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Abalone

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Species group:

Other common names: Ezo Abalone, Edible Abalone

Scientific name: Haliotis spp.

The basics:
Although most people are only familiar with cooked Abalones, aquarists know that these wonderful snails are far more interesting when alive! Several species now in the pet trade are cultured on farms, which relieves pressure on wild populations…and saves a few from the pot!

Abalones that appear in the pet trade usually hail from the Indo-Pacific Region or the Caribbean Sea. Various species may inhabit coral reefs, rocky ledges, sand flats, tide pools, and sea grass beds.

Appearance / health:
This impressive, limpet-like snail reaches10 cm (4 in) in length. The elongated shell, often algae-coated, is clad in hues of brown, reddish, green and/or blue, and has an iridescent inner surface. Large respiratory holes line its edges. The mantle is studded with numerous hair-like papillae.

The Abalone is considered to be a delicate captive, best suited for experienced aquarists. They need a great deal of food, and are sensitive to ammonia, nitrates, copper-based medications, and changes in ph.

Behavior / temperament:
Abalones are nocturnal, but may forage by day. They will consume some types of undesirable algae, and will not harm corals or other invertebrates. While moving about, Abalones plow furrows into the sand, helping to stir and oxygenate it.

Housing:
Abalones do best in large, well-cycled aquariums that are furnished with live sand and rock crevices into which they can retire.

The following water quality parameters should be maintained in order to assure long-term health: Temperature: 22.7-25.5 C (73-78 F); Specific Gravity (salinity):1.023-1.025; pH: 8.0-8.4; Alkalinity 8-12 dKH; Calcium: 350-450 ppm. Temperate zone species, not common in the trade, require cooler temperatures.

Diet:
Abalones will feed readily upon algae, dry seaweed, par-boiled kale and other greens, spirulina tablets, and algae pellets. Calcium supplements and trace elements should be added as directed by the manufacturer.

Breeding:
Abalones reproduce by releasing sperm and eggs into the water, and therefore are not easily bred in home aquariums.

Written by Frank Indiviglio

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