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Nassarius (Nassarius distortus) snail breeding extravaganza

biophilia

Supporting Member
Hey all,

I'm slowly stumbling my way through getting nassarius (Nassarius distortus) snails to settlement at the moment in a sketchy bucket in my living room. It'll likely be a long process because I haven't found any literature documenting breeding this particular species, but I thought it might be interesting to share on here! I have a thread going on Humblefish, but wanted to share it directly with Bay Area peeps, too.

I'm about 5 days post-hatch now, so will paste in a bunch of stuff I posted there to get you up to speed so that you may watch me fail, try again -- and likely fail again -- in realtime.

Unlike trochus snails, which sometimes settle and grow in aquaria, nassarius snails have a pretty long planktonic larval period (weeks to months) and need to eat a mix of foods as tiny, swimming larval veligers, so they need a special larval grow-out tank.

I'm using this paper as a reference for larval development, but it's a temperate species (Nassarius reticulatus) so I'm hoping everything goes faster in warm water. So far, the egg hatching period has been much faster (~3 days vs. 9-15 days).


Here's the culture vessel setup I'm using. It's pretty barebones, but I want to see if I can make it work with something simple before making it needlessly complicated.


It's a 2 gallon bucket (with a DIY acrylic lid to let ambient light in) nested inside of a 5 gallon bucket. The outer bucket contains a heater, filter floss seeded in my reef tank, a bag of carbon, and a rigid airline for aeration.

The inner bucket has holes around the entire upper perimeter at waterline with 75 micron mesh siliconed onto them. A very squeaky old Jebao doser pumps water from the outer bucket into the inner bucket every hour and slowly changes out the water in the inner bucket with the "filtered" water in the outer bucket. This setup keeps the delicate larvae away from the heater, filter floss, and carbon bag. I'm using a dosing pump instead of a regular pump because too much flow into the inner bucket will push the larvae into the mesh screens, damage them, and also will reduce the concentration of suspended food.

To start, I scraped freshly-deposited nassarius eggs off the back wall of my reef tank with a razor blade, put them in the inner bucket, and waited a few days...
 
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They hatched somewhere around the 60 hour mark. Here's a little larval veliger swimming in some food suspension shortly after hatching:


I'm feeding a mix of Phyto Feast, Golden Pearls (5-50 micron), and Brightwell Reef Blizzard "O". about 4 times per day.

Apparently they don't survive on phyto alone. They need a compound food that has zooplankton in it.

Here's a close up video of one of the larval veligers at 72 hours post hatch. They are about 250 microns long and already have little eye spots, a tiny foot, and big velum that look like dumbo ears covered in swimming cilia. Under the microscope they zip around like little bumblebees. They are adorable!

 
So far, they seem to be developing (and eating) but who knows.

veliger_gut_full_eyespot_72hours_post_hatch_labels.jpg




More to follow...
 
Wow, this is awesome, looks like you are on your way...good luck !

BTW, you are right about Trouchus snails, I have a little 15g and started with just 2 adults, now I have little ones everywhere :)
 
I have seen what I believe to be nassirius successfully reproduce in tanks before. Maybe I’m wrong about what type they were or maybe it’s an easier one
 
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My nassarius snails have breed in my tank a bunch I didn’t even know they could. Got them off all sizes lol
Cool! I’ve never heard of them successfully reproducing in a reef tank before because their pelagic larval period is almost a month. Are you sure they are not cerith or strombus? Those are often confused for nassarius and reproduce easily in aquariums because they hatch directly into little baby versions of the adults.
 
I have seen what I believe to be nassirius successfully reproduce in tanks before. Maybe I’m wrong about what type they were or maybe it’s an easier one
I’m not sure either, but I think they are often Hawaiian strombus snails, whelk, cerith or similar. Totally possible, that they are nassarius though! I’ve been trying to find photos of “nassarius” babies in aquariums on forums and such and haven’t found any yet. Would love to find out!
 
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As of this morning they seem to have undergone the transformation into their second larval stage. Their vellum/wings and eye spots are larger, they have the beginnings of a little siphon tube, and they are much larger. Two days ago they were 250 microns in size and now they are close to 500 microns. The little grid squares in the slide are 1000 microns…


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Cool! I’ve never heard of them successfully reproducing in a reef tank before because their pelagic larval period is almost a month. Are you sure they are not cerith or strombus? Those are often confused for nassarius and reproduce easily in aquariums because they hatch directly into little baby versions of the adults.
Honestly I started with like 4 or 5. Now I have a bunch of all different sizes that crawl up out of the sand and do their stuff. They look like the snails in this pic. I didn’t realize it was so uncommon for them to breed in a tank
 

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Honestly I started with like 4 or 5. Now I have a bunch of all different sizes that crawl up out of the sand and do their stuff. They look like the snails in this pic. I didn’t realize it was so uncommon for them to breed in a tank
That’s awesome! As far as I know, they are uncommon, but I’m not really sure. I’ve been trying to find photos of nassarius babies online and haven’t found any yet. I think AlgaeBarn breeds the other common nassarius species (Nassarius vibex)
 
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