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Saltwater Snails

All about saltwater snails

Saltwater snails are a nice addition to any saltwater aquarium, but there are plenty of things you should learn about snails before you add some to your tank. 

There are more than 40,000 recognized species of snails, although just a fraction of these species are commonly found in saltwater aquariums.  Snails can eat algae, parasites, or even other creatures.  The most common reason for using saltwater snails in an aquarium is because they make great tank cleaners by eating the algae.


There are eight kinds of saltwater snails you’ll typically find in a tank.  Turbo snails are quite large, and they really only work well if you have a very large aquarium.  This type of snail is also known for knocking things over underwater.

The four common types of saltwater snails for aquariums are asterea, trochus, cerith, and nerite.  Asterea snails will clear both green and brown algae from the walls of your tank.  Asterea snails will also clean just about any surface inside your tank, including the rocks and bottom material.  They’re very tiny and work without being noticed.  However, you should keep an eye out for these snails if you choose to put some in your tank because they are unable to turn back over if they get stuck upside-down.  Trochus snails may be a better choice than asterea snails for this reason because they perform many of the functions of asterea snails without offering the hazard of getting stuck upside-down.

Cerith snails are perfect if you need to agitate a sand bed in the bottom of your tank.  This type of saltwater snail will also perform the standard algae-cleaning functions of most other saltwater snails.  Nerite snails are another type of small saltwater snail.  This snail can climb out of the water, so make sure you keep the lid on your aquarium.  Cerith snails do a really good job of cleaning out the bottom of your tank because they are one of the few varieties that eat algae that grows underneath the sand toward the front of your tank.

Three other common types of saltwater snails sometimes used in tanks are bubble bee, nassarius, and margarita.  These three types of snails however, are much more limited in what type of aquarium setup they are useful in.  For example, bumble bee snails do tend to feed on other snails, so it’s important to keep in mind what other species you have in your tank if you decide to introduce bumble bee snails.  Margarita snails are difficult to maintain in the average saltwater aquarium.  It’s best to steer clear of this type of snail.

Nassarius snails are perfect for cleaning up leftover food, so you may one to consider getting one or two of this variety if you have small children who tend to overfeed the fish.  Nassarius snails also help keep the sand bed stirred up, so you might not want to combine nassarius snails with cerith snails. 

If you just enjoy watching snails and want one you can actually see, try the Florida fighting conch snail.  This species grows to be about 6 inches.  It gets along with other snails and aquatic creatures very well, and it will still clean your tank.



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