Fighting Conch - Strombus alatus
 Strombus alatus

Fighting Conch - Strombus alatus

Fighting Conch
Fighting Conch - Strombus alatus
Picture by Brett and Brett's Reef

Kingdom:      Animalia
Phylum:         Mollusca
Class:            Gastropoda
Order:           Mesogastropoda
Family:          Strombidae
Genus:           Strombus
Species: alatus

Strombus alatus, also known as Strombus alutus, is a marine gastropod mollusc. The Latin word molluscus litteraty means “soft” and all molluscs are soft-bodied invertebrates. Some of them have developed hard external or internal shells to protect them, e.g. the Fighting conch which is protected by an external shell composed of calcium carbonate.  

As mentioned above, the Fighting conch is a gastropod, i.e. a member of the class Gastropoda, a name which means “stomach foot” in Latin. Other examples of molluscs are the oysters and clams of the class Bivalvia, and the octopuses, squids, and cuttlefish of the class Cephalopoda.

The Fighting conch, Strombus alatus,is sometimes referred to as Florida Fighting conch to distinguish it from the West Indian Fighting conch, Strombus pugilis.

Strombus alatus is not listed in CITES or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Geographical range, habitat and habits

The Fighting Conch is found in warm Atlantic waters, from North Carolina in southern United States and throughout the Caribbean Sea. It inhabits sea grass beds and sand and gravel bottoms in shallow waters.

Size and appearance

The Fighting Conch can be up to 4 in / 10 cm in length.

The soft body is protected by a very hard white, ivory, yellow, brown, gray, orange and/or green shell with shell spines. The base foot has a sharp serrated spike which the snail uses to defend itself.  

The snout is long and the eyes located on stalks. The long snout can extend, similar to the snout of an anteater. At the front of the shell, you can see two areas where the edge pinches upwards, a configuration which makes it possible for the eye stalks to peek out. Thanks to this, the Fighting conch can observe its surroundings without exposing the rest of its body.

Fighting conch care

The Fighting conch is considered an easy species to care for in aquariums. Since it is a burrowing animal, it should be provided with a deep sand bed – preferably live sand.

Despite its name, the Fighting conch is generally a peaceful species that will leave other animals alone. Males are however territorial towards each other and will fight unless the aquarium is large enough for each male to establish his own territory. The Fighting conch is reef safe.

The Fighting conch will help the aquarist in many different ways: it will remove algae, it will clean the substrate from detritus, and it will sift through the sand and keep it aerated.

Try to resemble the natural environment of the Fighting conch in the aquarium. The specific gravity should be kept in the 1.023-1.025 range, the water temperature at 72-80 degrees F / 22-27 degrees C, the pH-value between 8.0 and 8.4, and the water hardiness at dKH 8-12.

Lime many other invertebrates, the Fighting conch does not handle nitrate well, so keep a close eye on the levels of organic waste. You must also refrain form using copper-based medications in the aquarium while keeping Fighting conch. 

Feeding Fighting conch

The Fighting conch is an omnivore species that feeds on algae and detritus. As mentioned above, the Fighting conch will help the aquarist in many different ways: it will remove algae, it will clean the substrate from detritus (decaying organic matter), and it will sift through the sand, keeping it aerated.

The long snout of the Fighting conch can be extended like the nose of an anteater. When the snail eats, it collects its food with its radula, a type of tongue located inside the snout. The radula has a rough texture which makes it possible for the snail to scrape off algae from stones, aquarium glass and other surfaces in the tank.

The naturally occurring algae and detritus in your aquarium might not be enough to keep your Fighting conch well-fed, so be prepared to supplement with other food. It will east most types of foods that sink to the bottom, e.g. algae pellets, dried algae, and pellets for herbivores, carnivores and omnivores.

Breeding Fighting conch

When the Fighting conch reaches sexual maturity, it grows a flared lip on its shell.

The Fighting conchs lay eggs in long, gelatinous strands.

The Fighting conch can be at least 10 years old.