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sr2z

Nassarius - VERY ODD BEHAVIOUR

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sr2z

Hello folks!

I´ve recently purchased some nassarius snails for my 18l pico. Since they were brought into the tank, they started eating diatoms! I don´t know anybody who observed such behaviour, because these snails are thought to be only "meat" eating scavengers... What do you think of it?

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jservedio
2 hours ago, NanoReefer5gal said:

Hello folks!

I´ve recently purchased some nassarius snails for my 18l pico. Since they were brought into the tank, they started eating diatoms! I don´t know anybody who observed such behaviour, because these snails are thought to be only "meat" eating scavengers... What do you think of it?

So they don't eat living algae, but they do eat dead things and other detritus. If your diatoms are in the process of dying off and you had fish food, assorted poop, and a myriad of other microscopic dead things mixed in with the diatoms, they will just eat it all. Basically if there is more stuff in the diatoms that is edible to them than not, they will just eat it all.

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sr2z

Well, that´s the problem... The tank is 2 weeks old, it was ghost fed only once, and that was a week ago. The diatoms are quite new I would say, maybe a week or so. I am observing the snails right now, they seem to do a better job at eating it than my cerith!

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jservedio
1 hour ago, NanoReefer5gal said:

Well, that´s the problem... The tank is 2 weeks old, it was ghost fed only once, and that was a week ago. The diatoms are quite new I would say, maybe a week or so. I am observing the snails right now, they seem to do a better job at eating it than my cerith!

Did you start it with live rock or dead rock? If you started with live rock, there should be plenty of stuff for them to eat that's getting mixed in with the diatoms. Also, diatoms tend to boom and bust extremely quickly, so if they've been there for a week there is probably dead and breaking down diatoms for them to eat, plus whatever you ghost fed breaking down.

 

However, if you started with dry rock and have non-algae eating snails in the tank, you should be feeding very lightly every few days so they don't starve to death. If they are in fact eating healthy and living diatoms (or any other algae for that matter), then they are starving. Starving critters do all kinds of weird stuff.

 

As a rule, if you have critters that are eating things they don't normally eat, they are starving. You should drop in 1-2 sinking pellets per nassarius snail for them to eat a couple times a week until you have fish, otherwise the first snail to die will become food for the rest of them.

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sr2z
1 minute ago, jservedio said:

Did you start it with live rock or dead rock?

I started with CaribSea Life Rock, dead rock sprayed with some beneficial bacteria colonies...

2 minutes ago, jservedio said:

However, if you started with dry rock and have non-algae eating snails in the tank, you should be feeding very lightly every few days so they don't starve to death. If they are in fact eating healthy and living diatoms (or any other algae for that matter), then they are starving. Starving critters do all kinds of weird stuff.

 

I added the snails yesterday evening. They started eating the stuff right when I dropped them in... very weird.

 

3 minutes ago, jservedio said:

As a rule, if you have critters that are eating things they don't normally eat, they are starving. You should drop in 1-2 sinking pellets per nassarius snail for them to eat a couple times a week until you have fish otherwise, the first snail to die will become food for the rest of them.

Yeah, makes sense, I will drop them something in and see if they go for it.

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sr2z

Sooo....

I tried to drop in some pellets = no response, continued to eat diatoms

In about an hour, I tried my luck with frozen brine shrimp = no response whatsoever, continued to munch on diatoms...

😆 🤣 I think I have the weirdest Nassarius in the world... And yes, I am 100% sure they ARE Nassarius (the shell, the snorkel, the tag in the shop)... They are doing a better job than the Cerith! Well, I think I will leave them as they are, just occasionally drop in a pellet or two...

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mndfreeze

Post pics of these snails.

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sr2z

Here is one of them... I have two. Right now, they are scavenging around my rockwork. Very odd, but they seem happy (and well fed). My diatom outbreak is almost gone thanks to those two little snails and one cerith. And yes, I have been feeding them recently, no interest at all.

hi.jpg

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mndfreeze

Not familar with that species of nass.  It doesn't look like VIBEX to me at all.  Perhaps you have some other whelk species that isn't primarily a predator/scavenger?  My vibex stay buried in the sand until I feed meaty foods, then they burst out like sandworms and truck all over the tank until they find it.  Pellets, flakes, frozen mysis, etc.

 

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sr2z

Yeah, they were not sold as vibex, they were just labeled "Nassarius sp."... But the snails look happy, they are eating. You know what they say. If something works, don´t change it. So I think I´ll leave them as they are.

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mndfreeze

Yeah. I'd just keep a close eye on em over the next few months.  If you start having mysterious disappearances and deaths, etc.

 

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sr2z

Yeah, agree. My tank is only 4,5 gallon so I think it won´t be such a problem 😂

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jservedio
5 hours ago, mndfreeze said:

Not familar with that species of nass.  It doesn't look like VIBEX to me at all.  Perhaps you have some other whelk species that isn't primarily a predator/scavenger?  My vibex stay buried in the sand until I feed meaty foods, then they burst out like sandworms and truck all over the tank until they find it.  Pellets, flakes, frozen mysis, etc.

 

Definitely not Vibex, but it's possible it's distortus. However, based on the fact it's staying above the sand and eating algae and entirely ignoring meaty foods, I'd guess it's probably not a nassarius at all and I think you are right it's some other sort of whelk or columbellid.

 

I agree, keep a super close eye on it and be prepared to remove it if you start losing other snails. If you want to read more about whelks: http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-11/rs/index.php

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sr2z
6 minutes ago, jservedio said:

I'd guess it's probably not a nassarius at all and I think you are right it's some other sort of whelk or columbellid.

Very interesting thought, worth considering. However, this is what I have just read about whelks:

"The whelk is a predatory snail and only eats meat. It is incapable of eating algae or plant material. Being carnivorous, they will scavange dead flesh or will hunt, kill, and consume any live prey they are capable of capturing." (source: https://reefs.com/2011/07/19/beware-the-whelk/)

I will keep a close eye on them for now, I´ll see if they start showing interest when some REAL detritus and meaty stuff accumulates, because the only residents in my tank are those snails, a hermit and a cerith. Some corals will arrive this friday and I might buy a GCG for christmas 🤩... Yeah, and did I mention that those two little "Nassarius" are tiny (1cm)? I guess my giant cerith is safe for now... "sigh of relief"...

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jservedio
1 minute ago, sr2z said:

Very interesting thought, worth considering. However, this is what I have just read about whelks:

"The whelk is a predatory snail and only eats meat. It is incapable of eating algae or plant material. Being carnivorous, they will scavange dead flesh or will hunt, kill, and consume any live prey they are capable of capturing." (source: https://reefs.com/2011/07/19/beware-the-whelk/)

I will keep a close eye on them for now, I´ll see if they start showing interest when some REAL detritus and meaty stuff accumulates, because the only residents in my tank are those snails, a hermit and a cerith. Some corals will arrive this friday and I might buy a GCG for christmas 🤩... Yeah, and did I mention that those two little "Nassarius" are tiny (1cm)? I guess my giant cerith is safe for now... "sigh of relief"...

"Whelk" is just a general term for snails in the superfamily Buccinoidea (and, also the genus Nucella which is totally unrelated), so there are literally hundreds of species it covers and some of them eat algae, like the columbellids (also called "dove snails", which would be my best  guess). Nassarius snails are also whelks.

 

My guess would be a collumbellid snail of some sort (there are like 70 subfamilies of dove snails, so there are tons of species). Based on it's behavior, I think you are probably safe, but just keep an eye as you start adding things.

 

 

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