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FAQs about Marine Snail Identification 4

Related Articles: GastropodsSea SlugsMollusksAbalone

Related FAQs: Snail ID 1, Snail ID 2, Snail ID 3, Snail ID 5, Snail ID 6, Snail ID 7, Snail ID 8, Snail ID 9, Snail ID 10, Snail ID 11, Snail ID 12, Snail ID 13, Snail ID 14, Snail ID 15, Snail ID 16, Snail ID 17, Snail ID 18, Snail ID 19, Snail ID 20, Snail ID 21, Snail ID 22, Snail ID 24, Snail ID 25, Snail ID 26, & Marine Snails 1Marine Snails 2Marine Snails 3, Invertebrate ID, Snail Behavior, Snail Selection, Snail Compatibility, Snail Systems, Snail Feeding, Snail Disease, Snail Reproduction, MollusksSea SlugsAbalone


Snail ID 3/1/05 Hi, have you ever heard of a snail that is completely flat? I have something stuck to my tank glass that has managed to triple in size within the past four months. I think it is some kind of snail, because it attaches itself to the glass with what looks like a "foot". But you can also see the entire body as well. The back is completely flat and white (almost translucent). It looks like one half of a clam shell, but there is definitely something alive on the other side. It has grown to about the size of a silver dollar. Any ideas would be helpful, because I am flabbergasted by this thing. Thanks so much. <more than a few possibilities here my friend. Do look up Chiton, limpet, Stomatella and abalone in order of likelihood and see if nay of these gastropods (er... save for the Chiton - polyplacaphorid)... ah, "snails" look familiar :) Anthony> 

Answer to question posted re Snail ID This was posted yesterday. Snail ID 3/1/05 Hi, have you ever heard of a snail that is completely flat? I have something stuck to my tank glass that has managed to triple in size within the past four months. I think it is some kind of snail, because it attaches itself to the glass with what looks like a "foot". But you can also see the entire body as well. The back is completely flat and white (almost translucent). It looks like one half of a clam shell, but there is definitely something alive on the other side. It has grown to about the size of a silver dollar. Any ideas would be helpful, because I am  flabbergasted by this thing. Thanks so much. <more than a few possibilities here my friend. Do look up Chiton, limpet, Stomatella and abalone in order of likelihood and see if nay of these gastropods (er... save for the Chiton - polyplacaphorid)... ah, "snails" look familiar :) Anthony>  I had a similar thing but only the size of a quarter. I had just put in pods in my tank and it showed up in a couple weeks. The source of the pods told me it was probably an 'Atlantic slipper" and my searches seemed to confirm it. <Thank you for this input. Bob Fenner> 

Orange fleshy - what is it? Hi there Crew, Great site you have. Invaluable. I spotted this little critter in my 55g reef tank last week (picture attached). <Nope. Maybe try re-sending> I have some Fiji rock, aquacultured in Florida, <Interesting...> that carried quite a few hitchhikers with it. My guess is that this critter came from them. Its body is circular and light orange. There are very small purple dots all around it. It almost appears conical - though almost flat - because there is a raised center spot. It moves, but pretty slow, like the pace of a slow Nudibranch. <Likely is a gastropod... maybe a Nudibranch> It's about an inch across. I passed it by one informed person a know, and he suggested it was a fleshy limpet. I checked your site but did not find anything definitive to compare with. There was a thread that also suggested "flatworm", but that does not seem right here. Can you please advise on identification, and reef compatibility? Thanks . . . Dave <Not likely harmful whatever it is. I would leave it be, enjoy it. Bob Fenner> 

