Aquarium snail identification

Aquarium snail identification

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Many of these little snails suddenly appeared in our aquarium from nowhere. I suspect that some snail eggs hitched a ride with some recently purchased plants.

Can anyone identify the species? I am not having any luck with googling.

The photos show a baby snail of about 2-3 mm in size. The shell is asymmetric, with one side looking completely flat (or concave).

These are not pond snails. We also have (uninvited) pond snails, but pond snails look different even when as small as these. This new species has a lighter colour than pond snails, a more transparent shell of a different shape, and moves slower.

These are a kind of ramshorn snail, as Jestep correctly guessed. Now they are grown up and they are clearly identifiable as ramshorn.

I will post photos of adults when I get the opportunity.

Everything You Need To Know About Freshwater Aquarium Snails

If you have ever considered keeping a freshwater aquarium, you may have thought about other species you could add to your aquatic habitat. Freshwater fish are fun – but they aren’t the only options! There are tons of other enjoyable creatures you can add to your aquatic environment.

Have you ever considered aquatic snails? Freshwater aquarium snails aren’t just cool to watch, but they also perform a valuable, beneficial role. They can eat old aquatic matter, like fish waste and algae, helping to keep your tank clean and tidy while also creating a unique focal point.

While many people think of snails as a secondary addition to the tank, they can be kept all by themselves- you can’t go wrong with a snail-only tank! In addition, they’re actually quite low-maintenance. They can offer a unique appearance to the rest of your tank without requiring you to commit to a lot of extra work.

These creatures live in ponds, rivers, swamps, and lakes in the wild – they keep to themselves, mostly unconcerned with what the fish and other creatures in your tank are doing. As a result, they are great tank companions for just about every other type of aquatic animals. They adapt easily to life in a freshwater tank.

Intrigued – but perhaps don’t know where to start? Don’t worry. Here’s everything you need to know about raising freshwater aquarium snails.

Where did they come from?

Pest snails and planted aquariums often come hand in hand with one another. This is largely due to how the snails or snail eggs hitch rides into tanks through live plants.

Snails are a natural part of your aquatic plant’s environment! Aquatic plant farms usually mass-produce plants in huge ponds or containers. These ponds could be teeming with snails. Plants that are consciously collected can contain these critters as well.

When a plant order is sent out, keep in mind that some of the plants may contain eggs or snails attached to them. Most snails breathe air and just need water to prevent them from drying out. This goes for their eggs as well. Most pest snails reproduce by laying clutches of eggs. The eggs are held in clear, jelly-like sacs that stick to surfaces like plants and other objects. Since the eggs are so tiny and are in clear sacs, it’s difficult to see them and they can easily be transferred to other aquariums undetected.

A clutch of snail eggs on a piece of driftwood

When shipping live plants, the plants will normally be kept sealed in a plastic bag to maintain moisture throughout their trip. This gives the potential snails and their egg clutches the ability to survive the trip as well . Once the plants arrive at their new home, they’re usually immediately placed in a tank where snails are free to explore their new homes and the eggs are ready to hatch.

This is why many aquarists will quarantine or perform a bleach dip for their new plants before placing them in their tank. Click here to learn more about bleach dip your aquatic plants.

Although live plants are a common way for snails to make their way into your aquarium, it is not the only way. Anything added to your tank from another aquarium could have snails or snail eggs on them if the aquarium the object came from had snails. Whether it’s substrate, a filter, or decoration, snails or their eggs can catch a ride on basically anything.

If you’re moving something from a snail-infested tank to one with no snails, it is likely your new tank will start its own snail population. In my own experience, I was moving substrate from one planted tank to a new one. I dried the substrate out for a few days thinking that was enough to prevent snails in the new aquarium. A few days after the set up, I found snails out and about roaming the new tank!

Snail identification

There is a snail in my aquarium. It must have arrived hidden in a plant when it was smaller, and now it's big enough to venture out into the open. I discovered it a little over a month ago when I drained the aquarium to move it. I have only ever seen the one (or, if there is more than one, only one of them is being visible at a time), so I'm not worried about snail overpopulation.

It looks to be about half an inch long or maybe a little less. It's brown. It seems to spend a lot of its time under the sand, as days or even a week or more go by without a snail sighting. When it does come out, it is sometimes on the sand or on the decor under the water (moving surprisingly fast), sometimes on the glass below the water line (not moving fast on the glass), and occasionally on the glass above the water. I've only seen it above the water a couple of times, not very often, but when it was above water it stayed there for a long time (more than 15 minutes), leading me to wonder how it breathes.

I just spent some time googling and looking at snail pictures. It looks more like a pond snail than anything else I found pictures of, except it looks a more uniform brown color, and I have not seen it extend its body out of its shell the way the pond snails in the pictures do. But it seems to be shaped like a pond snail, not long and skinny like a Malaysian trumpet snail.

My cell phone camera continues to be inadequate for taking good closeup pictures of things this small. All I get is blurry blobs like the attached.

Any guesses as to what this is? Good snail-identifier sites with pictures I can compare mine to?

And how is a snail that stays under water almost all the time still able to breathe above the water line?

Aquarium snail identification - Biology

Snail ID 8/13/19
Wondered if you might be able to ID this snail I just found after introducing a plant to a new tank (not cycled yet).
I don't mind snails, just wanted to get one Nerite once the tank has food for it.
<Ahh, do see here: re Physa.>
Thanks, Tina
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Snail id 3/30/19
I know nothing about snails, I looked around on the website and I found the snail ID page but no info on helping me figure out what type of snail this is.
The eggs were orange/pink/yellow, I disinfected the plants using a bleach dip and I soaked them all overnight before adding to my currently cycling tank. I was not expecting snails because of the bleach as well as all eggs I saw were thrown out. I’m happy with snails I just need to know what type it is so I don’t accidentally kill it.
It has a brown shell but some of it is clear. Is it too soon to identify?
<The part of the photo with the snail is a bit small to be sure, but this is likely Physa or Physella sp. These are often called Bladder or Tadpole snails for some reason. They're generally harmless, so I ignore them. Of course if you have some particularly delicate plants you might feel differently, but otherwise these snails are among the good ones. They mostly graze algae from the glass, and being relatively slow to reproduce, it's easy enough to control their numbers should you have to. Cheers, Neale.>

Mysterious s/nail 5/16/18
I was searching the web trying to identify some mysterious nails in my freshwater nano tank. And I came across a photo of the snail I’m trying to identify and it was tagged with your website on it. Could you guys take a look at this and maybe tell me what kind of snail I have in
my tank and whether or not it’s beneficial or not?
<Physa. your reading on WWM, elsewhere>
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
Bob Fenner>

Re: Mysterious s/nail 5/16/18
Thank you very much.
<Certainly welcome Martin. BobF>

help 3/2/16
hello, I need some help identifying this snail,
I think its eggs where in the plant I got and I only have one big one and I think its laying more eggs, I have also noticed other little things moving around on the side of the tank so I need help Identifying the big snail so I can find out if the little things are baby snails or something dangerous.
thank you
please help me
<Look up the genus Physa (and related) on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Snail identification. 12/9/15
Just picked up some Cabomba and I saw this little fella in the isolation tank.
It moves amazingly fast.
<See WWM re Physa, Physella. Tadpole Snails. Bob Fenner>
Sent with Alien Technology. They are watching you. through your own camera.

