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Cone shells - by habitat and food preference

by Bruce Livett. July, 1996

(Abbreviatios: NSW, New South Wales; NT., Northern Territory; Vic, Victoria; Qld., Queensland; S.A., South Australia; Tas., Tasmania; W.A., Western Australia)

HABITAT

Click here to look at the Alphabetical listing of Conus species.
Click here to help complete this table and view list of cones for which information about eating preference is sought.

Mud and Mangroves

Name / Common

Plate No.

Type / Feeds on

Location

Depth

Comments

Conus trigonus

Sting Ray Cone

Reeve, 1848

17

vermivorous

worms

Mud and Mangroves

intertidal mud flats

northern WA to NT

Size 65 mm. Uncommon

 

The eggs are white, typically cone shaped and are laid on solid objects during early summer.

Rocky Reefs

Conus anemone

Anemone Cone

Lamarck, 1810

116

? piscivorous

? small fish

Rocky Reefs

under stones on reef sand or rubble.

NSW - southern WA Size 50 mm

Very common

25m on muddy reef. VIC.

Very common along the whole S.West coast. Comes in a host of colours and patterns. Has been recorded as a minor stinger.

Conus achatinus

Agate Cone

Gmelin, 1791

115

?

Beneath rocks on tidal muddy reef.

Qld. to W.A.

70 mm common

 

Has a thin opaque periostracum. Its colours are quite varied. eg. light brown splodges on white.

Conus lischkeanus

Kermadec Cone

Winkauff, 1875

117

 

At the base of sea cliffs on reefs off Cronulla, NSW in 26 m. Size 50 mm Uncommon

200 m SouthQld

pale orange/brown vertical stripes on white

Originally named from shells found on Kermadec Islands off New Zealand

Conus klemae

Klem's Cone

Cotton, 1853

118

 

Intertidal rock platforms amongst algae. SA to southern WA

Size to 70 mm. Uncommon

Also under stones and rubble 20 m

One of the most beautiful of the southern cones. A much sought after species.

Conus luteus

Mud Cone

Sowerby, 1833

119

worms and other small invertebrates

Beneath rocks on intertidal muddy reef

Qld to NT.

Size 50 mm Uncommon

 

Animal is bright orange. Shell has a thin brown periostracum.

Conus monachus

Supreme Cone

Linnaeus, 1758

120

piscivorous

recorded as being a fish eater

Under stones and coral on reefs.

Qld to south WA.

60mm Common

 

Should be considered as being dangerous.

Conus novaehollandiae

New Holland Cone

A. Adams, 1854

121

 

Mostly beneath rocks or dead coral slabs. On rocky mainland reefs intertidally in WA.

Size 40 mm

 

Most variable in colour and resembles the southern

C. anemone

Conus papilliferus

Papal Cone

Swerby, 1834

122

vermivorous

worms

Under rocks on tide platforms and depths of 10 m on reef.

Range: NSW.

Size to 45 mm

10 m on reef

A small southern species. Blue/brown tortoise shell. Eggs are laid on underside of rocks in autumn.

Conus peronianus

Rawhide Cone

Iredale, 1931


123

vermivorous

worms

Intertidal reef under stones and ledges. More prolific below low tide level.

NSW to Qld.

Size 60mm. Common in NSW.

30 m

Open brown tent pattern over white.

Eggs are generally laid on the underside of rocks. Communal egg laying is common.

Conus tenellus

Tender Cone

Dillwyn, 1817


124

vermivorous

worms

Intertidal beneath rocks on a muddy reef or rubble habitat. Restricted to a small area on the central Qld. coast. 50 mm. Uncommon.

 

Orange splodges on white. Elongated pointed shell. A rather distinctive species, it has a very thin periostracum.

Conus victoriae

Victoria's Cone

Reeve, 1843

125

? piscivorous

? fish

Under stones and amongst rubble rock.

North WA to NT

Size 75 mm.

Very common

 

Brown tent/textile like.

Its colours and forms are extremely variable. Easily confused with C. anemone.

Under pier at Broome, WA

Coral Reefs

Conus catus

Cat Cone

Hwaas in Bruguiere, 1792

324

piscivorous

fish

Fairly common in sand pockets on reef.

Range: Qld. 50 mm Common

 

Light brown, orange, dark brown solid bands. Found in many colours and patterns. Should be handled with care as should all cones.

Conus chaldaeus

Astrologer's Cone

Roeding, 1798




325

 

Intertidal on rocky reef platforms and coral reef rims. Prefers small pockets and indents in reef. Range: NSW to north WA. 40 mm Not as common as C.ebraeus.

