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Sea Snails for the Saltwater Aquarium - Queen Conch and
Green Abalone

If you have a saltwater aquarium of any kind, you should
seriously consider adding one or a few types of snails. The
crabs in the tank will eat the long hair algae, but you will
need snails to follow and help 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 two of the most popular and
professionally recommended types of snails for your
saltwater aquarium.

Aquacultured Queen Conch

The Queen Conch, a large marine gastropod mollusk, is highly
recommended for the saltwater marine aquarium because they
are hardy and will eat nearly any type of algae, even slime
algae. Besides cleaning the glass aquarium sides they will
root through the upper layers of the sand bed, cleaning and
aerating the sand of algae and diatoms. They are especially
good for helping to keep reef tanks clean of detritus, and
they will not injure the corals or the coralline algae.

Queen conchs have a spiral-shaped shell with a glossy orange
or pink interior. The Queen Conch is omnivorous; you should
supplement its algae eating efforts with small pieces of
fresh fish, frozen food, and dried seaweed.

In the wild Queen Conchs can grow to a maximum of twelve
inches (thirty-one centimeters) but in an aquarium they will
likely be about three inches (eight centimeters) at three
years old, and will thrive in all sizes of saltwater reef
aquaria. It is best to purchase aquacultured (tank raised)
Queen Conchs not only for the sake of the environment but
because the tank raised snails are more brightly colored and
adapt much more quickly to a new aquarium environment.

Aquacultured Green Abalone

The Green Abalone is also highly recommended because they
are prodigious eaters of algae, including hair algae, which
few snails will eat. Also, they are interesting, attractive,
and dramatic looking snails, making a great addition to your
marine aquarium.

The Green Abalone, with a reddish-brown, flattish, teardrop-
shaped shell, grows to around three inches by the time it is
three years old, and can reach ten inches long in the wild.
The inside of the shell is a beautiful iridescent green
color, and is often used in making beads and jewelry. They
have five to seven open holes along one side of the shell, a
lot of grey to light-green tentacles extending around the
bottom of the shell, and a mottled green and brown mantle
extending below the shell, which they use to attach
themselves to rocks or other surfaces.

Green Abalone do well at temperatures of sixty-five to
eighty degrees Fahrenheit (sixteen to twenty-seven degrees
Celsius), and are generally nocturnal, hiding in the coral
or rocks and foraging for algae at night. In the wild they
feed primarily on Giant Kelp and other algae. In the marine
aquarium, supplement their diet with dried seaweed, spinach,
or Spirulina. Be aware that abalones have no blood clotting
ability, so even a minor injury can cause them to bleed to
death. Otherwise they are a hardy and attractive snail.

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