Snail identification RMF's try 10/20/15
I am hoping you can help me identify this guy. He and about 30+ of his tiny sibling managed to make there way into my new tank. I'm thinking the eggs were hidden in a new plant. I soaked the plant in a salt bath before adding it to the tank, but I kept the roots out of the salt. I am guessing the eggs were somewhere near the roots. Ah well, lesson learned. Anyway, I
have been removing the tiny little specs as I see them appear, but last night when conducting a water change I found 3 that were large enough to actually get a picture of. I am not opposed to keeping some around, but I want to know what I'm getting into. I hoping you can tell me what species they are and any info on the breeding behavior is appreciated. I looked
through the site and the shape of the shell looks sort of like the tadpole snail, but I'm not sure. I'm in the US if that helps. Thanks so much!
<Read here:
Looks to me to be a Physa, Physella sp. Bob Fenner>
Snail identification Neale's go 10/20/15

I am hoping you can help me identify this guy. He and about 30+ of his tiny sibling managed to make there way into my new tank. I'm thinking the eggs were hidden in a new plant. I soaked the plant in a salt bath before adding it to the tank, but I kept the roots out of the salt. I am guessing the eggs were somewhere near the roots. Ah well, lesson learned. Anyway, I
have been removing the tiny little specs as I see them appear, but last night when conducting a water change I found 3 that were large enough to actually get a picture of. I am not opposed to keeping some around, but I want to know what I'm getting into. I hoping you can tell me what species they are and any info on the breeding behavior is appreciated. I looked
through the site and the shape of the shell looks sort of like the tadpole snail, but I'm not sure. I'm in the US if that helps. Thanks so much!
<Is indeed a "tadpole snail" of some sort. Physa or Physella species are most common in aquaria. Generally harmless, rarely multiply to pest levels, seem to be readily eaten by suitably predatory fish (loaches, Synodontis, puffers, etc.). I personally don't worry about them, they're not like Melanoides spp. that breed wildly, nor like Apple Snails that destroy
plants. Cheers, Neale.>

Tiny snail ID? Assassin or Malaysian Trumpet Snails? 8/16/14
thank you in advance for your help! I've read your snail id/info, but can't tell if these little guys in my tank are Malaysian Trumpet snails (or similar) or Assassin snails.
<Not Assassin Snails, anyway.>
I'm concerned for the well being of my horned Nerite, if they're assassins.
<Oddly enough, I keep Nerites and Assassins together without problems, but I know some haven't been so lucky.>
I've removed him from the tank for now. They must have come in with some shrimp or a Nerite about 3 weeks ago and were first noticed 2 days ago. Photo are attached. They're more active at night, but I still see some during the day.
some are the size of a grain of pepper, the largest I've seen is the size of a grain of rice. Last night there were several crawling on the Nerite, so I removed him, just in case.
Thank you for your website. It's a great resource!
<So see a page on my personal web space, at the link below, for a photo of a juvenile Clea helena they're usually quite distinctive by the time you see them emerge from the sand.
More details here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Tiny snail ID? Assassin or Malaysian Trumpet Snails? 8/16/14
Thank you for the links, and info.
Is your guess Clea helena then?
<Hmm. you did compare my/your photos? Juvenile Clea helena usually have brown spiral bands, that your photo seemed to lack.>
R e: Tiny snail ID? Assassin or Malaysian Trumpet Snails? 8/16/14
Thank you for the links, and info.
Is your guess Clea helena then?
<No. As I said, not Assassin Snails (= Clea helena). More than likely one of a dozen kinds of (more or less) harmless snails like Melanoides spp. (which includes the Malaysian Trumpet Snail) that you can remove or leave in your tank as you prefer. NM>

Re: Tiny snail ID? Assassin or Malaysian Trumpet Snails? 8/17/14
Thank you for the clarification.
Yes, I did compare the photos. I didn't know if it was the coloring I was looking to match or the grooves.
<Ah, the coloration most/many of the higher gastropods have grooves of some sort or another on the shell. Habit should be a better distinction.
Melanoides and other algae/detritus eating gastropods will graze continuously, and you will see them moving their heads from side to side as they feed, e.g., on the glass. The whelks, like Clea helena, are active predators and carrion feeders, and tend to move (for snails) quite briskly and purposefully towards food, not stopping to graze on the way.>
It didn't seen to match to me, but wanted to make sure I wasn't misunderstanding the reason you sent the links.
Thank you again for your assistance.
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Snail I.D. 6/1/14
<Oh yeah. read here:
Bob Fenner>
I was hoping you could help me identify this snail, we bought duckweed from a local(Ohio) garden center and after placing the duckweed into it's own tank(to grow more). I noticed we had snails crawling around,
they will crawl on the underside of a translucent slim at the water level. all up and down the sides of the tank. the eggs look like clear gel globs. the one pictured is about medium size of the ones I have seen.
Thank you for any help, I definitely want to know what I am dealing with.

Live conch shell 5/29/14
Hello friends at WWM,
I was doing the routine weekly water change last Sunday (May 18) and two days later I noticed a very small conch shell (about 3/4th of an inch). I was surprised and took it out with a net. I believe that it came with the tap water.
<Ummm not likely>

The tap water I am talking about is not the drinking water, but it is pumped from the bore well in my apartment complex. I did not add anything else in the tank that this shell may have come with (no plants, no rocks).
<Someone else placed this animal here or it's come from some old substrate addition>

Anyway, for some reason, I thought it may be alive, so I put it in a plastic jar with regular tap water. I noticed it changed position in few hours. I tried finding on the internet on what they eat and it mentioned
algae. Since I had cleaned my tank recently, there was not much left, so I left few mushroom piece in his jar. I also gave some small pebbles with bit of algae from the fish tank.
My question is that, sometimes, he reaches to the top of the water (along the wall of the jar) at night, so I was wondering if this is because of lack of oxygen?
<More likely simply moving about seeking food perhaps>
I throw about 90% of water everyday and replenish with tap water. Should I be adding de-chlorinator like I do for my fish tank?
<See WWM re frequent partial water changes>
I will appreciate if you could give me any information on how to keep him
<And this too. see the search tool? On every page. or go through the indices>

It is been 8 days since I have him now :)
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Live conch shell 5/29/14

Hey Bob,
Thanks for the quick reply.
Okay I do see that there is some material on shells at WWM (though most of the talk about salt water aquariums).
<Conchs are all marine. See WWM re freshwater snails. >

I also noticed one of the answers suggesting to feed the shell sea-weed. I will do that, too.
<. perhaps a photo? BobF>
Re: Live conch shell 5/29/14

Hey Bob,
Oh sorry! I should have sent a picture. Here it is attached.
With the hard shell around it, I did not think it was a snail, but then I barely know anything about them.
<. this isn't a conch. Keep reading. B>

Snail ID 10/5/13
Hello WWM!
If you could please help me Id this snail so i can find out if this one is Good/Bad!
I think it might be a *Melanoides species. *
<Looks like it. Do read here:
Thank you
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Snail identification and possible infestation 4/9/13
Hello WWM,
The problem: I accepted some plants from a neighbour. It seems that there were some snails in the plants and now there are some snails in my tank. I fear that there may be many snails.
The steps I have taken: First step: Identify the snails. The largest is very small, but I want to act fast if this is the beginning of an infestation, so I took the attached photos.
<. your pix. I'd shoot larger files, crop the subject/s. send these on. These appear to be Ramshorns, Planorbis, from what I can make out. See WWM re the genus>
The first and third are of a snail and are unfortunately rather blurry owing to their size and the poor quality of my cell phone.
<. a lesson in. >
The snail is attached to the glass at about the centre of the first photo.
The snail is at the bottom left of the third photo. The second shows white spots which I am seeing on the glass of the tank and on plant leaves.
<Egg casings>
The only thing I can see in your material which looks like this is a snail you have identified as a Planorbis or Ramshorn snail.
<I do concur>
It seems that these can become a serious pest and destroy plants.
Second step: Assuming that I have correctly identified the snails and I do need to take steps to avoid an infestation, it seems that a good way to deal with them is to buy some Clea helena or assassin snails.
<One approach. >
Third step: Check with the people at WWM before acting in case I am incorrect and make things horribly worse.
Conditions:10 gallon planted tank.0 ppm ammonia0 ppm nitrates10 - 20 ppm nitrites Ph is 7.8Temperature is 78 degrees Substrate is gravel Inhabitants: 3 neon tetras1 male guppy 2 Nerite snails I change 1/3 of the water every two weeks or so
1. Have I correctly identified the snails? 2. Is it true that they will wreak havoc with the plants?
Can I leave them?
<Could though I'd periodically "thin the herd". w/ baiting/removal>
3. If I must take action, what should I try first?
<Up to you>
I have seen it suggested that I put vegetable matter in at night and remove it in the morning.
<Ah yes>
Will this just put off the problem?
<"So many foxes, so many hens">
4. Should I go straight to the Clea helena?
<Could. I wouldn't>
Is it true that I would need 5 to 6 Clea helena to control the problem?
<About this number>
5. Can my tank sustain 5 to 6 Clea helena?
<Not indefinitely no. what would they eat?>
Will they leave enough algae for the Nerite snails?
<Will kill, consume these as well>
6. Will I ever be free of snails without starting over?
<Possibly not. There are chemical molluscicides. they have their potential and real downsides though>
As always, I am enormously grateful for your help with this.
Elisabeth in Toronto
<BobF in San Diego>

