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FAQs about Marine Snail Stocking/Selection

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

Peaceful Community Marine fish + ?   Plus snail stkg. f'    4/13/15
I have quite the harmonious tank at present and was thinking of getting a small Yellow Tang to add (I understand they can get up to 8"). Listed below is my stocking. They are all small fish as you can see. However my tank is a bit unusual for a 90 gal. It's a DSA Pro 90 that is only 36.5" long. 36.5" x 24.5" x 25" (LxWxH). I understand YT needs swimming room. Will this suffice if not 4' across?

Here is my current stock.
1 Red Firefish
1 Purple Firefish
1- Royal Gramma
1 - Yasha Hasa Goby w/snapping shrimp
2 - Banggai Cardinalfish (paired up in my tank)
1 - Clown Fairy (solorensis) Wrasse
2 - Ocellaris Clowns (Got the male after the female. The male won't let the female in the RBTA. Weird?
<Not weird>
2 - Yellow Assessors
1 - Neon Blue Goby
1- Yellowheaded Pearly Jawfish
<Mmm; this fish may not be happy long-term w/ all the other bottom dwellers you're intending here>
1- Red Mandarin Dragonet
1 - RBTA
1- Red Linckia
<I'd skip>
1- Linckia multiflora
<This too; doesn't live often in captivity>

1 - Blood Red Fire Shrimp
1 - Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
1- Hard Tube Coco Worm
2- Feather Dusters
25 various Corals including LPS, Zoas, mushroom
<Study re these... need to be VERY carefully acclimated, started small, the Zoas placed last (toxic)>
Snails (est)
<NO! These numbers are CRAZY. Won't live and their deaths will pollute, possibly poison the system. SEE WWM RE>
75 - Dwarf Cerith
40 - Florida Cerith
25 - Nassarius Vibex
25 - Nerites
3 - Florida Fighting Conch

5 - Blue Leg Hermit Crab
8 - Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab
2 - Ringed Cowries
All fish have been in for 6 months to 1 year except the Mandarin which was added 3 months ago. The tank is just 13 months old old. Below is the equipment I'm running.
Sump - Marineland 29 gal custom 3 chamber
Return Pump - Sicce SYNCRA SILENT 5.0
Skimmer - Reef Octopus SRO2000INT
Powerhead - recently switched from EcoTech VorTech to Maxspect Gyre (wow)
Heaters - ViaAqua 200w Titanium (2 - 1 in sump, 1 in overflow)
DT Light - Coralife Maxspect Razor 160w, 16,000k LED suspended in canopy
Auto Top Off - Reefanatic Top Off Controller. 5 gal custom acrylic top off container
Fuge Light - Wavelength 6" LED
AquaFX Barracuda RODI unit
Eshopps Filter Sock holder
Reactors - Two Little Fishes (2, 1 for Carbon, 1 for Phosban and/or have
tried Purigen, Chemi-Pure in reactor)
120 lbs CaribSea Primo Reef Rock started from dry and cycled with 1 raw
<Okay.... Bob Fenner> 

Re: Peaceful Community Marine fish + ?       4/14/15
Hey Bob,
Thanks for the quick replay and comments. Not sure you understood that this is my CURRENT stock. Livestock listed has been in and established as noted.
<Ah yes; sorry for the mis-tense remarks... not quite awake (still)>
For example, the Jawfish has been in for 7 months. He moved a lot initially but has been in his current home under a nice base rock for a good 5+ months. The LM star has been in for 5 months and doesn't move too much. Usually hangs by the overflow or top of tank. So since he doesn't move much and I was wiping my glass down enough I got the 3" Red Linckia. He
moves around from glass to rocks pretty quick and is a nice little showy star. I have read Blue Linckia especially are hard to keep as with all sea stars.
<Ah yes>
The snail comment was a 180 from what I was recommended early on so I'm a bit confused by this (and scared! - "pollute & poison", OUCH!). The snails have been in for a year since just after the tank cycled. Do you think I should take some out and put in my QT and give some away?
<Yes I would>
They are not visibly dying off. In fact, they have laid eggs. Of course most eggs don't survive but a handful actually did (Nerites).
Regards to the original question if I can keep the YT or not, I'm guessing "should" mean it's OK for "most YT? Of course now I'm more interested in your snail thoughts cux pollute and poison is not what I'm going for here!
<Yes to the Yellow Tang likely mixing in here, and adding some added color and motion. BobF>
Re: Peaceful Community Marine fish + ?       4/14/15

Thank you much Bob. As a newbie I was tutored by a guru in the industry
<Ah, very good>
so I was spoiled and now mostly only value opinions/advice more so from veterans such as yourself.
<Well; am enjoying being labeled a vet.... vs. olde!>
Attached is a side shot and front shot of the 90 fyi.
<Thanks for sharing. BobF>

Re: Peaceful Community Marine fish + ?       4/14/15
Oh and BTW, it wasn't the cagey veteran who advised me on the snail quantity (in case you wondered how great a marine guru can he be advising on such snail qty). He actually did ask about those quantities but deferred to another industry vet who was the expert in that field and has had success for many years doing so. So that's what really confused me. The industry expert deferring to another industry expert. And now yet another industry expert disagreeing with it. I've been in this just long enough to see all sides and as I've done over the past 18 months since researching initially and through today, I try to come to a sensible decision (maybe one area was the snails that is of great debate apparently). Man, why couldn't this hobby have more plug n play answers? haha thanks again Bob.
<Ah yes; and as you might well understand; being here (on the Net) and trying to make "universal" statements is fraught with danger... the long and short of it (gastropod stocking) is that some (a minority by far) of folks "do have success" with unnaturally high numbers of various species. Many more have troubles. B>

Bumble Bee snails in reef tank    2/4/15
I am pondering getting some bumble bee snails to add to my 55 gallon reef tank. I currently have 5 Nassarius (I'm sure that is not the correct spelling, btw)
<Is; but should be capitalized; as a genus>
and I've been perusing different forums which mostly say they are a complete menace to society and eat everything in site, which, obviously, would be frowned upon. I searched your site and only found one mention of them, which didn't tell me much. Are they safe to add to the tank, or no? Also, I'm thinking about adding 5 or so, would that be ok?
thanks in advance for your response. You guys are AWESOME!
<Mmm; well Pusiostoma (Engina) mendicaria aren't entirely "reef safe", but little is... all animals that live on reefs... eat other life that... lives on reefs. They may consume some beneficial interstitial worm fauna... How to put this; I'm decidedly not a snails for cleaning up fan... I'd just stick w/ the Nassarius if I already had them.
Bob Fenner>
Re: Bumble Bee snails in reef tank    2/4/15

thanks very much - I'll just stick with the snails I have.
<Ahh! BobF>

Black Onyx Nassarius Snails: Buyer Beware: Likely Ilyanassa obsoleta -- 3/29/10
<Hello Michelle, Lynn here tonight.>
Hope this email finds you all in good health!
<It does indeed, thank you. I hope that you're enjoying good health as well!>
I have a question on Nassarius snails, and can only find notes on WWM regarding Whelks or Tongans- I am needing some info on black onyx Nassarius snails.
<Hmmm, the snails I've seen sold on the net under this common name appear to be Ilyanassa obsoleta (aka the Eastern Mud Snail), an extremely common, cooler water snail that's not at all suitable to the higher temperatures of reef systems. Their range includes the western Atlantic, from Canada to northern Florida, as well as the west coast of North America from British Columbia to California. Neither range could be considered tropical! Exposing these snails to long-term higher temperatures speeds up their metabolism, resulting in drastically shortened lives.>
Is there a link here that you can provide?
<Yes, please see the following link for photos of Ilyanassa obsoleta (for comparison): http://www.gastropods.com/5/Shell_3305.shtml
More information re: http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-11/mg/index.php >
Or can you answer for me: Are they reef safe? To the extent that they will not disrupt and devour my copepods?
<Apparently, they're mostly deposit feeders and scavengers that feed on organic detritus, microorganisms (diatoms, bacteria, BGA, etc.), some macroalgae, and carrion. Any critter than scavenges though, has the potential to venture into live foods if it gets hungry enough and the opportunity presents itself. The studies I've read regarding the diets of wild individuals seem to indicate that live fauna is not a significant part of their diet at all. However, it's possible that an omnivorous snail with a boosted metabolism and appetite, might indeed go after whatever prey is most readily available. There have been reports of these snails attacking other snails and there is some concern regarding the possibility of them depleting beneficial sand-bed fauna.>
I have a mandarin goby and a scooter blenny- so want to make sure they still have their food supply.
(Tank size: 180 gallon mixed reef)
<I would avoid these snails. No matter what they eat, they're ill-suited to life in a reef system. If you need a scavenger that will help stir the sand a bit, I'd go with something like the commonly available Nassarius vibex. They're terrific little snails that erupt en masse out of the sand at feeding time.>
Any info you can give is appreciated.
Thank you.
<You're very welcome. Please let me know if there's anything else I can do for you.>
<Take care, LynnZ>
Follow-up Re: Black Onyx Nassarius Snails: Buyer Beware: Likely Ilyanassa obsoleta -- 3/31/10

<Hi Michelle>
Once again- thanks for the reply.
<You're most welcome.>
I would like to post something on eBay - to warn fellow reefers, possibly beginners, about this- and have found an article on www.reefkeeping.com that suggests the harm these can do, the disease they may potentially add to the tank, etc- but I am not sure how to do that without hurting myself in return (I'm a seller as well on eBay)-
<I can certainly understand that. It's also important to take into account the litigious nature that our society seems to have unfortunately embraced. In this case, we're not sure exactly what species of snails is actually being sold. That's the problem with common names. The snails that I've seen being sold online under the name Onyx Nassarius snails appear to be the species Ilyanassa obsoleta, but your vendor may be using that same common name for an entirely different snail. There's just no way of knowing without seeing the actual snail itself. The bottom line here is that I'd tread very carefully when it comes to publicly posting anything negative regarding a vendor.>
I have sent a personal message to the seller of that listing- maybe they will 're-edit' their listing to state what these are better suited for.
<Good, I was going to recommend contacting the vendor privately. Hopefully they'll be able to do some research, determine exactly what species they're selling, and be able to offer as much accurate information as possible to potential buyers. Beyond that, we can only hope that hobbyists remember to do their own research before bringing home any livestock, no matter what information a seller has or doesn't have to offer.>
I included your WWM link to give them a hint, lol. Best regards- look forward to doing much more reading on your articles- thanks!
<You're welcome! Take care and again, Happy Easter! LynnZ>

