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FAQs about Marine Snail Identification 1

Related Articles: GastropodsSea SlugsMollusksAbalone

Related FAQs: Snail ID 2, Snail ID 3, Snail ID 4, 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, & Invertebrate ID, & Marine Snails 1Marine Snails 2Marine Snails 3, Snail Behavior, Snail Selection, Snail Compatibility, Snail Systems, Snail Feeding, Snail Disease, Snail Reproduction, MollusksSea SlugsAbalone

Unidentified creature Good morning guys, Thank to some good advice from you guys and a lot of planning, the reef tank I started up in May is powering. Full of healthy fish and corals. The other day, I noticed a clump of weed moving and on closer inspection it turned out to be an animal. I cannot find an ID for this thing anywhere on your pages or in my books. I attached a photo for your reference. It is green, with small white "branches" off it's body, looks a lot like a snail with no shell, has a mouth which feeds on the algae and moves reasonably fast when it wants to. It also seems to have a siphon of sorts on the "lower" portion of its body. Many thanks, Michael Peters <a view of the head/mouthparts would help more... but it seems to be a shell-less gastropod of some kind. Perhaps a Sea Hare. There are many kinds. Rather like a big beefy Nudibranch. Best regards, Anthony>

Strange Beasties and New Book Pre-Order UK Hi Watery Ones! Hope you are all well. <how'd you know I've been holding my beer in? <smile>> It's been about 8 weeks since my last question - weaning myself off gradually. I apologize in advance, this is one of those "what is that strange critter" questions - sorry! <no worries at all... but do look here for future reference:  http://www.reefs.org/hhfaq/index.html and here: http://www.rshimek.com/odd_critters.htm> On the glass of our marine reef tank there are several white, ammonite type things. They don't appear to be moving and are hard (e.g., I have tried scraping them off and it is very difficult). They vary in size too. Any ideas as to what they might be? (Bet you love those sorts of questions!) <they are surely Vermetid snails (sessile... never move) or Serpulid worms> Should I just leave them be? <harmless and a very nice sign of tank maturity> Secondly, we occasionally hear a clicking noise coming from our tank; sometimes a single click and other times two or three clicks one after the other. My husband reckons it's a pistol shrimp but I thought they made really loud noises and this noise isn't really obtrusive. Again, any ideas? <pistil shrimp most likely... possible a mantis. Likely harmless either way. Do keep and eye open or trap with food at night to see,,, just some of the many fascinating critters from live rock :)> Thanks guys! <my pleasure!> [PS how do I go about getting a signed copy of your new book, being all the way over here in the UK?] Lesley <Thanks kindly for the interest... in just a few weeks we'll have the links up on my site www.ReadingTrees.com and here www.wetwebmedia.com for pre-ordering. It will be a pleasure to mail you one to the UK just the same. When the forms are up, please e-mail again when you are ready and we'll quote an accurate price for the extra freight (just a few dollars more). With kind regards, Anthony>

Photos of Bubble Shell Mollusk Hi Bob This it the best picture I can get with a digital camera of this Bubble Shell Mollusk at this time.. I hope it is of some help figuring out what this creature is. So far it has not attacked anything that I can see. Another local aquarium has had them in the past and says the found them harmless.  <alas... many such gastropods seem well behaved for weeks or months before attacking another desirable tank mate. Such gastropods are decidedly opportunistic as a rule. I do not recognize this species from the picture but it has the shape and form of the many omnivorous or even carnivorous species. Any doubt? Put some meaty food by it (shrimp, krill, clam)... if the "snail" is attracted to it, then you at least have an omnivore that needs to be watched carefully. Form follows function and a snail that eats minced clam from the grocery store will not pass up an opportunity to eat and expensive Tridacna clam!> However I nearly lost it, when it crawled into a powerhead opening overnight.  <good heavens... the intake are unguarded? Do keep a PVC tee, bio ball or cage on the intakes to protect your animals without fear of the guard clogging easily or becoming biological> I managed to free it minimal damage to the mollusk. But today I lost a Bicolour Dwarf Angel ( its gut was swollen, but colour was fine, breathing was heavy). Can these mollusks release toxins if harmed.  <many do under duress> I noticed it has released some kind of frilled organ from its side (a little visible in one picture)..  <yes... a "mantle"... common on numerous gastropods that are similar to yours> to be safe I have done a 60% water change, though all water requirements where fine.  <very wise... do add fresh carbon too> A Moorish Idol and Sailfin Tang have been slightly off their food since this morning, though not showing any other signs of distress. Hope you can help out with advice on this matter.  <feed that Moorish idol frequently (3-5 small feedings daily) if you want to have a chance to enjoy it for many years> Again sorry for the poor picture quality. <no worries> Yours Sincerely Brett Brisbane, Australia <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Limpets Hi everyone , I have a tank full of small copepods that I know are beneficial. <indeed... I myself am Cuckoo for Copepods> But , and their is always a but, I have an unknown crustacean that I want to try to identify . <his name is Joey... Joey bag-O-doughnuts> This thing has a hard outer shell that looks like the hats that the Vietnamese people wear , almost to the letter . <a "Limpet" species... do use that name in a keyword search of the web... few pics posted yet on WWM of this critter. Common though> They are oval in shape , about a quarter inch in length ,have a white coloring and look like a pointed hat . Any ideas ? P.S.  Sorry about the ethnic description , but its the only thing I could think of that looked like these things . My LFS said they were Lipids Rich <no worries... understood and clear. And I don't think Vietnam will be calling for an apology... they love those little hats too. Your silly little "snail" is a Limpet dude. Best regards, Anthony>