Please help me to identify this snail!
I recently started a new aquarium and I noticed 2 snails in my tank.
According to the fish shop, I should remove an snails I see as it will turn into an infestation over time! Oh, I live in Singapore if it will help the identification.
However, I'm inclined to leave it be if it doesn't do any harm to the aquarium. So can you please help me to identify this snail and tell me if it can go with my guppies, cardinal tetra and fire shrimps? Many thanks!
<This is a Melanoides spp., like Melanoides tuberculata, often called the Malayan Turret Snail. It's harmless and in fact does some good aerating the substrate as it burrows through it, but Melanoides tuberculata breed notoriously quickly. They don't eat healthy plants and only eat dead animals and plants, algae, fish faeces, etc. but it's best to remove them on sight if you want a snail-free aquarium. Some aquarists hate them, others view them as a blessing. Personally, I don't mind them, but do try to keep their numbers down, for example through the use of snail-eating snails (Clea helena) and prompt removal of uneaten food, dead fish, and so on that would drive excessive population growth. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Please help me to identify this snail!
Thank you very much for your help and your prompt reply. We have decided to keep them :)
<Cool. But do make sure you understand the risk -- these chaps breed quickly, and once you have them, removal can be difficult (though certainly not impossible). Keep the tank clean, and every few weeks go on a "snail hunt" removing all that you can see. Rest assured, some will be hidden away and those will quickly make up the numbers.
Cheers, Neale.>

Freshwater snail I.D. 9/22/11
Hi crew,
Would you mind trying to I.D. this snail for me?
It would appears that some hitched a ride in on some plants that I ordered which have been in a cycling, unstocked (fish) tank for one week. This is the biggest (about 0.5 cm long), but a few more 'babies' seem to appear each day (last count

10 individuals visible).
Should I remove them or let them be?
I live in Singapore, if that helps your I.D. attempts.
Cheers and thank you so much for your time,
<It's a Physa or Physella species, of the sort often called Tadpole Snails.
They're basically harmless and feed on algae (diatoms, primarily) and organic detritus. Some people report damage to plants, but I have them in my planted tanks and they never seem to do any noticeable harm. They do breed fairly quickly, laying jelly-like masses of eggs, but they rarely become plagues in the same way as Melanoides spp. snails can do. I think they're rather fun to watch and add character to an aquarium. Cheers, Neale.>

Unidentified Snail. 8/12/11
Hello there!
This evening I was looking at my 20 gallon long planted tank when I saw a tiny snail on a piece of driftwood.
I attached a photo. Do you know what it is?
<Likely Planorbis read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Need help ID ing a snail 8/12/11
I recently bought a pair of Apple Snails (which I think are both female, but it remains to be seen if I am correct), and a bunch of cherry shrimp along with a little bit of Java Moss.
Amongst my purchases I had two hitch-hikers -- one baby Apple Snail and this little fella. He is tiny -- no more than a couple of mm long. He is super active and speedy -- would circle a cup within 30 seconds and comes straight out of his shell within a second or two of popping him in the water. I would love your help trying to ID him before he gets too big in case he ends up being a pest (would be far easier to get rid of one of him than say 100!)
Thanks heaps for any help you could provide me with and sorry about the pic being a bit fuzzy/out of focus as he is sooo tiny it was super hard to get any pic of him at all (he's on a tissue). Oh, and I'm from Australia if that helps any.
<Mmm, appears to be a species of "pond snail", Physella gyrina possibly. Bob Fenner>

Help! Snail eggs! (They just don't work well in omelets ) 7/24/2009
Hello -
<Hi Melissa.>
There seem to be snail eggs in my daughters fish tank.
Looking at the picture, yes, those are snail eggs.>
From what I've researched, she has two gray mystery snails from PetSmart.
It seems these eggs should have been laid above the water line. Maybe there wasn't enough room up there or maybe they fell, because they are in the bottom of the tank and the number of eggs has decreased, dramatically.
<They likely fell. You can read about snail reproduction here: >
Maybe more than half are gone.
<Fish food.>
Is there any chance that some of these could hatch under water?
<It is possible.>
If not, I'd rather get them out of the tank while my daughter is visiting with her cousins. which gives me 2 days.
<I would remove them.>
Thanks in advance for your help!
<My pleasure.>

Re: Help! Snail eggs! (They just don't work well in omelets ) 7/24/2009
Mike -
<Hi Melissa.>
Thanks so much for the quick reply.
<My pleasure.>
They are practically all gone now.
<I'm sure the fish found them delicious.>
Too bad. I'll make sure we keep a lower water line so there is some space at the top of the tank for next time.
<That would be fine.>
Lol. I just saw your comments about omelets!

Hey There,
Can you please identify this type/class of snail for me. He was purchased @ a local Pet Store 4 months ago or so. See attached pics.
<. see WWM re the genus Pomacea>
Recently, for about 2 days he laid dormant on the bottom of my 78 degree tank. After cleaning the tank & re-establishing a better PH balance, with
conditioner, I think he is okay, but am worried about the possible issues that may be plaguing his health. He is active again at this point but not to the extent he was previously, before the altercation. He is not acting the same i.e.: not sliding over the remnants of the tank, like he did before. He used to cruise around in a speedy fashion on a regular basis. Now he is only sticking his body to items near the filter of the tank & hanging out on the temperature gauge, not moving around a lot at all. He is out of his shell somewhat, but not like before as you can see in the Pics.
<. keep reading>
We only feed him fish food. Is that enough? It obviously was enough for the past few months but is it healthy for him to only eat that. Will he eat
shrimp/crab shell or green lettuce? What do you think he would prefer? How do I check the exact PH balance of my tank? Is he growing his own shell? see pics
Pl/email me back
Thank You,
Laura Lee
<Laura. all this is posted, archived on our site. Please learn to/use the search tool, indices. Bob Fenner, on too-slow a conn. to give you the URLs>
<<Yay! Your snail looks very healthy. B>>

sorry, should work now..
really confused 3/23/09
hey guys,
yea this has been something puzzling me for a while now. I know its has something to do with snails because I have had this in my fresh water tank as well (only when I added snails to the tank), and I cant find any pics showing that they could be eggs. (either that or its Ich?)
<Are eggs>
What are these things? Hope the pic is clear, took with webcam. Thanks guys

Speedy Gonzales Snail. FW, ID, comp. f's 2/27/09 Hi- Summer here again. <And Robare pronto> I have a very small snail in my 240 L Juwel Rio tank which is still cycling with 6 zebra Danios, gravel, live and fake plants, bogwood, rocks and now an 8 inch airstone. I say the snail is a 'he' because I am thinking of 'him' that way. He's been around for about a week, and now I want to know how he contributes (or not) to my tank. <Mmm> He must have arrived on one of my live plants. <Usual> I'm amazed at how quickly he gets around. He's small and hard to spot, and moves so fast that in 30 seconds he's on the other side of the bogwood. Hence, I named him Speedy Gonzales. Questions are: 1) From the below photos, apologies for poor quality, can you tell me what type of snail he is? I'm guessing Ramshorn. <You are correct> 2) Can he reproduce on his own and if so, is that to be expected and a potential problem? <Can, possibly> I read
and it says they are hermaphroditic, just not clear if they need another snail to make more. I've seen no other signs of snails in my tank. 3) Is he good for my tank? <Mmm, perhaps more good than not> He eats dropped food (very quick hunter, this one) and seems to leave the plants alone. He usually hangs out on the bogwood. I'd like to keep him, he's pretty cool so far. As always, thank you so much! Summer <A tough one Summer. on the one hand, I really like these sorts of "hitchhikers". but too much of a good thing? You could remove the one, keep it elsewhere. or plan on countervailing/population control in a few ways should there be an explosion of unwanted Ramshorns. Bob Fenner>

