coral-reef aquarium, they will slowly starve to death.
Never buy a snail whose dietary requirements you
Olive snails (Olividae)
The olive snails, too, can do a good job of turning
over the substrate, as they continuously “plow” their
way across the bottom, pushing their typical propodiums (a kind of “forefoot”) in front of them and
usually extending their siphons upward out of the substrate. However, most, like the Oliva annulata shown on
the following page, are predatory and eat other residents
of the sandy zones. They are very prone to starvation in a
captive system and most aquarists should avoid them.
The majority of the conches—Strombus, Lambis, and
other genera—are algae- and detritus-feeders that hide
themselves in the substrate. It is fascinating to watch a
Strombus snail rotating its shell in next to no time, using
its operculum, which is modified to act as a digging tool.
Captive-bred Strombus gigas are available in the trade.
Planktivorous snails (filter-feeders)
Worm snails (Vermetidae)
The worm snails of the family Vermetidae usually arrive
unnoticed in the aquarium on rock from the reef, but
they breed readily and sometimes build up dense populations. Although they start life looking and behaving like
tiny snails with typical, tightly coiled shells, they soon
become sedentary, cementing their shells to a hard sub-
This unidentified species of the family Cypraeidae is ignificantly smaller than the Tiger Cowrie (Cypraea tigris) and is very suitable for the coral-reef aquarium.
Nassarius sp. is very effective at turning over sandy substrate,
but these animals are obligate scavengers feeding only on
flesh. Without sufficient carrion they will die in the aquarium.
strate; thereafter the shell becomes tubelike and only
loosely coiled as it grows to accommodate its developing
occupant. Most often seen are tiny species whose tubes
measure only around 1/16 inch ( 2 mm), but occasionally
larger types crop up, attaining up to ¼ inch ( 7 mm) in
diameter. These snails feed using a mucous “net,” which
they cast into the water to capture floating particles; they
subsequently pull this net back and consume it along
with the food it contains. All this is fascinating to watch.
The large worm-snail species, such as Dendropoma and
Serpulorbis, which occur on the reef but unfortunately
hardly ever turn up in the trade, can have problems feeding in the standard, heavily filtered reef aquarium, and
should instead be kept in a filter-feeder tank with a high
density of floating food particles.
Venomous snails (predatory on worms and fish)
The cone snails, and many other species found in the
family Conidae, have a modified radula that allows them
to feed on many different types of mobile animals. The
rows of rasping teeth found in algae-eating limpets are
absent in these predators. Instead, these animals have