The Astrea Snail is a backbone member of many cleanup crews. Due to the shape and patterning on its shell it is also known as the Astraea Star Snail or Astraea Conehead Snail. Its shell tends to be green coloured but over time it can become covered in coralline algae and take on a pink or purple tone. Some specimens have projections on their shells that make them appear starlike.
The Astrea Snail is native to the Caribbean and the western Atlantic Ocean. They can be found on reefs as well as the rock structure and rubble next to coral reefs. In the wild they are most active at night, but once they are acclimatized in captivity they can be seen out and about cleaning during daylight hours as well. They do best in well established tanks with ample rockwork for grazing. They will also clean the sandbed if one is available.
The main reason for keeping Astrea Snails in a home aquarium is their versatility as an all around janitor. While they are able to consume large amounts of various species of green algae they will also consume diatoms, leftover fish food and some species of cyanobacteria. Their gentle nature means that they are able to clean around the bases of corals and are very unlikely to knock them over. They will also keep the glass clean, but prefer to graze on live rock. If necessary, they can be fed seaweed as well. They are completely peaceful and reef safe. Like many snails, they have difficulty turning themselves back over if they fall onto their backs and need to be helped to right themselves. They are also prone to attacks by hermit crabs, especially if they have fallen onto their backs. For this reason, it is recommended to keep a variety of empty shells in the tank to deter the crabs from attacking the snails.
The Astrea Snail will often spontaneously breed in captivity, especially in a mature tank with stable water parameters. They are also among the least expensive and most widely available snails in the hobby. This, combined with their voracious appetite for many types of algae, makes them one of the most popular snails in the saltwater hobby and a welcome addition to any tank.