Magic Snails, FW, sel., ID 10/5/08
I've looked over all the FAQ pages, and I haven't quite found what I'm looking for, so I resort to asking you. I have a 75g reef tank as well as a 30g freshwater tank. I've noticed over the past few weeks that I have dozens of what appear to be Cerith snails in my freshwater tank.
<In the freshwater tank at least, these are likely Melanoides spp. (such as Melanoides tuberculata). They're useful, predominantly nocturnal snails that burrow through the sediment feeding on organic matter. They are livebearers, and can become very numerous if they find enough to eat -- a comment on the cleanliness of the tank more than anything else! They don't do any harm, and numbers can be controlled by physical removal, trapping, cleaning the tank, or installation of a suitable predator such as the whelk Clea helena.>
The tank has been established for several years, with nothing being added in the past 2 years but fish. I've let all of the ornamental fish complete their lifecycles, and I only have one Pleco and a few feeder fish for my fuzzy lion (I'm weaning him off successfully, but he's taking his time). I've had a ton of Cerith eggs in my reef tank, is it possible that they hitchhiked on the net while in the plankton stage, and developed in my FW tank?
<It's certainly possible for certain intertidal or estuarine marine snails to survive in freshwater conditions, for example Puperita pupa and Neritina virginea. These are sometimes sold as freshwater snails despite doing better in brackish/marine conditions. They don't tend to breed in freshwater tanks though, because their larvae need saltwater conditions to develop. This said, most snails sold for reef tanks will be stenohaline rather euryhaline species.>
I can't think of any other place they could come from.
If this is the case, is there any way of re-acclimating them to saltwater? Thanks for your
<Cheers, Neale.>

Snails, horns? 10/25/07 Hello, I was told today that snails have horns, but I always thought that they didn't have horns as I thought they had eyes. So please could you clear up this question for me. Many thanks Amanda <Hello Amanda. Not sure what you mean by "horns". Clearly not the keratin structures specific to certain mammals, such as goats and cows! But if you mean antennae (or "feelers") then snails have varying numbers of these, depending on the type of snail in question. Most snails have at least one pair, but these may be very short and little more than triangular stubs (as in the case of Physa spp. pond snails or Patella spp. limpets). But other snails have long, mobile antennae that they use to locate food and find their way around. Apple snails (family Ampullariidae) not only have antennae but also eyes at the end of eye-stalks and a single long breathing tube called a siphon that they use to gulp air while remaining under water. Cheers, Neale>
Re: snails 10/25/07
Hello It was question in a quiz and I was told that snail have retractable horns and like I said I have always thought that these were called eyes or tentacles. Amanda <Well, no idea what your quiz-master was talking about. Molluscs don't have horns, period. They may well have eyestalks and antennae, but that's about it. Cheers, Neale.>

Slimy brown worms are back! -- 06/07/07 Good Morning- Samantha again. <Hiya Samantha, Darrel here . again> I have the baby Red Ear Slider turtles and then the slimy sticky worms popped up in my tank. Remember me? <Yes I do, Samantha. Usually when I hear people mention "slimy, sticky worms" I think of my brother-in-law, but I do remember you and your infestation.> Well I've been cleaning the tank regularly and no worms have come about. <Good. Progress.> However, when I clean out my tank and also when I dump the water from my feeder tank I just throw it in my grass in the back yard. <So do I - often the water waste can be good fertilizer> Tonight I went out and saw one of those worms on the wall. I realized a few days after I sent the first email that they look a lot like slugs. I took a picture, do you think these are coming from the tank water? <That's a great picture, Samantha and that is definitely a slug. To me, it looks like a run of the mill garden slug except being much darker brown than we usually see. So while it's possible that the slugs came from the lawn or the garden . if you didn't have slugs in your backyard until after you dumped slugs and water from your aquarium into your backyard we can assume that they came from the tank. Slugs need a lot of moisture to survive, Samantha, so try dumping your water somewhere else for a while -- let's see if drying out the back yard a bit sends the slugs away.> I also attached a picture of one of the turtles. Am I correct that it is a red-ear slider? <Yes you are .. a very cute picture of a baby Pseudemys scripta elegans (Red Eared Slider!> Samantha

Tiny water snail? 5/24/07 While I was searching to identify an unknown species of flatworm I happened across this photo submitted by someone else. It was never identified and I was wondering if you could satisfy my curiosity as to what type of snail this is or if it is a snail at all. The original poster stated that it was found on the remains of a muskrat along a creek bed. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide. <Assuming the thing wasn't actively wriggling about, it looks like a germinating seed to me. Certainly doesn't look like a snail. What's the size of the thing? Did it move? Was it "hard" or "soft"? Cheers, Neale> <<Neale. gots to move all incoming graphics to the folder labeled "Emails with Images". RMF>>

Tom: Limpets? 12/26/06 Hi Tom, <<Hi, Rachel and Happy Holidays to you.>> I had a quick question. Somewhere along the way I accidentally introduced what I thought were common pond snails to my aquarium. (I do have live plants but I removed as many snails as I saw and quarantined the plants as well. No more snails showed up, so I put the plants in the tank. I certainly could've missed one though. They appeared after I added the mystery snail, so one could've come in on his shell.) <<Either is possible. Eggs might be easily missed as well.>> After observing the snails for quite awhile, I'm starting to think they're freshwater limpets. <<Interesting'¦>> They're very small, no longer than two millimeters or so, and have the asymmetrical conical shell they look like pictures of freshwater limpets from Google. They've been hanging out on the tank walls wherever there's algae, and on the leaves of the plants. I couldn't find much information on their diet--what I did find was that they eat algae, fungus, and bacterial slime. Sounds great. <<Kind of makes Christmas dinner pale by comparison. :)>> However, a few sites suggested they also eat plants. My plants aren't the focus of my tank, but I would like to at least keep them alive, and the leaves have been looking ratty lately. Think the limpets are the culprits? I'd like to think the limpets are just eating bits of algae off the plant leaves. but I'll certainly remove them if I need to. <<I wouldn't rule it out, Rachel, but the 'yummies' you mentioned earlier would likely be the mainstay of their diets. If anything, they might be making a meal of the plants due to their condition rather than creating the condition. I'm certainly no authority on either but I've run across information that suggests that plants that are 'ratty' would be far more enticing to these than healthy plants would be. Rotting vegetation would be more to their liking.>> One more thing--In keeping an eye on my tank, I've noticed little invertebrates crawling around in the gravel, on the mystery snail's shell, and today a few hung out on the Betta for a while, but dropped off and didn't seem to have done him any damage. They're so tiny and they move so quickly I can hardly describe them myself, much less get a picture--just little tiny spheres zipping around. They seem to be a brownish color. I'm betting they're some kind of harmless freshwater pod, but is there any chance they'll munch on my fish? <<I'm totally unaware of gastropods causing fish any harm by munching on them. Most all are herbivores/detritivores and should pose no threat to your Betta.>> Thanks for any help! Rachel <<Don't think I've done much more than confirm what you already probably suspected here, Rachel, but it was good hearing from you again. Enjoy the rest of the 'Season'. Tom>>
Re: Tom: Limpets?
12/28/06 Thanks very much for your help, Tom! I really appreciate having a second opinion from someone so much more knowledgeable than me! <<Don't short-change yourself, Rachel. You pulled off some very respectable research on this last one.>> Happy Holidays to you too, and to the rest of the Crew. <<Speaking for us all, we thank you, Rachel.>> I'm surprised to find you all are still answering questions during the holiday season. But, here I am reading them! <<Lots of very fine people on board here, our readers included.>> Rachel <<Continued success, Rachel. Best regards. Tom>>