- Itty Bitty Tiny White Snails - Hi all thank you for being here. I have a 55 gallon salt tank with a 20 gallon refugium. I am not having a problem so to speak with my tank. What I have or what I could see any way is about 30 itty bitty white snails. They are babies of some kind, They are about 1/16 to about 1/8 of an inch long. They are totally white, They have an elongated spiral shell that is also white. The reason I wonder what they are is I have only 2 snails in my tank, one Mexican Turbo, and just a regular turbo snail. I tried to take a picture of them but they are too small to make any details out in the pictures unfortunately. It is my belief that at this stage in the snails development it may be to early tell what they are. But I do worry because I have gone out of my way to cultivate beautiful warm water Ricordea mushrooms in this tank. Any invertebrate I did not put in on purpose or that I am unable to readily identify scares me. Mollusks while in general can be considered harmless, still it seems to me that predatory snails would be found with their food, and given the right conditions would start to show themselves, ala the proper conditions for Ricordea to thrive.  The one thing that is maybe a coincidence, is I set up a lunar light about 2 weeks ago and I now see these snails. This tank has been up and running for 2 years now and the Ricordea covers most of my live rock literally like a carpet. These snails have never been observed before. The only fish I have in the tank is an algae blenny that I give Spirulina wafers to. He also is wonderful at cleaning the glass my answer to a Plecostomus.  Any way I looked at snail FAQs and read all the articles on snails and found nothing that could help me identify these little guys.  <Without a picture, I'm afraid this is a near to impossible task. There are too many possibilities.> Thanks for any help you can give. Craig <Cheers, J -- >

Cypraea annulus? Hi <Greetings> Firstly, thanks for your excellent web resources. They come to good use even here in remote Finland! <Ahh, good> I bought some what was supposed to be Cypraea annulus. But, they do not have the yellowish ring that I see in reference works. They hide during the days for example in the sand, and come out at night. The "mantle" that is visible on the picture can totally engulf the animal. It also has something that looks kind of like polyps, especially when they come up from the sand. I also observed, that as the animal was close to a stinging fellow, it withdrew the mantel on that side. I have not caught these guys doing anything naughty, and bought them in the hope of being good herbivores.  Thank you in advance, Cai - Helsinki, Finland <Looks like a "money cowry", Cypraea moneta to me... A good algae eater for reef aquariums as well as the golden. Bob Fenner>

Good Snails, Bad Snails.. I know I have had my share... <Wow, sounds like the lyrics from "Cream" from a sixties R & B adaptation! "If it weren't for bad snails, I wouldn't have no snails at all...."> I have recently set up a 29g tank with 30lbs of Marshall Island live rock. The tank has cycled and I am slowly adding livestock. I have had a few hitchhiking snails on the rock. I call them "checkerboard snails" due to their patterning. What are the chances of these snails growing up to be a deadly seashell? <Not likely at all... almost zip> Conus magnus or some such?  <Nah! Dangerous conids are sand dwellers> The rock is from the south seas where these animals originate. From what I understand these seashells can be some of the most deadly creatures on the planet. Should I pluck them out (with great care) or let them be? <... the latter IMO> I have 911 on speed dial but I really didn't think I'd need that for an aquarium. Besides my own personal safety, are these snails a danger to coral? Thanks for all your help. <Not likely... they're all part and parcel of what makes live rock so. Enjoy the show! Bob Fenner> 

Snail ID correction 2/8/05 I believe snail identified as a Nerite might be a Collonista snail. They are common hitchhikers on live rock and good grazers. They are known to out- compete bigger snails. Usually nocturnal. This is the page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snailidfaq2.htm   <I think you may be correct. Unfortunately, snail ID is not easy. It requires a view of the operculum and very good references. Thanks! AdamC.>

Strange (snail-like) creature in 55g salt tank This morning I noticed something much like a snail without a shell sucking onto the glass of my tank, its been about 6 weeks with live rock in my tank so maybe its something that got out. <Likely so> He has suction like a snail and shaped similar, his color is that of a yellow pea with 2 small antenna the whip back and forth with water current. Its size is no more then your thumb nail, but seems to grow rapidly by day, I have attached an outline of the shape to this e-mail any ID help would be appreciated. <Like your drawing. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snailidfaqs.htm and the blue links above. Bob Fenner>

