The Ramshorn Snail (Planorbidae) is one of the most common types of freshwater snails in the aquarium hobby. They are small air-breathing snails that rapidly reproduce in the aquarium. They have a few different varieties when it comes to colors, but the red and blue varieties are the most sought-after types of ramshorn snails. Some might consider ramshorn snails as pest snails while others call them great cleaning pets.
Regardless, here In this guide, we gathered all the information you need to care for Ramshorn Snails and to prevent overpopulation.
Species Profile & Overview
Ramshorn Snails are beautiful and colorful snails belonging to the Planorbidae family of snails. These species are commonly found in the aquarium trade and can easily transfer from one aquarium to another by accident. Their translucent eggs are sometimes hard to see when you are buying a plant, this is how they usually transfer to new tanks.
These snails are native to South and North America and some varieties can be found in cold regions like Alaska and Canada. These snails are very common in the aquarium hobby and can easily transfer from one tank to another. This is because they are egg layers and eggs can easily transfer to new tanks.
There are several different types of ramshorn snails in the Planorbidae but only a few of them are kept as pets in the aquarium hobby. The Red, Blue, Pink, Orange, and brown variants are the most common types of Ramshorns that can be found in aquariums. The most common type of Ramshorn Snail is the brown variety which is often considered a pest snail. Having said that, red and blue varieties are usually sold as pets and can go for up to $5 or more per snail.
Ramshorn Snails reproduce rapidly which is why some consider them pests. However, they only breed as much as the available food in the tank. If you do not overfeed your tank, these snails will stay in low numbers and can be an amazing cleaning crew to your tank.
The Ramshorn Snail is definitely a beautiful snail that has beautiful colors. Their shells are sinistral (left-turning) and are Flat-coiled. This design of the shell is the reason they are named “Rams Horn Snails”. Their shells are generally brown in color, but they also have red, pink, blue, spotted brown, and orange types. Their body color can range from dark brown to pink and blue. They might also develop dots and patches on their body but because these snails are very small you might not notice these dots and patches.
The shell’s opening is small compared to its body size. This is because they do not have a trap door (operculum) to block the entrance. When they feel threatened, they will retract in their shells as far as they can.
They have 2 tentacles located next to their eyes on top of their head. They use these tentacles to feel and smell their surroundings and find food. The mouth is located at the bottom of the head facing down and has a triangular shape. The radula, inside the mouth, is the main tool they use to take bites of food.
Ramshorn Snails might lose their coloration or develop cracks on their shells if water quality is poor in your tank. This gives them an unpleasant look. To avoid this, it’s important to have stable water parameters that do not fluctuate.
Ramshorn Snail Size
When fully grown, the Ramshorn Snail will reach around 0.8 inches in diameter. This makes them one of the smaller types of aquarium snails that can be found in the pet trade. These magnificent creatures will swiftly grow to their full adult size if they have enough food available.
The Ramshorn Snail’s lifespan is about 1 year. However, since these snails reproduce rapidly, you will never notice your snails are passing away. The tank’s temperature will have a direct impact on the lifespan of these creatures. If you keep your tank temperature on the colder side of their tolerance, they will live longer and will breed less.
Behavior & Temperament
Ramshorn Snails are very peaceful species that do not harm any fish or plants in your tank. They do not have any defensive or offensive tools to hurt others or protect themselves from other species. The only defense mechanism they have is their shell which lacks a trap door. This makes it easy for other species to hunt ramshorn snails. Their peaceful nature and the fact that they eat any leftover foods make them a great cleaning species for tanks.
Ramshorns are air-breathing snails so it is common to see them reaching out to the surface to breathe. However, they mainly stay at the bottom of the tank or on plants looking for food. They are an amazing cleaning crew that works day and night to clean your tank of algae and leftover foods.
While most consider ramshorns as pests, we believe they are an important part of any healthy ecosystem. They help the tank to stay clean and pollution free and in some cases, they can be free food for other fish. This means more stable water parameters for your fish and other inhabitants in your tank.
