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This page is dedicated to general information on many different underwater snails! I'm sure you'll enjoy learning some interesting facts about them.

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This page is about fascinating


Snails belong to an ancient group

of animals called molluscs.

Snails can be found in fresh and marine water environments.

There are different styles of shells.

A Gastropod may have a single coiled shell that is rounded, flattened, or highly spiraled. Snails have a distinct head with a pair of tentacles that can go in and out of its body. An eye is located at the base of each tentacle. Under the tentacles is the mouth. Inside the mouth there is a tongue that acts like a saw. It shreds the snails' food. Snails eat mostly plants. Sometimes they eat dead animals. Fish and some birds eat snails. Snails cannot live in water that has a low ph, because their shells will be dissolved.

You don’t have to worry about getting males or females because they are hermaphroditic (have male and female parts). You will undoubtedly get eggs. They even seem to prefer to lay them against the glass or on the plants!

Phylum: Mollusca Class: Gastropoda

Snails have been around for at least 500 million years, which dates them back to some of our oldest fossils. They are a very successful animal, having more than 80,000 species. Saltwater snails are the most prolific, having about 55,000 species. Some snails are smaller than a pinhead while a few grow to 61 cm (2 ft.) They may live from 2 to 20 years. They are found in almost every habitat, be it damp land, fresh water, or sea water.

• The snail’s most defining characteristic is its spiral shell, which is a living part of its body. The shell grows along with the snail, and provides a retreat in times of danger. During dry periods, land snails can secrete a mucus “door” which dries to seal themselves, and a humid atmosphere, inside. Most sea snails have a lid-like part, called an operculum, which serves to close the entrance.

• Snails crawl along by a large, muscular foot. As the muscles ripple, a lubricating slime is secreted to help the snail glide over any type of terrain. They can slide over sharp glass and up walls or plants in this way.

• The snail’s head is actually a part of the foot. Most land snails have two pairs of tentacles, whereas aquatic snails generally have just one pair. Eyes are either at the base or the tips of the upper tentacles. The little eye bulge is quite visible in most land snails. Vision is poor. The lower tentacles are usually smaller and are generally used to probe the surface. These provide information regarding smell and touch.

• The mouth is under the head. The tongue acts like a cheese grater, scraping off bits of food. Snails are primarily herbivores, although some will partake in a meal of a dead animal if the opportunity arises.

• Internal organs, such as the heart, remain inside the shell. Most aquatic snails have gills, but land snails have a breathing chamber. The land snail’s breathing pore can be seen as a small hole on the right side of the body, just inside of the shell. Some freshwater snails also have this breathing chamber, and so must occasionally come to the surface for air. Another hole in this region is linked to the intestines, and is used to expel wastes.

• Land snails are hermaphroditic, that is, each snail has both male and female parts. They still must mate to reproduce, however. A hole near the head is the genital orifice where the snail mates and also where it lays its eggs. Aquatic snails have both hermaphroditic and heterosexual reproduction. Most snails lay eggs.

SNAILS (Phylum Mollusca, Class Gastropoda)Snails possess a single shell.


contributed by George Booth

Snails are usually considered disasters in a plant tank, but with dense planting and good plant growing conditions, the right type of snail can be very useful by consuming dead plant material and detritus. Any damage they do cause will be compensated for by fast plant growth.


Malaysian trumpet snail

The Malaysian snail, Melanoides tubercularia, is an interesting

creature in that it lives in the substrate during the day and only

comes out at night. Its shell is a perfect cone shape and gets to

about 2 cm long. It is a livebearing snail and reproduces quite

readily. It is considered beneficial to a plant tank and doesn't seen

to harm plants, even in large populations. They are hard to find for

sale, but usually come for free on plant shipments. If desired, Clown

loaches will keep them and other snails well under control.

Ramshorn Snail

Ramshorn snails are very common and come in various sizes. Their shape

is as their name suggests. The smaller varieties (under 1 cm) are not

too damaging to a plant tank, although they seem to relish the tender

leaves of the Hygrophila family.

The other type is the dark and light brown striped Columbian Ramshorn

that can grow big as large as 2 inches in diameter. The stripes run

the length of the shell with a pattern of random width light-dark-

light stripes that stays constant throughout the snails life. These

snails are extremely prolific and have a terrific appetite for plants.

Pond Snails

Pond snails are football shaped snails under 2 cm in length. They are

to be avoided, as they will happily eat all your plants.

Mystery (Apple) Snails


One of the most beautiful kinds of snails are the Mystery snails.

