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Marine Snail Care Sheet

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.

This care sheet includes a variety of marine snail species, including:

  • Nerite snail
  • Turbo snail
  • Astrea snail
  • Cerith snail
  • Bumble bee snail
  • Nassarius snail
  • Banded trochus snail
  • Margarita snail
  • Cowrie snail
marine snail

Overview

Tridacna maxima, Tridacna derasa, Tridacna squamosa, Tridacna gigas

These water-filtering wonders are things of beauty whose exposed mantles come in an array of patterns and colors—from blue and green to even gold. Tridacna clams are bivalves whose bodies are enclosed in two shells. These clams live on various bases from soft or hard substrate, to burrowing into a rock attaching itself using byssal filaments. Many tridacna clams are found as solitary creatures throughout some of the world’s oceans and sea, but they have also been found in small clusters. Tridacna clams are excellent filter feeders, but their tissue also contains algae cells called zooxanthellae that help provide a large portion of their nutrition.

Table of Contents

Typical appearance and behavior

  • Some clam species prefer to attach to a solid surface, while others prefer to sit in substrate
  • Marine clam mantles have unique patterns with beautiful colors and movement
  • When they are healthy and content, clams can double or triple their size every year
  • They can make popping sounds by opening and closing their shells
  • Clams are oval and circular in shape and have two equally sized halves of their shells joined at the hinge by adductor muscles
  • Clams filter nutrients from the water, reducing the biological load and helping lower the overall nitrate level in the aquarium, improving water conditions
  • Tridacna clams prefer moderate, indirect water movement
  • Clams need a sturdy placement with room to grow; after attaching, a clam will stay in this location for the duration of their life

Characteristics

Care difficulty Intermediate
Average Life Span Up to 30+ years, with proper care, depends on species
Average adult size Up to 36+” in length, depends on species
Diet Omnivorous, filter feeder
Minimum habitat size 29+ gallons, depending on species
Water temperature 74–80°F
Specific gravity 1.023–1.025

Habitat

Habitat size

A minimum of 29+ gallons is recommended for marine clams; however water conditions can change rapidly in smaller water volumes. A larger aquarium is recommended for larger marine clam species.

Building your habitat

  • Water health -
    • Provide proper filtration to ensure optimal water quality to help maintain health
    • Slow to moderate water circulation, depending on species, should be provided to mimic water currents found in the marine clam's natural habitat
    • Stable water quality (pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite) and water temperature are critical to the health of aquatic life
    • If you are unsure of your water quality, bring a sample to Petco for free testing
    • A protein skimmer can help maintain great water quality and high dissolved oxygen levels
    • An aquatic heater should be used to stabilize water temperature, ensuring it does not fluctuate more than +/-2 degrees in a 24-hour period
    • The specific gravity should remain stable; do not allow specific gravity to fluctuate more than +/-0.001 in a 24-hour period
  • Live rock can provide a natural food source while also enhancing biological filtration
  • Moderate to intense full-spectrum lighting and proper filtration are essential

Feeding

A well-balanced marine clam diet consists of:

  • Filter feeders that feed on live or preserved phytoplankton, or special liquid food
  • Photosynthetic vitamins or trace supplements may also be given
  • Many species of clam require moderate to intense lighting to thrive because they contain the symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae and receive the majority of their nutrition from light through photosynthesis

Things to remember when feeding your large terrestrial frog:

  • Smaller clams should be fed several times a week; large clams do not require supplemental feeding

Marine clam care

  • Maintaining great water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration is important to help keep your marine clam healthy
    • Daily: Check filter, water temperature, specific gravity and other equipment
    • Weekly: Check water quality at least once a week.
    • Monthly: Change 10–25% of the total volume of water every 2–4 weeks, or as needed; change filter media monthly
  • Copper-based medications are toxic to marine clams
  • Clams are sensitive to high levels of nitrate
  • Avoid overcrowded conditions, which are a major cause of stress and disease

Where to buy marine clams

Tridacna clams are available for purchase at Petco online and in Petco Pet Care Centers; availability varies by location. If visiting your local location, please call ahead to check availability.

Supplies

Tank mates

  • Angelfish
  • Blennies
  • Butterflyfish
  • Cardinals
  • Clownfish
  • Damsels
  • Dartfish
  • Dottybacks
  • Dragonets
  • Gobies
  • Jawfish
  • Reef-safe wrasses
  • Tangs

Introduce new inhabitants to the aquarium gradually.

Health

Signs of a healthy marine snail

  • Snails are usually attached to the aquarium glass, décor or substrate
  • Snail remains upright and the operculum is open and intact

Red flags (if you notice any of these signs, contact your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian)

  • Snail is upside-down with the operculum closed or upside-down with the foot extended

Common health issues

Little is known about diseases that affect snails; as long as environmental conditions and food supplies are adequate, mollusks are fairly resistant to disease.

FAQs

  • What do marine snails eat? Snail diet varies by species. Some species are herbivores, consuming algae, while others may be omnivores, feeding on detritus, meat and plant matter.
  • What kind of marine snails are there? There are about 30,000 species of marine snails, including turbo, nassarius, trochus, astrea and cerith, to name a few.

Additional care sheets

Notes and resources

Ask a Pet Care Center associate about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as atypical mycobacterium and salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for aquatic life and should consider not having aquatic life as a pet.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about aquatic life and disease.

The information on this care sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.