Updated August 5, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
The Nassarius Snail is a saltwater snail that is used as part of a clean up crew that sifts through the substrate (live sand) looking for bits of detritus. Detritus can be thought of as uneaten foods, fish waste, and any dead or dying organisms. These Nassarius snails do a decent job even though you may not see them very often since they stay submerged in the sand bed most of the time.
There are two different varieties of the nassarius that you may come across. There is the smaller variety which are usually quite small, around 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch (approximately 1.5 - 2 cm). Then there is the larger, Super Tongan Nassarius Snails which can get to be about 1 inch (2 cm). The larger variety usually fetches about $1 more per snail.
You shouldn't have to feed them in an established tank, since they will be scavenging detritus most of the time. The recommended stocking levels for the smaller Nassarius is 1 or 2 snails per gallon, while the larger Tongan Snail can be kept 1 snail per 2 or 3 gallons.
These snails are considered reef tank safe and should not harm corals or other invertebrates. Caution is advised if you plan on keeping them with saltwater hermit crabs.
Like most invertebrates, you will want to use a slow drip acclimation and keep those nitrate levels on the low side (20 ppm or less). Use caution when performing water changes and vacuuming the sand bed, especially for the smaller snails.
Nassarius Snail Pictures
Nassarius Snail Care
Scientific Name : Nassarius sp., Nassarius distortus (Super Tongan Snail)
Common Names : Super Tongan Nassarius Snail
Care Level : Easy, good for saltwater beginners but be sure to use a slow drip acclimation.
Life span : 2 years, possibly longer
Size : Up to 3/4 inch (2 cm)
pH : 8.3 - 8.4
Temperature : 72°F - 80°F (22°C - 27°C)
Specific Gravity : 1.023 - 1.025
Origin / Habitat : Caribbean
Temperament / Behavior : Very peaceful
Breeding : Difficult to breed. They may deposit eggs, but the chances of these eggs maturing past the egg stage are slim.
Aquarium Size : 1 per 2 gallons is the recommended stocking ratio
Tank Mates : They should do well with most fish with the exception of Triggers and other snail eaters. Avoid mixing snails and crabs (saltwater hermit crabs) in the same tank. The crabs may decimate your snail population.
Diet / Foods : This snail will eat detritus from the substrate. They will also (usually) come out of hiding once meaty foods hit the water.
Tank Region : Mostly buried in the sand, burrowing through the live sand scavenging for detritus.
Gender : Difficult to distinguish males from females.
Nassarius Snail Tips
I have about 10 of the Tongan Snails in my 100 gallon reef tank. They do seem to do a nice job keeping the top levels of the sand bed stirred. About the only time I see them is when the fish are fed, and then only occasionally will they surface from the sand with their tube waving in the water. Cool little snail with an attractive looking shell. I've had them for about a year now, and they seem to be doing well.
More Saltwater Invertebrate Profiles
Tiger Striped Brittle Star
The Brittle Stars are generally pretty good tank mates in saltwater aquariums, including reef tanks. They should just scavenge the sand and rock while leaving the fish, corals and other invertebrates alone.
Chocolate Chip Starfish
This starfish will eat other invertebrates in the tank, including soft corals such as xenia. Would only do well in fish only type tanks with no invertebrates.
Coral Banded Shrimp
Best to keep only one per tank as they may fight other coral banded shrimps. They may also go after other shrimp species, although we've kept them in tanks with other saltwater shrimp species and have had no problems.