Re: How many fish can you put in a 75 gallon tank?, SW Stocking, now collecting your own snails 12/30/09
Thanks... are snails you find on the beach safe to bring back to put in the tank?
<Depends on where you live, what type of snail, generally I would not recommend adding anything to the tank that you are unsure of what it is.>
To test it out, could you just put it in a QT first?
<I would QT everything, but not sure what QTing will tell you about the safety of the snails.>
What would a large snail in a good sized conch eat in the tank?
<Whatever you feed it hopefully.>
Thanks, Nick
Re: How many fish can you put in a 75 gallon tank?, SW Stocking... Snail sel.  12/31/09

What were finding are snails in conch shells about 2-3 inches long on the shores of the gulf of Mexico in florida (ft. Myers).
<Snails living in large conch shells or just small conches?>
We look in the early AM for them. They seem to be pretty hardy. Have you heard of any instances with this sort of thing? People bringing them back... having them die or live?
Thanks, Nick
<Collection legalities aside, I would not add these to your tank until you positively identify what snail/conch species you are dealing with.>
Re: How many fish can you put in a 75 gallon tank?, SW Stocking 12/31/09
With further research... the snails are florida fighting conchs. Do you know of them?
<http://www.wetwebmedia.com/MolluscPIX/Gastropods/Prosobranch%20PIX/Conchs%20Strombids/ConchF1.htm >
I see they only grow 2 to 3 inches.
<Can grow twice that.>
So that's a plus compared to the foot long queen conch that I thought it was.
Thanks, Nick

New Setup Snail Selection, 9/30/08 Hi, <Hello> I am thinking about adding some snails to my 90G upper refugium, which contains about 100 pounds of small pieces of live rock and macroalgae (Chaetomorpha), but am afraid that the snails may eat my macroalgae (I have noticed that some of my Nassarius snails in my lower DSB refugium chewed on the Chaeto). Should I be concerned about this? <I don't think this will be too big of a problem as long as you don't go overboard on the number of snails you add.> Are there any snails which would be safe for my Chaeto refugium? <Most snails are pretty opportunistic, when you can't move fast you can't be too picky about what you eat.> I thought about adding some Nerite snails. <Should be ok.> Thanks for your help, John <Welcome> <Chris>

Snails, collected at the beach   9/25/08 I found some snails at the beach that resemble the margarita snail (black shell with a silver tip on top, black bodies), but they have lots of barnacles with feathery animals sticking out of them. Is this a disaster waiting to happen if I put these in my tank? <Mmm, not likely> Are they parasites? <Cirripedian larval forms can be predaceous...> Right now they are in my 10 gallon Quarantine tank. If it is I can bring them right back to the beach. <I doubt if the barnacles will live for very long... due to food (mainly) lack. There may well be other vector issues with these snails however. Bob Fenner>

Crown Conchs Need To Go Home! 4/20/08 <Hi Linda> We recently brought home 5 crown conchs from a mangrove area we live by in Florida. <Uh-oh> We put them in an aquarium with about 5 gallons of water from their home and some plants and a bit of sand. My husband put in a simple charcoal filter pump. <Please return these snails to the wild ASAP. That is, as long as they haven't been mixed with any store bought livestock. There is much more involved in taking care of these creatures than what you've described.> We don't really have any plans of setting up a saltwater aquarium. <Yep, they need to go home right away.> We just thought we would change out the water with new water from their natural habitat. <Unfortunately, it's not that easy. First of all, five Crown Conchs in 5 gallons of water is a problem, not only space-wise, but in terms of maintaining water quality. Even if you had a continuous feed of water from the source, you still wouldn't have enough room for this many potentially large snails.> I have 2 questions. First of all will they survive in this kind of setup? <Unfortunately, no.> Secondly, we have assumed they eat the plant debris? But we read they are also carnivorous. Can we give them some dog food? <LOL They're carnivorous snails, not dogs! They eat bivalves, other snails and sometimes each other. Dog food would foul the water in a big hurry. Again, please return these neat little creatures to the wild where they belong. I fear that they will not be long-lived in such a system. By the way, if you do reconsider at some later date to venture into the hobby, we've got a lot of terrific information here to get you started: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/index.html > Thanks, Linda <You're very welcome. Take care, -Lynn>
Follow-up: Crown Conchs Need To Go Home! 4/29/08
<Hi Linda> Thanks for the insight. We returned them to the mangrove area the same day we received your email. <You're very welcome and thank you so much for taking the conchs back home! You definitely did the right thing. By the way, I know y'all didn't have any plans for getting into saltwater aquariums, but how about freshwater? There are plenty of neat freshwater fishes, snails and other livestock that y'all might enjoy. If so, please take a look through our site. I think you'll see all sorts of possibilities, starting here! http://www.wetwebmedia.com/index.html Take care and again, thanks for returning the little conchs to the mangroves. -Lynn>

To conch, or not to conch.... Most times, not  - 1/26/08 Hey gang. I have searched through the vast pages of articles and FAQ's on gastropods, but I can't find a strong opinion on the role that a conch (be it a queen or florida fighting) might play in a reef tank setup. <Plowing about, knocking stuff over...> Is it beneficial to have the sand turned over by something such as this? <Can be... in some "settings". But for most, no. Other techniques, approaches are better in the vast majority of circumstances.> I have been under the impression that it's best to leave sand as it lays, as the lower layers hold different types of nitrifying bacteria. Am I completely wrong in this line of thinking? <Mmm... better to "stir" a bit for most set-ups...> Thanks again for depriving me of sleep as I stay up too late reading old FAQ's, -wuf <Please stay up a bit more reading here: http://wetwebmedia.com/substclng.htm and the linked files... BobF>  

Nerites Snails in Canada?  11/13/07 Hi guys and girls, as always I really appreciate your work and help! <Good> Wondering if you know where I can find Nerites Snails (Freshwater or Saltwater) in Canada? I have tried to get some shipped from the United States, but they will not ship them up here anymore. My LFS have never even heard of them. I once got a shipment from Arizona Gardens, and they cleaned the algae on my glass like nothing else. Thanks so much for your help. Deryck <I saw them at the Big Al's locations in Toronto last year... Are there any locations near you: http://bigalscanada.com/storelocations/storemap.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Nerites Snails in Canada? Converting FW to BR... not all    11/14/07 Thanks, they had closed down a while ago, but looks like they are reopening! I will give them a shot when they are open for business. <Okay> I still have a few freshwaters Nerites, I have researched and heard they may breed in brackish water. Think I can give it a shot to acclimate them to brackish? <Not if they're totally freshwater species. Please read here: http://www.google.com/search?q=freshwaters+Nerites&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7PCTA The first couple citations> Thanks again for your help. Deryck <Welcome. BobF>

Biotope snail stocking    1/5/07 Hello, <Hi there!  Mich with you today.>     I'm planning an 86g Fiji shallow reef slope biotope tank. <Very nice.> It will have a bubble tip anemone, a pair of maroon clowns, and a few scattered SPS and/or LPS corals. It will have 90lbs of liverock and 35lbs of sand. The sand bed in the tank will only be around 1-2" and the remaining sand will be placed in the sump as a DSB. <I think the remote DSB is a good idea.  The 1-2 inches in the display is less than ideal.  It would be better to either go with less, say an inch or less, or more say, 3-4 inches.>   What kind of commonly sold snails are native to this kind of biotope? <Nassarius and Cerith snails are found in all tropical seas.>   How many snails should I stock the tank with? <A handful would be appropriate.  Good luck!  -Mich>

Distressed Abalone  11/20/06 Hello, <Hi there> First let me start by expressing my thanks for your wonderful site. Since I received my first aquarium a year ago I have spent many hours lingering over the articles when researching the many questions I have had. I have always found the site informative and have usually found my answers here or on one of the many sites references by you. That said I'm currently not having a lot of luck finding much information on Abalones. <We don't have much... and as far as I'm aware, there isn't much written re Haliotid captive husbandry... at other than the aquaculture level> My initial research gave me the basic requirements for these interesting creatures and it appeared that my tank would be a good fit as a home. I went to the LFS I have used for a year now and they were helpful in giving my proper acclimation instructions for the two, 1.5 inch tank raised individuals we selected. <Mmm, do you happen to know the species you have? Almost all cultured are cold-water... Haliotis rufescens, H. gigantea (from the U.S. west coast and Japan respectively) or a di-hybrid cross twixt these two large species... for the food trade... Not tropical> The water parameters in the store were close to my own. Salinity of 1.024 <Would carefully keep this consistent (by pre-mixing new water, make-up/top-off daily) and 1.025 spg> temp 78 degrees PH off by .1 between the two systems. <Mmm... need to know, monitor alkalinity and biomineral content as well> On arriving home I slowly acclimated these fellows for about 4 hours once placed in the tank one immediately gripped onto the glass and started slowly exploring, the other did not want to grip anything so was carefully placed upright on one of the rocks and the tank lights remained off for the night. This morning the fellow who didn't want to grip started demonstrated some odd behaviour (well I think it's odd for an abalone but I'm really not sure). He keeps flipping over on his back and waving his whole body around, I would almost think he's trying to detach from  his shell. We carefully flipped him back over several time, placing him in different areas of the tank and within an hour he's back on his back and waving around. When he's not waving he just lies there, on his back, looking dead. We've tried placing him on the glass and he'll start to grip for a for a short time and then he let's go. Right now we're just leaving him be and making sure no one else starts harassing him (like the shrimp and hermits) but is there anything else I should be doing for him? The water parameters all look good, no detectable ammonia, nitrite or nitrates, PH is 8.3. I look forward to any advice you can provide. Thank you Sharon <... reads like you have introduced cool-water animals into a tropical setting (very common)... They won't live here for long if so. Please do find out the species you have purchased (from the dealer... it will be recorded on their manifest, or they can contact their supplier re), and get back to me. Bob Fenner>