Abalone snails in my freshwater community tank. Need ID 12/20/2005 I am trying to establish abalone snails in my freshwater community tank. I have purchased them from a local aquarium supply store. They are round, about 1-1.5 cm in diameter and about 0.5-0.75 cm high. The snails seem to do fine for a while (I've had some for several months) and are laying numerous eggs (hundreds) on the glass walls of the tank. None, however, have hatched after more than six weeks. When I was in the store today, the fellow there said that he was having the same problem in his home tank. The eggs are usually in clumps and about 1 mm in diameter. They are usually cream or beige, but are sometimes white. They seem stable for several weeks, then disintegrate, leaving thin small rings marking their circumferences. <There are no actual non-marine Haliotids. true abalones. Can you tell me/us what these are in terms of scientific name, or higher taxonomy? Am totally unfamiliar> The tank is a 77 gallon tall tank. It has two Emperor 400 filters and one Fluval 403 filter. The filtration includes charcoal and Kent Nitrate Sponge. I have two Red Sea CO2 generators to put CO2 in the tank. It is heavily planted with a variety of plants, all of which are thriving. It is well lit. It has been established for 25 years. <Nice> Both Buenos Aires Tetras and Corydoras cats have reproduced in it. It also has Chinese Algae Eaters, Otocinclus, a Rainbow Shark, Cardinal Tets, Minicrabs, and Algae Eating shrimp, and an ongoing population of red Ramshorn snails in it. <Mmm, I suspect these snails are not amenable to your water chemistry. nor your clerk at the LFS's> With each monthly water change (about 70%) I add Kent Freshwater Plant, Kent Freshwater Essentials, Kent Pro-Choice, either Kent Blackwater Expert or Instant Amazon (Marc Weiss Companies, Inc.), <These chemicals may also be playing a role here. but need to know the snails tolerances for water quality> Kordon NovAqua +, and one TBS of Seachem Neutral Regulator and one TBS of Seachem Acid Buffer. I also add FreshWater Plant, Pro-Choice, and Blackwater Expert or Instant Amazon on a weekly basis. I have used this recipe for years. I keep the water at 78-79 degrees. the most recent water chemistries were: pH: 6.8 (Doc WellFish), 7.0 (TetraTest) GH: No test (Doc WellFish), 5.0 dH TetraTest) NO3: 20 mg/l (Doc WellFish), 25 mg/l (TetraTest) NO2: 0 (Doc WellFish), No test (TetraTest) NH3/NH4: <0.25 mg/l (Doc Wellfish), No test (TetraTest) Any suggestions as to how I can get these snail eggs to hatch? Any info you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Bruce McAllister I hope this works, Thanks, Bruce <Mmm, even a photo you can send along may help with actual identification. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Spruce Creek River Snail 9/23/05 While fishing in the spruce creek river, Florida. I noticed snails on the rocks , a lot of them everywhere .A friend told me that species only lives in this river. He didn't know the name of the snails. They have a conch shape with spikes on the cone end , and the biggest is 3" long. Can you tell me about this guys and if there safe for aquarium life. Oh this river is about 10 miles south of Daytona Beach . >> Without a photo it is difficult to say what species of snail this is. What fish were you catching? Is the water brackish, or are you very close to the estuary? Do you want to put the snail in a freshwater or saltwater aquarium? What else is in the aquarium now? Snails may bring in parasites, or eat the other animals and plants in your tank. Without knowing more about it I would not recommend putting it in your tank. Good Luck, Oliver.

Snail ID. 8/31/05 I have a snail that is about the size of two or three golf balls and I don't know what kind it is. <Likely an "Apple" or "Baseball Snail". please see here:> It has holes that open and close and little worm things come out. Can you tell me what the worm things are? <Nope. Please see the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Can you help me identify this snail? 8/22/05 Hi! I found a snail in the river today and I want to find out how to take care of it, but I can't figure out what kind it is. It is very tiny, smaller than a BB gun pellet, so it is hard to see detail. It's shell is goldish brown and pretty transparent. The shell is a squat, round spiral. The opening is more on the left, with the fat little cinnamon bun spiral ending on the right. Its body is white-yellow. I wonder if it is a baby or just a very small species. I found it on a rock on the bottom of a shallow slow moving river here in Massachusetts. It is in about 1 1/2 inches of water in a glass bowl right now, munching on a clam shell that I found near it in the river. I will really appreciate any help you can give. Thank-You! -Danielle <Mmm, I would use the Net. search under "river life of. your area". maybe even the term freshwater snails. of MA. Bob Fenner>

Small hard round shell like animals on my fresh water tank glass 8/22/05 Hi, my name is Michelle and I tried to find my answer on your website but can't find any thing like this. <Hi Michelle> I have these small hard round shell like animals on my fresh water tank glass, they are about the size of a pin head, not very big, really hard to take a picture of they don't show up, when I clean the inside of the glass I take a clean cloth and drag it from the bottom to top and can bring up as many as four to ten depending? The only way I can get them off is to take a paper towel push down on them with my finger nail and it smashes them on to the paper towel, that is because they have a hard shell, what are they, I noticed them when I was using the product CYCLE, They almost seem snail like and they do move! This is fresh water I am talking about, are they harmful to my fish? what are they? <Larval freshwater snails. The eggs are nearly invisible and can enter the system attached to plants or bogwood. Not harmful to fish but do tend to multiply uncontrollably. I like to leave some in the system unless live plants are present as the little snails help to eat left over waste and algae. If they get out of control, add a clown loach (provided your system can support one) and the loach will clear the tank of snails in no time.> Thank you for your time, <No problem at all.> Michelle Wrathell <Cheers -- Glenn> Re: small hard round shell like animals on my fresh water tank glass 8/22/05 Thank you! Thank you! <Quite welcome.> That is a relief! Because I do tend to feed too much and thought that was the problem, seems strange that we like to overfeed our fish too much and that gives us more work (cleaning more) and most of our problems when it comes to disease and parasites. <Indeed.> You said that either from plants or bogwood, I don't have neither, what else could they have come from? I was thinking the Cycle. <Cycle wouldn't introduce snails. They could have come in on anything that was previously in another tank, or even in the shipping water of fish. IME most freshwater tanks will inevitably get snails at some point if set up long enough.> Thank you for your time I really appreciate it, that makes me feel better that it isn't something that I have done. <No worries. Best of luck!> Michelle W. <--Glenn>

Pushmipullyu Ramshorns?? - 08/16/2005 I have 2 Ramshorn snails that are about the sizes of a dime on some and a nickel for others. I have noticed that in the past 4 months that 2 of them have grown what looks like another head. <?!> This growth is on the direct opposite side as its head is but has no antennas. <You're not just seeing the "tail" end, are you?> Two more of these snails have exceptionally large "penises" along with this other head. <Perhaps these two are just growing/developing faster than the others?> Is this possible or are they just one of those things? <I'd like to refer you to . There is a forum there that you could possibly post in and see if someone can help you find an answer, if you are unable to find it within their (very informative) site.> Sherry Tulenko <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Garden Snails Aquatic? 7/22/05 Hi there, I love your site! I visit often and would like to thank you for all your very useful advice. I have a question for you. Today a friend of mine at the local grocery store found a snail cruising around the back room, produce department and offered it to me for my fish tank. <Be on the lookout when you buy your tomatoes next time. > My problem is.. I don't know what kind of snail this is, and I have a tank in which I just added some aquarium salt to yesterday. ( which my guppies are very happy about) So I'm worried the salt will harm it. <Aquatic snails have no problem dealing with salt. However, it does not seem as if this one was aquatic. If it was found on dry land, leave it on dry land, don't stick it in water.> I looked online and think it may be a garden snail, if it is, can it survive in an aquarium? <Doubtful.> Right now its in a fish bowl with some cabbage and a tiny bit of water, until I find out what to do with it. I'd like to keep it, the kids adore it. So any advice on what kind of snail this is and how to care for it would be very much appreciated! Thanks in advance. (Picture is attached.) <I'm sorry, I didn't receive any photo, so I really cannot help you there. However, Google is magic: do an image search on Garden snails, see if it matches your snail. If so, switch to a web search and start reading! Mike G> -Gina

