Fighting Conch

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Strombus alatus - Gmelin, 1791
Fighting Conch

A fast-growing, nonaggressive microalgae grazer. Paul Humann


Conchs (“konks”) are active herbivores and make hardy, interesting additions for many types of marine aquaria.

This species is misnamed: it retracts into its shell and sometime gives a startled hop when threatened. It is not the least bit aggressive. Conchs move with a curious lurching motion that is fascinating to watch.

They are excellent sand-stirrers.

Unlike the related Queen Conch, this species attains a modest size and can be kept for many years in the aquarium.

An attractive similar species is the West Indian Fighting Conch, Strombus pugilis.

Family: Strombidae

Other common name(s):

  • Florida Fighting Conch

Native range:

Maximum length: 13 cm (5 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 38 L (10 gal)

Lighting: Must be sufficient to support healthy algal growth.

Water: Marine 24 °C (75 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)


Grazes on all sorts of algal growth, diatoms, and detritus. To ensure it is getting enough to eat, offer sinking herbivore pellets. Sea Lettuce, Ulva lactuca, can be cultivated and will be eaten with relish. If the conch starts climbing the aquarium walls, it may be hungry and in search of food.

Aquarium Compatibility

Will ignore fishes and most reef invertebrates to focus on its grazing. May starve in a system with other herbivores competing for food on the substrate. Large hermit crabs will attack and kill juveniles under 1.5 in. (3.8 cm) for their shells.

Special Care

A deep sand bed with open areas to graze is essential.


Oceans, Reefs and Aquariums (ORA) has pioneered the captive culture of this species and the Queen Conch, Strombus gigas.


The shell of Strombus alatus is brownish to chestnut inside; the outside is drab gray to brown, with small bumps on the rim of each whorl. The body is gray to pale drab green; a pair of large eyes with an evident iris and pupil are visible on tentacles at the front.

Reference: The 101 Best Marine Invertebrates
Image credit: MLW
Text credit: SWM