Mollusk of the Week (Nassarius variegatus/coronatus) Variegated nassa snail


Premium Member
Every week I will be posting a new mollusk for discussion. Please post everything you know about this week's mollusk, to include pics, care and feeding habits, optimal environment, common names, and anything else you can think of.

Today's mollusk is the popular nasssarius snail. Please note that this thread can cover the two main species seen in the hobby, Nassarius variegatus and Nassarius coronatus.

These snails are often said to be the perfect reef scavenger. They eat meat-based detritus only, and will not eat living material or algae. They are very skilled at finding and disposing of the smallest bit of meat-based detritus (leftover fish food, dead snails/crabs/fish, whatever).

They are very tiny, measuring 3 cm at the very largest (according to Baensch), but are usually seen much smaller, less than 1 cm. These snails need a sandy substrate, as they stay buried until they smell food with their very sensitive sniffers, a long incurrent siphon. They incidentally serve to stir the surface of the substrate as well.

Dr. Shimek has a great article about these snails. If anyone has a link to this article, please post it.

This snail has not been successfully bred in the aquarium, although if they are getting enough to eat they will lay eggs.

Please post any information you might have about the Nassarius snail, especially pics.
IF you can, please also post some picture of your Nassarius.

Two different LFS sold me some tiger & Trochus as Nassarius.

After buying their "Nassarius", I ask if I can buy some Trochus snail as well. They scratch their head and look at me like I was making something up.

For awhile there I was wondering how come my "Nassarius" rarely ever go into my sand bed. They mainly stay on the glass or rock.

above is the link to the Ron Shimek article in Aquarium Frontiers

I just got some nassarius yesterday from Premium Aquatics, 50+ for 35$ , but I took a big hit on shipping and box charge.

I acclimated them slowly over about an hour and then distributed them throughout my system: 25 in the 45 main display, 15 in the 15 gal caulerpa refugium/xenia prop tank, 15-20 in the 15 gal dsb refugium.

They immediately hit the sand running! Well, not exactly running but they move very quickly compared to any other snails. Some did burrow into the sand with only their siphon tube visable. Some did climb the glass. Some crawled across the caulerpa. When approached by a blue legged hermit, they burrowed and the hermit lost interest.

I did not attempt a feed yet but I plan to watch them 'erupt' from the sand and converge on the food tonight.

What id characteristics can be used to distinguish the two most common species?

tank specs at

tank pics at

Is there anybody out there who keep them in the same tank as a jawfish? I am planning on getting one, but if the nassarius disturb the burrow then I might think otherwise. Thanks
I have about 10 in my ecosystem mud filter. They are really cool down there. Although it's on a 24 hrs daylight cycle the seem to move around quite a bit. I think they could be a great help in keeping the mud free of decaying organic matter.



Anyone else have any experience with Nassarius snails? This is the last call before this thread goes to the archive.
My snails have done well since introduced a couple weeks ago. When I put any food (flakes, frozen brine, etc) into the water they get very active and converge on the food. Otherwise they stay mostly burrowed but a few are always scouting around. My green brittle star was drawing up some frozen brine along his tube feet and the snails converged and were able to steal some food away withouth suffering any reprisals. The sand stays clear of accumulated detritus on the surface. I did try using a baster to place some frozen brine below the surface of the sand to target feed only the snails and not the fish. They readily found it and consumed.
They ocassionaly climb the acrylic and come out of the water some but soon return the sand.