FAQs about Non-Vertebrate Animal Identification
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Help with identifying unknown snail?? Invert., SW...
<Hello Blaire, Lynn here today.>
I've had my aquarium for about 6 months now. About 2 months ago I
bought some live rock from someone who was parting out their tank.
Needless to say I brought in all sorts of new life forms.
There were a bunch of tiny pretty snails, pods, bristleworms, even some
neat looking mini anemones I couldn't identify that my Klein's
has since ate. (They weren't Aiptasia). There's one thing I
can't seem to identify though. It's about 3/4", slightly
more oblong than round, and very dark blue in color. If the light
isn't directly on it, it looks black. It does not have an actual
hard shell, and I can only say "snail" because it has a
snail's head with antennas. The "shell" is soft and
flexible (like the body of a ray), and it is very slow moving. I
can't really get a pic of it as I only see it a couple times a week
and it's always between rocks, never out in the open. Any help you
can give me would be greatly appreciated!
<Hmmm, there are many possibilities. An animal with antennae but no
visible shell could be some sort of sea slug, Nudibranch, Polyclad
flatworm, or even a Scutus unguis (aka the 'Ducksbill Limpet').
Soft and ray-like sounds more like a flatworm or some sort of slug or
Nudibranch, rather than a Scutus spp. but it's worth looking into.
Scutus unguis actually has a white shell, but it's usually covered
by the animal's deep black mantle. It's possible that under
certain lighting, the flexible black mantle could appear bluish.
I'm sorry I can't be more helpful but there are just too many
possibilities. Here are some links that will hopefully help narrow
things down a bit.
Sea Slugs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seaslugsopisthobranchs.htm
Polyclad Flatworms (see Pseudoceros sapphrinus):
Scutus Unguis: http://www.seaslugforum.net/showall/scutus
Please let me know if you need any additional help. I know a picture
sounds impossible, but if you get lucky, send it along!>
Thank you, Blaire
<You're very welcome. Take care, LynnZ>
Re: Help with identifying unknown snail?? Scutus Unguis -
Thank you so much for your help!
I looked it up and it's a Duckbill Limpet.
<Neat little creatures.>
All the little life forms that pop up are such treasures and I make it
point to find out what they are and what their needs are. Maybe you
could answer one more question for me? I have a Harlequin shrimp (what
a beauty!) and would like to know if there is anything I could add to
my tank that would dispose of the leftovers of the starfish he eats?
I've asked my LFS guys and they say my clean up crew should take
care of it but they don't. These little white pieces are adding up
quick and I can't get to them to siphon them out. Any
<If you don't already have hermits, I'd recommend getting
some Nassarius snails. They're terrific little scavengers that stay
hidden within the substrate then erupt en mass when they smell food.
They also have the added advantage of stirring the sand up a bit as
they move around. You could try either Nassarius vibex, a small species
(usually less than 1/2") or the larger (up to ~1') Nassarius
distortus, frequently called 'Super Tongan' Nassarius snails.
Both are commonly available on the 'net and elsewhere. Avoid any
snail sold as Nassarius obsoleta. It's actually Ilyanassa obsoleta,
a smallish brown snail that comes from cooler waters and lives
accelerated/shortened lives in the higher temperatures of our reef
systems. Another possibility, if you already have hermits (and you like
them), is to add a few more. I'm not a big fan because of their
tendency to pick at beneficial sessile livestock/fauna, rob corals of
food and occasionally kill snails but it's up to you. It just
depends on what you want to keep. Please see the following links for
photos of the various Nassarius species, as well as the Ilyanassa
obsoleta snail that you'll want to avoid!
Nassarius vibex: http://www.gastropods.com/0/Shell_1930.shtml
Nassarius distortus: http://www.gastropods.com/9/Shell_3309.shtml
Ilyanassa obsoleta: http://www.gastropods.com/5/Shell_3305.shtml
Thanks again, Blaire
<It was a pleasure. Take care, LynnZ>
Please Help With ID/Hitchhikers 1/23/10
Dear WWM Crew,
First thanks for all the great info contained on the site.
I've been using it for years and it wasn't until now that
I had to actually mail in with a question!! Thanks again!
<You're welcome and glad you enjoy/learn from it.>
So, now to the ID. I have attached a pic. These little orange
guys have infested my tank. It is a new set-up and I have
recently added livestock and cleaning crew. Following the cycle
was an enormous hair algae bloom.
Now the algae has mostly died off and given way to these guys in
the picture. They love the live rock and are occasionally found
on the glass.
There aren't any on the substrate. Would you kindly point me
in the right direction with this one?
<Well Joe, being the photo isn't resolved/clear enough to
determine exactly, I'm going to guess these are tunicates
(Sea Squirts), quite harmless filter feeders, and generally not
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
| Mmm, maybe flatworms?
Reading Salty Dog's "Please Help With ID/Hitchhikers
I think they are orange flatworms rather than tunicates.
