Trochus snails are probably one the most popular and desirable marine invertebrates in the aquarium hobby. The combination of interesting colors and cleaning functions places them between one of the most preferred ornamental species.
Trochus snails are peaceful, beautiful, easy to breed, reef-safe, compatible with corals, and easy to care for. Thus, these snails can be a great addition to a peaceful community marine tank.
If you are interested in keeping them as aquarium pets or want to learn more about these snails, this article provides valuable insights into the captive care of Trochus snails.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Quick Notes about Trochus Snails
|Top shells, Top snails, or Banded Top snails
|Tank size (minimum)
|10 gallons (~40 liters)
|Easy – Medium
|1 – 2 inches (~2,5 – 5 cm)
|74 – 79 °C (23 – 26 °C)
|SG = 1.021 – 1.025
|8.1 – 8.4
|8 – 12
|Less than 20 ppm
|up to 2 – 3 years
|Creamy white with reddish-brown patches, purplish, greenish or brown
Natural Habitat of Trochus Snails
A century ago, the distribution of Trochus snails was restricted to the western Pacific and Southeast Asia. Nowadays, these snails are commonly found in the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific area, from the Indian Ocean to Northern Australia.
They generally inhabit the upper intertidal zone or fairly shallow waters (up to 20 meters (or 65 ft.) deep), near coral reefs on rocky shores, where they graze on algal films or macroscopic algae.
Description of Trochus Snails
It can be a surprise for some aquarists, but despite common belief, the maximum size of Trochus Snails is not 1 inch (or 2,5 cm).
Some Trochus species can grow twice as big or even reach an impressive 3 inches (7,5 cm)!
|varies between 1 – 2.5 inches (or 2.5 – 6.5 cm)
|between 0.6 – 1.5 inches (1.7 – 4 cm)
|between 1- 2 inches (2.5 – 5 cm)
|up to 3 inches (7.5 cm)
Note: The main problem is that the genus Trochus includes more than 30 species. Unfortunately, nobody really knows the exact species they have in the tanks because they all look very similar to an ordinary aquarist.
Their shells have a variety of colors where the most popular colors are creamy-white with reddish-brown patches, purplish, greenish, or brown.
Sometimes the coloration consists of very narrow numerous radiating lines. However, with time, coloration loses its brightness because generally, adult and large shells become encrusted with algae.
Many Trochus species have small tentacles around the perimeter of their body, these are feelers. They use them to detect chemicals in the water that are released by the food.
Lifespan/Longevity of Trochus Snails
Currently, there is no data available on the maximum lifespan for different Trochus species in the wild. There are reports that some species can live up to 15 years!
However, in captivity, Trochus snails live at least 2 – 3 years, if appropriately cared for.
Note: In snails, there is a correlation between body size and lifespan. In general, larger snails have been known to live longer.
Behavior of Trochus Snails
Trochus species are non-aggressive and solitary by nature. They do not have any means to attack other tank inhabitants and have only their operculum and shell for protection from aggressors.
Therefore, these snails prefer a calm aquatic environment and peaceful tank mates.
Trochus species are nocturnal. They like to come out at night mostly and hide in the corners or under rocks during the day. Actually, this kind of behavior should not surprise or worry you.
Note: As a matter of fact, nocturnal behavior is pretty common amongst grazing invertebrates and is mainly associated with attempting to avoid visual predators whilst feeding.
Trochus Snails are not the burrowing type of snails but they can hide amazingly well. Because of their shells structure and coloration, they can easily blend in with the rocks, so you keep looking past them.
These snails can have very erratic behavior. For example, Trochus snails can be active for some time and when … suddenly become lethargic and barely move for days. Sometimes they can twist and shake their shell around.
Trochus snails can also flip themselves over to right themselves. However, some aquarists also reported them intentionally flipping themselves upside down. Unfortunately, turning them over does not help because they can do it for days.
The reason for the consistent flipping action is still unknown, although there are claims that it can be a reaction to stress. So, check your water parameters, an issue with the water can cause them to not grip on to anything and fall over. In addition, if it happens on the sand, you need to move it to the rocks.
Trochus snails prefer a rocky environment to a sandy.
- Social: No
- Active: Yes
- Peaceful: Yes
- Burrowers: No
- Flipping: Yes
Are Trochus Snails Reef Safe?
Yes, Trochus snails are reef-safe. When looking for food, they will not try to snack on corals. Even more, in nature, they play a positive role in coral’s life. By keeping the growth of macroalgae (seaweeds) down to a short turf, they create space for corals to settle and grow.
The only problem you may have with them is if you did not cement corals in place. When they are small they will not cause any trouble. However, when they max out (at around 2 inches), Trochus snails can knock things around them and bulldoze through the corals.
Note: To prevent any incidents it is recommended to glue corals to the rocks.
Feeding Trochus Snails
Trochus snails are grazers; they feed by grazing on corals and rocks for microscopic algae as well as diatoms and cyanobacteria.
These snails have a strong and rasping radula to scrap the brown algae, green algae, hair algae, and filamentous algae from the rocks, walls, and boulders in a tank.
In any case, although they are great scavengers and clean up crew, you want to make sure that it is not the only food available to them.