Rams horns are vigorous eaters and will ambush foods in large numbers. Each snail wants to get to the food as fast as it can so you might see a large number of them at one point at a time.
Ramshorn Snail Care
Ramshorn Snails are one of the easiest snails to care for. All you need to focus on is to make sure they have stable water parameters and enough food. Since they breed rapidly, it is best to not feed them a lot as it will encourage them to breed more.
With a few adjustments and a little planning, you can keep them in your tank without overpopulating your aquarium. If your aquarium is already matching the conditions we mentioned below, you should have no problem keeping these guys.
They thrive in aquariums that have enough algae and plants that they can feed on. So if your tank has an algae problem, adding these snails will help you slowly get rid of algae.
The minimum tank size for Ramshorn Snails is 5 gallons. They can share this space with other snails or fish that can live in such a small space. However, it is best to give your snails a bigger aquarium. Bigger aquariums will provide a better living space for your snails and fish.
Ramshorn Snails are not a demanding species and can adjust to any environment they can find enough food. This, however, doesn’t mean they will thrive. Having the right tank environment for your pet snails will help them enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
Ideally, it is best to recreate their natural habitat and give them all the elements they have in the wild. In the wild, these snails are often seen on plants near the surface of the water. This is where they can easily find food and breathe air.
To mimic their natural habitat, you will have to have a lot of surface area in your tank including plants, rocks, and driftwood. Large plants whose leaves can reach the surface are the ideal types of plants for ramshorns. These plants will provide them with food and make it easy for them to breathe. Your tank should also stay very clean and stable at all times.
The placement of the decorations is also important. Ideally, you will need to place decorations in a way that these snails can crawl under and stay there when they want to rest. They will also hide and breed under decorations if you have a fish that hunts. At the same time, decoration expands the available surface area in your tank. Which gives your snails more surface to explore and find food.
Because of their small size and their lower bite pressure, these snails can not eat most plants. If you see they are on the leaves and eating, they are probably eating algae grown on the plant or the leaf is dying and the decaying process has already started.
These snails will only eat dead and decaying matter but might keep scratching the surface of the leaves if they do not receive enough food. In some cases, this will cause the plant’s leaf to die and make more food for the Ramshorn Snails.
If you have slow-growing plants like Anubias, your snails will happily keep their leaves free of algae. Slow-growing plants like Anubias are algae magnets so having snails will keep them clean.
Calcium For Ramshorn Snail
The main component in Assassin Snail’s shell is calcium, so they need calcium to maintain the firmness of their shell as they grow. To let your snails grow perfect shells, they’ll have to have calcium in their diet. Calcium makes up 98% of their shell so it’s the most important element for them to have in their diet. Lower amounts of calcium are in most fresh vegetables and some commercially made foods but it is not sufficient for snails.
Luckily, there are multiple easy ways to add calcium to your tank so your snails can consume it. Egg shells are a free source of calcium for your snails. Simply add one or 2 egg shells to your tank and your snails will get all the calcium they need.
You can also place a cuttlebone in your aquarium as a source of calcium for your pet snails. Cuttlebones are usually sold in the bird’s section of Walmart and Petsmart as well as other local pet stores.
Different types of Ramshorn Snails live in diverse water conditions across North and South America. But the varieties that are found commonly in aquariums are usually adapted to live in tropical waters.
Ramshorn Snails are one of the most versatile types of snails when it comes to water parameters. They can easily tolerate a wide range of water parameters in different types of aquariums.
Below are the ideal water parameters you can keep your Ramshorn Snails in:
- Temperature: 60 – 80 Degrees Fahrenheit
- PH: 7.0 – 8.6
- TDS: 60 – 250 PPM
As long as you keep your water parameters stable, your aquarium inhabitants should not face any problems. Small but regular water changes are the best way to maintain the tank’s parameters stable in your tank. Stable and consistent water parameters are essential for Ramshorn Snails as they might develop cracks on their shells if water parameters fluctuate.