Snail Question Dear WWM Crew, <Lynn> I'm hoping you will know my snail by a description, as I don't have a picture to send. I've searched the net for a pic or description that suits him but haven't found anything thus far. I'm asking because I'm quite fond of him and would like to make sure I'm taking proper care of him. 'Garfunkel' is about 1cm, or 1/2 an inch, and his shell has stripes of black and orange-yellowish that run from the front to back. There is one small turn in his shell, toward the back on his right side, where all the stripes end (or begin?). He has a door that he can close and only two tentacles, and his skin is striped as well. He doesn't eat my plants, has never multiplied, keeps the (freshwater) tank spotless, and is growing very slowly (if at all). I'd appreciate your help if you can offer any info such as: his name, what he eats, any special needs, where his kind comes from. I'd like to keep him alive and well as long as possible. Regards, Lynn VanAsseldonk <Have no idea. you might try writing your description on the larger hobbyist BB's re live plants. like the Krib. Send along a pic if you can make one. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater Abalone Hello all I purchased a few mollusks that were called Freshwater Abalone recently (please see picts). <Mmm, there are no freshwater abalone per se (family Haliotidae. all marine), but there are some freshwater limpets. which of a few family possibilities is what these appear to be> They seem to do well in my plant tank. They devour algae voraciously and have grown considerably. I currently keep them in a 100 gallon tank with gold clams, gold mussels, Malaysian trumpet Snails, Amano Shrimp, SAEs and a Farlowella. Are they truly Abalone? Also, are those eggs that are seen in the background of the pictures? <Look like it> Thanks for any information, Stan <Please put the term "freshwater limpets" in your search tools. Much to be found/read re these fascinating mollusks. Bob Fenner>

Re: Freshwater Abalone Hello Bob Thanks for your response. These guys are constantly in motion. The few limpets I encountered in the past (all freshwater) were fairly stationary. The eggs I showed you are definitely being laid by these mollusks but I have as yet to see any offspring. Perhaps this species requires brackish or fully marine conditions to hatch properly. Regardless, thanks for your help. I am going to try researching these further. Stan <If spawned in freshwater, very likely will hatch there. Bob Fenner>

Snail ID and Betta question Howdy folks. David here. A couple questions. Number one: over the past several weeks, I have been finding snails in my main display tank. I'm not sure how they got in there in the first place. I'm guessing they came with some plants I bought but I probably had the plants 2 or more weeks before I found my first snail. < You are probably right. These are common pond snails and they are often found with plants.> It is a 55 gallon freshwater tank with tetras, swordtails and Otos. I don't really want the snails in there because I'm growing plants and I'm not sure if they will harm them so as I find the buggers, I've been moving them to my Betta's 2 gallon tank. I have included a picture of one of the snails. There are probably 6 or 7 of them in there by now. In the upper right-hand corner, you can see what I believe to be snail eggs. < You are right . These are snail eggs.> I would simply like to know what kind of snails these are and whether I should be concerned with having them in my main tank and also my Betta's tank. Also, should I remove the eggs? < They really don't do too much damage. They may eat the softer parts of plants like new shoots and leaves but they also eat algae and left over food too. Removing the eggs will help but I am afraid you won't be able to keep up. There are probably little nests like that scattered all over the aquarium already.> At what point will there be too many snails for that 2 gallon tank? < I guess when they really bother you.> And do they provide any benefits for the tank, such as sifting thought the gravel and cleaning it? < If there gets to be a point to where they seem to be taking over the tank then there are a couple of ways to go. You could use chemicals that are poisonous to the snails but if it is slightly overdosed then it will kill the fish too. I would use some biological control like Botias or puffers. They get rid of all of them but will at least keep the population under control.> My second question is in regards to my Betta, Casper. I have had him for almost 2 years. For almost all of that time, he was in a one-gallon, unlighted, unheated tank. I wised up a while back and got him the 2 gallon tank with a light and a heater that keeps the tank around 80 F. It also has a UGF and I'm growing some plants in there: some Aponogeton bulbs and some floating Riccia. I have also included a picture of him and I'm sure you will spot my concern right away. The color on the front half of his body is very faded. He was not always like this. I was hoping the new tank conditions would help out but it doesn't seem to have had an effect thus far. There does not appear to be anything else wrong with him. He is active enough for a Betta. He eats well. He likes looking at himself in the mirror and flaring up every now and then. He is usually always excited to see me. Seems like a normal healthy boy but the dullness of color really concerns me. Is there anything I can do for him? < I think the lack of color may be a factor of age. If that is the case then there is not much you can do. You might try some live food like brine shrimp or daphnia and see if that helps.-Chuck> Thanks so much for your help. David

Ivan the Terrified - 07/26/2004 I believe the last crew member I spoke with was Sabrina. This is an update email and a question about Black Mystery snails. <Holy Mackinaw, I'm SO sorry on the delay!> I am the proud and indulgent Momma of a spoiled Pink Kisser named Ivan the Terrified. <I could never forget.> I wrote back in January about a rash-type condition on his tail which is now cleared up completely. <Ah, delightful!> He's up to about 5 inches long and is much less hand-shy. Per your suggestion I added several plastic plants and some floating live plants to the tank (name of it escapes me just now but it is vine-like with patches of 6 leaves growing from the main stalk every 1/2 inch or so). <Sounds like elodea/Egeria/Anacharis - a great munchin' plant. How's he liking his new digs?> After a few weeks I had a bad algae bloom that I couldn't get a permanent handle on (10% water changes every day for 2 weeks did almost nothing: I'm guessing a nitrate jump from the leaves dying and the change in fish poop), <Could be. You may have ended up with Elodea canadensis, which is a coldwater Anacharis-type plant it tends to die instead of grow, in aquaria. Though, I would guess Ivan at least helps with cleaning up the plant scraps?> so off I hiked to the fish store and invested in a Black Mystery snail named Bubble. Before I knew it, I had pin-head sized baby snails crawling around on the glass which I removed to a 2 gal. "nursery" tank. The woman at the store said "they're a self-breeder" (which makes little sense in a practical application because even the hermaphroditic ones can't breed with themselves, can they?), <Many/most snails will self-fertilize. One turns into very, very many, much to some plant keepers' chagrin! Though, they CAN cross-fertilize, too. A few, like the apple snail, require a male and a female to reproduce.> but my research said that they're opposite sexed (shell door concave= female, convex=male) or hermaphroditic (sources argued) and shouldn't breed if there's only one in a system. <Umm, if I understand correctly (and after a brief jaunt at , I'm sure I don't), they do indeed have genders. Please consult that website there is SO much info there, it's just unbelievable.> With a 10 gal and only 1 fish, 1 snail should be plenty to maintain the system. <Er, until Ivan gets a foot long ) But until he gets too big, yeah, the snail should' a been fine.> Then, Bubble died. I'm pretty sure that was of "old age" since she was over 3", what the store said is the max for that kind of snail. <Yeah, that's a pretty good sized hunk o' escargot! (Which reminds me. have you ever SMELLED a dead snail? How can folks EAT that?!)> I figured then that my snail population was down to the babies I had, which I found homes for except for 1 that I kept for cleaning purposes. <Sounds appropriate.> Now, I've researched the heck out of these things and I can't get a definitive answer about sexing and breeding and the snails keep coming. <Again, please consult for more comprehensive info. I believe there's even a forum there.> The baby born and raised in my system, Pot Sticker, is up to about an inch across the shell doing all her normal snaily things (concave door and floating around on top of the water munching on a leaf), but I have a pretty steady population of snails between almost-can't-see-'em pin head sized and big enough to pick up with tweezers and take out of the tank. How the heck did they get here and why don't they stop? <Umm, it's sounding like these are NOT apple/mystery snails. Though, it may be that you got some pond snail eggs in on your plants.> I pick them off the glass (which I feel bad about but I'm afraid they'll clog the filter) when I see them. Supposedly my Kisser will eat them and if that's the case I really don't have a problem, only I've never seen him eat any. If I stop giving him his tropical flakes for a few days would he start going after the snails? <He may. Don't feed him for several days (he can take it - especially if there are plants around) and see if he starts pickin' 'em off.> I don't want to use chemicals to get rid of them since I'd like to keep Pot Sticker healthy and it wouldn't be good for Ivan either. <I agree. I would just remove them manually. One way to do so is to place a some pellet food or a slice of blanched zucchini on a small plate in the tank (shielded from Ivan, if possible) just after lights-out. In the morning, remove the plate - it should have a bundle of snails on it.> Am I still just being a paranoid first time fishkeeper? <Yes. But that's a good thing :D > I haven't tried taking Pot Sticker <Pot Sticker? I bow to you, O Ye of Great Names.> out of the tank either because I don't want my algae to get out of control again. Any suggestions? <Just as above. I would try fasting Ivan first - but that's just 'cause I don't like killing things except to be eaten. I'm weird like that.> Thanks in advance, Becky <You betcha - glad to hear how Ivan's doing!! Wishing you, Ivan, and Pot Sticker well, -Sabrina>

