Types of Saltwater Aquarium Snails

Updated April 17, 2017

Saltwater aquarium snails are an important and attractive part of any marine environment. These busy mollusks provide vital assistance by eating algae off glass and rock, shifting substrate and helping keep the delicate ecosystem in balance. Some saltwater snails have lungs and some have gills. Most hobbyists favour non-toxic and non-predatory snails for obvious reasons. Below is an overview of the most popular varieties.

Margarita Snails

This type of saltwater aquarium snail has a grey and brown turban-shaped shell and can grow to two inches. They are nocturnal creatures and voracious algae eaters. While the species is safe for reef environments, it cannot be kept in warm or tropical-temperature waters. The ideal temperature for the Margarita snail is 50 -- 15.6 degrees C. It is recommended that a hobbyist have no more than one Margarita snail per two gallons of water.

Bumblebee Snails

Bumblebee snails look like their namesake, with deep gold and black striped shells. They are tiny creatures, the largest ones reaching only an inch in size. Not only will bumblebee snails eat algae, but also leftover scarps of uneaten food and any other decaying material. They are largely nocturnal and fond of burrowing deeply into the sand bed. These hearty mollusks do well in live rock aquariums.

Astrea (or Turbo) Snails

This popular type of saltwater snail has a conical shell ringed by a thick ridge. They come in a variety of colours, from orange to purple to blue, and are easy to maintain. Astrea snails are completely reef safe and will not disturb tank landscaping or any of the living rock or sand. They eat most types of algae, including hair algae. This saltwater snail doesn't like to climb much and tends to live in the substrate. Perhaps its aversion to heights is due to the fact that it has a difficult time righting itself if it lands on its back.

Nassarius Snails

The shell of this algae-loving mollusc is cone-shaped and pointy and comes in white, yellow or various shades of brown. Nassarius prefers to stay completely buried in sand, allowing its protruding mouth (which looks like a tiny elephant's trunk) to reach above the substrate and sniff for food. This saltwater snail has a keen sense of smell and is a skilled scavengers. In the wild, they feed on carrion, eggs and small worms. The must be feed supplemental food, like brine shrimp, if the tank's larger creatures do not provide enough small scraps.

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About the Author

Janice Fahy is a freelance writer who is comfortable researching and writing on just about any topic under the sun. With a professional history that includes more than 15 years of writing for newspapers, magazines, law firms and private Web clients, she also writes for Break Studios, eHow and Trails.