Ramshorn snails generally will eat only the most delicate plants, preferring algae, uneaten fish food, and dead fish. Some varieties do particularly enjoy eating the leaves of stem plants such as cabomba and anacharis. Some aquarium species will eat ramshorn snails. They have coiled shells which gives them their name because they have the appearance of the horns of rams. The most common colors are black or red. Black snails have melanin in their skin while red snails lack this pigment, so their skin looks red because the color of their blood shows through. In most snails, the blood is greenish but in the Ramshorn it is red.
These snails move slowly and spend their time exploring the tank. Sometimes you will see them “swimming” along the surface to catch some oxygen. They keep their balance at the surface by controlling the amount of air in their shell; if they feel any danger, they quickly expel the air so that they can sink to the bottom of the water. Although they might nibble at delicate plants, most plants are quite safe. They tend to stay out of the way of other tank inhabitants and concentrate on finding food.
Since the Ramshorn live over the world, their natural habitat can vary greatly. This means their preferred conditions can vary greatly and it is quite easy to create a healthy environment for them. A snail has four tentacles which are very sensitive. A fine-grained, sandy substrate reduces the risk of scratching. A fine-grained, sanded, calcium type substrate is best because it means that the snails always have a good supply of calcium, which is needed for a strong shell.
The water needs to be free from ammonia and nitrites, nitrates should be less than 20 mg/L.
To keep these snails comfortable, keep your tank full of live vegetation. This not only looks nice but also gives plenty of natural food. They love it when dead pieces of plant fall to the bottom for them to eat. Common plants to include are Java Fern, Java Moss, and Hornwort; all of which are incredibly hardy.
These snails tend to crawl out of the water, especially when food is low. Use a tight-fitting lid to ensure that all your snails stay in your aquarium.
This snail tends to keep its vulnerable body mostly inside of its shell, as opposed to other common aquarium snails; however it is advisable to house with peaceful inhabitants such as tetras, shrimp or larger fish that will mostly ignore their presence. The amount of snails you can have in your aquarium completely depends on how many fish you’re going to keep them with. As a rough indication you can include around 1 snail per 20 litres. Just make sure they have enough algae to eat.
In the wild these snails will feed on dead and rotting plants. They will also graze on algae build up on any surface such as rocks or sand. They are very optimistic scavengers by nature, which means they will eat a wide range of food. Because of this you want to keep a medium to high level of vegetation, thus giving them a natural food source. Plants will naturally shed as they grow and this gives your snails perfect food on top of the naturally growing algae. They will suck onto the glass and eat the algae that grows off it. This is one of the biggest reasons people buy these little cleaners; keeping the glass clean for longer means less work for you.
If algae isn’t forming fast enough then you should add in other foods and/or enhance algae growth by keeping your tank lights on longer. Algae wafers make good substitutes, especially since they sit on the bottom of the tank until a snail comes across them.
In general one should apply the same rules for water quality as with fish (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate etc) and the water should not be too soft. Like most snails, apple snails prefer calcium rich water. If the calcium concentration in the water isn’t high enough (soft water), they aren’t able to build a strong shell and become susceptible to shell damage, but even in good conditions, some snails still get little holes in the shell surface, especially in the older parts of their shell. This is a naturally occurring process and as long it’s only at the surface, you shouldn’t worry too much about it.
As for water conditions, the numbers are straightforward:
- pH level range: 7.6-8.4
- Temperature range: 20°C-30°C
- Water hardness: 6-18 dGH (hard is better because it has more calcium)
The thing to keep note here is the relatively high pH. Low levels of pH can start to dissolve the calcium carbonate shells of the snails leaving them open to harm from other fish. Cracked, thin, or pitted shells can be a sign of low pH as well as low levels of calcium. Adding calcium supplements (note – shrimp minerals work well) can help ensure their shells are strong and healthy.
It is very easy to breed Ramshorn snails and you might even find that you want to stop them breeding. They breed both sexually and asexually so only one snail is needed in order to get more snails !
Your Ramshorn Snails will quickly start laying clutches of transparent eggs over various surfaces around the tank. You will notice see-through eggs attached to live plants. These eggs are protected in a tough, gelatinous material which reduces the risk of them being eaten.
After about 3 weeks the egg becomes an independent snail and they bury themselves in the substrate, coming out at night to feed. A couple of months later, the young snails will be able to reproduce themselves.
|Adult Size:||5 cm|
|Aquarist Experience Level:||Beginner|
|Minimum Tank Size:||20 litres|
|Tank Level:||Bottom dweller|
|Lifespan:||1 – 3 Years|
|Temperature:||20 to 30°C|
|pH:||7.6 – 8.4 higher is better|
|Hardness:||6 – 18 dGH harder is better|