Conchs, Scallops and a 20 Gallon Tank...Not Enough Research Beforehand - 08/25/06 Hello, <<Howdy>> I'm new to the site and the marine world. <<Ah, welcome....>> I have a 20g that has been running for 2 months now.  In this time I slowly added 2 queen conch snails, <<This tank is woefully too small for even one of these gastropods.  They will grow (if they don't starve first) to more than 6" (12" in the wild) and require a tank with a mature substrate/live rock of some 75+ gallons...each...for their long-term survival>> a coral shrimp, 3 blue hermit crabs, a feather duster, and a flaming scallop. <<The scallop is another poor choice my friend...will starve to death within weeks to months.  Please learn to research your purchases "beforehand"...believe me, you and the hobby will be better off/happier if you learn to pick livestock you have a chance of keeping alive>> All has been going good until today. <<Mmm...>> Well, it is still going good, but I found one of the snails on its back and inside its shell. <<Not a good sign, these snails have the ability to "right themselves" very easily>> I moved it and put it upright.  Now it is acting as if it has seen a ghost.  It'll take a look around and then goes right back in.  It has not moved from the spot I put him. <<likely something environmental is malaffecting the conch...your system is awfully "new"...>> Also, the weird thing is as it did look around it picked up some rocks and built what looks like a sac with rocks covering it.  I was looking around online about the reproduction of these snail and these guys are way too young to even think about that.  That is if those sites are right about the reproduction of a queen conch.  Or, that they are queen conchs to start with. <<Indeed...several species of Strombus available to the hobby...with Strombus alatus (Florida Fighting Conch) and Strombus gigas (Queen Conch) being the most readily available>> No one else in the tank is acting weird.  So, could this be that it is reproducing or dying? <<My guess would be the latter>> Or, is it just sick? <<Will yield the same result>> Thank you for your time, Brian <<A little more reading/researching and a little less buying for now my friend.  Regards, EricR>>

DSB..., Denitrator, Substrate Type/Adding Snails - 08/10/06 I have decided to install a DSB in a large bucket after trying for months to set up an AquaMedic NiTRATE reductor 400, without success.  It would either produce sulphur or nitrate because the turn flow valve was very difficult to adjust, making it difficult to get the correct flow rate, the drips were either to fast or to slow, it was a right pain. <<Indeed...manufactured nitrate reduction equipment always seems too "fiddly" to me, no matter which design you choose.  I think you will have better luck with the DSB>> During my visits to various aquatic shops in the area, I am getting many different reasons for and against the use of DSB's, also the use of various different types of media. <<Not surprised...some folks love 'em, some folks hate 'em...and even among those who employ a DSB opinions will vary on application.  But the basics are the same...a deep enough bed for the size granulate chosen to permit adequate stratification of the different bacterial zones>> One that has been proposed is the use of PLAY PIT SAND; have you any thoughts on this? <<I do...the "play" sand is quite suitable for nitrification purposes and will perform this function as well as aragonite sand of the same grain size...but...the play sand will not provide any buffering capacity and it is decidedly "sharper" than aragonite which "might" be rough on some of the critters which will inhabit the sand bed.  The play sand will work fine, but my preference is sugar-fine aragonite sand...or even a "mixture" of the two if obtaining enough aragonite is an issue>> I was also thinking of using sand snails to help with the movement of the upper layers of sand within the DSB. <<You can do this (Nassarius and/or Cerith species), though it is not necessary.  Sand dwelling/stirring critters will find their way to the DSB in time>> Will they require feeding or will they manage to survive on their own? <<Possibly...best to let the DSB mature for several months before adding>>   Any feed back on this would be gratefully appreciated. <<You have mine>> Phil Bowen England <<Regards, Eric Russell...South Carolina>>

Using Local SW snails...   6/23/06 I live near Dauphin Island <http://gulfinfo.com/ditown/> and there are plenty of snails crawling among the rocks.  Can these snails be kept in a tank.  If so the best size tank and any advice on care would be appreciated.  Thanks <Mmm, I would avoid these unless your system was "all native"... too likely to introduce pests, parasites, pollution here. Bob Fenner

Algae Control/Snails   3/18/06 I tried searching, and I am sure it is there somewhere, but there is so much inform to retain.  What type of snails control algae and also, how many should I have in a 72 gallon tank?  <Turbo and Astrea snails are good choices.  The amount needed is relevant to the size of the snails and amount of algae you need to control.  In your tank I would go with five or six of each.  <James (Salty Dog)> Thanks!  <You're welcome>

Inverts/Marine/Keyhole Limpet   2/23/06 We need few large keyhole limpets for getting some blood for research use. Please let us know if you can supply few of these animals alive or get some blood out for us. We will pay for that material. <Dr. Verma, we do not sell livestock.  Do Google search for someone who may sell these.  James (Salty Dog)> Dr. D. Verma

Orange moon snail ... Polinices are cold water animals... - 2/21/2006 Hi, I have two orange moon snails in my 60 gallon tank. <... you realize these are cold water animals?> This morning when I got up I found on the bottom of the aquarium and it didn't appear to be doing well. There was a shell inside his shell with him (there may have been a blue leg hermit in it) which I removed, but he hasn't been very active, even for a snail, and when he comes out, he looks shriveled up, and doesn't' seem to want to stick to anything. I've removed him from the tank, and isolated him. Is this common. Is it possible that he was injured by the blue leg hermit crab (who is about 1/20 his size).. Thanks, Joseph <Alas there are some ignorant, greedy retailers, etailers that sell these as tropical/compatible animals... they are not... Look the species up on WWM, the Net... they're found off the coast here (San Diego) and quite further to the north... Bob Fenner>

Marine snails and freshwater?   2/14/06 I think I was given some bad information today at an aquarium-only pet store, and I thought I would do some research on this before I proceeded.  I couldn't find the answer to my question in the FAQs or on Google.  I was interested in setting up a salt-water aquarium (20 gallons) for the sole purpose of having marine snails (for now anyway, fish will come later).  The clerk at the store told me that the salt-water snails they had in stock would do just fine in my freshwater aquarium (10 gallons and it has been set up for about a year now). <? No> I was under the impression that anything that lived in saltwater would certainly die if introduced into freshwater. <Mmm, not all life, but most certainly> Is this not the case?  Can I put salt-water snails in my freshwater tank with no ill effects? <No my friend> And if so, will it be a problem to have both fresh and saltwater snails living together?    Thanks for your time and response, Dave <Keep cogitating furiously, and being thoughtful period... you'll do fine. Bob Fenner>

Hair algae   1/30/06 First thing first, is there any truth to this? <... scarce can I name salvation, but fearful thunder echoes in mine ears> "The species is Nassarius Obsoleta.( ILynassarius Obsoleta) These snails are excellent and safe for all types of marine and reef aquariums. <All? Sounds like a sales pitch> They don't consume any form of hair algae <Mmm, no. Many types of "hair algae" are unpalatable to them... most especially Cyano/BGA types> but they will help keep it at bay by consuming the detritus on which it feeds.. They eat slime algae - red carpet algae <Not preferentially> you find in your tanks from high nutrient content and inefficient skimming. These are much more active and tend to do a much more efficient job of keeping the glass clean as well. These are a hardier species than Astrea snails and will outlive them . Also, unlike Mexican Turbo Snails, these will not disrupt coral set-up of the tank These snails being detritus feeders also replace the need for hermit crabs which are in fact predators."  (eBay seller)   I have a 90 gallon FOWLR with a 30 gallon refugium, 100 lbs live rock, 200lbs sand, system has been running for about 16 months with optimal h2o.  VERY AGGRESSIVE MIX  triggers, moray, dragon wrasse. <At least the first and last will consume snails...> My real problem is this, my cleaning crew can't keep up on the live rock and the hair algae takes over.  I at one time or another have put at least 200 or so combined blue legs and snails. <Slow moving meals> I'm guessing that my fish do graze on them since now they only come out when the light is off and the fish are sleeping.  Can I just keep buying them, how many is to many, could I buy like 500 and just go at it or would that over do it.  Is there any other way to save my live rock.   <All sorts... posted on WWM...> I read about the tiny white star fish but can't find them anywhere.  Not sure my fish wouldn't just eat them right away.  OH lighting I have 4 55's  two bright two blue normal stuff I think, is it possible I have to much light for what I need? <... possibly. More aesthetic than functional with the life you list. Is it bright enough for your appreciation? Try turning half off... Still bright enough?> I have the brights on for 8 hrs a day and the blues for about 15hrs a day.   I also couldn't get spaghetti algae to grow in my refugium it actually has hair algae growing on it, I have two 15w tubes or something 24 hrs a day.  As you can see I'm not really sure what to do a couple of months ago I took the rocks out and scrubbed the algae off rinsing it in water from the tank.  They looked ok for a few weeks but it just came back and I'm not sure the rest of the gang appreciated it very well.  Thanks so much for your help. <Mmm, I would not use more invertebrate algae eaters here... Do read through WWM re marine algae control... Many useful means... better skimming, manipulation of pH periodically, nutrient limitation/filtering, use of competing life forms... the addition of living sump/s, DSB's... Bob Fenner>