Ramshorn Snails need water in pristine conditions so you will need to have a filter that can handle the waste efficiently. An aquarium filter is the heart of the ecosystem you are creating and will keep your fish healthy and alive.
The kind of filter you need depends on the number of snails, fish, and the size of the tank. Usually, we are in favor of having a large filter that is rated at least 2 times for the size of your tank. Bigger filters will provide more biological and mechanical filtration so you will not experience ammonia spikes.
Sponge filters and hang-on back filters are great options if you keep your fish and snail numbers low. Canister filters are great options as well, but you might find some snails making their way into the canister filter causing noise or even breaking the impeller.
Common Diseases & Prevention
Ramshorn Snails are hardy and will not get sick easily. However, if you do not maintain your aquarium properly, they might get bacterial or fungal diseases. As mentioned in the filtration section, a good filter can keep your tank clean, and thus your sails will stay healthy.
Ramshorn Snails have a very thin shell so they are much more at risk of getting soft shell disease. To prevent this, we strongly recommend having a source of calcium in the tank. We made a few recommendations in the “Calcium For Ramshorn Snail” of this article.
Copper is another element that can kill Ramshorn Snails. While most aquarium products and fish food are copper free it is important to double-check everything before adding it to your aquarium. That said, some fish medications contain doses of copper in them. Always check the ingredients of medications for copper before treating your tank.
Diet & Feeding Requirements
Ramshorn Snails are herbivores and mainly eat algae and decaying plant matter. These snails are a natural cleaning crew that will also consume lower amounts of meat that becomes available when a fish or snail dies.
This means they are super easy to feed and most fish foods have high amounts of plant-based ingredients and lower amounts of protein foods. They will happily eat any fish food that you throw for them. That being said, fresh vegetables like cucumber or zucchini are the best options to feed your Ramshorn Snails.
Since Ramshorns are a great cleaning crew, most people let them eat excessive fish foods and do not feed the snails separately. Doing this will help them keep the snail population under control. Too much food means too much breeding activity, so they just let the snails eat what’s left in the tank.
Breeding Ramshorn Snail
The Ramshorn Snail is probably the easiest aquatic creature to breed. They breed extremely fast and from a very small size. To breed them, all you need to do is to feed them more. These snails are considered a pest by some aquarists as they continuously breed. Ramshorn Snails lay their eggs in the water and on any surface they can find.
They usually lay around 5 – 20 eggs in a cluster that is protected by a transparent gel-like substance. The eggs are semi-transparent at the beginning and will slowly darken as they develop. Depending on the water temperature, the eggs will hatch in about 10 – 14 days.
Ramshorn Snails are hermaphrodites so each snail can switch between genders. Depending on the situation and availability of the opposite gender, a single Ramshorn Snail can become male or female. This means to breed them, you just need to place a few ramshorns in a tank and they will decide to become male or female and breed.
Ramshorn snails are peaceful freshwater snails and can live with any peaceful species. This however means they will also reproduce rapidly. So to keep the balance in your tank and prevent ramshorns from taking over the tank, you should first avoid overfeeding.
At the same time, many species prey on ramshorn snails and will help you keep the snail population under control. Assassin snails are known for hunting and eating ramshorn snails. Adding a few Assassin snails will help you control the Ramshorn snails population.
If you don’t like to add any new snails to your tank then the below-mentioned fish should help you with snail overpopulation. The only downside is that they might eat the entire ramshorns if you do not provide any hiding spots for your snails.
- Yoyo Loaches
- Puffer Fish
- Betta Fish
Ramshorn Snails can be a great addition to any aquarium that has peaceful fish. They are great at eating excessive leftover fish food but will also breed rapidly. They are easy to keep and maintain and can be the cleaning crew of your tank.
Congratulations, now you should be able to confidently care for your ramshorn snail. These entertaining and tranquil creatures are great cleaning crews when their population is kept under control.