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FAQs about Marine Snail Identification 23

Related Articles: Gastropods, Sea Slugs, Mollusks, Abalone,

Related FAQs: Snail ID 1, Snail ID 2, Snail ID 3, Snail ID 4, Snail ID 5, Snail ID 6, Snail ID 7, Snail ID 8, Snail ID 9, Snail ID 10, Snail ID 11, Snail ID 12, Snail ID 13, Snail ID 14, Snail ID 15, Snail ID 16, Snail ID 17, Snail ID 18, Snail ID 19, Snail ID 20, Snail ID 21, Snail ID 22, Snail ID 24, Snail ID 25, Snail ID 26, & Marine Snails 1, Marine Snails 2, Marine Snails 3, Invertebrate ID, Snail Behavior, Snail Selection, Snail Compatibility, Snail Systems, Snail Feeding, Snail Disease, Snail Reproduction, Mollusks, Sea Slugs, Abalone,

Mollusk ID: It's The Incredible Mr. Limpet! -- 1/21/10
<Hello Beth, Lynn here today.>
I was wondering if you could help me figure out what this is.
<Fire away>
I have a 29 g tank that has been running for about 4 years. While I was doing a water change, I noticed this little guy on a conch shell (by the way my gold striped clown insists that the conch is his anemone).
<That's a clown for you!>
I was hoping you could tell me what this is.
<It's a pretty little Keyhole Limpet, family Fissurellidae. There are other similarly shaped Mollusks, but the hole at the apex/top is the clincher. This opening, which is used for expelling waste, can vary from round to distinctly keyhole shaped, hence the name. Also typical is the arrangement of concentric growth rings (often showing as different colors), along with the strong radiating ribs/ridges that extend from the shell's top/opening to the bottom edge. The almost rough surface can sometimes be obscured by a growth of algae (usually green or coralline), but doesn't harm the animal. The feathery-looking protrusions you see on the soft tissue mantle skirting the shell are called 'mantle tentacles', and are sensory in nature. These neat little creatures are for the most part harmless/beneficial herbivorous grazers but if the food supply runs low, they can occasionally move on to soft corals or large polyped stony corals. For example, I had Keyhole Limpets for years in my tanks with no problems until one large individual decided to munch on my favorite cherry red Blastomussa wellsi polyps -- Aaahh! Needless to say, he was ejected from the display! That's the one and only problem I've ever had with Keyhole Limpets. Personally, I'd leave your little individual in place and enjoy it. For more information, please see the many WWM FAQ's regarding. Just Google the term Keyhole Limpet: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
Thanks so much for you help,
<You're very welcome. Enjoy Mr. Limpet!>
Beth Van Zandt
<Take care, LynnZ>

Marine Snails Identification -- 1/19/10
Hi WWM Crew,
<Hi there, Rafy, Lynn here today.>
I know I have been telling this many times, but this great site never stop impress me :) Keep up the good work, guys.
<Thanks, it's always a pleasure.>
The reason I am writing this time is to get your help to identify 3 of my snails, which I first thought all of them are Nassarius, not until I came across a guy at the LFS who told that this snail is actually damaging towards my corals.
<Which snail? Have you noticed any damage and if so, what type of coral?>
I may have oversimplified it by thinking all snails with "antenna" are Nassarius
<Yes, but it's understandable. Not everyone is, or even wants to be, a snail geek like me!>
..but after hearing that remark at the LFS, I start to feel uncomfy.
<I can certainly understand that.>
Appreciate your help to verify whether these snails in the pictures are Nassarius or otherwise.
<I don't think they're Nassarius spp. snails.>
If they aren't Nassarius, then, what are they?
<Heheeee! Would you like the short answer or the long one? How about both? The short version is that I personally don't think any of these three snails are harmless herbivores so I'd remove/relocate them all. Now, here comes the long version where things get a bit sticky. First of all, I'm sorry, but I can't see enough detail in the photos, and don't have enough information (size/location of origin, etc.), to give a positive ID. However, I can offer some possibilities for you to research on your own. If you haven't seen any coral damage, the snails could easily be relatives of Nassarius spp. snails (Family: Nassariidae). That is, they're in the same Superfamily: Buccinoidea, which also includes Whelks (Family Buccinidae), Tulip snails (Family Fasciolariidae), Dove snails (Family Columbellidae), etc. (see below for links). I'm leaning towards the Whelks. Snails in this Superfamily are mostly predators of other snails, bivalves, Polychaetes, and even Sipunculans ('peanut' worms). They also scavenge and some have been reported to eat detritus. Others, like some of the Dove snails, dine on film algae and possibly diatoms. The second possibility, and large group of snails, includes the predatory Murex snails (Superfamily: Muricoidea). There are many species within this group that eat corals, so if you've seen any damage, it's possible that at least one of your snails belongs to one of the following families: Muricidae Coralliophilinae, Muricidae Rapaninae, or even Muricidae Ergalataxinae (see below for links). One thing to bear in mind while comparing snails to the photos is that there can be a surprising amount of variation in color and shape within even a single specie, so be sure to see all examples. Finally, please know that I would be more than happy to help you with these ID's, but I'd just need a bit more information. Anything you can tell me about origin, or size would be helpful, but most importantly, I'd need some good detailed photos that include at least one taken from above each snail, and one from the flipside, showing the opening/aperture side.
Superfamily Buccinoidea. Go through the various families listed above (include subfamilies). See the links to thumbnails on the right side of the following link: http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/SuperFamily_BUCCINOIDEA.shtml
See especially: Buccinidae Pisaniinae: http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/TN_Family_BUCCINIDAE_PISANIINAE.shtml
Superfamily Muricoidea:
Muricidae Coralliophilinae: http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/TN_Family_MURICIDAE_CORALLIOPHILINAE.shtml
Muricidae Ergalataxinae: http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/TN_Family_MURICIDAE_ERGALATAXINAE.shtml
Ergalatax margariticola (this species has been noted as a corallivore): http://www.gastropods.com/1/Shell_1131.shtml
Muricidae Rapaninae: http://www.gastropods.com/Taxon_pages/TN_Family_MURICIDAE_RAPANINAE.shtml >
Are they harmful to my reef tank in any way?
<Again, if it were me, I'd remove/relocate them.>
I have provided 2 shots of each of the 3 snails to give you a look at them from various angles.
Appreciate it guys :)
<You're very welcome. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.>
<Take care, LynnZ>