What Snails Do You Like? - 01/10/06 Gotcha, Thanks so much Eric. <<You're welcome Dave>> How do you feel about Turbo snails, Trochus, or Nassarius? <<My problem with the first two is, aside from being prone to die-off, they are like little bulldozers knocking corals around as they prowl/graze...worse than any urchin for this in my experience.  I do like Nassarius snails...and Ceriths are an absolute fave of mine.  I also have what I believe is a very small conch (1/4"-3/8") that multiplies like mad and is a great little detritivore.>> Dave Harvey <<Regards, EricR>>
Re: What Snails Do You Like? - 01/11/06
Yeah, that's how I'm coming to feel about Turbos and Trochus also, not to mention I'm pretty sure that every time they fall off a rock and don't land right side up- the tusk is upon them in a moment. <<Hmm...wouldn't be surprised if the tusk wasn't "helping" them "fall off.">> I have 2 larger Conchs, boy do they grow fast. <<Have heard this...>> I'll probably only keep one-not sure about that, and give one to my buddy. They certainly have cleaned up the sand of any detritus very quickly. <<Always a handy thing <grin>.>> Thanks again, Dave Harvey <<Cheers Dave,  EricR>>

Gastropods/Snails/Limpets and an Over Abundance  12/5/05 I'll save space and your having to read by not listing our tank setup - if you need to know the setup to answer this question, let me know and I'll oblige. <Okay.> We setup 90 gal tank with 130 pounds Fiji and Marshal island live rock about 5 months ago. Within a week, we found a large cap snail hitchhiker...5 months later, there's so many in the tank (also a few in the refugium) we lose count to get an exact number. I've read if you know how many snails you have, you don't have enough, <This sounds like a retailers slogan…I to have heard such ludicrous rules of thumbs such as this one and the common "One hermit and snail per gallon rule" which is to say the least ridiculous.> but is there such a thing as TOO MANY CAP SNAILS? <If you have an overabundance this means that there is sufficient algae to support them. The algae is fueled by nutrients. So if you want the herd to be naturally thinned out I would check your system for detritus build-ups and watch how much you feed. Water changes are your friend.> If so, is there a natural predator for them? <Yes likely any mollusk and crustacean predators such as wrasses and puffers. However they will not limit their predation to just your snails, your microfauna population would be adversely affected as well as any other small critters in your tank.> cheers <To you too.> Donna
<Adam J.> 

Snails (But, I Think He Was Asking a Question..)  11/22/05 They are the biggest I've seen. They primarily feed on detritus & algae. They are also completely harmless to all invertebrates, gorgonians and all known and/or available corals on the market today; ranging from SPS (small polyp stony corals) such as Acropora Sp. and other similar Reef builders to every commonly available soft coral and most sessile invertebrates including gorgonians and higher forms of fauna such as Caulerpa. 

The species is Nassarius obsoleta.( ILynassarius obsoleta) These snails are excellent and safe for all types of marine and reef aquariums. They don't consume any form of hair algae but they will help keep it at bay by consuming the detritus on which it feeds.. They eat slime algae - red carpet algae you find in your tanks from high nutrient content and inefficient skimming. These are much more active and tend to do a much more efficient job of keeping the glass clean as well. These are a hardier species than Astrea snails and will outlive them. Also, unlike Mexican Turbo Snails, these will not disrupt coral set-up of the tank These snails being detritus feeders also replace the need for hermit crabs which are in fact predators. <Okay! Thank you for your input. Bob Fenner>  Are these snails good for sand sifting? Will 250 make a huge difference in my 250 gallon tank? I have a major algae problem.  <Mmm, would have to try and see...>

Re: snails Read my questions...The info on the bottom is just info from some fish website.  11/23/05 The information below about the snails I found on the website that I ordered them from.. Will they sift through my sand and consume waste products? <Sorry for the lost response yesterday. The only "way" to tell if these snails will "do" what you'd like is to actually try them. How to state this more fully... Each system's make-up being different, some species of snails live, eat what aquarists intend... for a time, or not depending on water chemistry, physical make-up, types of other livestock, microbial, macrobial life...> Are they as good as Tongan Nassarius? I am having a major algae problem in my tank so I need something to sort through my sand. What would you recommend? <I do not recommend snails period for reef aquarium algae control. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the linked files above> I have not received my snail order yet but I can cancel if they are not good sifters.  The snails that I ordered are the Nassarius obsoleta.. Are they what I need to get the job done? <Won't likely solve your algae problem, no... Read. Bob Fenner> 

Re: bristle worm eating sea slug... Stocking cone snails 7/14/05 Thank you for the quick reply. I continued searching and came  across a website which said these type of snails will eat  bristleworms. Conus regius & Conus  dominicanus If this is true, would they harm other  creatures too. I prefer not to use fish as I like my Featherduster worms. <... I would not put Conids in a non-specialized marine system. Use your search tools, their scientific names... Bob Fenner>

Distressed green finger leather 3/11/05 You are a welcome source of information for us. <thanks kindly, Anthony> We have had only fish only for years. I cannot find this exact problem on WWM. I have a small finger leather that looks wilted and bluish. the LFS calls this one a green finger leather but it looked more blue than green. <increase water flow for starters> When it first came home it actually looked pink with darker polyps. It became encrusted with diatoms then slimed them off. <ah, yes! A sign (diatoms) of inadequate water flow> Since then they have not returned. It gets moderate water flow and is 10" below Compact flour 10000k and blue 50/50 lights. Nitrates are a little high at 10ppm 10% water changes every two weeks. pH 8.0, <yikes! if this is a daytime pH reading, then your pH is dangerous low at night. Do increase it all to 8.3-8.5> temp 78-80F, ammonia 0, nitrite 0.3, dKH 7, <raise ALK too here to 8-12 dKH> calcium 410. Skimming 12 hours daily. 1 Ricordea, yellow polyps, feather duster, coral beauty and a queen conch. <please do sell/trade the queen conch... they need a minimum of 200 gall DSB to survive even a couple of years. Most starve to death. Have you seen how big they get?> 90lbs live rock, 3 inch sand bed. The leather wilts then stands up straight but is much shorter and fatter than when first brought home. Is this normal? <only for short periods of time> If not can you suggest anything to help? Thanks <best of luck. Anthony> 

Cleaning algae Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2005 20:38:40 -0800 (PST) Hello WetWeb crew.<Hello Terry>  I have some algae growing on the inside glass of my SW tank that my scrubber magnet won't clean. Would some snails help. If so what kind would you recommend. <Snails do help but don't expect miracle results. I would probably go with the Trochus snail.>  I have read that Turbos can't upright and eventually die. <Yes if they are inverted they are not able to upright themselves. When people purchase Turbos from my dealer he doesn't put water in the bag with them for that reason. James (Salty Dog)>

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> 

Snail for detritus Hi, <Hello there> I have a 55g reef tank and for the most part things are good.  The one problem I have is detritus build up on the live rock. <Mmm, circulation should prevent this... along with regular water changes> My tank is over 2 years old and the original "clean up crew" has slowly disappeared.  I really have no algae so I didn't want to put the Astraea snails back in and starve them.  The Nassarius snails are great but stay in the sand for what I can see. <Yes, but they do "come out" and scavenge a bit nighttimes> Is there a good snail that will 'stay' on the rocks and take care of the detritus? <Not really... of the ones that are generally sold in the trade... Are you near a tropical shoreline? There are some Nerites, Nerita snails that might do... among many other possibilities> I also have been using a turkey baster to blast the detritus off but seems to settle right back down on the rocks.  Thanks for you input! -Brian <I'd look into more powerful powerheads... maybe even reciprocating types. Bob Fenner>

Red Foot Moon Snails Dear crew,             I recently ordered a clean-up crew from live aquaria. In the package were 8 Red foot Moon snails. I have found out from this site and others, that they like a temp right around 74-76. Currently my tank is at 84-86. Could this be the reason for them not wanting to "Stick" to anything? I am forever picking them back up and resticking them. I have already lost two. <... this is a coldwater animal... Norrisia norrisii (put this scientific name in your search engines...). Will not live for long at the temperatures you list> I am getting ready to float a frozen 1 liter bottle to attempt to bring the temp down, but am concerned about how cool I can make it. I still have tropical stuff such as Margarita snails, red tipped hermits, scarlet red leg hermits, yellow polyps, GSP's and a lawnmower blenny. Any Ideas? Tank: 50 Gallon All Glass Filtration: 130 lbs LS 130 lbs LR Fluval 404 w/carbon, chem.-pure, Phos-Zorb, and biomedia Aqua-c Remora 18" HOB w/Maxi jet 1200 and a skim box Readings: Temp=84.1* SG=1.025     NH3=0.5mg/l <Should be zero, zip, nada> NH4=2.0mg/l <Ditto> NO2=0.1-0.5mg/l NO3=10mg/l PH=7.9 shortly after lights on PO4=0.1mg/l CA=375ppm ALK=2.0meq /l Making water for change now, but it still has to mix for a day. Tim Wagner. <Tim, this planet has many differing habitats, micro-habitats... your mix of tropical and temperate marine species is incompatible. You can either get another (chilled) tank, or give up on non-tropical species. Bob Fenner>
Re: Red Foot Moon Snails
Thanks for the help. I am going to try and find someone with a chilled tank, if they last that long. I just loaded the tank with this clean up crew and the blenny, so I assumed this is the reason for the elevated ammonia. Thanks Tim Wagner. <Thank you... there seems to be a cyclicity in the trade of folks providing, retailers offering cold-water to cool-water organisms (inappropriately) every few years... Let the Buyer Beware (Caveat aquatica inappropriatum?). Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Local Collection? I am from Destin FL and was wondering if the snails around the rocks are reef safe, what kind they are and if they would be could for my tank. Is there many snails that are not good for a tank? <Yes, certainly. Many species of predatory snails exist. Another thing to consider is that many animals are collected from miles offshore because of pollution problems! With the amount invested in a saltwater tank, I don't think that saving a few bucks on snails is a benefit worth the possible cost. See ya, Ryan> Geoff 