Mystery snail 7/29/04 Based on my searches, it would appear the snail I had resembles the Ramshorn and/or apple/mystery snail, except for one important feature. The snail in my tank never revealed a siphon, even though it spent almost all of its time submerged. If it had a siphon, of any size, I never saw it being used. Is there another freshwater snail, likely to be sold at pet stores such as PetSmart, that would resemble the apple, mystery, or Ramshorn snail, but would not have a siphon? It is possible this was a pond snail? < Pond snails tend to be rather small. I am sure you snail was a black mystery snail. Look for the siphon when the snail is near the surface.-Chuck> First, I know nothing about them, other than the people at a pet store told my wife that they would be good to keep algae down. So, we bought one. I don't know how to identify it. It was brown, with the shell somewhere between a quarter and a half dollar. He had a distinct flap he could use to cover the opening of his shell, and he had long antennae looking things on his head. His mouth faced down, and you could watch it move as he slid (and date?) while sliding along the side of the tank. I've looked for pictures of various snails, but so far haven't found one that looks like him. The only thing in the tank (freshwater 10 gallon) are 7 African dwarf frogs. Last night, we noticed the snail was floating, and being tossed about by the filter. I immediately isolated him into a small storage tank, but he was already dead. Is there a way to identify him? We had him for 4 to 6 months. We had only one snail, and we never had any others show up (could the frogs have been eating the eggs or little snails if there were any?) < Probably a black mystery snail. They lay their eggs out of the water but I suppose that the frogs could have been eating the little ones if there were any.> I'd like to get another snail, but I'd like to make sure I get one that will be OK in the tank. We got lucky with the first one, but I am really hesitant to trust the store staff (they told us a freshwater shrimp would be ok with our frogs -- the shrimp ate 2 and killed a 3rd before we got him out of the tank and returned him to the store). < Generally snails eat some algae but you need to get some food down to the bottom where the snails can get to it. If the algae is gone then they will eat some live plants. You snails should be fine with the frogs.-Chuck> Thanks, Greg

A question on snails Hello, I just purchased a snail from a local pet store, unsure what kind it is, the shell is brown with white, yellowish stripes and it is about the size of a quarter. <Sounds like a Ramshorn. Please see here:> anyway I have put the snail in my 10 gallon fresh water tank to eat algae on my tank. I have 3 painted tetras, a rainbow shark and a platy in the tank with plastic plants. When I put the snail in the tank he did not move for hours, I then figured out that he was upside down, so I flipped him up right. The next thing time I looked in the tank he was flipped upside down again so I flipped him back upside right. <No need to flip. will do this on its own. if it is alive. Bob Fenner> but he or something keeps flipping him upside down. Is this normal and should I just leave the snail alone or what? I am confused, This has happened several times now. Thanks Kathy

Freshwater barnacle? Dear Crew, Last week I added 12 Nerite snail to my freshwater tank. Today I noticed small (1/32") white scales on the substrate and drift wood. They look like mini-barnacles. While I'd like to know what they are, I'd really like to know how to rid my tank of them before they multiply any further. FYI, my 30 gallon aquarium is a planted community tank. Your advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks. Best Regards, John Amico <Not barnacles (which are marine), but likely some other species/phylum. probably a mollusk of some sort. Not harmful. do send along a close-up pic if you can. Bob Fenner>

The Ugly

While I’ve had no really terrible problems with the smaller species of Vermetids, the larger ones have caused me some grief with something very particular: polyp bailout on stony corals. Large-polyped corals that secrete a skeleton will sometimes evacuate their skeletons in the event of sever stress or irritation, and the condition is typically fatal to the polyp (in the wild, some corals will send out free-roaming polyps to relocate and start a new colony, but drifting polyps almost never settle successfully in captivity).

One year I had a series of inexplicable incidents of polyp bailout on several large-polyped stony corals. In each case, the skeleton contained a collection of tiny snail shells in the cavity where the polyps would normally be rooted. All were very much dead though upon discovery in the coral skeletons, which was a puzzle indeed. I initially thought this was some sort of parasitic snail that had been trying to feed on the coral tissue, but I had no luck with identifications and eventually gave up. Much later, after finally finding a complete shell of the large Vermetids pictured here, I discovered that the “parasites” that savaged my corals perfectly matched the free-roaming stage evidenced in the adults’ shells. Culprit identified!

My best hypothesis for these repeated polyp bailout events with snails at the bottom has been that the free-roaming snails burrowed between the polyp tissue and the skeleton looking for a good place to live. Either they had been smothered by slime from the coral or the coral had secreted something else that killed them. Probably the irritation from this activity (and perhaps from the resulting decay) was too much and the polyps bailed as a last attempt at survival. It is worth noting that there were very heavy filter feeder populations in this tank, so the Vermetid populations were likely well above what would be found in the average reef tank.

5. Trochus Snail (Trochus spp.)

The pyramid-shaped Trochus snails are originally from the Indo-Pacific waters and bring a touch of the exotic with the maroon spirals around their shells. Perfectly adapted to reef aquariums, they tend to be highly independent, being of a peaceful nature whilst still maintain a strong defense against potential predators.

I strongly recommend these snails as they will become a valued part of the cleaning crew . Their relatively larger size is often preferred for their similarly voluminous appetite for all types of algae. Trochus snails will be very helpful in keeping your saltwater aquarium free from algae.

These snails can grow up to 1 inch (

  • They have a large appetite for various types of algae.
  • Trochus snails are very friendly and will not bother any other aquarium. inhabitant. Their average size makes them reef safe because they usually do not knock over rocks and corals.
  • They are fully able to flip themselves over and back if they happen to fall off from somewhere.
  • They tend to be quite durable with comparatively longer lifespans.
  • Trochus snails are hardy creatures and can withstand higher temperatures in saltwater tanks.
  • Trochus species are peaceful and reef safe.
  • These snails can shake their shells to defend themselves from hermit crabs.
  • They may knock over smaller rocks and corals.
  • Trochus snails are not able to burrow.
  • They tend to have shorter lifespans.
  • Their large appetite could leave your tank depleted of algae.

How Do Pond Snails Reproduce?

Pond snails are hermaphrodites. They can reproduce asexually and sexually. Adult pond snails perform the functions of both males and females. They can donate and receive sperm from other pond snails.

Additionally, pond snails can store sperm for a long time and use it to produce young ones in the absence of a suitable mate. Pond snails are egg-laying animals. They lay their fertilized eggs below the waterline.

Pond snails are prolific breeders. They produce large masses of eggs each time. The eggs look like jelly masses, which later develop into baby snails with soft shells.

Pond snail eggs will hatch within two weeks of being laid. Since most of the eggs develop into viable babies, pond snails can quickly overwhelm your tank.

Interesting Further Reading:

Aquarium snail identification - Biology

Imagine the scene You&rsquove just managed to get your new aquarium the way you like it, and are admiring it in all it&rsquos glory, when out of the corner of your eye, you spot a snail gliding slowly over the glass. How do you react? Maybe you're horror-struck, imagining it attacking your fish or devouring your plants. Or perhaps you&rsquore just shocked and wondering how the snail managed to find its way into your tank in the first place.

This article will attempt to answer some of the questions you may have about snails and lay any fears to rest.

Snail Biology

Snails belong to the Gastropoda genus of the phylum Mollusca. The members of the Mollusca phylum don&rsquot possess a skeleton or exoskeleton and include clams, oysters and squid, as well as snails and slugs.

So, how did the snail get into the tank?

The most common way for snails to enter your aquarium is by hitching a ride on live plants. Even if you haven&rsquot bought or added new plants in a while, chances are, the snails have been there all the time, hiding in the gravel or behind décor, and let&rsquos face it, you didn&rsquot set up an entire aquarium for snails alone, so you weren&rsquot exactly looking out for them.