 

Small. Dark brown wavy lines, 2 bands on white. Often confused with

C. ebraeus but

C. chaldaeus has finer wavy white lines separating its darker colour.

Conus coccineus

Scarlet Cone

Gmelin, 1791


326

 

Hides away in small sand pockets in caves and under ledges in coral heads and bommies. Range Qld to NT.

Size 30 mm Rare

10-20 m off reef edge

Little cone. Solid orange band above and below a white band containing dark brown splodges and spots.

Conus coronatus

Coronated Cone

Gmelin, 1791



327

 

Very common in small sand pockets on reef ramparts. Often encrusted with coralline algae. Range: NSW to north WA 35 mm Common

   

Conus ebraeus

Hebrew Cone

Linnaeus, 1758








328

 

This intertidal species is found on rocky reef platforms coral reef rims. It prefers small pockets and indents I the reef and is often disfigured with hard coralline growths and erosion. Range: NSW to north WA Size 40 mm. Very common.

 

Very small shell. Dark black tents on white background

Conus emaciatus

Emaciated Cone

Reeve, 1849




329

 

Intertidally on reef platforms.

NSW to Qld.

50 mm. Common

 

Pale orange/brown bands . Dark coloured tip.

C. emaciatus has a thick heavy periostracum. Although similar in shape to C. virgo, it can distinguished by its slightly concave sides and spiral ribbing.

Conus flavidus

Yellow Tinged Cone

Lamarck, 1810




330

 

Coral reef flats and causeways.

Range: NSW to Qld

Size: 50 mm Common

 

Pale orange/brown separated by one white band. Shell has a dark tip. Usually covered in a thick coating of coralline algae. The spires of larger adult specimens are mostly eroded by boring from marine animals.

Conus glans

Acorn Cone

Hwass in Bruguiere, 1792

331

Vermivorous

worms

Found in broken coral beds and under coral slabs on intertidal reefs.

Qld. to northern WA

30 mm. Uncommon

10 m.

A small uncommon species. The animal is red which contrasts with the vivid blue of the shell. Pure white specimens have been found but rare.

Conus imperialis

Imperial Cone

Linnaeus, 1758

332

Vermivorous

worms

Intertidally on dead rubble reef usually fairly close to shore. Qld. 76 cm Uncommon

 

Not often found in good condition these shells are very susceptible to erosion, marring coralline algae growth and healed breaks.

Conus lividus

Livid Cone

Hwaas in Bruguiere, 1792

333

 

Coral reef flats and causeways as for C. flavidus.

NSW to WA

50 mm Common

 

Two broad brown bands separated by a white band. white coroneted apex. Although it is quite common, collectors have a hard time finding perfect specimens

Conus miles

Mile Cone

Linnaeus, 1758







334

 

Intertidal reef flats and causeways usually in the open in rocks and holes.

NSW to north WA 80 mm Common

 

Two brown bands, one half way up the other at the pointed end separated by one white band. Fine vertical banding and white coronated apex. Perfect specimens of C. miles are not easy to find. Invariably, has thick coatings of coralline growths and is very susceptible to healed breaks and growth marks.

Conus musicus

Music Cone

Bruguiere, 1792






335

 

Intertidal reef ramparts. In small reef pockets and crevices and in sandy holes.

Qld. to NT 20 mm Moderately common

 

Small shells, with large black marks around top edge then three rows of small black dots separated by grey bands and dark pigment tip. They are usually covered in encrusting coralline algae and are subject to erosion which may be severe in large adults.

Conus mustellinus

Weasel Cone

Bruguiere, 1792








336

 

Intertidal reef, either exposed or under rock edges.

Qld to NT 55 mm Moderately common

 

Black/brown spodges on apex extending down as first band on white background, then two light brown bands separated by a white band with row of black marks at each margin. Superficially similar to C.capitaneus, this species can be distinguished by its slimmer shape and more elevated spire.

Conus nusatella

Nusatella Cone

Linnaeus, 1758

337

 

Lives amongst live coral reef usually under several layers of broken coral. Qld 65 mm Uncommon

 

Elongated with wide opening, Many fine brown spots on orange/brown splodges. Very distinctive.

Conus parvulus

Young Cone

Link, 1807


338

 

On reef flats. Qld and NT 40 mm. Moderately common

 

Pale brown banding on white. One white band separating. Not easy to find and only identified when cleaned. Coralline algae usually covers its dorsal surface.

Conus planorbis

Ringed Cone

Born, 1778


339

 

Exposed intertidal areas on rocky reefs.