Why do snails die upside down on sand? and ID of clear fuzzy stuff 4/9/04  Hey guys,  <cheers, Kevin>  Hope your having a great day, I am.  <very good to hear. I will be too once the hula girls and dwarves arrive>  I have a 75 gal tank with 80 lbs of live rock its been up and running since January. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0 and Nitrate 0. Temp 77 - 80. you know the basics. I have a 20 gal sump with skimmer and Mag filter with carbon. I have 2 O. Clown, 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Six Line Wrasse, Cleaner Shrimp and clean up crew of snails, crabs and 1 star fish. They are all doing very well, except for dumb snails that fail upside down and die before I find them.  <this is a species selection mistake... you clearly have Astraea Turbo snails (from the Atlantic rocky habitats and unable to survive on fine/soft substrates). Instead, what you need is Turban species (AKA Mexican Turbos) of turbo snails from the Pacific which can easily right themselves from soft substrates. Do let your merchant know this to help them to help others>  But, Lately I have had this clearish white fuzz growing on my rock, what is it? My snails eat it fine but would like to know what it is. Thanks for you ideas? Kevin  <it's tough for me to say from such a brief and general description. If you can send a clear and close photo, I can likely ID it. In the meantime, please do use/browse our wetwebmedia.com archives for algae FAQs, images and articles. Anthony>

Snails and refugia 3/17/04 Hi there, thank you for your help, I love reading the files.  I also adore my copy of Reef Invertebrates, it's on my night stand as a semi permanent fixture.  I have two questions I haven't been able to answer in my reading. <outstanding... thanks for saying so> First, we seem to have baby snails in both our larger salt water aquarium as well as our 12 gallon eclipse which is presently (for the last three months since set up) housing inverts with a few soft corals and fern Caulerpa only.  Both tanks have a mixture of Astraeas, margaritas, Nerites, bumble bees, Nassarius, and Ceriths with the Nerites and Ceriths being the predominant species which has solved our algae (diatom on glass) problem.   <the Ceriths in particular are excellent and reproduce readily> These snails look to be either Astraea or Nerites in type, they are so small, though plentiful.  I understand that the Astraea snail has spawned in captivity, but survival to a shelled form, is it possible?   <not possible/practical for their long larval cycle> Or is this a live rock hitchhiker (larger tank is 60 gallons and has been in operation for more than a year.)?   <yes... quite likely> We have seen these snails in both aquariums and another variety on the invert tank that looks a lot like a baby Nassarius snail. In our larger tank we house a pair of tank bred Banggai cardinals (along with a six line wrasse, a dwarf pygmy angel, two false percula clowns, and a royal Gramma Basslet)  I understand that the cardinals do not do well on flake food and we would like to take a vacation this summer.   <if they presently eat flake food... then the vacation is no trouble at all. If not, most fish can still easily withstand a 5-7 day fast> Would buying a Mysis shrimp starter kit  (the shape is hexagon, a refugium won't work, we already tried the hang on the back model with a steep increase in nitrates and deterioration of water quality.) help them to be able to eat during this vacation and to go away for the weekend in the future?   <yes... excellent> Or would they be eaten up rapidly?   <do revisit the passages in our reef invertebrate book on zooplankton reactors (in Refugium chapter) and seek to produce them continually> The supplier is Inland Aquatics.   <Morgan Lidster at InlandAquatics.com is a great guy. Very knowledgeable, honest and a credit to our hobby/industry> Thank you for your help, and again, great book! <thanks kindly, Anthony>  

Nassarius - Mud snails that don't like mud? 2/29/04 Hi everyone, <Howdy> Some quick Nassarius questions... if they are kept in the refugium, and they are not really algae eaters, what will they eat?   <good point... and one that is lost on many aquarists that assume "scavengers" will simply "find food". In this case, they will eat solid matter that makes it through the pumps from fish and other invertebrate feeding (notice how they come out of the sand when the tank is fed?). You might supplement feeding weekly for them.> There wouldn't be any leftover food or anything for them to eat.   <if no particulates from fish/coral feedings... then yes... they may starve indeed> Secondly, I have a DSB in my refugium, but only a 1/2 - 3/4 inch layer of 2mm aragonite in my display.   <all good> Would some Nassarius snails be beneficial in there?  Would my sand be too coarse for them to dig into?   <a bit, but likely no problem> And lastly, I have my live, sugar-fine sand and my Miracle Mud in separate sections in my refugium (because of the timing of when I added them).  The Nassarius will not bury themselves in the mud at all.   <ironic for this family of "mud snails"> I can put them at the opposite end of the fuge, on the mud end, and they will travel all the way back down to the other end to bury into the sugar-fine sand.   <very interesting> Do you know why this would be?   <not sure... natural preference, feeding opportunities, etc> The mud is newer.  I thought that the critters (worms, etc.) from the sand would eventually travel over and inhabit the mud with time. <yes... those that can, will in time> Should I mix it up with the older sand? <not needed here> Thanks so much for your time and wisdom !! Bess <you are doing fine my friend. Continued success to you. Anthony>

Red Collar Snails Hey Crew, <Howdy (My man!) Curtis> Went out today looking for some new snails to help combat some recent algae growth in my tank.  My LFS was all sold out of my usual (turbo and Astreas), but had a few Red Collar Snails (also found them named Red Foot Moon Snails... or Norrisia).  I've seen them there and at a few other places fairly often, and the employee told me they were pretty good at combating slimy algae, not to mention they look pretty cool to boot, so I picked up 3 of them to throw in the mix (55gal/60 lbs LR/ 15-20 Astreas/ 10 Turbos/ 20 Red Leg Hermits/ 20 Blue Leg Hermits/ 5 or so unidentified random snail stragglers). <Mmm...> Now that I'm home and admiring them, I've been trying to find some info on them.  Really have found very little so far... Seems they like cooler temperatures (below 74 degrees) which is not so good with my tank (78-80).  Not much discussion about them on the boards either... I found a few posts recommending against them, but not much else.  Do you all know what their deal is?  I'm guessing the beef on them is because they like the cooler temps, but I'm not quite sure, yet.  As I see them often, I've got to assume that people buy them... If you have any insight with regards to people having success with these... or lack there of, I'd love to hear.   <Thanks for bringing this up (the use of cool/coldwater organisms in tropical settings)... Ahem, Norrisia norrisii... is actually in the same family as many of the snails used for the purpose you state (Trochidae)... but is abidingly a cold to cool water (usually found in no more than 60 F.... NOT a tropical animal. I would not sell, would not use such in warm water. Bob Fenner> Regards, Curtis!

Large "Nassarius" Hi guys and gals! <Howdy> Des here. This is not really a question, but a comment. There was a discussion today, no make that yesterday on large Nassarius. <Or some other gastropod sold by that genus name> I got what was described as "giant Nassarius" from a reputable online source.   They are humungous as Nassarius go maybe an 1 1/2. Well I have had nothing but problems with them! They are fun and interesting to watch, but they ended up killing off all my Turbos. They are just end up up-ended and scooped out like so much escargot. With a bicolor blenny and Royal Gramma, cleaner shrimp, and some sessile inverts I can't really see any other likely culprits. I have seen cleaners do this on occasion but nothing quite so systematic. I have also done well with Turbos before having them. The LFS guy where I live said that these may not be Nassarius but some sort of whelk, but definitely look quite similar to the little guys (haven't seen them lately either come to think of it). The guy says they eat snails. I, personally, would never recommend them to anyone who wants other snails. --des <Thanks for the input. Bob Fenner>

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>

Conch Craving  Dear Mr. Fenner, I love your website.  <Actually- Scott F. here tonight, but will pass on the kudos to Bob! Glad you enjoy the site!>  I recently checked out your article on conch snails and I thought you had some cool pictures. I currently own a milk conch, it is about 3 inches long. How big do they get and what is the best food and best way to feed them?  <Unfortunately, I am not familiar with this common name, so I cannot provide you with a specific answer here. In general, most Strombus species can range in size from 2 to 12 inches, so a positive species ID would help. As far as feeding is concerned- if the species in question is a Strombus variety, then they mainly subsist on algae, detritus, and just about anything that they can find-great scavengers.>  Also where can I purchase a large queen conch? I would like it to be about six inches when I buy it. Do you know anybody who sells queen conches that large? I am really interested in obtaining a large queen. Please respond soon. Thank you for your help.  <Well, there are a number of good sources out there on the 'net that can provide you with aquacultured specimens. I suggest starting with two of our sponsors, Marine Center and Live Aquaria, both of which offer specimens from time to time, or may be able to get them for you. These guys can reach about one foot in length, so a large tank is mandatory! They may or may not be able to get you a six-incher...you'll just have to do a little searching here.>  P.S. I really like your site.  <Really glad to hear that! Thanks so much for stopping by! Regards, Scott F> 

Snail Tale... Hi Folks, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I have a 350l reef containing 50kg of live rock and approximately 1 inch of coral sand. I know ideally I should have little or no substrate at all with live rock, but I do like the aesthetics of sand. <Actually, there is nothing wrong with a deep sand bed and live rock, as long as there is sufficient open space...I always like to recommend 1/2 inch or less, or three inches or more of sand. One inch is too shallow to be foster full denitrification processes, but too deep to be fully aerobic...better to increase/decrease for long term success. However, with sufficient burrowing snails, you may be able to get away with this...> I was considering introducing Nassarius snails into the reef to (a) consume debris and (b) turn over the sand. My local supplier recommends 50 of these snails for my tank. My first question is do you agree with the stocking level he has recommended? <It's a lot for my personal tastes, but certainly not too much. These snails do a great job as detritivores> Secondly, I "Hoover" the substrate during my weekly water changes to remove debris, will the suction action harm the snails? <Well, not "harm" them physically, but it will remove much of the food that they consume-mainly detritus. If you're going to utilize a substantial population of these snails, I'd avoid heavy cleaning of the sand bed> Thank you very much for your help. Andrew Senior <My pleasure, Andrew! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Nerites snails 9/1/03 Anthony...and all this time I have been feeding him bresaola and proscuitto!  I knew I was doing something wrong.   <heehee!> I am currently runny an AquaC Remora...and emptying it every day. <excellent.. although that still doesn't explain where the nutrient problem is. Perhaps poor water flow or distribution. Look for dead spots in the tank or flow under 10-20X which lead to accumulated matter which dissolves and feeds the algae that grows the snails> The snails don't really bother me that much... but there are a bunch of them.   <limit their food source and you will limit their numbers> Would they have been a hitchhiker on the LR? Steve <oftentimes intertidal species and brought in with collected plants, algae, live sand, corals, live rock... even as larvae with water or on the shells/surface of other collected matter (like jellyfish medusae on Astraea snail shells). Anthony>

