Nassarius Snails can be a valued member of your reefs clean-up crew. They are good detritus eaters and will help clean up and uneaten fish food and fish waste within your aquarium. These snails are carnivores and will not really help with algae, they will eat any livestock that dies within your tank, but will not actively predate on them.

Nassarius Snail
Nassarius Snail

There have been reports of Nassarius Snails helping to keep the number of Bristle Worms down within a tank, but there have also been reports of them eating beneficial pods.

Nassarius Snails like to dig through your sand bed, scavenging for food. This helps stop dead patches appearing in your sand bed/substrate while keeping it nicely turned over and aerated. They like to bury themselves through the day and as a result, are not really suited bare bottom tanks.

Tank Requirements

Nassarius Snail and Hermit Crab
Hermit checking Nassarius Shell (both crawled away unharmed!)
  • These snails are reef safe.
  • Clean and stable water.
  • Stable magnesium & calcium levels.
  • A reasonably deep sand bed to allow them to hide through the day.
  • Secure rock work – they have been known to knock rocks over.
  • They will not tolerate a high nitrate level
  • Recommended stocking level is 1 – 2 snails per 20 gallons (90L) of water.
  • Caution should be taken when adding these snails with hermit crabs as the hermits do seem to like the shells and will eat the snails for their shells.


  • These are carnivores
  • Detritus
  • Leftover meaty foods
  • Unfortunate deceased livestock


These snails take quite a long time to acclimate. They should be drip acclimatised slowly, for roughly double the amount of time you would do for a fish, about an hour and a half.

When placing it in the tank, it is best to place it on sand work rather than the rocks as they prefer to bury themselves in the substrate.

Snails do not acclimate particularly well, so if after a couple of days you notice your snail is not moving you should place it somewhere that you can keep an eye on it, and if after another couple of days it still hasn’t moved, you should consider removing it from the tank.

Is there a place for Nassarius Snails in the reef tank?

The Nassarius Snail can be a hotly debated subject among aquarists. Should you really allocate X amount of your available bioload to snails that don’t eat algae?

In my opinion, yes you should, as long as your tank is not bare bottomed!

Nassarius Snail and Hermit Crab
Nassarius Snail and Hermit Crab

Nassarius snails will help keep detritus levels down and they will help clean up any uneaten foods, helping to keep water parameters more stable, and as we all know, stability in a reef aquarium is the key to success in this hobby.

If your tank is not yet established enough to support sand sifting/cleaning fish your sand bed will soon turn into a nasty detritus trap, these happy little workers will help you to keep that under control. They will also help clean up any uneaten foods, giving you a little bit of extra feeding capacity (let’s face it, we are all guilty of overfeeding some times!)

Even if you have a sand sifting fish, a couple of these little critters can only help your cause. They will be able to reach places you and your fish just can’t reach without destroying your rockwork/aquascape.

 Personal Review

These snails are little heroes, as mentioned throughout this article they add value to you clean up crew by clearing up in places no other member of your CUC wants to.

They are incredibly active at all hours, some times they are in your sand bed and all you can see is their antenna or a bit of their shell, but they are always on the go!

I do worry that eventually, my hermit will kill them, but there are shells dotted around to hopefully deter him from snacking on them. I also wouldn’t keep loads of these in one tank because I don’t want them to starve if I don’t overfeed my tank.