Cerithium Caeruleum (Black Sand Snail): Why this cleaner is a must have in your marine tank!

Known for their ease of care, Cerith snails are among the hardiest of animals in the marine aquarium trade and are easily established in the tank. They can be identified from their pointy shells and are usually dark to black or tan in color. The size of the species commonly available in the aquarium trade varies from less than an inch (<2.5 cm) to close to two inches (<5 cm). They are known to be very long lived.

Like all molluscs these snails should be acclimatized slowly through drip acclimatization when moved to a new tank. Allow at least 2 hours for acclimatization. Although being hardy, Cerith snails are intolerant to copper and high nitrate levels (over 20). They prefer a specific gravity of 1.023 – 1.025, pH 8.1 – 8.4 and a temperature of 72-78° F / 22-25° C. They do best in aquariums with a lot of live rock and a deep sand bed.

Cerith snails will do a lot of good for your reef setup seeing as they scavenge and will eat any uneaten food, fish waste, and detritus as well as algae. Their preferred food source is however algae and if there are enough algae in the aquarium they will eat exclusively algae. If the aquarium has little algae the snails need to be fed supplement food, such as dried sea weed wrapped around a rock or otherwise fixated on the bottom of the tank. They are best fed at night as they are primarily active during the night even if they can be out and about in the daytime as well. They will burrow through the sand in search of food and a safe place to sleep; thereby making sure no oxygen depleted areas are created in the bottom substrate. They are among the only snails that will eat algae growing on the glass beneath the sand bed.


Cerithium caeruleum

Cerithium caeruleum, the Cerith sand snail, is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Cerithiidae. This snail is an important cleanup crew as it feeds on Cyanobactera – the red slime algae menace. The Cerith Sand Snail (Cerithium caeruleum) mainly stays in the substrate during the day. It also frees the sand from cyanobacteria by chewing it through. At night it becomes active and rasps algae deposits off stones and glass. It also eats organic waste. Thus the Cerith Sand Snail has an important cleaning function in the aquarium.

The Cerith Sand Snail should be kept in aquaria from 10 litres which offer enough fine substrate. In order to achieve the desired cleaning effect circa 10 snails per 100 litres should be introduced. The snails are in general very peaceful and easy to care for animals.

Facts about Cerith sand snail:

  • Scientific name: Cerithium Caeruleum
  • Common name: Cerith Sand Snail
  • Max size: 3cm
  • Care level: easy
  • Compatibleness: peaceful
  • Feeding: Cyanobacteria, algae, organic waste

Why should you get a cerith snail?

  • They are exceptionally easy to care for.
  • They are quite resilient and long-lived, and are comparatively less sensitive to changing aquarium conditions (e.g. salinity fluctuation).
  • They are completely reef-safe, and have not been reported as a threat to any kind of beneficial organism.
  • Their smallish size (usually less than an inch) permits their use in nano aquaria and allows them to reach into tight crevasses between rocks (and notknock over small attached items like coral frags). Their burrowing behavior helps to stir and aerate aquarium substrates.
  • Best of all, they serve as overall effective aquarium bottom cleaners; not only will they consume particulate matter that is trapped within the sand bed, but they will also grab anything they can on the surface such as hair algae or ever cyanobacteria. Many aquarists who keep them do not realize how active they really are, since they forage mainly during the dark hours. When they can be seen, however, they are fairly attractive animals.

Do clown fish really need Sea anemones? (Symbiotic analysis)


The amazing thing about the ecosystem is the interdependence between species and their adaptations to the surrounding nature. It is a clear perspective of life.
Symbiosis can be easily defined as a relationship of mutual benefit. In ecology however, it is used to define a state of close and prolonged association between two or more organisms of different species that normally benefits both members.
This definition drives me to my next point.
Classification of symbiotic relationships
There are three major classifications of symbiosis:
Mutualism- Occurs when both species benefit from the interaction.
Commensalism- Occurs when only one species benefits and the other do not gain or lose anything.
Parasitism- Takes place when only one species nourishes itself to the disadvantage of the other.
In respect to the above definitions, the symbiotic relationship between the sea anemone and the clown fish (Pomacentridae allardi) can therefore be classified under “mutualism”.
There are only 26 different species of clownfish and over 1000 species of sea anemones. But only 10 species of anemones can co exist with the clownfish species.
The clown fish uses the sea anemones for protection against its natural predators. Clownfish can safely do so because its body releases a thick layer of mucus that protects it from the stings of the Sea anemone tentacles.
In return, the clown fish also protects the anemone from fish that nibble its tentacles. One fish in particular that feeds on anemones are the butterfly fish.

There are other benefits besides offering protection to each other. The clownfish also provides nutrients to the sea anemone in the form of wastes.
Cases of clownfish luring other fishes to the anemones have also been witnessed. The sea anemones will then strike the advancing fish using its tentacles to dish out a paralyzing sting of nematocyst.
• The mucus coating of the clownfish is believed to be three or four times thicker than in other fish
• The clownfish is born with a mucus layer that is already thicker than average, but as it grows, it can mix its mucus with that of the anemone’s to create a stronger barrier.
So can clownfish survive without their anemones?
The clown fish has more to benefit from the relationship than the anemone. From experience the question should be how long will the clownfish survive without an anemone? It is always advisable to pair up your clownfish with anemones.
For this stories and more check out our website and catalogue.
We also feature the best species of clown fish and carpet anemones.