- Mystery Snail - Hey team, <And hello to you, JasonC here...> I have a 77 gal saltwater tank with 22 or so snails of different species of snail's but there is one breed that I cannot find on your site or maybe I am looking in the wrong place. They are called horned snails (at least that is what the LFS called them) and they are aggressive little suckers they seem to be killing my other snails (various Margarites and turbo snail's) I am wondering if you have ever encountered such a species and if so are they very prone to attacking others, they do this by holding the other snail's until they die!! <I am not familiar with a snail by this name, or by this specific description. I'm not sure that you've got their intentions pinned correctly - could be you just have too many snails. Perhaps if you could take a picture of the snail and send it along, we could give it another try. Cheers, J -- >

- Snail ID - Ok here is a picture of him he is on the right and his latest victim on the left on a re-count I have confirmed that I have 14 snails, 4 which are these species. I also seem to have obtained a parasitic problem it seems to be covering my aquarium walls with what looks to me like little almost microscopic centipedes............ (they have on average 14 legs and 2 feelers with a white body, if that helps??) if you could help me with that it would be wonderful!!!! <Well, the snail 'could' be a horned helmet snail, but I'm not 100% sure... as for the microscopic centipedes, I wouldn't be concerned about these. Most likely a type of amphipod or copepod.> Ty,
Wes
<Cheers, J -- >

Mmm, this is a Murex spp., a predaceous snail for sure. Bob F.

What is it? This is yet another one of those what is it questions. I have several times now found a small maybe 1/8th in. long by 1/16th in. wide very slug like thing in my tank. It is almost totally clear except for a small dot in the middle which is it's stomach. I would take a picture of this guy but clear and pictures don't mix. It is very flat also and climbs on my rocks and glass often usually at night. I believe it eats algae.  Any clue as to what it is? Thanks in advance. Shane <Hmm, hard to do from my desk, but I would venture to guess it is either a Nudibranch or perhaps a Trochus grazer, clear pushes it more to Nudibranch. As long as he eats algae, pay him homage! Enjoy!  Craig>

Unknown Snail? Hi Bob and Gang, I browse your web site regularly and I find it very informative. I was wondering if you could tell me what kind of snail (I think) this is? Is it harmful to anything? <No> What does it eat? <Microalgae and life associated with them> Should I leave it in my tank? <Yes> Thanks, John ps. You Can use these pictures if you want to. <Thank you. This is some sort of limpet (as in the incredible Mr.), an Archaeogastropods mollusk. Please see WetWebMedia.com (the Google search tool on the homepage) re. Bob Fenner>

Predatory snail (Tulip) 3/27/03 First off...awesome site...VERY helpful <thanks kindly> I found this guy in my tank about a week or two ago...didn't get a picture at the time and I was having a hard time identifying him.  Came home tonight and he seems to have killed one of my Astraea snails and is chowing down.   <indeed... this is a predatory snail> He seems to be a cone snail of some kind...just trying to figure out if he should be removed or not. <do remove... but not a cone at all... it appears to be a tulip snail> These aren't great pictures (still trying to figure out how to get a decent shot of something in a fish tank) Thoughts? Thanks very much for you help Joe <this is a hardy snail and great scavenger for fish tanks but is not to be trusted with invertebrates. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Scutus unguis- Black frilly Limpet Anthony, Thanks for the info, I am going to check it out and see if it is a Scutus unguis.   <all good... indeed a common species and one of the few black/white ones in the trade commonly> I didn't know if it was going to multiply like crazy or something, <a possibility with some species... but not most> so I really didn't want it anywhere near my tank.  I'm probably just over cautious on that point.  I did however find someone with a small 10 gallon tank with rock and some soft corals in there that was willing to give it a go and see what happens, <awesome!> so no, not into the ocean....and no, I do realize that putting anything in the water is bad, guess I was just half asleep on my way to work when the idea occurred. <heehee... no worries <G>. But you did have me sweating a little bit :p> Thanks again for the response, it is very much appreciated.  Have a great day, dear! <and to you as well, my friend. Kindly, Anthony>

