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Apr 5, 2004
Orange County NY
I was wondering what anyones experience with cowries are. I have had one for 3 months. It is a lawn mower when it comes to algae. Has so far left everyone else alone.



Well-known member
Jan 25, 2004
My understanding of Cowries are they feed on algaes, but as they grow, they will feed on sponge & possibly soft corals. I did find an article by Rob Toonen for you Cowries. Here are a few quotes:

...despite the claims of your local pet shop, most species are predatory (feed on animal prey) rather than herbivorous (feed on algae). There are literally hundreds of species of Cypraea, and their diet range is just as wide as the number of species -- ranging from general scavengers to generalized omnivores to highly specific predators. Many different species are commonly imported for the reef trade, and most look so similar that it takes an expert to be able to specifically identify them.
Likewise the "true" cowries (genus Cypraea) are frequently specialists on colonial invertebrates, such as tunicates, hydroids and especially sponges – if you count the number of cowries that consume a given prey item, sponges are certainly the winner. Although I say that these animals prefer a certain prey item, they should probably be considered omnivorous, really.
For all of the cowries for which the diet range is well known, they naturally consume a variety of animal and/or plant matter. Most species will graze anything from algae to sponges and cnidarians, but the majority of them are definitely eating a large proportion of animal prey in their normal diet.
The bottom line is that cowries have highly variable diets and there are even individual variation that comes into play. You never really know until you have the animal in your tank how it will react, or if that will change when anything new is added to the tank.
According to "Reef Invertebrates", pages 197 & 198 by Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner,
They are quite variable in suitability for aquarium life, but mostly should be avoided. Some are carnivorous and even the safe herbivorous species tend to grow large and clumsy.
....some cowries feed on sponge, corals, ascidians, or colonial anemones and cannot realistically be kept at all. For many others, their diet is not even known at this time.
Aquarists seeking reliable herbivores in this category should look first to species like: Cypraea moneta (the Money Cowry), C. annulus (the Gold-Ringed Cowry), and C. caputserpentis (the Snakehead Cowry).
It should also be mentioned that cowries tend to be rather strict in regards to water quality requirements (including high saturated oxygen levels) and can be difficult to ship.
Gosh, sorry for being so long winded .... I hope some of this information helps.


Reef Keeper
Jul 5, 2003
I had a tiger cowrie in my tak for some time before giving it to mushroomboy, it would eat the algae like crasy and also had a liking for an encrusting gorgonian I had (which was a good thing). no real problems with it, it just became to big and was knock thing over all the time.



Well-known member
Jul 18, 2003
I had several small hitcher coweries, they never did bother anything and didn't grow much over the space of a couple of years. Maybe mine just never got large enough to develop an appetite for foods more substantial than algae. They disappeared during a tank upgrade.

They are interesting animals, though.


Well-known member
Nov 29, 2003
i agree- good grazer but will be a bulldozer when it gets big. Mine has never eaten corals- at least not that I know of


New Sheriff In Town
Jul 21, 2003
Missoula, Montana
I had four cowries in my 80 gallon reef tank. They are great algae eaters and also ate my blue sponge completely gone which I was not to crazy about and have read they will consume certain types of anenomes. :)

Ed Hahn

Life is A Highway...
Jan 27, 2004
Kennewick, Wa
I had a bad experience with a cowrie. It ate one coral of mine. I moved it several times away from that coral. It would still go right for it. I finally removed it. If I only knew the name of the coral. It looked like a meat coral but was a solid green color? I can not do cowries because of this coral. That pix looks just like the same cowrie that tore up my coral.