Grabami Invert

Why you need a cleaner crew in your aquarium fish tank

Most people take pride in crispy clean aquarium fish tanks and will go to great lengths to keep their aquariums clean.

There are simpler ways to clean your aquarium and it involves adding some cleaner(s) crew into your tank. This will improve your tank in the following ways;


The beauty of an aquarium is first of all its appeal. Some of the marine species are quite colorful and will vibrant. They add enough life to light up any aquarium. Common cleaners comprise of snails, crabs, shrimps and starfish. They will decorate your saltwater tank and still manage to keep it clean.

Parasite control

A tank infested by parasites will no doubt lead to various fish diseases which will be costly to treat or even lead to the premature death of your fishes.

Algae removal

Orange Scissors

You do not want to own a saltwater tank blooming with green algae or brown algae. Algae are notorious and fond of growing in areas you cannot reach to clean yourself. But the good thing is there are cleaners whose natural diet is algae. For example, the turbo snail is a heavy feeder of algae and will clear your tank walls and sand bed of this nuisance. No algae are safe when you own a couple of shrimps, snails and crabs. They will even clear the algae that are hidden on crevices.


Cleaners will eat just about anything in your tank. They feed on all the left over foods that your fish will not eat. They feed on detritus (a fancy way of saying they feed on fish wastes). These cleaning crews are indeed “bottom dwellers” but that’s what makes them interesting. They literally feed themselves and require minimal maintenance from their keepers.



Cleaners like the shrimp will feed on parasites. Larger fish often seek the services of shrimps and open wide their gills and mouths for the shrimps to feed on the parasites. This is considered therapeutic in the as they rid the other fish in the tank of stress caused by infections from parasites.

As an importer of marine fish from Africa, there are other reasons why we recommend cleaners for your tanks.

  • Cleaners are compatible in almost all tank setups
  • Cleaners repopulate very fast in the wild

Trochus Snail

Fish for thought continues and today we feature a functional invertebrate that will guarantee a clean tank free from most algae common in saltwater tanks.

The biggest challenge faced by most hobbyists is keeping a clean tank, especially free from algae. Most articles have addressed this issue but I seek to make it simpler. You need a “cleaning crew”.

This article will feature the Trochus Snail which goes by a lot of names in the aquarium industry. Some of these are: Turban shell, Turban snail, or top shell.

Trochus kabisa.jpg

The Trochus snail has a reputation of being a good eater and it is preferred by most hobbyists as it feeds in some of the most common algae that are known to invade aquarium tanks. They feed on film algae (both green and brown), diatoms, macro algae and to some extent cyano bacteria.

They do well in aquariums that have sufficient hiding places and enough room to forage. In order to keep them in your tank for a longer period adding live rock into your tank will provide algae, cyanobacteria and diatoms to avoid their sudden death due to starvation as they constantly feed. But if for some reason algae (food) become scarce it can feed on dried marine seaweed to supplement its diet.

marine sea weed

The reason I choose to highlight the Trochus snail is its ability to graze on all surfaces of the aquarium, hence cleaning the glass sides of tanks as well. This snail also has the ability to “right themselves” in case they happen to topple and fall over.

“There is nothing new under the sun”

Someone once told me this to inspire me when I felt all the good things had been discovered and the ocean had no more to offer in to the aquarium business. It was meant to help me look at the “glass half full” as opposed to the “glass half empty”

The year was 2008 and my business Kenya marine center was gaining momentum both in sales and experience. I had to offer the market something and my plans for expansion were limited to supply.

Truth is I spend a lot of my time learning about ornamental fish, not only selling them but their general welfare; health and adaptations.  So it was not by chance that I introduced the black snails (Cerithium caerueum) into a market that was already flooded with other options.

black snails 32

As I think about my company’s milestones, I cannot shelve the thought of my contribution towards improving the ornamental fish industry. The customer satisfaction is what I take pride in as it is comforting to know whenever people think invertebrates, they think of Kenya marine center. To date the black snails are in almost 90 % of the total shipments I send out in a business year.

The amazing thing about the black snails is how it attracts sales from countries like the USA (especially Southern parts of the states) a place with similar if not equally dominant local species.

So exactly, why does the black snail stand out to warrant such furore from an expert like me?

cyanobacteria 4222

Most reports indicate that the black snails are a hungry lot that will eat all the bacteria especially the notorious saltwater Cyanobacteria from your aquarium. They sound dangerous? I agree, but it’s the kind of dangerous that proves beneficial to everybody who wants their tanks clean.

In my experience, if I was to nominate  the best “cleaner crew” in the world for all aquarium set ups then it will be an easy choice. Cerithium cerium.

15 of these cleaners can clear a tank of up to 300 litres and still demand more bacteria to chew on. They are safe to keep and a must have functional animal for all aquariums.

This year is indeed the year of jubilee and I have dedicated my time to sharing with the people who played a part in all the milestones of my brainchild – Kenya Marine Center – as it reaches a decade since coming to birth.

The writer is the owner and CEO of Kenya Marine Center. Africa’s best priced ornamental marine fish supplier. Jochen Federschmied

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