I recently acquired two dozen bumblebee snails (Pusiostoma mendicaria) to supplement my reef tank’s “clean-up crew.”
Bumblebee snails are native to the shallow, reef-filled waters of Fiji and other tropical islands. They’re small (about the size of a jelly belly) and considered “reef safe” because they don’t eat living corals or fish. Instead, these opportunistic omnivores feed mostly on detritus and “leftovers” (meaning uneaten fish food … or what it becomes a few hours later).
Like most invertebrates, the bumblebees went through a 45-minute acclimatization drip before I introduced them to the tank. This ensured that their systems had time to adjust to differences in temperature and salinity.
(The flexible tubing connects to my tank, and the little blue head on the end allows me to set and adjust the rate of flow. The larger shell at the center is a halloween hermit who came home the same day as the snails.)
After the drip came the drop – right into the reef, where the bumblebees quickly made themselves at home. Most have selected caves that serve as “home base” during the day. The snails venture out mostly at feeding time and at night.
As snails go, the bumblebees are one of a few that meet with almost universal approval. Most people I know don’t normally call any kind of mollusc “cute” – but for bumblebees, I think most would make an exception.
What do you think? Are the bumblebees cute, or is a snail by another name still just a snail?