Qld to WA

65 mm Common

 

Brown all over darker at pointed end. Thick brown periostracum. Shells taken subtidally in depths of 20 m are more brightly coloured and have a thinner periostracum.

Conus rattus

Rat Cone

Hwaass in Bruguiere, 1792

340

Vermivorous

Worms

Reef flats and causeway, in sand pockets, under stones or amongst coral. Qld. to north WA 45mm Common

 

Small, mostly dark brown with white top section and apex.

Conus terebellum

Auger Cone

Linnaeus, 1758



341

 

On intertidal coral reef, but prefer a below tide level habitat. Live on coral outcrops under dead coral. Qld to north WA

100 mm Uncommon

 

Usually a white base colour. Can have a thick brown periostracum.

Conus vexillum

Flag Cone

Gmelin, 1791




342

 

In fairly rough water often under large coral slabs on the seaward side of some Great Barrier Reef islands, just below tide level.

Qld to North WA

150 mm Uncommon

 

Large cone with a black animal and a well developed operculum.

Conus vitulinus

Calf Cone

Hwass in Bruguiere, 1792


343

 

Reef flats amongst rubble and under small ledges. Also over the edge of the reef to depths of 10 m on dead coral. Qld. 60 mm. Uncommon

 

Large cone with two dark vertical bands separated by a white border. Top is white with brown markings. This cone is a pleasure to find as most specimens are in good condition.

Sand and Rubble :

Conus ammiralis

Admirals Cone

Linnaeus, 1758




538

 

Offshore, in sand and coral rubble on islands and cays of the Great barrier Reef at low tide. Also by diving and dredging to 10 m. Qld. up to 50 mm Uncommon.

Up to 10 m

Yellow cone with dark brown bands and white spots. Amongst the most beautifully patterned in Qld waters.

Conus aulicus

Court Cone

Linnaeus, 1758


539

 

In sand under large coral heads and rocks. Qld to NT 140 mm Uncommon

 

Large dark brown finely ribbed cone with white tents. This is the largest of the tent cones in Australia. Recorded as a stinger. Danger, injuries could well prove fatal.

Conus betulinus

Betuline Cone

Linnaeus, 1758

540

 

Intertidally on sand or sandy mud and subtidally in shallow water. Qld to NT

100 mm Uncommon

 

A large heavy shell with a fairly thick periostracum. Yellow with neatly spaced black dots in rows of two.

Conus capitaneus

Captain's Cone

Linnaeus, 1758




541

 

Under boulders and coral and, at low tide, under rocks and coral slabs. NSW to north WA 76 mm Moderately common

NSW to north WA

76 mm. Moderately common

 

Large shell, dark orange brown, with lighter band separating and black dots. When taken alive it is covered with a skin or periostracum.

Conus figulinus

Fig Cone

Linnaeus, 1758

542

 

Intertidal sand banks Qld. 89 mm Moderately common

 

Distinctive dark brown periostracum. large pink egg capsules are laid in summer, and usually anchored deep in the sand. No predators in Australia

Conus geographus

Geographic Cone

Linnaeus, 1758



543

piscivorous

small fish

In sandy pockets near the reef edge, under dead coral or amongst reef.

Qld to north WA.

120 mm Uncommon

 

Large brown marbled coroneted cone. Harpoons prey with a poisonous barbed dart which is an extension of its radula. A very dangerous species recorded to have caused several human deaths.

Conus generalis

General Cone

Linnaeus, 1767






544

 

Lives on sand under coral slabs but is also found exposed on sandy rubble areas. It occurs from low tied level down to 10 m on the Great Barrier Reef and is trawled in deep water. Qld to WA. 89 mm Common.

Down to 10m

Two broad orange/brown bands separated by three white bands with dark brown/black vertical splodges. This shell is quite variable in colour and has a thick brown periostracum.

Conus leopardus

Leopard Cone

Roeding, 1798

545

 

On sandy rubble and muddy rubble flats, where it is found on the surface in the open. Qld. to NT 115 mm. Common

 

C. leopardus has a thick yellow brown periostracum to which, in silty areas, the mud clings, making its detection difficult. Often confused with C. litteratus

Conus marmoreus

Marbled Cone

Linnaeus, 1758



546

molluscivorous

molluscs (shells)

BUT note warning

Inhabits sandy areas where it lives under dead coral or in sand around coral heads or soft corals. Qld. 76 mm Common.

 

Black and white tent cone, it has a striking pattern which doesn't assist in it remaining hidden from its enemies. Although it feeds on other molluscs, it has been recorded as dangerous to man.