Snail ID 1.10.05 I've have a snail in my reef aquarium that so far no one has been able to identify as of yet.  It is about 3/8" around when viewed from the top.  It is only 1/8" thick from foot to top of shell and the foot and mouth are located almost in the center of the shell.  The most distinguishing characteristic are 10 slightly curved spikes that radiate out from the edge of it's shell.    There is a picture attached of this snail.  In the picture the snail is on the glass showing it's foot.  It is in front of the feather duster and slightly left.  There is an Astrea snail on the left side of the glass and it's shell is pointing at the snail. Any help would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks. <Appears similar to Murex ramosa, of the family Muricidae.  The angle is a bit tough...Do a search with the Latin and you may be able to positively ID it.> Mike Brown <Good luck! Ryan> <<RMF missed downloading the image>>

Snail ID (2) 1.13.05 Searched and didn't see anything close to this snail under that family.  The pic is of the underside of the snail.  The top side looks almost the same as the underside minus the foot.  The top has just a slight point to it.  I've attached a rough drawing of a side profile of the snail if that helps. Thanks, Mike Brown <Hi, It's very hard to ID a snail based on the underside.  When you get something more clear, I'll be happy to take a look!  Ryan> 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> Turbo Snail Shells I had a turbo snail die today and I want to keep the shell in my tank.  The reason for this is two-fold.  One is for tank decoration, I think their shells look really cool. Second, for the hermit crabs to move into when they grow.  How do get the snail shell ready to add back into my tank?...wash the dead organism out of the shell and place the shell back into the aquarium...IanB>

Snail question. Mike, <Hi Nathan, MacL here.  I guess they sent you to me because you felt my advice to you in the past was erroneous.  I have to say I'm sorry but I stand by what I said to you. I feel and have seen lawnmower blenny's eat hair algae. <RMF has as well... many times, in the wild and captivity> You do have to watch closely and make sure all your fish are eating and getting enough to eat. ALWAYS. But I have a friend who has lawnmowers in his tank right now eating there way through a hair algae problem. Now he has cut his in the past cut his hair algae down or pulled some of it out to a shorter length to do this as well. But please accept my apologies if my advice didn't work for you.  On here we can ONLY speak from our own experiences.  I gave you mine.> Thanks for your advice on feeding fish and I agree completely. The only reason I was feeding flake was because I was on vacation, otherwise, I feed frozen food exclusively. <You might consider mixing up your food types simply because it provides your fish a wider range and larger selection of foods and therefore nutrition.>  I also disagree in that I think San Francisco Bay brand is garbage because Brine Shrimp or Artemia I think is the primary ingredient in everything they sell, but Ocean nutrition is a little better. <I think if you use brine shrimp in any form you really must supplement with vitamins of some kind.> I especially like their Pygmy Angel formula. The ingredients sound very good (algae, krill, shrimp, squid, etc..) and it is a good food for my herbivore tank (tang, flame and Firefish).  I also used Fenner's recipe and made my own food which is more vegetarian based.  I buy that Mysid shrimp from that fresh water lake that is over 65% protein. I can't remember the name of the company who makes it.  My carnivores love it.  What about flake food with Zoe, Vita Chem or Selcon?  Does adding this to the food make it a decent food or still not very nutritious even with the vitamins added? <Adding the vitamins helps, the food does have some nutrition in it, in my experience but adding vitamins and trace elements always helps.> Anyway, my question is about snails. I have 5 Turbos in my 40. I need to get some Cerith or Nassarius, but have not had time.  Well, in the mornings I see very small snails about the size of an eraser head. At first there was only one or two 3-6 months ago, but this morning I counted 9! LOL. <Its possible you have snail hitchhikers but its also possible you have baby turbo snails. You might want to search the snail identification FAQ's http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snailfaq.htm> They only come out at night and have not gotten bigger than that. Are they bad? If so, how do I get rid of them aside from physically pulling them out? <As long as they aren't cone snails they should be okay in the tank.> I had Aiptasia and bought a peppermint who promptly ate it. I had bubble algae and bought a emerald crab who promptly ate it. <I've had bad person experiences with emerald crabs who have gone on that attack.> Is there a similar solution for these snails if they are bad?  Now, I want to say my reef tank is doing incredibly well.  I bought very small frags of Xenia and Yellow and I think Brown Polyps for 5 bucks each and I have fragged these onto three more rocks, each. I also got a couple red mushrooms free and have fragged them onto two more rocks.  I have almost no nuisance algae in the tank at all and none on the gravel. Water conditions are perfect.  <Define perfect? O of everything? Phosphates etc? >Thanks for the advice. <Anytime>