- Nassarius Snails - Bad? - Hey crew! <Hi, JasonC here...> Sorry I forgot to ask you in the last email if Nassarius snails are a bad thing for a DSB (mine is 5'' sugar sized Aragamax) since they like to bury themselves in the substrate? <Not at all, in fact - quite recommended.> Or do they stay mostly at the very top of the sand? <Who knows where they go once they vanish - I think all over the place, high and low. No worries though - a work-horse of a substrate cleaner. I love 'em.> thank you again!! <Cheers, J -- >

- Skimmer question (plus a few others while I have your attention) - Hi. <Hello, JasonC here...> My protein skimmer (an Aqua-C remora w/ a Rio 800 and a surface skimmer) is not collecting large amounts of gunk -- I'm very lucky to see much of a volume even after a week. <And that worries you why?> The skimmer is on a 29 gallon tank that is lightly stocked and lightly fed (I have a false percula, a lettuce Nudibranch, a small bubble tip anemone, 2 hermit crabs, 3 red collared snails, 3 peppermint shrimp and a number of feather dusters).  I feed small amounts of frozen krill and mysids probably once a week, but have a good amount of copepods/amphipods/algae that seem to satisfy the clown and the other inhabitants. <My friend, this tank is neither large enough, or stocked enough to be pulling out "large" amounts of gunk - I wouldn't worry about it much, skimming out anything is better than nothing, and you've chosen a good skimmer to do it with - no worries.> In addition to the feeding, I have 110 watts of PC over the tank.  The tank has been up for about 2 months now (an upgrade from an older, existing tank) w/ 40 lbs of live rock, 2 and 1/2 inches of live sand and 12 hours of light a day.   I keep getting a lot of algae growth.  I know this is normal in new setups, but it waxes and wanes.  The algae growth indicates to me that there is a buildup of nutrients in the water.  I have tested the water and don't read any nitrates, ammonia or nitrite (i understand that the algae may be using the nitrate as it develops), but think that something must be out of whack. <Did you test for phosphates? Did you consider that nitrate [a nitrogen-laden compound is also a "nutrient" that would be used by algae, perhaps the reason why your tests read zero.> pH remains pretty constant at 8.3 and salinity at 1.023-1.025  Would increasing the size of the pump on the skimmer increase foam production and waste collection? <Only marginally - again, you don't have a very large system or bioload here.> Also, would increasing the depth of the sand bed to 4-6 inches help to cut back on what might be feeding the algae? <Nope.> Finally, one of my collared snails, the largest, has been acting very strangely.  He began extending off of the live rock and today I found that he had fallen off of a rock and quit moving.  I took him off the substrate and placed him on a rock and he hasn't moved since.  I did lift him up to see if he was still alive and he responded with some movement.  What would cause this sudden behavior change and do you think it would be best to remove this snail from the system before he dies and releases toxins into the water as he decomposes? <Charles Darwin in action - natural selection. Most of the snails available for fish tanks really aren't great reef inhabitants, mostly because they tend to fall over, fail to right themselves and die. As for polluting the tank, perhaps you might want to do an experiment and see if your skimmer pulls any more gunk if/when the thing does croak. I much prefer Nassarius snails as they actually keep the sand bed clean, which in turn will likely reduce that source of "nutrients" you are looking for. Algae eating snails rarely keep up with demand.> As always, thanks in advance. Chris F. <Cheers, J -- >

- Cold Water Snails - <Good morning, JasonC here...> Rob Toonen was in town (Mich - MASM) and mentioned how surprised he was at all of the temperate water species he saw at his stop in Penn. Mostly snails.  I too have see a lot of non tropical animals including Astrea snails (not so steeply sloped shells, brownish/ orange, and usually big - he thought they were from northern west coast), dark colored Nassarius snails (N. Ilyanassa obsoleta?), Moon snails, Catalina Gobies, etc. The articles on dyed corals have been great and I was wondering if you planned (or had) a similar article about temp. water species that are being sold? <As far as I recall, these variances are noted in/among the articles where they occur - snails, sharks, gobies, etc.> I noticed that Drs F & S warns people about the Moon snails they sell, but that is rare (p.s. they haven't bought you guys yet - have they??? ;-). Many people buy stuff like this and it ends up being one more nail in the coffin for their eventual exit from the hobby because they think its a problem with their ability to provide proper care, when in fact they just never had a chance in our 79 + - deg temps. VERY, VERY short sighted on the LFS and E-stores part. <Need to speak up at the stores where you spot such organisms.> WI am thinking about a couple of purchases and was wondering if you had any experiences with the following: I have noticed a "olive" snail (from FL) for sale at a LFS. I have attached a photo. They tend to stay under the sand. Do you have any experience with these? <Not directly.> Gulfview also sells them. I have also seen a snail called a Common Marginellas offered by Florida pets (see photo). Do you have any experience with these? <No.> I am also starting to see references to a "right handed" HC out of FL (Not in Mich yet, but Florida pets carries this, plus a few other e-stores). Any experience with it? <Have seen but not kept.> As far as the N. Ilyanassa obsoleta is concerned, I have noticed a number of people on e-bay selling them and I contacted some of the buyers and they are all very happy with them, some have had them for a year or so and one guy said they were breeding in his tank. The various people selling are from the Carolinas. It would seem that this is a bit too far north for a true tropical species. Have you had any experience with this snail? <No.> And a different question - some web sites have the ability to get you right to the subject of your search. With your search engine, you get to the page but have to then read thru many questions to get to the one referenced in your search which sometimes turns out to have only mentioned your subject in passing. Am I doing something wrong? <No, this is the limit of the free service provided by Google.> Thank you for your time, Tim <Cheers, J -- >

Olive Nerites Snails sold to go in garden ponds [Neritina reclivata] Hi, I recently purchased three olive Nerites snails online as the seller said that they are good in freshwater aquariums and are also good for "cleaning" the algae in ponds.  I have an outdoor pond but bring my fish in for the winter.  I treat my fishes holding tank just like a pond, same water, same filter, etc.  I bought these snails strictly for the tank.  So, when these snails were delivered, they gave me five instead of three.  After being placed in the tank, they opened up almost right away and scattered.  Now, it has been about 24 hours and they are not moving much at all.   <they may have been recently collected/imported from an estuary... little or poor acclimation to freshwater perhaps> So as I search on the Internet, the only info that I have really found is that they are brackish water snails.   <true> My question is, are they ok for this type of set up that I have, or am I doing them harm? Thanks so much Ashlee <some aquarists claim to have success with these snails in FW... but they are truly brackish. Take one specimen out and remove it to another vessel, bucket or aquarium and salt the water very slightly and slowly over some days to see if you get a positive response. This Nereid snail does naturally invade freshwaters in Florida. Still... it would not be my first choice for algae control in the FW pond or aquarium with so many other proper FW species available. Best regards, Anthony>

Fighting conch vs. DSB - Strombus alatus 6/22/03 Hey Gang! shouting "howdy" from Denver! <right back atcha Tex!> Anthony, the LFS sold me a fighting conch after I asked for something to keep a sand bed stirred up. The little conch disappeared under the sand. Did the LFS sell me a good DSB critter or? <perhaps... this Strombus species grows medium large (4-5"... or 10+ cm) and is rather clumsy in the reef. Like all Strombids, they do not fare well in tanks with a lot of rock and need enormous amounts of deep live sand to survive long term (say 100 gall mostly sand 6"+ for lifetime). They eat both algae and meaty fare... rarely if even bother cnidarians and are fairly good at aerating sand> They said it would get about the size of my fist, but would take quite a while for it to get there. <agreed> Also, I got a great deal ($45) on another 70 gallon tank with a double iron stand, while I've been thinking 'bout a lion fish to put in there, I've also been wondering if it would be overkill to put the 70 gallon reef display over the 70 gallon, if I turned it into fuge/sump. <actually sounds cool for stability if the fish 70 is not overfed... and lions are large but infrequent feeders. Could work nicely> Having a great day & hope you are as well! Stormbringer <to you in kind my friend. Anthony>

Olive snail 6/28/03 I recently bought an olive snail from my LFS.  This is the common Lettered Olive Shell.  I was told that it was a scavenger and was good for stirring sand.   <sort of... but a carnivorous scavenger perhaps as so many cowries are. We really need a species ID to be sure> What little I have seen on the web about this snail describes it as a predator.   <agreed/likely> Is this critter a threat to my snails, clams or other fauna? http://www.jaxshells.org/oliva.htm http://www.angelfire.com/sc3/southcarolina0/lettered_olive.htm <a calculated risk that I would not take. Best remitted to fish only aquaria. Anthony>