Unknown creepy crawly Hi there, <Hello, PF with you today> I don't want to be a nuisance, <No problem> but I had emailed a question this morning and haven't received a response <Well Christina, this is the first time I've seen your email, sorry about the delay> ......you guys are always amazing at responding, so I was a bit worried, or maybe you thought my question was stupid, or maybe you are having problems <I'll keep my and my virus to myself>......I just wanted to make sure that you got it, so I'm going to cut and paste from my sent folder.....I hope to hear from somebody, and again, I apologize if I am being a bother. <Not a bother> Christina -------------------------------------------- Hey guys, I have been searching all over your site, as well as the internet, as well as through my books and I can't figure exactly what I have, I was hoping that you might have a clue..... Last night, I was looking at my tank and something looking like a deep black slug crawled out from under a rock.  It appeared to be eating off of the live rock and not knowing what it was I watched it for about twenty minutes.  I thought it was a Nudibranch, and not wanting something like that in my tank (lots of soft and stonies in there that I am very attached to) I pried it carefully off of the rock and put it into a bag, with water from the tank.  I now have it at work with me. <There are a number of snails that have small shells (Stomatella are the most common ones). Generally they harmless scavengers and algae eaters. If it hasn't done anything to your corals, I'd put it back. > The thing is, when I was getting it off of the rock, the black back opened like a slit to reveal a white shell!  So now I'm rather confused. It also has a white belly, black mouth and antenna, and it has a slug like body with a Nudibranch like frill around it that looks like two animals laid on top of each other.   It is oval in shape, and over an inch long long ways.  Any clue? <see above> I have not added live rock to my tank in over a year, so it must have been living in there for  a long time without causing any noticeable havoc........I would rather be safe than sorry with my tank, but I hate to kill anything, and I live in Ft. Lauderdale, so I was considering putting it in the ocean and giving it a chance to live, but upon reflection, if I don't know what it is then I really don't want to introduce something that could become a problem in our reefs.....seems pretty stupid. <Not to mention illegal. FL already has enough hostile invasive organisms, I think you have an interesting animals that's a nice addition to your tank. > I'm hoping for a little advice on how I can not kill it, but not hurt my reef either. Thank you for taking the time to read this, You guys are all a blessing to aquarists in distress, Christina <Your welcome, and I think you're little hitchhiker would be happy back in your tank, and that it would not hurt anything you have, but actually help control algae and detritus>

Snail id: Stomatella species "Paper Shell snail" 6/11/03 Howdy oh Wet ones! <not touching that one with a ten foot pole> I have found a bunch of snails in my tank, a type I have never seen before.  I have not be able to get a good picture of one yet, but I will describe it to you to see if it rings any bells.  It really looks like a land based slug, about 3/4 inch for the biggest one, maybe a little less.  It is a light speckled sandy color.  The strange thing about it is that the shell is only about 1/3 the length of the whole slug looking body, and it matches the body color and pattern pretty closely, so it was hard to even see the shell.  It is a rather flat shell, almost like an abalone shell.   <the last observation is the giveaway... you have a Stomatella snail species. Do use that genus name for a better web search. They are wonderful algae grazing snails... as harmless and reef-safe as it gets> It really looks like it has a great big tail because the shell is so small.  Now looking through the WWM site, I did not see any pictures of a snail that resembles it.  Does it sound like anything you have heard of or seen before?  I just want to make sure it is not a problem.  It cruises around the live rock like any other snail, but ya never no.... Thanks, Paul <just enjoy them and watch that S car Go! Kindly, Anthony

Snails? Hello! I have a quick question about snails. I had one show up with some live rock. I am not sure what type it is. I will try and describe it. It is pyramid shaped, but does not have any spirals like a lot of snails. It is probably about 1/3 the size of an Astrea snail. The coloring is very unique. It has a checkerboard pattern. The two colors of the checker board pattern are black and then tan. I noticed one when I first added the rock. Last night there were three. What type are these and are the ok for a reef tank? <These could be limpets but without a picture I am unsure. Do look are here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gastropo.htm and other places for an ID.> Thanks, Tracy <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Black Slug or Soft Body Snail, Ruffled Limpet "Snail" Bob, Last night I finally caught this weird looking creature I have mentioned in an earlier e-mail. I have had my tank up and running since August of 2001. Just last week, I got up one morning and saw this flat black looking spot on my LR. As I turned on the lights it started to move to a dark location. For the last few days I was able to see it, but just out of reach without having to mess with to much in the tank. If it has been there for that long nothing has really happened to the livestock. I tried to send a pic but my digital camera is charging. But let me describe it. It is about the size and shape of a quarter, soft bodied, black in color, and with a ruffled tissue around the body.  <you have described the mantle of a Limpet (snail). Many different species, colors and mantle sizes. This black one has been imported commonly> It moves with a muscular foot and the mouth is sort of trunk like with the radula facing down. It also has two antennae and visible eyes. Any suggestions to what has made a home in my tank. Thanks, Javier <possibly a cowry... but I believe it likely is a Limpet. Mat be reef safe, but many are not. Best regards, Anthony>