Snail dye? 8/17/04 Hi, this is Emily... I was just wandering if you could tell me what type of snails create purple dye. email back ASAP <the Sea Hare is the first example that comes to my mind of a marine snail that exudes and inky dye. Anthony> <<Maybe Glaucus atlanticus. Please see here: http://www.scienceshorts.com/021108.htm RMF>>

Snail ID Hi guys, <Hey James, how are you today? MacL here with you. Let me begin by saying that you had me majorly researching and I'm still not positive I have it right.> Found these snails on the beaches, would like to know if they are reef safe to add into my marine tank. I have scan through your snails ID but could not find a match. Sorry to trouble you and thanks for your help...... <I'm pretty sure your first picture is that of a conch of some kind, possibly a queen conch but with tons of algae on her shell. It should be safe but will probably get huge. Number two looks similar to what we call a margarita snail also reef safe. My best guess on three is a Cerith or whelk of some kind. If its a whelk then it would be a problem. I'd have to see the underside to be sure on it. It might help if you gave me a hint of where you picked them up? What beach? Was it a tropical shore? Thanks MacL> I have attached pics of the various snails.......

Re: Help with basic snail id - predatory or not? Hi Adam, <Hi Kari, MacL here with you. Adam is out but I will pass along your thanks to him.> Thanks for the info! I checked out the spirals and it looks to be the common direction. I think it is a small conch. <possibly a fighting conch as its commonly known?> Thanks! Kari Hello,  I wasn't sure if this was the place to email for help with identification. I have a 20 gallon tank up and running and everyone is happy. I am just starting a 55-gallon tank. A friend of mine gave me all his live sand/rock from his salt water tank which he's converting to fresh water. I added it to my 55-gallon and notice this snail in it (see attached). Until the 55-gallon is established, I thought it would be better to put the snail in my 20-gallon tank - but I want to make sure it isn't predatory. My friend doesn't remember what types of snails he added, and I didn't see this type of shell online anywhere. I suspect it is just a harmless algae-eating snail, but want to make sure. He is purple inside.  Thanks! Kari  <Your snail looks like some kind of conch, but I can't be sure.  Conchs have a long proboscis type mouth that kind of looks like an elephant trunk.  They also have fairly large eyes on long stalks that extend upward around the edges of the shell.  They also often bury partially in the sand.  Compare the twist of the shell to another snail.  Whelks are predatory and their shells spiral in a direction opposite that of other snails and have tiny eyes on a short stalk.  Best Regards.  AdamC>