- Snails: No Good for Algae Control? - Dear Bob: <Kevin here> Hello Bob, my name is Keith, I have read your book and many others on saltwater. My problem is there is all this talk about more biology and less technology, but I haven't seen the biology part. <ok...> I have been fighting algae for 2 years and was about ready to give up. I acquired all the technology, but the algae fight was ongoing. then by word of mouth of another aquarist, I bought a Kole Tang 2 days  ago, and diatoms are being biologically ate out of my tank with the help on the algae side by a yellow tang. All this talk of snails, RO/DI which I am using, protein skimming, which is in use, are mostly Technical not biological. <Well, that's arguable; protein skimming is very much a natural process, snails are definitely a biological means of algae control, and we're only supposed to be adding purified water to our tanks anyway.> All Snails do is fall on their  backs and die. <Sounds like an acclimation issue, the fault of hermit crabs, or the unfortunate shell shape of the Caribbean Astrea snails. Snails are very efficient little micro algae controllers.> And all the people selling them in pet stores as a cure for algae and diatoms should be shot. <Well, that wouldn't leave many people in the marine aquarium industry, now, would it? Snails should not be looked at as a "cure" to an algae problem, but as a part of the solution. Algae problems are solved by limiting the incoming nutrients, using the proper lighting, and applying appropriate herbivores. There is no rocket science to algae control. Check out all WetWeb has to offer about algae control and the gazillions of FAQ's on the same subject.  Good luck! -Kevin> Sincerely Keith

Red Moon Snails What do you know about these guys? <Nothing. I have heard of/seen red foot snails.> What do they eat? <Don't know> Will they die in a marine fish tank? <The red foots are supposed to be temperate and are likely to die off over time.> I have one that I bought from a local fish store? Seems to be eating the green algae. Thanks <I would search around looking to ID this creature by scientific name. -Steven Pro>

Cleaning Crew Hello WWM crew. <Scott F. on the WWM "cleanup crew" tonight> I'm currently looking into getting a cleaning crew for my 180 gallon aquarium that consists of 200 lbs of live rock and 300 lbs of sugar size aragonite and wanted to see what you recommended in terms of crabs and snails, I've been hearing some negative things regarding the blue legged hermit crabs and Astrea snails. Thanks, Jose <Well, there are many possibilities here. I have, and still do, use the supposedly "reef safe" crabs without incident. However, keep in mind that even the "safe" species are, to a certain extent, predatory. They can and do occasionally nibble on your desirable corals, and sometimes, your snails! A lot of times, the "bad guy" types of crabs sneak into your tank by using the same shells as the "good guys" inhabit. This may be why a lot of people give a "bad rap" to the supposedly "reef safe" hermits (and another reason to quarantine/inspect all new arrivals!)! I have had great luck with Trochus, Strombus, Turbo, and Nerite snails myself, and would definitely recommend them as part of your "crew". Also, brittle stars (almost all of them) make great scavengers and detritivores, and you can stock them at the rate of about 1 for every 20 gallons. Just use common sense when selecting your cleanup "crew", and you should be okay. Many retailers offer "packages" of these animals, so you should have no trouble locating them. Have fun and good luck!>

Attacking Algae With Snails! Greetings and Salutations: <Good afternoon- Scott F. here for you!> I have a 55gal FOWLR (with an eye towards inverts), and a covering of green algae on the glass and substrate.  I'd like 1-2 snails and 1-2 crabs (that stay small) to help out a little.  Which species would you suggest specifically?  I do not want too many or too big of anything, and I expect that they won't solve the problem entirely, just that they pitch in "for the cause". Thanks. <I like to use Strombus, Trochus, and sometimes, Nerita snails. They all do a pretty good job on different types of algae, and many will reproduce readily, so you can share 'em with your friends! Hope this helps.  Scott>

Can I have a Tank Full of Snails? have I made you mad ? <<mad? not in the slightest... what gave you this impression?>> it says on the computer that in a 55 gallon aquarium you should have about 2 hermit crabs per gallon and I have a 55 so that would be a little over 100 I am stupid when it comes to math in my head lol, and they say about 1 snail per gallon , of course if that was the only thing I had I would have to feed them , some of my crabs kill each other :( <<they do this... not a big fan of ratios like 2 crabs per gallon, doesn't always work out, like you say 110 crabs in a 55 is a lot of crabs, and they would end up eating each other, and you've already been down that road. Cheers, J -- >>

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

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>

Question about the supply of limpets. Bob: It seems that I have purchased some Man made Florida rock here and there and received some very unusual creatures called Limpets. I i.d.'d the critter from "The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium" Volume 1. Svein A. Fossa & Alf Jacob Nilsen. An example of the scientific name and picture on Page 188 is Scutus Unguis. And yes the animals look very close to a Nudibranch, except they carry a cone-like shell that looks like a volcano. Some species cover the shell with what looks like a mantle. These critters seem to mow down more hair and slime algae than 5 or 7 turbo snails together. Q: Where may one find a supply of these? None seem to be listed on the FFE web pages? I still have one that looks more like a moving volcano that does not wrap it's mantle, and the other was flame orange that did wrap it's mantle. And it looked just a Nudibranch of sorts. Very pretty!! But the seem not to like medications. This animal seems to be very low maintenance and very tolerant of water quality, versus what most Nudibranchs require to stay alive. Am I looking for this animal in the right place? CH >> Well, I looked around for limpets as well and couldn't find anyone listing them for sale... But do want to say a few things about them. I agree totally with your observations... and assessment... these Archaeogastropods are great and innocuous cleaner uppers. Having worked with local (S. Calif.) limpets with different projects, I suspect that they're not specifically offered for two reasons: They're hard to extract from hard substrates w/o damaging them... and Folks just don't know about their usefulness as yet... Unlike Nudibranchs, many limpets have wide, generalized diets (micro and macrophagous herbivores)... and also unlike the "naked gill gastropods", they don't have a tendency toward toxicity... Instead of being poisonous, limpets have a shielding "home" on their backs... and lastly, as you observe, many live in "marginal" and variable environments in the wild... and are therefore reasonably tolerant of the same in captive situations. Thanks for writing. Bob Fenner

Limpets A year ago I noticed two limpets in my aquarium. It is a 90 gallon (6'x1'x2'). My guess is they came in on the live rock I added 7 months before. The curious thing is this. It took 7 months to see the first 2, and I now have roughly 100 more. They are black with a white stripe on their back and are actually not unattractive despite their numbers. They do a good job keeping the glass, and everything else, clean. They range in size from 1/4 inch to 1 1/2 inch and are found everywhere from the skimmer collection cup (always a few small ones on the cup of a CPR Back-pak), to the live rock, to the glass. I have about 80 pounds of Fiji live rock, a 1 inch aragonite sand bed, the CPR, and a couple Hagen 802's for circulation. I also have Naso, yellow, and regal tangs (1 of each--all about 3.5 inches), a coral banded shrimp, a false percula clown, and about a dozen snails and small hermits. There are no corals or anemones. Ammonia and nitrites are 0. Nitrates are close to 50. S.G. is 1.024. Temp. is 76 and pH is 8.0. I add no chemicals and have 0 algae other than coralline which covers most everything and has to be scraped from my glass at least every two weeks. I have two questions. First, is this an extremely unusual occurrence? In order to identify these things I had to post pictures to a newsgroup since the few inexpensive books I have don't even mention them. Second, I'll be adding a dwarf lionfish and snowflake moray to the system tomorrow. Will either/both decide to make a feast out of the limpets? If they do, it would probably be good for them, since, in their numbers, I think the limpets would be able to sustain enough of a population to meet their dietary requirements. By the way, when I first set up this system roughly two years ago, I dosed Kalkwasser for about 2 months to try and get the coralline to grow, and it didn't. Ever since, I have added no chemicals (other than synthetic salt and frozen food for the fish) to the aquarium, and the coralline is almost out of control. It's a great problem to have. By the way, I have 6 24" fluorescent bulbs. Four were bought at home depot (cheap bulbs), while the other 2 are actinic. I also have a large population of feather dusters growing out of the rock and some have even built tubes of up to 2 inches and are living in the sand bed. Is this extraordinary luck, or did I accidentally hit on the aquarium conditions that the worms, coralline, and limpets thrive in (i.e., low light and not-so-low nitrate)? If my experience is unusual, I'll probably try to replicate the environment (minus the fish) in a 29 gallon, devote some study to all three, and write a paper detailing the conditions for anyone that might want to duplicate them (though their suitability would be limited to a fish only situation). Any guidance would be appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time. Sincerely, Richard Weatherly >> Wow, what an outstanding query, relating of experience and uplifting story... Congrats to you. And I think you may be on the verge of a great commercial success. I have only seen a few cases where the snails called limpets were so abundant as yours... and they are a blessing... And your lion and eel will not consume them (different diets all the way around), but I would do as you say, and save some of these "Chinese Hats" in another system... if for no other reason, for just safekeeping. And do "share the wealth" and supply some to fellow hobbyists... Your relating of the non-supplement use and results is exemplary by the several meanings of the term... Thank you for writing... please do consider tallying up your observations and sending them to one of the hobby magazines... Very useful. Bob Fenner

" Horse Conch" ?? Hi  I was recently in Florida and picked up a shell that contains what people have told me is a horse conch. I'd like to know if that is indeed what I have. I will try to describe it to the best of my ability. The shell is a dark brown, spiral about 4 1/2 inches in length. The conch inside of the shell is an orange color. I found it on the shore in a sandy area with seagrass the had washed up. I understand that these creatures could grow quite large, perhaps 2 ft.? I've also been told that they are algae eaters. Other than the fact that it lives in salt water I know nothing  else. Anything you could tell me would be appreciated. Thanks much >> Might well be a Florida Horse Conch, Pleuropoca gigantea... These are decidedly more spiral and long (conical) than the "other" tropical west Atlantic Conch species (genus Strombus)... Common in Bahamas and Florida... live in seagrass beds as young, deeper water for adults (DeLoach & Humann). Principally algivores, will take commercial prepared foods like tablets that are algae-based, as well as bits of fish and mussel. (Baensch Mar. Atlas 2). Bob Fenner, who knows that people sometimes keep cultured Queen Conchs (S. gigas) for algae control... as young, and in large systems... but has no experience with Horse Conchs.

