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Related Articles: Abalone, Opisthobranchs (Sea Slugs), Nudibranchs, Mollusks, Algae Control, Nutrient Control and Export, 

/The Conscientious Marine Aquarist

The Stomach-Footed Mollusks, Class Gastropoda, Subclass Prosobranchia, Part 1

To:  Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 :

by Bob Fenner

Spotted Cyphoma

New Print and eBook on Amazon

Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

The following taxonomic scheme is largely framed after Robert Barnes Invertebrate Zoology 5th Ed., with modifications from http://sn2000.taxonomy.nl/Main/Classification/35476.htm

Snails Commonly (and not) Encountered in the Marine Pet-Fish Interest:

The Class Gastropoda, the Snails: are divided into two Subclasses: Prosobranchia and Opisthobranchia, 

Subclass Prosobranchia: In turn divided into three living Orders: Archaeogastropoda, Mesogastropoda and Neogastropoda. Marine, freshwater and terrestrial. Name refers to the position of the internal organs and mantle cavity; anterior vs. the opisthobranchs where these are located posteriorly in the body. Aquatic species with one or two gills,  Most have a shell and operculum (closeable cover). Most are dioecious (separate sexes). 

Order More primitive forms. Include abalones, limpets, turbans, neritids. Inadvanced species, typically with two bipectinate gills (right one may be reduced or absent), two auricle, two nephridia (osphradium simple, ridgelike). 

Superfamily Pleurotomariacea: Slit shells and Abalones. Have shells with a notch, slit or openings, and two gills. Pleurotomatia, Perotrochus, Scissurella, Haliotis

Family Haliotidae, the Abalones

Superfamily Fissuellacea: Keyhole Limpets. Have shells with just one (apical) hole, and two gills. Emarginula, Diodora, Fissurella.

Superfamily Patellacea (Docoglossa): Limpets that lack a hole or notch in their shells. Have a single auricle, single bipectinate gill, secondary gills, or  may have no gills. Acmaea, Collisella, Patelloia, Lottia, Patella, Cellana, Lepeta.

Superfamily Trochaea: Top shells, Turbans, Star shells. Conical shells, possess an operculum, single bipectinate gill. Topshells and Turbans. Genera of note: Astraea, Margarites, Tegula, Trochus, Turbo, Astraea.

Family Turbinidae: Turbo Snails

Lithopoma tectum, West Indian Star Snail. Caribbean. 1-2 inches. Tall with conical spire. Roatan 2016

Turbo fluctuosus, the Wavy Turban Snail, Wood 1828. Aquarium favorite as an all-around algae eater. Western Mexico to Peru. Aq. pic. 

Superfamily Neritacea: Globose operculate snails. Single nephridium and complex reproductive structures sometimes distances this group from other archaeogastropods by taxonomists, but do have a single bipectinate gill. Nerita, Neritina, Theodoxus, terrestrial Helicinidae. 

Family Neritidae 

Nerita funiculata, Nerites.


Nerita picea (Recluz 1841), the Black Nerite (Pipipi in Hawaiian). A Hawaiian endemic. To about a half inch in length. Found in the splash zone to high and dry above there (but below Periwinkles), more actively grazing at night. Shiny black globose shells with fine gray spiral lines. 

Order Mesogastropoda: Intermediate Gastropods. Four Superfamilies. Have simple monopectinate gills, one auricle, one nephridium and their osphradia are simple (ridgelike). Have complex reproductive structures (usually a penis). Their radulas (rasping "tongues") are taenioglossate (with seven teeth per transverse row). Principally marine, but many freshwater and terrestrial species as well. 

Superfamilies Cyclophoracea and Vivparacea. All terrestrial, lack gills. Includes the freshwater aquarium snails of the genera Viviparus, Pomacea and Pila

Superfamily Littoinacea: Intertidal Littoinidae; Littorina, Tectarius, Lacuna and terrestrial Pomatiasidae; Pomatias

Superfamily Rissocea: A large grouping of small conical marine, freshwater and terrestrial snails. Hydrobia, Bulimus, Rissoa, Alvania, Cingula.

Superfamily Cerithiacea. Turret Shells, Worms Shells. Marine, freshwater. Have pointed shells, small, generally less than an inch in length. Turritelidae; Turritella. Vermetidae; Vermetus, Serpulorbis, Petaloconchus, Dendropoma. Siliquaridae; Siloquaria, Caecum, Goniobasis, Pleuroceta, Cerithrium, Bittium, Batillaria. 

Ceriths.  Excellent diatom and soft green algae eaters (even some Cyanobacteria). Hardy and long-lived in tropical marine aquariums. Cerithium litteratum (Born 1778)shown. Grand Turks Is. pic.

Superfamily Epitoniacea: Pelagic Violet Snails; Janthina.

Superfamily Eulimacea. Predators, commensals and parasites of echinoderms. Eulima, Stilifer, Entoconcha, Entocolax, Enteroxenos

Superfamily Calyptreacea: Limpet like snails and Slipper shells. Protandrous. Most have a cap-like or limpet like shell. Capulus, Calyptraea, Crepidula. 

Superfamily Cypraecea: Cowries. Spires enclosed in last whorl of shells. Cypraea, Trivia...

Family Cypraeidae: Cowries.

Cypraea species (not all...) Cypraea annulus Linnaeus 1758, the Gold Ringed Cowry (family Cypraeidae). A great animal for reef aquariums with algae to trim! Flattened top with bright golden rim... similar to the Money Cowry (C. moneta). Indian Ocean, Red Sea, to Central Pacific, including Hawai'i's leeward islands and the Cooks. To about half an inch in length. This one in my friend Maurice's tank at home!

Cypraea arabica (Linnaeus 1758), the Arabian Cowry. Most 80 mm or so maximum. Indo-W. Pacific. This one in Bali. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mauritia_arabica 

Cypraea caputserpentis Linnaeus 1758, the Snakehead Cowry. Indo-Pacific, including Hawai'i. To about an inch and a half in shell length. This one off of Maui, Hawai'i.

Cypraea caurica (Linnaeus 1758), the Thick-Edged Cowry. To 2.2". Red Sea, Indian Ocean to W. Pacific. TiffB pic in Bali.

Cypraea cervus Linnaeus 1771, the Atlantic or Deer Cowry. Here at the TX State Aq. in Corpus Christi.

Cypraea miliaris Gmelin 1791. If shell is visible it's orangish to yellow with many fine white dots of different sizes. Mantle is brown to blackish, covered with many branchlike papillae. Active at night. West Pacific; Malaysia, Japan, Philippines. N. Sulawesi image. 

Cypraea spadicea, the California Cowry. Cold water tanks only. Aquarium photo.

Verticals and Larger PIX (Full/Cover Page Sizes Available)

To:  Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 :

New Print and eBook on Amazon

Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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