Baby snails...or something else? Probably something else. 1-17-10
I've noticed these little snails in my tank a few months ago. They were very small, just a tiny white dot. Now that they got to an acceptable size I want to know if you could help me identify them. <I can try!> I have a few Astrea snails in my tank and Nassarius Tonga and Vibex. These little snails spend all their time on the glass and don't hide during the day. What worries me is that it started with 3 and now I have at least 25. They don't seem to be bothering anything but I want to make sure they are safe. I included a pic I hope it is clear enough. <Unfortunately, no.> The biggest one I noticed the other day is probably 1/4 inch. Hope you can help. Thank you very much.( I read all the articles but could not find any positive ID). <I'm assuming your attached photo shows the underside of the animal attached to the glass. It doesn't look to be a snail at all. My best guess points to most likely a Chiton, or possibly a limpet. I can't give much other specifics without a better photo. Maybe Bob can chime in with his $.02.><<Do look like Limpets to me as well. RMF>>

Full size pic

Re Baby snails...or something else? Probably something else. 1/18/10
Thanks I know you tried your best. <You're very welcome. If you want to send another photo of the critters in question, we might be able to help out a bit more.> We took one out of the tank to examine it better. It has a
hard cone shaped shell, some shells are black and some are tan. The shell looks a little like a limpet like you said. <Limpets are highly variable in nature. That's the best I could come up with.> They have the 2 antennas that snails have and I can see their mouths grazing the glass just like my Astrea snails. Are all these common features of the limpets as well?
<Limpets do have antennae. I don't know too much about them other than what they look like, unfortunately. Based on your mouth and antenna description baby Stomatella snails are another possibility. Do enquire via
a Google image search.> Sorry I couldn't get a better picture. <Try, try again. Even out of the water might be insightful.> Thanks at least I know they are safe and wont harm anything. <Welcome. Matthew.>

Snail ID? - Good Picture for Archive? 1/17/10
Thought this would be a good picture for the snail identification section. I wasn't sure what it was myself... I looked through the Marine Snail ID section, but saw no picture like it. It was a pretty striking pattern - appears to be a hitchhiker from within the Zoanthids. It is about ½" to ¾" across.
Any ideas on what type it is?
<Mmm, yes. Appears to be a Heliacus species... I'd be reading re. Bob Fenner>
Jon Hoover

Re: Snail ID? - Good Picture for Archive? 1/17/10
Hmmm... Upon review, it does have the cone shaped operculum which is apparently a distinguishing characteristic of the Heliacus sp. It's an interesting looking snail, but I like my Zoanthids more than I like it.
<Welcome Jon. BobF>