Baby Snail ID Sorry to bug you guys, but have had no luck on my own...and if anyone may know... Here are 2 bad pics (blame it on my crappy digital camera, haven't perfected close ups with the 35mm yet) of a snail that started about the size of a bb the first time I noticed it 3-4 weeks ago. It is currently 1cm long and maybe 5mm tall at the top of the shell. <The incredible Mr..... Limpet... Please run this term through our Google search tool on WetWebMedia.com or the Net itself. Bob Fenner> I do have some Astraea and Turbos, but Am thinking this guy came in on a 30lbs piece of LR I got a month ago. No big deal, if y'all are too busy, don't worry about it. Thanks, Emo <Beneficial organisms, no worries>

Snail and star identity Hello all, I am having no luck finding the identity of a snail the hitchhiked on my rock, as well a sea star.  I have looked at e-tailers and this site with no luck.  Can you give me some more suggestions that can help in the search? If not, I will email you a couple of pictures to see if that will help. Thanks, Kim <hmmm... depends on the local of the rock. Atlantic or Pacific? Seek Humann's references if Atlantic (Reef Creatures)... Pacific will be more challenging/ Perhaps a photo will be best for all. Do look up Asterina species for the sea star by the way. A common incidental. Best regards, Anthony>

Black limpet snail- Scutus sp Hi:  I wonder if you can help me with identification of this new creature in my reef.  The reef is a year old but new things keep popping up.  This guy looks like a leach but is about 4 inches in length and about 2 inches wide and relatively flat.  He comes out at night.  The picture is of poor quality but may help.  He is black and has "frilly" edges.  I blasted him with a gush of water from the turkey baster and he slid back into the reef, so he isn't very shy.  Is he harmless?  Thanks, Jim <your creature is a mollusk of the genus Scutus (almost started to sound like  Dr. Seuss rhyme with the alliteration of 3 of the last 5 words <G>). AKA Black Limpet, is a mostly desirable snail. It may nibble on coral (of course, so do tangs and dwarf angels), but is an otherwise excellent algae eater and breeds well in captivity. Perfect for soft coral tanks... less so for LPS coral displays. Best regards, Anthony>

Olive Snails Hello. I was at the LFS a couple of days ago. They had some sand stirring snails described as Olive Snails. Was told they do a great job of turning over the sand bed. I have a 125 with a deep sand bed, live rock and Caulerpa. System is stable and running for over 1 year. Are these snails ok? Will they harm my sand bed? Thank you, Jeff <Mmm, I hope these are not Olivella biplicata (please insert this name into your search engines for visual verification)... as this is one of the infamous examples of cool/coldwater life being sold into our interest as tropical aquarium species. Not appropriate for warm water systems if so. One in the intertidal off San Diego below. Bob Fenner>

Re: Olive Snails Bob, Thank you for your prompt response. I looked at some images. The general shape is the same but the markings are different. These guys had spots around the shell, not lines. The Purple Olive description indicated they eat Kelp and a "variety of live and decayed material". The ones in the store burrowed into the sand with their tube sticking out, almost like a fighting conch. <Ahh, well, as Billy Shakespeare gets credit for writing, "what's in a name"? These are likely another species of "olive snail". Do ask your dealer for a scientific name, and/or reference (invoice) as to where they were collected> Don't want to have a situation where these guys deplete my sand bed though. By the way, the site is terrific. I have been able to get extensive information on my choice of fish and proper care which has been instrumental to my successful tank. Thank you again, Jeff <A pleasure to realize. Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Marine Snail ID Sorry for the size, I just wanted it to be the best possible images. Here you are. R Bormann Please reply with one or two smaller images. Imbedded to attached as simple jpegs. We cold not open these files for some reason and the piece of mail has huge. Thanks kindly Merry Christmas >Would you help in the identification of this animal? >Merry xmas and a happy new year! >R Bormann <You have an Oyster Drill, Cymatium aquatile (drills holes in oyster et al. bivalve shells for feeding), family Cymathidae... which includes the Triton Snail, Charonia... oh, and the family is now Ranellidae. Bob Fenner>
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