Conus milliaris

Military Cone

Bruguiere, 1792

547

 

Very common on reef ramparts where it lives intertidally in sand pockets under coral. NSW to Qld. 25 mm Common

 

A very solid, brightly coloured shell. Light brown and white band. Sometimes covered in coralline algae, Specimens are subject to erosion and healed breaks.

Conus omaria

Omaria Cone

Hwas in Bruguiere, 1792


548

? piscivorous,

?molluscivorous

NOTE warning

Prefer sandy patches in reefs and hide during the day under stones and coral heads. Although they live at low tide level, they also occur down to 10 m.

Low tide down to 10 metres

This cone is very similar in appearance to C. textile. Warning: C. omaria has been recorded as dangerous to man.

Conus quercinus

Yellow Cone

Solander, 1786


549

 

Lives on sand along the Great Barrier Reef. Intertidally, but more found below low tide level. Qld. 100 mm Common

 

Colour varies between gold and white. This is a very common species. Egg capsules are pink and the shells join in communal egg laying in summer months.

Conus segravei

Segrave's Cone

Garliff, 1891






550

Piscivorous

fish

NOTE warning

Live in sandy bottoms down to 40 m. Vic, SA, South WA

30 mm, Uncommon

Down to 40 metres

A delicate, pastel coloured shell, it has been considered fairly rare in the past. However, in recent years divers have discovered shells living in sandy bottoms down to 40 m. The first of the southern Australian shells to be recorded as potentially dangerous to man.

Conus striatus

Striated Cone

Linnaeus, 1758

551

Piscivorous

fish

NOTE warning

Found in sand pockets and on reef under stones or dead coral.

Qld to north WA. 100 mm Common

 

Very popular amongst collectors, this species has many colour forms and patterns. It has a bad reputation for incurring injuries to humans.

Conus textile

Textile Cone

Linnaeus, 1758




553

 

Lives in sand beneath coral and rocks.

NSW to north WA 120 mm Common

 

Very variable in pattern and colour, larger specimens may have eroded backs and are useless as collector's items. These cones should be handled with care as they are attributed to have caused several fatalities.

Conus tessulatus

Tessellated Cone

Born, 1778





552

 

Found intertidally on sand banks. It lives under the sand coming up on an incoming tide, particularly during night time lows. Qld. 40 mm. Common in some areas

 

This very beautiful little cone is coloured orange-brown and is marbled.

Conus tulipa

Tulip Cone

Linnaeus, 1758

554

Piscivorous

fish

Danger to man

Lives in sand under coral heads and dead coral on the Great Barrier Reef. Qld

70 mm Uncommon

 

Although smaller than C. geographus, C.tulipa is nevertheless a potential danger to man. It feeds on fish and its poison is extremely strong.

Conus virgo

Virgin Cone

Linnaeus, 1758


555

 

It lives on sand flats and also on rubble bottom from low tide to 15 m along the Great Barrier Reef. Qld. 150 mm Common

15 m

A large heavy shell, C. virgo has a thick brown periostracum wen found alive. Easily distinguished from other similar species by its dark purple anterior.

Continental Shelf

Conus advertex

Reference Cone

Garrard, 1961

723

 

First dredged in deep water off southern Qld at 160 metres. NSW to southern Qld

30 mm. Uncommon

160 m

C.advertex can now be enjoyed by the majority of collectors. The increase in deep water prawning boats in those areas has led to its availability

Conus angasi

Angas's Cone

Tryon, 1884

724

 

Deep water. C.angasi can be obtained from prawn trawlers. Qld. 40 mm Moderately common

100-200 m

C.angasi can be obtained from prawn trawlers working out of southern Qld areas where they are brought up from around 100 to 200 metres

Conus illawarra

Illawarra Cone

Garrard, 1961



725

 

Lives at 150 metres on a muddy bottom in southern NSW but is dredged in much shallower water in northern NSW. NSW 30 mm. Uncommon

50 m

Small orange blotches on white. It has a thin transparent periostracum.

Conus cyanostomus

Cox's Cone

A. Adams, 1854

726

 

Trawled and dredged at depths of 40 metres.

NSW to Qld.

20 mm. Uncommon

40 m

This is an attractive little orange / brown on white cone, which has a transparent periostracum.

Conus lizardensis

Lizard Island Cone

Crosse, 1856






727

 

Originally, shells were from the vicinity of Lizard Island, Qld. Since then specimens have been trawled at various localities along the Qld. coast at depths of

60 m.Qld

50 mm Uncommon

60 m

These nearly white shells have a transparent yellowish periostracum.

Conus nielsenae

Mrs Nielsen's Cone

Marsh, 1962



728

 

The shell lives on a sandy rubble bottom but since its discovery has been found at a number of locations in Qld.