You need to give them the occasional supplemental feeding. In the aquarium, Trochus snails will also feed on leftover shrimp or fish food, such as:
- algae/Spirulina wafers,
- frozen foods, etc.
Trochus snails do not eat coralline algae.
Keep in mind that Trochus snails are voracious eaters, so … they also leave tons of poop everywhere. So, do not forget to vacuum the gravel when you do your water changes, otherwise, it can affect your water parameters eventually.
- Diet Type: Omnivore
- Feeding Frequency: 1 – 2 times a week
Keeping and Housing Trochus Snails
As far as aquatic creatures go, Trochus snails are easy to take care of. In fact, they are considered low maintenance. Basically, they should be maintained under conditions that are suitable for any other typical reef-aquarium inhabitants.
Make sure that the tank is set up correctly, and that the water is properly cycled.
Trochus snails do not require a lot of space, however, it will not be a good idea to keep them in small tanks as well.
The main problems with small tanks:
- It can be difficult to keep your water parameters stable.
- It can be hard for the snails to find enough food and you can have feeding problems.
Thus, I’d recommend that you provide a tank that is about 10 gallons (40 liters) per one adult snail you plan to house in the tank.
Do not listen to those who say that one snail per gallon or two is good enough. I have to repeat that Trochus snails have voracious appetites and grow fast and in smaller tanks, there is a good chance they will starve to death.
Water type, Temperature, Hardness, and pH:
Temperature: The ideal water temperature for keeping the Trochus snails is between the range of 74 – 79 °C (23 – 26 °C).
pH: Maintain optimal pH values 8.1 – 8.4 for the snails to thrive in your saltwater aquarium.
Hardness: Keep water hardness values between 8 – 12 dKH.
Calcium and Magnesium: Keeping calcium concentration in the range of 400 to 450 ppm and magnesium between 1250 and 1350 are optimal. Some hobbyists have also noted that when magnesium gets to about 1500 – 1600 Trochus snails can become lethargic.
Trochus snails are nocturnal creatures. They do not really need light.
Therefore, lighting should be adapted to the needs of your corals and fish in the tank.
Trochus snails are not diggers and do not have any preference for the substrate.
These snails prefer a rocky environment that is typically where you will see them. Thus, tank décor should include plenty of structures for Trochus snails to crawl, hide and feed.
Acclimation and Source:
Some aquarists complain that Trochus snails can be hit or miss – sometimes they thrive while in other cases they don’t last long in the tanks.
It is also true. Those snails which were bred in aquariums are much harder than wild-caught.
Before putting them into your tank do not forget to carefully acclimate them as all invertebrates. Do it very slowly (1 – 2 hours), let them accommodate to a new environment.
Basic Tank Equipment (links to check the price on Amazon)
Sexing Trochus Snails
Trochus snails are not hermaphrodites; each individual organism is either male or female.
Unfortunately, I could not find any study describing how males and females cannot be distinguished by external features.
Breeding Trochus Snails
Trochus snails are very easy to breed even in home aquariums.
These snails are broadcast spawners. It means that females do not lay eggs, instead, they release eggs (millions!) into the water, while males release their semen (a cloudy white substance).
During spawning, the entire tank looks like milk for several hours.
Fertilized eggs produce larvae that settle on the seafloor and grow into a new snail.
According to some studies, Trochus snails have an unusually short larval duration of 3–7 days. After that, the metamorphose into tiny copies (less than 1 mm or 0.039 inches) of the adults. They grow really fast.
Note: Actually, short larval duration explains why the original distribution of this genus was geographically limited (see above).
It is still unknown, how they decide that it is time to breed but it seems like the moon cycle affects their breeding timing.
Important: Check your equipment. A lot of baby snails getting stuck in the skimmer.
The survival rate of larvae is very low. Only a few dozen will make it to adulthood. You can also shut off my skimmer to improve the odds.
Trochus snails will not mess with any of the other tank mates. The ideal situation for these snails is a peaceful community tank.
For example, they are compatible with:
- Shrimp, for example, Sexy Shrimp, Red Fire shrimp (Lysmata debelius), Peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni), Bumble bee shrimp, Skunk Cleaner (Lysmata amboinensis), etc.
- Snails like Fighting Conch Snail, Astrea Snails, Cerith Snails, Mexican turbo snails, etc.
Be Careful or Avoid
In nature, Trochus snails are food for a variety of fish and invertebrate species (such as wrasses, rays, crabs, octopus, triton, and bailer shells).
In aquariums, I would not recommend keeping them with hermit crabs (like Halloween Hermit Crab, Blue Leg Hermit Crab, etc.) as well. The problem is that Hermit crabs can try to kill them just for their shells.
Even if you have numerous empty shells spread out through the tank, it does not guarantee safety for the snail.
Be careful with Nassarius Snail, there are some conflicting reports where Nassarius snails attacked Trochus snails.
Trochus snails are excellent scavengers and easy to care for. They are absolutely harmless creatures and can be safely kept in reef tanks.
These snails are low-maintenance pets and moderately hardy. Provide them with stable water parameters, feed them regularly, and they will be fine.