Introduced predatory sea slug - ala no QT: Deja vu 7/31/04 How is the crew of knowledge doing on this fine evening? <very well, mate... with hope for you in kind> Well, Amazement has happened again tonight. I saw a white "worm" with two brown eye stalk thingies on it. <it is an Opisthobranch/sea slug> Searched for white worm, Nudibranch, snail, and slug and found nothing. Maybe if everyone sent a picture? (HMM, need bigger website then George). <Yikes! Considering that we are non-profit and rather self-funded at times <G>... this could be scary. How about, if you can help us find advertisers to support the site, well pay you a commission and invite everyone to send pics <G>> Didn't find anything under bristle worm either. Attached are some pics to help w/ the ID. <quite helpful indeed... this is a very common predatory slug that almost always comes in with new soft corals> It is approximately ? inch long, a few faint spots on the "back", and two brown eye stalk things at the front. See the photos below. As always, thank you, and keep up the good work. Sincerely, A man at the mercy of your continued generosity, Dan <uncanny too... I just answered an e-mail from another chap with a similar question/problem/slug. Pasted below is my advice/response to him: [This creature is undoubtedly carnivorous and likely preys on coral or some other desirable invertebrate in your tank. It has appeared because you have made the all too common (but serious) mistake of adding livestock to your tank without quarantine. For long term success... it is imperative that aquarists understand and apply QT procedures for all new livestock... new fishes, corals, live rock, snails, sand, etc... everything wet must be QT'ed for 4 weeks minimum for the prevention of parasites, pests and diseases. We have quite a lot of good info on QT posted in our archives to advise you and help prevent a worse problem/infection in the future... manual extraction is needed (be persistent as they may be laying eggs already in your tank) and please faithfully use quarantine protocol in the future. The mere tens of dollars invested in a bare-bottomed ten gallon tank with a sponge filter can save countless lives and hours of your time in the future. Anthony>

Oyster Drill Snail? No Picture II 7/20/04 Anthony, Thank you for the prompt reply.   <very welcome> Just for the record, I don't normally add creatures without QT, but this tank is new, and I was stocking it with snails, a couple small starfish, and a couple small soft coral frags, to get it ready for fish  (yes it has already cycled.. I have 4 tanks running).   <this is a great risk still... new tank just the same: the risk of bringing in a parasite, pest, predator or disease that simply contaminates the tank> As for the LFS knowing.. they don't.  Nor did their supplier, c'est la vie. <good reasons to not buy on impulse when you do not know the animals needs either. The action ends up costing animals their lives and supports the behavior by encouraging the pet shop to buy more animals that it does not know how to keep to replace the last ones it sold... <sigh>> Anyway, I am waiting for my new smartcard reader to arrive in the mail, and will be able to send pictures when it comes, but seriously, those pictures you have could be the same one I have, it really looks identical to me.  Until then, could you give me some feeding recommendations based on the assumption that it IS the same creature? (go ahead, be unfair!  The worst-case scenario is that it will not eat what you suggest....no worse than its current situation.) <I'd suggest oysters> I don't plan on putting any sort of clams or other bi-valves in this tank, so the little guy is more than welcome, <the problem is that such meaty predators are not necessarily obligate but rather are more likely omnivorous. That could get scary> I just want to provide properly for him.  Do you think it would eat already dead oysters?  Any suggestions are welcome Barb <do try... we can only hope. The problem is the risk of contamination or disease from grocery store bought bivalves (very commonly a source for how badly handled they are. Anthony>

Unidentified Snail, No Yelling Please CAN YOU HELP ME TO IDENTIFY THIS NEW CRITTER, I HAVE 2 OF THEM FOUND LAST NIGHT CRAWLING ON THE ROCKS IN MY 55G REEF TANK. THANK YOU TAMMY <You need to take the caps lock off Tammy, it means you are yelling in computer language. Also because I got a virus from opening attachments I'm afraid to open this one, my guess is that you have a Stomatella varia.>

Snail ID II 7/20/04 oh I am sorry, I always write in caps, he is grayish white, with what looks like a thin shell on top, about an inch. and a good size sucker mouth. all my emails get scanned with Norton antivirus going out and in. thanks Tammy <as our last crew member suggested, this sounds like it could be a Stomatella species. Please go to our index page at wetwebmedia.com and type that genus name into the Google search tool to see more information and pictures on the suspect. Anthony>

