flesh, mussel, pelleted dried-prepared foods (placed near them)... You might start with the Baensch Marine Atlases as a good, solid invertebrate reference. Bob Fenner, who has hunted for Cypraeids a few places in the world.

Astrea snails and coralline algae Greeting and Salutations Bob or Anthony, <I'll take the salutation, and raise you a "Whassup?", Anthony> Quick question for the experts: I just added some nice cured LR to my system with some beautiful purple coralline algae growth. This morning I noticed one of my Astrea snails "sitting" on top of the coralline on the rock. Will these little guys eat the good (translate: pretty) algae or will they restrict themselves to the green stuff?  <they will only eat microalgae and they favor diatoms (brown algae)> Thanks so much for all the time and quality you guys put into WWM. I hope you're raking in crazy loot with the advertisers otherwise I'm sure there would be many willing to pay a small subscription fee! <actually the wine, roman parties and dancing girls nightly are payment enough> PS-Anthony--didn't realize you were from the 'burgh, me too! Any recs. as to places for good quality live stock/LR around here? take care my friend.

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