Fish and Snails

If you're a beginner to the fishkeeping hobby and don&rsquot know much about the different forms of aquatic life it&rsquos easy to worry when first spotting an intruder in the aquarium, and obviously the first thing you think of is whether or not they&rsquore going to attack or harm the fish, but most freshwater snails are harmless to fish, quite happily living alongside them and filling a niche in the aquarium that fish sometimes don&rsquot. If anything, the fish are more likely to be a threat to the snails than the reverse, as some species of fish will predate on snails.

In general, the biggest risk that snails represent to fish is by introducing parasites into the tank, which may later migrate to the fish.

When kept in moderation, snails can be beneficial to the fishkeeper. Many of them are scavengers, and will eat algae and detritus, which helps to keep the whole aquarium that little bit cleaner (not that anyone is suggesting you let the snails do all the maintenance work for you &ndash that&rsquos still your responsibility) and for some species, such as the Malaysian Trumpet Snail, their habit of burrowing in the substrate for food keeps the substrate turning over and stops it from becoming compacted, which reduces the risk of a build-up of hydrogen sulphate &ndash a fish toxin if allowed to build up and escape into the water.

Some species are even intentionally bought and added to the tank by the fishkeeper themselves, either for one of the reasons mentioned above, or simply because they can be an interesting, colourful and sometimes even beautiful addition to the tank.

Snails and Plants

If snails eat algae, do they also eat plants?

That depends on the species of snail. While some snails will feast on healthy plants and ruin the look of your otherwise perfect aquarium, many don&rsquot bother plants unless the plant is dying anyway.

Different Species

Here&rsquos a quick guide to some of the more common species of freshwater snail.

Diet: Depends on the species. Some, such as Pomacae Bridgesii (the one most likely to be bought from the pet shop) are scavengers, which will leave live, healthy plants alone in favour of detritus or algae. Others will take all vegetation.

Maximum size: between 2 and 6&rdquo, depending on species.

Diet: Mainly algae and detritus.

Pics: Bee Nerite shown top, Zebra Nerite shown bottom.

Water Chemistry

Most snails require harder, more alkaline water with PH around 7.5. Soft, acidic water will, for the most part, result in shell damage.

Population Control

So, we&rsquove established that snails do have their uses in the aquarium, and that they&rsquore not likely to eat your fish any time soon, but obviously, you need to control their numbers to some extent, otherwise you&rsquoll be overrun! Below is a list of a few of the ways that you can control snail population:

As previously mentioned, some species of fish, such as various cichlids or loaches, are known snail predators. Of course, it's vitally important that you carry out full, independent research to ensure any fish - snail predator or not - is suitable for your current fishkeeping ability, tank size and water chemistry, as well as compatible with your current stock before buying the fish.

Food control

Watch the fish carefully at feeding times to ensure that you&rsquore not overfeeding them and remove any leftovers after a few minutes. Use an algae magnet to clean the glass. This will force the snail population to adapt to the change in the supply of food and numbers should reduce as a result.

To put it another way &ndash blanched lettuce/cucumber -) The trick is to weigh the cucumber/lettuce down in the tank &ndash either by tying it to something to keep it down, or by jamming it underneath a rock or some décor. Leave the food in the tank overnight then, next morning, remove the veg and its snail collection.

There are a variety of commercially available chemicals that are designed to kill snails. However, these are not generally recommended in anything but the very last resort, as any water additive that can kill snails may also pose a threat to the filter bacteria.

Preventing snails from getting into the aquarium

Is there anything I can do to stop the snails from getting into the tank at all?

If you want to avoid any snails getting into the tank in the first place, you&rsquoll need to treat any and all newly acquired plants before adding them to the tank. Possibly the safest way to do this, is to dip the plants in a bath mixture of water and snail killer, leave them for a few hours, and rinse thoroughly before dipping them in dechloronated water (tank water would be ideal, if taken out of the tank) and adding the plants to the tank. Because you&rsquore treating the plants outside of the tank, the snail killer won&rsquot be any risk to the filter bacteria.

Some websites also recommend treating plants/décor with a weak bleach solution of 19 parts water to 1 part bleach for anything between 30 seconds and 2 minutes, but a bleach solution also risks the plants themselves and if even the faintest trace of bleach lingers on the plants, when they&rsquore added to the tank, it can cause the fish serious health problems.

Many planted aquaria have a population of snails somewhere &ndash if not on the glass, then hiding on plants or in the substrate, and unless you actively treat live plants in a manner that will kill the snails before you add the plants to the tank, you're likely to come across them in your aquarium sooner or later anyway. When they're properly managed, snails fit into an ecological niche and play a beneficial role in helping the keeper with tank maintenance - whether by cleaning the substrate of trapped fish food, or by cleaning the glass of an algae build-up, so a small snail population isn&rsquot something to be worried about.

Aquarium Snail Facts

Snails eat algae and organic debris, and they are beneficial to the overall health and balance of an aquarium. Some species are attractive and interesting to observe, and many hobbyists value them as pets just like fish. But some species reproduce rapidly, and a sudden population explosion can be a surprise, especially if you do not know where they came from. An unplanned snail outbreak can be an indicator of less than ideal conditions and the need to do some tank maintenance.

Here are some interesting points to consider about snails:

  • Snails enter an aquarium one of two ways: either they are purchased and introduced intentionally, or they sneak in on live plants, rocks, driftwood, decorations or in gravel cultures.
  • Snails that sneak in are usually the types that multiply rapidly and are considered by some aquarists as &ldquobad&rdquo or nuisance snails. They include Ramshorns, Malaysian Trumpets and pond snails.
  • Ramshorn, Trumpet and pond snails make great scavengers for shrimp tanks and fry-rearing tanks.
  • Sometimes Ramshorn snails will eat live plants when there is no other source of food. Most other snails will leave your plants alone.
  • Malaysian Trumpet snails live in the gravel by day and come out at night. They help keep the gravel clean and aerated. Trumpet snail outbreaks are usually an indication that the aquarium needs to be cleaned more regularly.
  • &ldquoGood snails&rdquo like Mystery, Inca, Nerite, Assassin and Rabbit snails make attractive and interesting aquarium pets. All except Nerite snails can reproduce in your aquarium, but usually at a very slow rate.
  • Nerite snails need brackish or saltwater to reproduce, so they are unlikely to multiply in your aquarium.
  • Mystery and Inca snails lay their eggs above the water, usually on the underside of the aquarium cover, so if you want to breed them, leave an air space for them between the water surface and tank lid.
  • Snail outbreaks are usually a response to available food such as uneaten fish food, dead plant matter and other organic debris. If you have a snail outbreak, reduce feeding, do more frequent water changes, vacuum the substrate and clean your filter more often.
  • Nuisance snails can be removed manually by placing Aqueon Algae Rounds or Bottom Feeder Tablets in the aquarium overnight and removing them with the attached snails in the morning.
  • To reduce the number of nuisance snails in your aquarium, try squishing a few at a time and watch your fish gobble them up!
  • Assassin snails eat nuisance snails and they will not overrun your aquarium. They are cool-looking too!
  • Certain species of loaches, puffer fish, cichlids and catfish are known to eat nuisance snails, but these fish are not suitable for every aquarium. Always research new fish before purchasing!
  • Use chemicals designed to eliminate snails with caution. They are harmful to plants, shrimp and even sensitive fish. In addition, a mass die-off of snails can cause ammonia and nitrite to rise to dangerous levels.

Next time you see some cool-looking snails at your local fish store, why not consider adding a few to your aquarium?


Kim Hogarth on October 27, 2013:

hello, I&aposd just like to say that I&aposve had just one Gold Fish in a tank by itself and fear the tank is getting too small for him but anyway to the point..I thought I&aposd get something to help the eco system of the tank so about 4 months ago I bought 2 snails..One is a "Horned" something, with spikes and the other one was a bigger one kind of dark to light brown with ddark spots on its shell..A week ago there are all of a sudden 4 baby snails getting around in the tank. I have no idea what&aposs happened. Anyone have any idea&aposs ??


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