Examining Snails Grazing on Aquarium Glass


In this hobby, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in rare fish and corals, high end equipment, and unusual husbandry techniques that the simpler things often go overlooked. Saltwater snails, which are the workhorses of our aquariums, don’t often get their fare share of the spotlight. It’s understandable that hobbyists don’t focus on their snails, especially since they aren’t rare or insanely colored, don’t cost $20 per inch, and can’t be tagged with the “LE” moniker and sold for ten times their worth. Instead, snails just work tirelessly to keep our aquariums free of algae and detritus. During a routine examination of one of our aquariums, we happened across a very common sight. A margarita snail (Margarites pupillus) was cruising across the glass and scraping algae, and we felt it was a good opportunity to highlight just how this grazing is accomplished. Algae eating snails are equipped with a rasping radula, which is a tongue-like appendage that snails share with their cephalopod cousins. This advanced tool is the only method by which the snails actually gather their food, as it is highly effective at ripping algae off of just about every surface in the aquarium.


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