Nassarius vibex - Bruised nassa
 Bruised nassa

Nassarius vibex - Bruised nassa

Nassarius vibex
Nassarius vibex - Bruised nassa
Picture by Brett and Brett's Reef

Kingdom:      Animalia
Phylum:         Mollusca
Class:            Gastropoda
Order:           Neogastropoda
Family:          Nassariidae
Genus:           Nassarius
Species: vibex
Nassarius vibex is not listed in CITES or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
This snail is known under many different common names in English, including Bruised nassa and Common Eastern nassa.

Geographical range, habitat and habits

The Bruised nassa is found from Cape Cod, Massachusetts down to Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, in the Caribbean Sea, and along the northern Atlantic coast of South America. The southernmost specimens live off the coast of Brazil.  

The typical Bruised nassa habitat is intertidal sand or mud flats, but you can also find these snails in very shallow waters and in creek banks. The snail likes to spend most of its time buried under sand or mud with only its “trunk” (which is actually a protruding mouth) extending above the substrate. The Bruised nassa is equipped with a keen sense of smell which comes in handy when searching for food.

The Bruised nassa can live for several years.

Size and appearance

The largest known specimens are about 1 cm / 0.4 in.

The shell is pointy and cone-shaped with a groove in the front, lower part of the shell. The shell colouration varies from specimen to specimen and can include shades of white, yellow, light brown, and dark brown, and some specimens are adorned with dark bands. In most specimens, the shell features either ridges or bumps.

The Bruised nassa can extend its mouth so far out that it resembles an elephant's trunk.

Bruised nassa care

The Bruised nassa is a popular scavenger, especially in refugiums and small aquariums. If you wish to form a clean-up crew, one Bruised nassa snail per two gallons of water is a good rule of thumb.

It wants to spend time buried under sand or mud, so it is important to choose a substrate that allows the snail to carry out this natural behavior in the aquarium. Adding live rock to the setup is recommended.

We still do not know for sure if the Bruised nassa feed only on carrion and eggs, or if it is capable of eating other living animals. Caution is therefore recommended.

Even though the Bruised nassa is spread over a large geographical area, most specimens will readily adapt to a water temperature of 72-78° F / 22-25.5° C. Keep the specific gravity at 1.023-1.025, the pH-value within the 8.1-8.4 range, and the water hardness around dKH 8-12.

The Bruised nassa will not tolerate copper-based medications and it is sensitive to high levels of nitrate.

Feeding Bruised nassa

In the wild, the Bruised nassa feeds primarily on carrion and on eggs laid in the substrate by certain polychaetes. (The polychaetes are a class of annelid worms, sometimes referred to as bristle worms.)
As mentioned above, the Bruised nassa is a popular scavenger and will for instance eat left over food and detritus in the aquarium. It has an excellent sense of smell and will rapidly seek out new food in the tank. If you keep many snails, the substrate can look almost as if it is boiling when they all react to the smell of new food in the water. This burrowing snail will also help you keep the substrate well aerated.  
In some aquariums, leftovers and naturally occurring food will not be enough to sustain the Bruised nassa snails, especially if you keep many snails or if the aquarium does not have a well established sand bed. You can supplement their diet with virtually all sorts of meaty food, e.g. frozen brine shrimps, freeze-dried larvae, and cut up pieces of fish and seafood.
It is not yet known if the Bruised nassa feed on carrion and eggs only or if it is capable of harming other living animals.

Breeding Bruised nassa

We do not know any reports of Bruised nassa breeding in aquaria.