Snail ID sans image 7/10/04 Hi! First I just want to say that you have a great website! It is an excellent reference for aquarists and I hope you'll keep up the good work in the future! <thanks kindly... please do continue to use and refer folks to it/us. And do consider writing articles yourself if you have any experiences yourself you'd like to share> But now the real reason I emailed you... I am hoping you can help me identify a couple of snails. (Hopefully you don't get too annoyed by all these "I.D. my creature" emails) My sister collected these two snails (and a ton of little clams) on Daytona Beach, FL. They're not in a tank with other organisms; we really just want to make sure the snails won't eat the clams. <hmmm... bivalves are common prey for many gastropods> Anyway, the snail's shell is a two inch, long skinny  and pointy spiral which is brown in color with little dark brown and white stripes. The foot of the snail only comes out of the shell a little bit and is dark brown with a few white markings, and kind of frilly looking. The snail also has one little antenna (or something, maybe an eye or a proboscis- I'm no expert on snail anatomy) which is dark brown with a white tip. The snails usually burrow and sometimes leave their antenna sticking out of the sand. Any idea what kind of snail this is and whether or not it would eat out live clams? Thanks a bunch! Stormy <from the general text description, its very tough to say... but there are quite a few shell collector websites on the web with great image work. Do browse these sites to see if you can find a familiar face :) Anthony>
Snail ID and (not) responsible aquarium-keeping 7/10/04
I found some of these snails at a local fish store and would like to know what they are. They seem to hide out in the sand and are pretty fast movers. <they appear to be some type of olive snail> I just don't want to put a carnivorous snail in my tank that will eat my other snails or corals. <likely safe, but snails with such feeding apparatus are not dedicated herbivores. On the contrary, they favor meaty foods. This could mean predatory even if only on the desirable infauna of your live sand (Polychaetes, etc)> Thanks and please let me know as soon as possible as I have one in a bag right now and would either like to put it in or take it back. Thanks. ---James <Ahhh... what the-----? You really cannot expect to succeed with your aquarium if you bring home animals/corals/fishes that you do not know how to care for... what they eat, are they predatory, are they venomous, etc?... and then e-mailing someone/anyone with a query like "I'm holding the bag over the aquarium as I type this... stop me if this is a bad thing". James... its a bad thing. The whole thing. The habit. Sorry to come off this way, but I'm hoping to shake you up early before you really make a big mistake (this snail is not high risk) and kill many, many more animals from bad husbandry. Please do read/heed more on the fundamentals of aquarium keeping... starting with researching an animal and its needs before (!) you bring it home and starve/kill it/let it kill other things. Then there is the need for quarantine... every new animal/plant/rock thrown into your aquarium without a proper (4 week ideally) isolation period is like playing Russian roulette with your other livestock (regarding parasites, pests, disease, etc). If its wet... it can bring something bad in. You have so much invested (money and lives) in your aquarium, it really is worth it (ethics aside) for you to strictly quarantine. How ironic too... to kill hundreds or thousands of dollars in livestock for the neglect of having a 10 gall QT tank that cost a few tens of dollars to set up. I hope you take heed my friend... otherwise I assure you that you will have problems and become another hobby statistic in time. I wish you luck/success. Anthony>  

Responsible aquarium-keeping II 7/10/04 I actually used to work at this store and have a key so it wasn't that big of a deal. They have me identify things all of the time for them. I totally understand the idea of researching things before purchase . I used to preach it everyday. <good to hear... important to practice as well> I have been doing salt for abound 5-7 years and am not totally a newbie. I have a contraption that I use to quarantine snail and crabs but it was borrowed out. <"contraption" implies to me a container used to contain but not truly quarantine your crabs and snails. I can only assume through the limited medium of e-mail, but am guessing that you use this to float critters in your sump or display. If so, it does nothing to eliminate the chance of introducing a pest predator or disease. Just buys time for an ID and acclimation. My apologies if this is not the case and it truly is a separate tank.> I actually went and got it and used it for the night. <do (re-)read some of our wonderful articles and archives on QT to get a better appreciation for the need and measures (4 week period)> I had this snail ID'd at another forum as being a  common marginella or Prunum apicinum. I researched the shell structure and the pictures that I found were identical. do you have any ideas of where else to look for some photos for comparison as I only found one that was a live snail and not just the shell? thanks for replying. I appreciate it. <I do recall coming across quick a few gastropod web sites and databases not too long ago while working on NMA

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