An Abundance of Snails Bob: I have recently experienced a population explosion of small (1/16th to 1/8th inch in length), off-white colored snails, that only come out at night. I have not added any live rock to the aquarium in a year but I have been increasing the calcium levels in the tank recently. I have never seen these snails before but I believe that I have changed the tank environment such that these snails have been able to exploit it. During the day, I cannot see even one of these snails but at night the walls of the tank are crawling with them. They appear to be coming out of the sand bed, which was not a live sand bed, until they showed up. I have at least a hundred of these little algae eating dynamos in my tank. They seem to relish the green film of algae that grows on the walls of the tank. Do you have any idea of what type of snail this is or where to look for information? Appreciate any thoughts! Martin >> Well stated... and you're probably fortunate to have these cleaner uppers... The species... or even the family is hard to establish from the description... There are over 35,000 species of gastropod (snail) mollusks described... To begin a search for identification... the Net under the words "snail", "gastropod" and further modifier "taxonomy", "identification"... would be my starting point. There are Field Identification books that are part of the hobby press... but I don't think they will avail you much ( have just looked through a few )... I would encourage you to move some of the substrate and these snails to another system... as it is certain that some unseen/perhaps unseeable event will bring about their total demise where they are presently/solely... If you are interested in eradicating them, A Lined Wrasse species will be an easy choice. Bob Fenner

Snails Here's a new one for you. Last night around 11:30pm I was watching a show on Discovery about the ten most venomous sea creatures. Low and behold number ten was a snail (I don't remember the name). This snail had a long snout and poisoned its victims with a sort of barb then sucked them from their shell. Now for the real kicker - this morning I found something similar in my tank. It has black shell with a white striping pattern and a long snout. The fleshy part of the snail also has this black and white pattern. My question is: could the snail I have be a snail/crab/fish eater too? Possibly the same family? Should I remove it before it immediately? >> Hmm, small doubt you're referring to some of the Cone Snails (e.g. Conus geographicus, family Conidae)... have a few books, and shells of the family in my collection... but of the more than 300 species described, none as you detail (maybe the Hebrew Cone?, Conus abraeus). Anyhow, I doubt if this is a toxic species, and if it were in my tank, I'd leave it there.... More likely, if you are losing animals mysteriously, that a crab, serpent star, mantis shrimp, bristle worm species... involved. Bob Fenner

Nerites Hey Bob, I figured that you'd be the person to ask about contacts for getting a collection of a variety of marine Nerites. We're doing a project to look at the taxonomy of the marine Nerites and trying to get as many of the species as possible. We're having trouble locating people who can supply us with a few animals from different areas around the world. Do you have any suggestions for who to contact in regards to buying about a half dozen to 10 (preferably live, but EtOH preserved would be OK) snails of every damn species of Nerites in the world ;) Thanks a million! Rob >> <Hmm, think I do have just the person to contact (next)... Marty Beals of Tideline (Los Angeles), he and his partner Dennis Mok mainly deal in skeletons... but do have the most, best contacts for opisthobranchs, live or no. 310-641-9106, fax 649-1131 And you're welcome to say I referred you; these are old friends... Hey, not that old! Bob Fenner

Snails Hello again. A few months ago I purchased a 100lbs of aquacultured Florida rock. This has turned out to be a major haul of neat critters. I even found a 1 inch pink Chiton!!! I had always wanted to see one but thought I never would. Anyway the rock also came with 20 - 30 snails that were about a half inch or less. The snails looked like Nassarius snails with a long proboscis. They also only seem to eat dead stuff. I added a small clam for fish food and they swarmed it. Anyway now a couple of them are an inch long and the fold of their shell is starting to grow flatter and curve around their proboscis. I have looked in the Marine Atlas vol 2. and these snails while small look like the Nassarius snails. The big ones shells look like the Atlantic tritons shell. Do any tritons have this long proboscis?  <Yes> The size limit Marine Atlas says for Nassarius snails is 3 cm. If these guys get much bigger <They do get a bit bigger> I guess they aren't Nassarius species. Do you know of any Florida Nassarius species that get bigger than an inch? <Rats! Like these mystery hunts, but am out the door to Australia... No time to look up. Do know there are snails of this sort that get a good inch and a half in overall dimension> Well thanks for your help, Everett. <Be chatting soon, Bob Fenner>

Accidental mollusk  Hi Bob,  Thanks for the answers to my previous questions.  Today during my weekly maintenance I noticed somebody new and was wondering if he's bad news. It is some sort of brown slug, 23 mm long, with a 12 mm shell on his head. It is the kind of shell I've seen thousands of times on Southern California beaches but always thought it was one half of a little clam. It is a shallow (almost flat) triangular shape  shell. He was chewing around the base of some Halimeda and squirting out clouds of white from his mouth area several times for no apparent reason.  I have him sequestered in my quarantine tank until I hear from you. Should he stay or should he go? I am planning to add one or two "beginner" soft corals in the near future if that matters.  Thanks,  Brian Battles <I say "stay"... almost feel like a latter day Caesar with my thumb up! This is likely some sort of Limpet (as in the Incredible Mr.), and I know what you mean re the many Acmaea along the coast (I live in San Diego)... these are very beneficial creatures to have in a reef tank... are microphagous herbivores that greatly aid in filamentous/pest algae control. Count yourself lucky and enjoy it/hopefully "them". Bob Fenner, By Bob Fenner, www.wetwebmedia.com>

Strombids, Culture, Contacts Bob, just curious, could you forward any contacts involved in/knowledgeable about the aquaculture of Queen Conch (Strombus gigas) from reproduction through larval metamorphosis to adult. Thanks, Chris <Nothing current in my files at home, but someone from the Philippines wrote me recently re Strombid use and his email addr. is attached to the corr. on the WWM site... current FAQs or posted to marine gastropods... and Frank Hoff should be contacted for the best folks to find NOW in the field.... You can find his firm's contact information in a recent issue of FAMA... and maybe ORA/Harbor Marine, Bill Addison/Dave Palmer... If it were me... I'd get on down to the college library, do a quick computer search and send out a few emails asking this same question to folks who've recently written (ha, recently) in the field. Bob Fenner>

Strombus species? Hello Mr. Fenner, I have read most of your articles and am a great fan of yours. I have a question regarding these algae eating snails which is abundant in our country (Philippines) as food! <Yes, have eaten them there> I have obtained a book about Philippine shells and the family Strombidae is said to be a herbivorous group.  <Principally, yes> I have seen on the market...Lambis truncata sebae, Lambis wheelwrighti, scorpius, millepeda and so on. also Strombus lengtiginosus, aurisdianae, aratrum and so on. my sand is turning brown, my question is, will they be fine for cleaning algae in my sandbed?  <As young, yes...> wont they eat the worms too? <Some, not too many> will they produce lots of slime on the tank? <Not a concern in adequately circulated, filtered systems> am going to purchase these from the wet market, will they be able to survive long hours without water? <In dark containers with material to keep them moist, yes, for a few to several hours. Better shipped this way than underwater in sealed containers> pls send email to:  thanks, Jonathan <Strombids are occasionally used as marine scavengers in a few markets internationally. Mainly as small(2-5 cm.) individuals. Most species can get too big for small marine aquarium use. Bob Fenner>
Re: Strombus species?
Hello again Bob, from your previous reply, you said these are used only when small. I have about 3 inches from head to foot Lambis species, is this not good for my sandbed? what other options do I have or what other inverts will stir sand and not sift? thanks, hope to hear from you soon. <Useful size is a "relative term"... as to the size, layout of your systems... larger Strombids can knock over rocks, corals... all are good for their "scavenging" sand sifting action. Many other animals (fish, non-fish are good sand stirrers/sifters as well) see the review on www.wetwebmedia.com. For larger systems the smaller species of Mullids are my favorite choices (Goatfishes). Bob Fenner>

Queen Conch Bob, Thanks very much for your previous help. It was so good that I'm going to ask for more. In your text on tank maintenance you seem to strongly advocate the Queen Conch. Below is your quote. "Tank cultured queen conchs, Strombus gigas are available for use in marine aquariums; suitably sized individuals scrounge around and through the substrate (and sides to a lesser extent), removing epiphytic green algae and diatom scums. Unlike their freshwater brethren, conchs will not "reproduce like rabbits" in your tank; but can reach a prodigious size of ten inches in the wild." My question is where? Where can I buy a Strombus Gigas. I have searched the web diligently and found one site that carries these animals. It sounds ok but there's a problem. The Conch is $6.00. Then there is the box charge and heat pad charge and probably a packing charge for all I know. But the thing that's a deal breaker is a minimum $48 shipping charge. No way at all! <Mail order?... I would contact the folks listed on the website: www.WetWebMedia.com on the Links Pages there... they have email... and ask what price they would charge... they're available but must be bought in "box lots" to make sense economically...> Can you point me to some other sources? <Frank Hoff, C-Quest, ORA... but don't think they sell to the "end-user" at all... once again, a matter of volume/cost/expedients... If you have a large volume retailer nearby, they might be able to combine an order with other livestock from one of these sources/breeders... Clownfishes, Gobiosoma, Pseudochromids...> Thanks... Jim Griffin <Bob Fenner>

Snails Hey Bob, Lately I have noticed several little snails in my tank, about 30 to 50, maybe more that I haven't seen yet. Are they safe? Should I get rid of them? <Time for you to get a couple of good reference works my friend, and read through them. Who can tell from your description what these snails are? Or if they're deleterious? I would leave them be... Bob Fenner> Thanks Jason P.S. The Rena canister filter is working great in the tank, I also added a Rio 600 powerhead with dual wave arms.
Re: snails
Bob, Hey I know I need some good books, what do you recommend? Title/Author? Thanks Jason <Please read through the reviews posted on our site (WWM). Bob Fenner>

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