Small Snail ID in Reef Tank: Collonista Snails -- 1/8/10
Hello crew!
<Hello Jon, Lynn here this evening!>
I have a 125 gallon reef setup I've written in about before a couple of times (thank you for the help on those once again).
<On behalf of Bob and the crew, you're very welcome.>
I've noticed over the past 2 or 3 months a lot of small (1/8" to 1/4") snails. I would say there are probably 200 of them in the tank, and that could be a low count. They are mainly found on the live rock and the glass (the side and back glass mostly,
<That's pretty typical for these snails.>
..which don't get cleaned as often as the front and probably have more food on them).
They are nocturnal, hidden during the day.
Their small size makes them difficult to photograph, but the attached photos are my best attempt.
Any ideas what type they might be?
<Yes, they appear to be a very common harmless/beneficial snail in the genus Collonista, also known as 'Mini Turbo' snails. These mostly nocturnal snails range in size from about 1/8' to 1/4' across and vary in color and pattern from solid white to combinations of white with tan, brown, or even pink markings. If you'd like to positively confirm the ID, remove one of the snails and (using a magnifying glass) look for a hole/pit in the center of the operculum (the 'trap door' in the opening of the snail). For more information and photos, please see the following links. Several FAQ's at the first link re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snailidf14.htm
http://bb.wetwebmedia.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=242 >
They don't seem to cause any problems for the coral, other inverts or fish,
<Nope, they're harmless herbivores.>
..but there sure are a lot of them.
<It happens. The population tends to wax and wane according to the amount of available food. There have been occasional reports of overpopulations leading to problems with equipment (getting stuck within intakes and such) but I've had zillions of these guys in my tanks for years with no problems. I can't say the same for some other larger snails I've had! At any rate, if you feel like you have too many, you can always opt for physical removal. Perhaps you could give the surplus individuals to a fellow hobbyist. They really are terrific little snails!>
I figure I probably am feeding something too much, helping their population numbers.
<Not necessarily. They're more than likely just taking advantage of those areas you can't reach with an algae scraper and doing a little clean up for you. That's usually where mine tend to congregate. As far as they're concerned, it's the equivalent of a Las Vegas style all-night, all-you-can-eat buffet and everyone's been comped!>
I could probably cut back on my feeding, but all of those things dying in the tank doesn't sound all that great either...
<No kidding. As long as everything's doing well in the tank and your water parameters are okay, I wouldn't change a thing. Just think of the Collonistas as part of the nightly cleaning crew!>
It's an interesting nightly event...
<Yes indeed!>
Thanks in advance,
<You're very welcome.>
Jon Hoover
<Take care, LynnZ>

Snails: Likely Collonista Snails, Issues with Disappearing Zoanthids -- 1/6/10
<Hello Tommy, Lynn here today.>
Help, I'm trying to ID this snail.
<Yay, I love snail ID's!>
I'm hoping it's not a Heliacus.
<I think you're in the clear. It looks like a common, harmless, herbivorous hitchhiker in the genus Collonista, sometimes called a 'Mini Turbo' snail. To positively confirm, use a magnifying glass and take a good look at the snail's operculum (the 'trap door' at the opening of the snail). You should see a tiny pit/hole in the center. If you don't see one, do try to get a few detailed photos and we'll try again. Just for comparison, Heliacus spp. (aka 'Sundial') snails tend to be rather squat top to bottom, with straighter sides, a rather heavy, almost 'beaded' appearance to the surface, and an obvious cone-shaped operculum. For more information/photos re: Collonista snails, please see the related FAQ's at the following link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snailidf14.htm
More here: http://bb.wetwebmedia.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=242
Here's an example of Heliacus spp. snails: http://www.gastropods.com/5/Shell_5765.shtml >
My zoo's are disappearing fast
<Uh-oh. If the water parameters/conditions and other livestock are okay, then I'd look for either some sort of predator or irritator, or evidence of disease. The list of potential predators and irritators is long and includes Heliacus snails, Pycnogonid spiders ('sea spiders'), Gammaridean Amphipods, Vermetid Gastropods, Nudibranchs, a few crabs, various fishes (Angels, Tangs etc.), tube dwelling Polychaetes, etc.(see links below for photos). Your best chance of spotting some of the smaller, and/or more cryptic individuals is at night with a flashlight. If you're able to rule out pests, I'd look into possible disease (pox, fungus, etc.). Take a good look at the colony, especially the stems. Are there any light or whitish spots present? Do the stems look fuzzy, spindly or unusually dark? Once you determine what the problem is, please use our Google search engine for a solution/treatment: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
In the meantime, we have lots of information regarding Zoanthid problems, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zoanthidhlthfaqs.htm
Check out this link for some terrific photos of Zoanthid predators, irritators and pox: http://zoaid.com/index.php?module=Gallery2&g2_itemId=384 >
..and I'm noticing that these snails are multiplying very fast.
<Collonista snails can indeed multiply quickly, but don't usually cause problems.>
These are the best pictures I could get.
<I think we're good to go with this snail. However, as per above, if you find that what you have isn't a Collonista, then do please let me know.>
Thanks for the help!
<You're very welcome!>
<Take care, LynnZ>


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Re: Snails: Likely Collonista Snails, Issues with Disappearing Zoanthids -- 1/7/10
<Hello Tommy, Lynn here again.>
Thanks for all of the help!
<You're welcome!>
I think it must be the asthenia snails
<You mean Asterina stars?>
..doing the damage. I guess I will get a harlequin shrimp to combat these.
<I wouldn't, unless you're absolutely overrun with the little stars. Otherwise, once they exhaust the food supply (of stars), they'll likely starve to death. I would instead opt for physical removal (tweezers work well). Please see the following links for more info re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/harlshrpfaqs.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinafaqs.htm >
I will have to get rid of my sand star first though.
<It's possible that the star could escape the shrimp under the sand, but I wouldn't chance it.>
I have attached a couple of pictures one is before and then you can see what happened. The other is what the fire and ice look like and it used to be full.
Again Thanks for the help!
<It was a pleasure! Take care, LynnZ>

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