<Heee! Do agree with you Mr. Bulgin... see here:
Orange creature 1/18/10
I found this little orange creature stuck on an Ulva leaf. Any
idea what it might be? I have tried searching, but to no
Thank you so much for your help.
<Ahh! A beautiful image of a gorgeous colony of Ascidians.
Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ascidians.htm
Testimony to your good/careful husbandry... Bob Fenner>
What are these? 12/20/09
|Re: orange creature
awesome!! thanks! my aquarium never ceases to amaze me. Best
ever! life is beautiful....
Greetings to Bob and everyone at WWM!
I've written so much recently that I feel like you are an old
friend. I hope you don't mind the familiar tone in my writing.
<Not at all. You are a stranger here but once>
Here are two "What am I?" questions that I hope you find
1. I was looking into my fallow tank one night and saw this long black
tubular thing that was about half an inch peeking out from one of my
live rocks, slowly, I saw what seems like the soft body of a solid
black Nudibranch about a little more than an inch total length, then I
realized that it is not a Nudi, but something else as it does not have
the "lungs" that sticks up on its back. What it does has is
this white tear drop spot, that "opens and shuts". It has a
soft, algae eating mouth. What is it? See first picture.
<This is a type of Snail, Limpet... of the genus Scutus. See
2. I had just completed a 7 minute pH and temperature matched fresh
water dip on my newly acquired Achilles Tang. I was getting ready to
dump out the dip water when I thought, "humm...lets take a look at
it!" I've read that you can find all sorts of stuff in the dip
water. On the bottom, I see several little flat creatures, each about
1/6 inch, almond shaped except that it is tapered at both ends, that
are outlined in two gray "rings". At first I thought they
were "scales" from the AT, but laughed at myself as I
remembered that tangs have very very fine scales and that's why
they are so susceptible to ich. They remind me of fish lice I've
had on my Koi fishes many years ago. What is it? See second picture.
This Achilles Tang has been at my LFS for around 6 weeks, they treat
weekly with formaldehyde.
<I think these may be flukes (Trematodes)... fallen off from the
I hope you enjoy these as much as me finding them!
Have a wonderful holiday!
<And you and yours. BobF>
Unknown ID, No Pic -- 12/16/2009
<Hey Sara, JustinN here!>
I was just wondering if you could help me with some new critters that
have appeared on my glass.
<Mmm, not likely without a picture to assist, but will try.>
They're circular in shape, a little bigger than the tip of a ball
point pen, and opaque. Tentacles that move like an anemone. Could they
be Aiptasia spores?
<Not likely, in my opinion>
I do have one Aiptasia in my tank, and I've seen babies before, but
they've had more of a "stalk" shape.
<My thoughts exactly -- Aiptasia has a distinctive appearance -- the
stalk is a big part of the morphology.>
These critters are flat (well they seem flat maybe because they are so
<Without a picture, its very much a shot in the dark, but if I had
to guess, I would assume hydroids. Have a read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hydrozoanfaqs.htm and related
<Do send along a quality picture, if possible -- this will aide in
identification. Good luck! -JustinN>
Re: Unknown ID, No Pic -- 12/16/2009
I found out what they were, through the use of your website (which is
amazing by the way)
They are Staurocladia/hydromedusae.
<Excellent! My theory was on par... I tend to not be the best on the
identification front, so that makes me happy :)>
Also found that I have Munnid isopods and Corallimorphs...again, why
your website is so amazing.
<Glad we could help! -JustinN>
Re: Carpet/throw rug (RMF, anything to add?)<<Yes.
Return this animal ASAP. RMF>>Whacky< 11/29/09
I have another question. I found this odd snaily looking creature going
across the glass when I shut the lights off. Its a white color and has
what looks like a spine in the middle of its rounded body. Its really
strange. Thanks in advance.
Identification -- 11/09/2009
I attached a pic of a creature I found at Fort Myers Beach in Fl.
I did not keep it, as it was alive, I put it back into the water
after taking the pic. Do you know what it is? I also saw some
small brown colored star fish in the same vicinity.
<Mmm, yep. Tis a Brittlestar. Bob Fenner>
Please help me identify 11/8/09
I found this wiggly white substance on the front glass of our 40
gallon reef tank. It looks to be some sort of skin left behind
from a worm. We have seen it several times in the back of the
tank. We were able to take a picture today and send it to you for
your expert opinion.
Thanks in advance,
<Mmm, snail eggs Linda. Please see here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Can You Identify These Creatures in My Refugium?
Harmless Bivalves -- 10/22/09
<Hello, Lynn here today.>
..recently I noticed some creatures in my 30 gal refugium. Can
you identify them?
<No worries, they're harmless, filter-feeding bivalves.
For more information on these neat little creatures, please see
the following links (as well as the related links at the top of
each page): http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bivalvia.htm
Pics are below:
<You're very welcome. Take care, LynnZ>