These snails have a shape similar to the Pond snail, but their spiral

is rounder, and they grow much larger. They can reach tennis-ball size

if well taken care of. The come in many varieties. The snail's body

can be dark, or almost albino (very light with a bright orange speckle

pattern). The shell can be dark, bright orange, albino, or

multi-colored striped ( length-wise like the Ramshorn ). The Apple snail

variety typically has the multi-colored stripes, with a dark body. In

general these snails don't eat living plants. They prefer algae and

dead plant/animal material (canned spinach will get you a very large

Mystery snail ).

Ampullaria cuprina, Gold Mystery Snail


Ampullaria gigas, Apple Snail


This species can be kept with any fish that do not eat snails or harrass it too much. It cannot be kept with plants due to its voracious appetite for plants. It is a good algae eater. This snail makes an excellent addition to green water, Paramecium, Daphnia and Moina cultures since it quickly processes its food into small particles that are readily available to the bacteria that these livefoods eat.

Cipangopaludina chinensis (Reeve, 1863)

Chinese mystery snail

Class: Gastropoda.

Order: Mesogastropoda.

Family: Viviparidae.

Other scientific names appearing in the literature of this species: *Viviparus malleatus, Viviparus chinensis malleatus, Viviparus japonicus, Viviparus stelmaphora, Paludina malleata, Paludina japonicus, Cipangopaludina malleata.

*The name Viviparus malleatus is especially common in much of the older literature from the United States.

Common Name: Chinese mystery snail, Chinese vivipara, tanisha, rice snail, Chinese apple snail, Asian apple snail.

Distinguishing Features: Clench and Fuller (1965) describe this species as follows. Chinese mysterysnails have a shell which is smooth, globose in outline, and thin in structure, but strong. Color is uniform, light to dark olive-green, without any color bands. The small, round umbilicus is covered in part by the reflected, slightly thickened parietal lip. The outer lip is only slightly reflected and forms a round-to-oval aperture. Black pigmentation rims the entire lip and somewhat within the aperture. The columnella is narrow and arched. Whorls are strongly convex, with a very slight shoulder, and the suture is deeply indented. Shell sculpture consists of fine growth lines, spiral lines and fine to moderate malleations over the entire surface. In some individuals, older lip reflections will appear as fairly strong axial ridges. In others there may be one or more spiral threads forming slight carinae (prominent, sharp-edged ridges). The operculum is corneous, thin, with concentric growth lines, and a submarginal (located nearer the outer lip) nucleus.

Biology: Chinese mystery snails can typically be found partially buried in the mud or silt of lakes, ponds, rice paddies, irrigation canals, roadside ditches or slower portions of streams (Pace, 1973). They prefer quiet water where there is some vegetation and a mud substrate (Clench and Fuller 1965).



Research Scientist: Dr Winston Ponder


The majority of molluscs are minute, that is less than 5mm maximum size. These small molluscs are generally less well known than their larger and more familiar counterparts. Small molluscs are not only more diverse taxonomically than larger ones but can be numerically very abundant. Gastropods are a major component of the fauna present in sublittoral and intertidal marine communities.

Reef Janitors - Part I

Algae Eating Snails

Three of the most common marine snail species used for controlling algae in saltwater aquariums and reef tanks are the Astraea/Astrea, Turban/Turbo, and Trochus/Trocus, with many varieties found world wide. Let's take a closer look at each of these groups.

According to Julian Sprung's Reef Aquarium Manual, Volume One, Astraea sp. are the ideal snail to be placed in your aquarium as soon as ammonia and nitrite levels reach acceptable levels (less than 1 ppm). Introduced as soon as possible to a new aquarium, that has reached this cycling phase, these snails effectively limit the development of all microalgae. In other words, they are good at eating diatoms, but will consume red slime and green algae as well. The Astraea tecta found in Florida and Caribbean waters inhabits rocky inter tidal regions and is are said to be quite adept at removing alga films from rock surfaces.

There are numerous species of Turbans, referred to as Turbo snails, and Trochus snails world wide that feed solely on algae, making them perfect candidates for algae control. These types of snails are less adept at dealing with irregular surfaces, so they usually divide their time between cleaning the glass and digging in the sand for detritus.

