Brief SummaryRead full entry
Ficus is one of the two small genera in the marine gastropod snail family Ficidae. This genus contains 10 species of medium-large sized snails characterized by delicate shells with swelled body whorls and a drawn-out siphonal canal, giving them a distinct pear or fig shape. The largest species (F. gracilis, the graceful fig shell) grows to about 20 cm (8 inches) in length. The family has species in coastal waters around the world, mainly in the tropics and warm temperate areas. While a few species inhabit intertidal areas, most live in deeper waters up to 1000 m (3300 feet), and have been discovered as by-catch from trawls. Those in intertidal areas bury themselves in sand at low tide, making them appear rarer than they may actually be.
All species live on sand or silt surfaces. When gliding along the surface on their large foot, their fleshy mantle partially to fully covers their shell. They feed by pulling small organisms and small organic particles into their feeding cavity with their proboscis. Neo (2010) points out that previous authors cited various Ficus species as feeding on echinoderms; this is not confirmed by recorded observations, however polychaete cuticle has been recorded in the guts of F. subintermedia. Ficus snails have no operculum. Many of the species have multiple synonyms, which can make their taxonomy and identification confusing (Archerd shell collection; Mitchell 2008; Poutiers 1998; Neo 2010; Vos 2013).