Astraea, Zebra Striped Turbo Snails & Mexican Turbo Snails
If you have a saltwater aquarium of any kind, you need to
add one or a few types of snails. The crabs will eat the
long hair algae, but you need snails to clean the coral,
rock, glass and sand.
Scientifically, snails are gastropod mollusks. (Gastropod
means "stomach-footed.") Mollusks can have external,
internal or no shells, but mollusks that are called snails
all have external shells.
Below is an introduction to some of the best types of snails
for your saltwater aquarium.
Astraea snails originated in the Caribbean have a light tan
conical shell with pronounced ridges ringing it and a
sharply pointed top end. Astraea snails are very active
snails, and great for cleaning your tank of both short algae
and diatoms. Experts say that as soon as a new marine
aquarium is set up and the ammonia and nitrate levels have
evened out to healthy levels, Astraea snails should be
added, as they will keep diatoms, light algae, Green Algae
blooms and slime algae from gaining a foothold. One Astraea
snail per gallon or two is the recommended population
density for optimum cleaning.
Astraea snails don't grow large, and won't bother any other
life forms than algae in the tank. They do well with normal
reef aquarium temperatures and don't require much
specialized care, b but one thing to be forewarned of is
that if it gets itself turned on its back it can't right
itself, and will die if it isn't rescued. Otherwise they are
an easy and attractive snail and avid algae eaters.
Zebra Striped Turbo Snails
The Zebra Striped Turbo Snail originated in Belize, Central
America. Their black and yellow turban or child's top shaped
shells are a strikingly attractive variation on their
relatives the Mexican Turbo Snails.
Zebra Turbo Snails will do well in a saltwater aquarium if
you provide them with good hiding places and algae-covered
rock and glass. Zebras are two or three times larger than
the Astraea snail and much better eaters. They will avidly
clean micro-algae from the rock and glass, and you may need
to supplement their diet with dried seaweed. You will also
need to make sure that the tank has adequate calcium levels
for shell growth. Recommended population density is one
snail per five gallons of water.
Mexican Turbo Snails
Mexican Turbo Snails are reputed to be the best tank
cleaners of all the saltwater marine snails. These snails
are collected from the waters of the Pacific Ocean off the
Mexican coast near the Sea of Cortez. In captivity they will
spend most of their time grazing on micro-algae that grow in
home aquariums. Mexican Turbo Snails are up to three times
larger and eat about five times as much as the Atlantic
Turbo Astraea Snail.
The way that saltwater or marine snails clean algae from
your rock, coral, sand and tank glass is that the tongue,
(radula), of the snail has a rasp-like texture and as the
snail grazes, the radula is pulled across the surface of the
algae. This scraping of the raspy tongue pulls the algae
loose from wherever it is attached. If you snails have
cleaned most of the visible algae in your tank, green
seaweed sheets can be supplemented to help ensure balanced
nutrition. Recommended population density is one Mexican
Turbo Snail per five gallons of water.
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