48 mm Uncommon

34 m

Large flat top, pale brown. Mr. Tom Nielsen, one of Australia's greatest modern day shell discoverers, first dredged this species in 34 m of water off Townsville, Qld. If was named in honour of his wife, Mollie.

Conus queenslandis

Recluse Cone

da Motta, 1984


729

 

It lives in depths of 120-160 m and nearly always shows signs of healed breaks or growth scars. Qld. 100mm. Uncommon

 

Large, mostly white with pale wide orange band at top. This large, deep water species was first recorded in 1966. Since then specimens have been trawled at other localities.

Conus rufimaculosus

Red Spotted Cone

Macpherson, 1959

730

 

Trawled in deep water off NSW and southern Qld.

NSW, Qld

50 mm, Moderately uncommon

deep water.

Brown spotted on white. This cone has become more available to collectors

Conus sculletti

Scullett's Cone

Marsh, 1962


731

 

Trawled off the southern coast of Qld. in depths of 200 metres. C. Sculletti is unique to the area. Qld. 50 mm moderately common

200 m

Orange/brown bands x3 on white. Concentric top.

Conus ammiralis

Society Cone

Linne, 1758




732

 

Trawled off southern Qld. in 30 to 40 m.

 

Brown with two thin white bands and white tip. These shells display a wide variety of colour and patterns. Beautifully designed, they resemble C.ammiralis and may only be a deep water form of that species.

Conus wallangara

Ocean Cone

Garrard, 1961



733

 

Found in depths of 150 m, this shell ranges from southern NSW to Qld. and lives on a muddy bottom.

NSW to Qld.

30 mm Uncommon.

150 m

Brown patches on white. It has a very thin brown periostracum.

CONES TO ADD

Conus episcopus

Conus pennaceus





 










----->

Bruce Livett

July 1996

Click here to help complete this table and view list of cones for which information about eating preference is sought.

References:

Coleman, N. "What shell is that ?" 2nd Edition, 1992. Ure Smith Press, Sydney, Australia (ISBN 0 7254 0885 5).

[This 2nd edition represents a major revision of changes to over 250 species and makes "What shell is that" the largest and most up to date full colour visual identification guide on shells of the South Pacific. The photographs in this book are from the files of the Australasian Marine Photographic Index. The Index contains colour transparencies of living animals and plants, cross-referenced against identified specimens housed in museums and scientific institutes]


Alphabetical listing of 63 Conus species annotated in Tables above :

(Figures are from various sources including

  1. Original photographs from Bruce Livett's Laboratory
  2. Eddie's Shell Catalogue
  3. Images from Guido T. Poppe & Yoshihiro Goto's Conidae Shell gallery.

Conus achatinus

Conus advertex

Conus ammiralis

Conus ammiralis

Conus anemone

Conus angasi

Conus aulicus (shell on RHS of Figure)

Conus betulinus (shell on LHS of Figure)

Conus capitaneus

Conus catus

Conus chaldaeus

Conus coccineus

Conus coronatus

Conus cyanostomus

Conus ebraeus

Conus emaciatus

Conus episcopus

Conus figulinus

Conus flavidus

Conus generalis (shell on RHS of Figure)

Conus geographus

Conus glans

Conus illawarra

Conus imperialis (shell on RHS of Figure)

Conus klemae in habitat - Australia - (3)

Conus leopardus

Conus lischkeanus

Conus lividus

Conus lizardensis

Conus luteus

Conus marmoreus (shell in middle of Figure)

Conus miles - Tanzania - JRS - (3)

Conus milliaris

Conus monachus

Conus musicus

Conus mustellinus

Conus nielsenae

Conus novaehollandiae

Conus nusatella

Conus omaria

Conus papilliferus

Conus parvulus

Conus pennaceus

Conus peronianus

Conus planorbis

Conus queenslandis

Conus quercinus

Conus rattus

Conus rufimaculosus

Conus sculletti

Conus segravei

Conus striatus (shell on left of Figure)

Conus tenellus

Conus terebellum

Conus tessulatus

Conus textile (1. Venom apparatus dissected; 2. C.textile is on LHS of Figure; 3. C.textile French Polynesia - alive - JRS)

Conus trigonus

Conus tulipa

Conus vexillum

Conus virgo

Conus victoriae (3) Albino - Australia

Conus vitulinus

Conus wallangara

BGL, September 21, 1997


Do you have any positive comments or/and questions ? Please contact Dr. Bruce Livett, Dept. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia


Copyright 1998 Dynamix@WORK! All rights reserved. Last updated on April 15, 2004.