Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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OnePsychLynne 06-15-2008 10:15 AM

Dying snails
Within about one month all of our medium and large snails have died-about 4 Mexican turbo snails and 4 Zebras. Water parameters normal for all tests, no chemicals have been added and we have not changed any normal process. We have a bunch of tiny little baby snails that seem to be doing fine. The 150g tank is now 6 months old, we have quite a bit of brown diatoms and we discovered an orange-colored hairy crab we're 99% sure is a pygmy rock crab (bad news). Is it possible the snails have starved to death on the brown diatoms or is the crab the more likely culprit? We also have three emerald crabs, two of which are a little bigger than the pygmy crab and they have not been bothered. We do not have any visible algae (at least none that I recognize). The only fish is a 6" Volitans Lionfish.

SKAustin 06-15-2008 10:44 AM

It is very possible that your snails have starved to death as this is common in new tanks. There is simply not enough food to go around.

Another possibility is this mystery crab, who may be making meals out of your livestock. First, get the crab out of the tank, then get a positive ID. Once you've attained a positive ID, you can decide if you want to keep the crab on the tank. To catch the crab, place a tall drinking glass in the tank up against some rock, then place some meaty foods into the glass. when the crab goes into the glass to retrieve the food, it will be unable the climb back out.

Finally, you say you have tiny baby snails? Are these hitchhiker snails? And if so, can you confirm the id of these snails? They are likely either Collonista Snails (which are good) or Baby Pyramid Snails (which are bad). Pyramid snails are parasitic snails that (depending on the type) may feed on other snails. Regardless, you should always try, at all cost, to ID any hitchhikers in your system, and seek removal or eradication if necessary.

OnePsychLynne 06-15-2008 11:44 AM

Thank you so much for your reply! The crab usually stays hidden in our live rock and is very skittish. I'll have my husband put the glass in the tank tonight ;p As far as the baby snails most of them are only about the size of a grain of sand and it's hard to tell they are even snails! The ones that are a fraction larger are starting to turn dark (I assume from their shells calcifying) and have what appears to be the tiniest antenna I have ever seen! We didn't have any of the babies until after we put all the other snails in there so we just assumed they got busy :oops: The other bad thing about the crab is that he has dark brown claws which I've read is never a good sign for an aquarium environment. I'd hate to have to "do away" with him but I don't have anywhere else to put him and I doubt My LFS would want him.

SKAustin 06-15-2008 04:33 PM

Google "Baby Pyramid Snails" and make sure thats not what you have. If it is, I will advise you on removal. search "Gorilla Grab" as well and check that for your crab. Post your results and let us know the results of your capture attempts.

Check this link for your snail ID:

OnePsychLynne 06-15-2008 11:14 PM

Here are a couple of pictures I found online that look almost identical to the crab hiding in my live rock (ESPECIALLY the little pix). Our little crab has very very hairy legs.
My husband and I went and looked at all the baby snails and to our surprise actually found that some of them had grown quite a bit and had light brown-colored stripes similar to the zebras. We only found two conical ones-1 white and 1 brown-striped both about 1/8th of an inch long. All of the rest of the snails we could see were rounded in shape and appeared to be little versions of our turbos. Will these (possible) pyramid snails die off without hosts or will they simply turn to the other babies? Can they survive on algae or diatoms?
Just FYI here are the websites I got the crab pix from.

SKAustin 06-16-2008 06:56 AM

The brown and white striped snails sound like maybe Collonista Snails. It is also possible the conical snails you have are baby Cerith Snails, which are very good to have. The pyramid snails would be most likely attached to the bottom of the other larger snails. If you see any that are, just pull the host snail out, remove the pyramid snails, and replace the host back into the tank. By the sounds of things, youre snails probably just starved off. As for the crab, Definately get it out of the display. At least until you get a positive ID. Try to get a Pic of it to post so we can help ID it.

OnePsychLynne 06-17-2008 01:13 AM

Just an update...we haven't had any luck yet catching the crab. I guess he didn't survive the three hour trip from Coral Reef Farm in Ft. Lauderdale 6 months ago by being dumb :roll: We didn't even know he was in there until about two months ago. He's already molted once though, we've seen pieces of him lying around which, unfortunately, means he's thriving on something. We only see him during the day if we happen to see him peeking out of his little crevice in the live rock. Hopefully in the next couple of days I can get you a good pic of him. Wish me luck! :wink:

SKAustin 06-17-2008 06:28 AM


Originally Posted by OnePsychLynne
Hopefully in the next couple of days I can get you a good pic of him. Wish me luck! :wink:

Good Luck! :D

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