Another good glass polisher is the tiny Black Nerite (Pipipi) snail (Nerita picea) found in Hawaii. It only reaches a size of about 1.5 cm, and spends its time living along the shallow rocky and coral rubble covered inter tidal regions of the shoreline, in cohabitation with small hermit crabs of Genus Caleinus. The N. picea likes to reside on the aquarium glass in search of algae to eat during night time hours, but will spend some time roaming around to aquarium. Close relatives are N. neglectus, that grows to the size of a thumbnail, and N. polita lives in the sand during daylight hours and grows to about 1-1/2 inches. These two speices like to crawl out of the aquarium, therefore, they are not good choices.


Marine Snails

Astraea, Turbo and Trochus sp. (Trocus) are the most common marine snails used for algae control. The Astraea sp., in particular the Astraea tecta found in Florida and Caribbean areas, inhabits rocky intertidal regions and is adept at removing algae films from rock surfaces.

Saltwater Reef Janitor Suppliers


Cleaning Crew

In a reef tank you need a "cleaning crew". A cleaning crew can consist of many types of herbivores: snails, limpets, hermits, starfish, and sea cucumbers.

It is recommended to have 1-2 snails per gallon of tank water. It is suggested starting out with 1 snail or hermit per gallon and then work your way higher if necessary. The cleaning crew will help reduce your micro-algae in your reef tank.

25 Astraea snails can be  purchased. Some hermits,snails, and starfish will be added later. Keep the 25 Astraea snails in a holding tank, instead of introducing them directly to the new reef tank. The tank should cycle first before adding a lot of snails. This way the nitrogen cycle will not kill any of the snails. It is important to acclimate all of your cleaning crew. These organisms are very susceptible to "salinity shock".

ASTRAEA SNAIL Astraea tecta Atlantic. An excellent choice for removing filamentous and encrusting algae. Very hardy, often lives exposed on rocks at low tide. You need about one of these or a turban snail (listed next) for each two gallons of water in the aquarium.


In a closed aquaria system, live rock is

by far the healthiest and most beneficial

means of  biological filtration.  As it

resembles nature more closely, it  is

healthier for your fish and livestock

as well.  It also acts as a home for reef

 coral and other invertebrates .

Live Rock


and Invertebrates,snails

For Reef Aquariums

Live Sand and Invertebretes

Gorgonian Corals

& Sponges


Coral and Sponges

Snail Prophylactics

To guard against unwanted snails, use a weak potassium permanganate

solution. The Manual of Fish Health recommends a concentration of 10

mg/l as a 10-minute bath as a general disinfectant for aquarium

plants. Then rinse them in running water. This kills snail eggs and

parasites and might guard against algae spores.

Alum is also useful. Get "Alum U.S.P." at the drug store. Soak the

plants in a gallon of water that has up to 10 teaspoons of Alum. The

Alum kills microscopic bugs. Longer soaks (2-3 days) will kill snail

eggs and/or snails.

Pipipi Snails (Nerita neglecta)

Nerita atramentosa


The Harp Snail

Harpa articularis


Harps are predatory, feeding mostly on crustaceans such as crabs. To feed, they wrap their "foot" (flesh) around their victim, smothering it with a combination of mucous and sand.

Turbo Snails

These little critters just love to clean your tank!

The best film algae eater. Keep these in your tank and you'll come clean!

Now available in two varieties: Turbo Snail (Turbo Fluctuosus) and Black Turbo Snail (Tegula Funebralis).

Super for cleaning in any reef tank.

Trochus Snails

In natural habitats, Trochus inhabit the intertidal and subtidal seaward edge of coral reefs down to a depth of approximately 5 metres. Trochus are herbivores/detritivores grazing on fine filamentous algae growing on the surface of the reef and also on organic material which has accumulated on the reef.


The Saltwater Marine Reef Aquarium


Saltwater Aquarium Guide


  Many Examples of reef fish
Reef Fish, The Gems of The Sea




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Received from the diver himself

Dale Barger, member

Gulfview Marine

    Live Rock ,

   We have four classes

of Live Rock...

  Gorgonians & Sponges,

   based on availability...

 Gulf Sand ,

Taken next

to natural reefs...


Crabs & Snails, etc..

Gulfview Wholesale Marine specializes in Aquaculture, Live Rock, Gulf Sand, Gargonian, Coral, Sponges, Snails, and Crabs. Since 1988, Gulfview has been a live rock harvester and established a solid reputation for the quality to which they are committed. We strive for quality... not quantity.

Gulfview is one of the few aquaculturalists permitted by the government to harvest rock specifically grown for the marine aquarium in the Gulf of Mexico.

Members with club passwords will receive a 10% discount off their purchase.

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