Introduction

Have you ever wondered why you see snails in your aquarium without purchasing one? Well, let me get you acquainted with Ramshorn Snails.

These little buggers sometimes end up in your tank unintentionally when you buy plants for yourselves. These like to feed and hide under plants’ leaves, and so they come with them fortuitously.

Interestingly, they come in a variety of colors and are absolutely adorable. But there are some specifics that you must know if you wish to care for them.

Keep on reading as I have covered all the basics and advanced things that you require if you ever decide to buy a couple for yourself.

A Brief Review of the Species

Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name Planorbella duryi; Planorbarius corneas
Other Common Names Rams’s Horn Snail
Family Planorbidae
Origin All over the world
Lifespan 1-2 years
Max. Size 1 inch
Type Freshwater snails
Color Red, Black, Translucent

Habitat & Origin

Ramshorn Snail Complete care Guide
Ramshorn Snail Quick Facts

It is found in various regions all around the planet. There is no specific place that it originates from.

They don’t have any preferences when it comes to their habitat. They have a good adapting capability, so they can thrive in different environments.

Generally, Ramshorns are found near small water bodies such as ponds, lakes and ditches. Given that the rivers are moving slowly, it can also be a part of their habitat.

Some species have also been seen near brackish waters but they come in small numbers.

How Big Do Ramshorn Snails get?

Size

These snails are very small and don’t grow larger than 2 to 2.5 cm whether in the wild or in captivity. Their whorls in the shells grow bigger and wider as they grow old.

Quick Tip: Their shell transparency also decreases with age. So, it’s a good way to tell if it is young or old.

Appearance

Ramshorn snails have a shell with an appearance similar to that of a Ram’s (male sheep) horn.

Their shell has a flat coiled shape which is called plan spiral in scientific terms. It looks like a rope that has been curved in the form of a shell.

Ramshorn Snail comes in different colors but three are very common- brown, black, and red. The black and brown colors are due to the presence of a gene that encodes for a pigment known as melanin.

Well, the red color is due to the absence of melanin in their body. But these species are special in regards to their blood. The red color is due to their blood which contains hemoglobin, like humans.

Normally, snail’s blood is green due to the presence of hemocyanin in their blood, but not in this one.

Another important feature that should be noticed is that their shell colors start to darken gradually as they mature and grow old.

Anatomical Features

Unlike other aquatic snails, they lack the presence of an operculum, a hard calcareous plate-like structure situated at the opening of the base.

Ramshorn snails breathe air and don’t contain gills like aquatic snails. They breathe through a special pulmonary system which lets them collect air inside their shell like a sac.

These sacs let them stay submerged for a long time without needing to go to the surface to get air. If you look carefully into their semi-transparent shell, you may even notice the air bubble trapped inside.

These snail species contain two tentacle-like eyes which pop out now and then to navigate and sense food around them.

Varieties of Ramshorn Snails

Pink and Blue Ramshorn Snail

pink-and-blue-ramshorn-snail
Pink And blue Ramshorn Snail

These snails also come in other vibrant colors such as shades of blue and pink. These are a result of selective cross-breeding of these snails with a wild breed (brown color). This can also result in purple and even red.

These are rare and often difficult to achieve because most of their offspring inherit the wild appearance rather than the pink or blue, which is why these traits are considered recessive.

Leopard Ramshorn Snails

leopard-ramshorn-snails
Leopard Ramshorn Snails

Some Ramshorn Snails come with spots on their snails which do look like similar spots you see in a leopard, hence the name.

They come mainly in two shades- Brown and Blue. The blue one looks absolutely beautiful and is considered the rarest and most expensive among all other varieties.

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Mini or Miniature Ramshorn Snails

mini-or-miniature-ramshorn-snails
Mini or Miniature Ramshorn Snails

This is another variety of Ramshorn Snails, which is the smallest of all. As you have guessed from the name, these are even smaller with shell diameters ranging between 1-2 mm only.

They are very vulnerable to getting eaten by almost all kinds of fishes and crustaceans. But they breed very fast, so they will keep growing in numbers rapidly.

Giant Ramshorn Snail

giant-ramshorn-snail
Giant Ramshorn Snail

Giant Ramshorn Snail, also known as Columbian Ramshorn Snail (Marisa cornuarietis) is another variety that can grow to a size of- 5.5 cm. These are much bigger compared to common ramshorn snails.

They may have a similar appearance but in fact, they belong to the family of Apple snails and possess an operculum.

What’s Their Life Expectancy?

In the wild, they seem to not live more than a year because of falling victim to larger predators due to their small size.

However, in captivity, this can be extended to 2 years if proper care is taken and optimal tank conditions are kept.

Sexual Dimorphism in Ramshorn Snails

Ramshorn Snails cannot be distinguished based on their gender because they are naturally a hermaphrodite.

It means that they contain both male and female reproducing organs, depending upon the situation. A single individual can produce both male and female gametes whenever it is required.

Therefore, any two species can be bred together, without needing to consider their gender.

Availability & Price

They are available worldwide and can be easily found in most shops. People don’t generally buy them on purpose unless they are looking for a particular color.

The price range for black or brown ones is on the cheaper side, between $0.99 to $1.99. The Red and Blue ones are around $3.99 to $4.99.

Complete Care Guide

Quick Care Facts
Care Level Easy
Breeding Extremely easy
Social Temperament Peaceful & Timid
Diet Vegetarian
Hardiness Very hardy

What To Feed Ramshorn Snails?

These snails can eat all kinds of fish food. In their natural habitat, they mostly consume the dead matter of aquatic creatures or plants that fall to the bed of the water body.

Natural water bodies contain an abundance of algal growth so they never have to compete for food. They are also seen munching on leaves of various aquatic or non-aquatic plants.

So, you can be very lenient when it comes to feeding them. A few common food items that can be given are as follows-

  • New and old Fish food
  • Fish flakes
  • Fish Pellets
  • Vegetables (Boiled or Fresh)
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot
  • Lettuce
  • Plantain
  • Tomato
  • Spinach

You will see them gently scraping off the algae deposition on the walls of the tank most of the time.

You can even give them some calcium supplements from time to time. This ensures that their shells are healthy and not susceptible to cracks or breaks. Calcium deficiency can result in thin, brittle transparent shells.

Quick Tip: You don’t have to feed them regularly. And once per day should be good enough where the food gets eaten in 5-7 minutes.

Temperament & Behavior

They are very peaceful exhibiting a very generic snail behavior. They don’t bother anyone in the tank, whether it be fish or another of its species.

You may also sometimes see them floating or gasping for air at the water’s surface. Don’t be alarmed by this. They only do that to get air for themselves.

They are also quite shy and timid. If they sense any large presence that may look threatening to them, they instantly tuck inside their shells until they feel safe.

They can also control the release of air-sac present inside their shell. They release the air instantly, which helps them sink to the substrate when they sense a predator.

How do Ramshorn Snails reproduce?

Mating

When it comes to breeding Ramshorn Snails, there is not much work that you can do to help them mate.

They are very fast breeders if the tank conditions are right. As mentioned above, they are hermaphroditic, so any two of your choice can be put into the tank to breed.

If you want to increase their population faster, just put a few pairs in space and wait a couple of days. The tank will be brimming with eggs, and in some time filled with baby snails.

Eggs and Offspring

Ramshorn Snails lay eggs in a cluster of 12 eggs. They are semi-transparent to glass clear in appearance.

The eggs are laid mostly on hard surfaces such as rock faces, flat terrains, or on the surface of sturdy leaves. It can be on the upper side or underside of the leaf.

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The eggs take about 3-4 days to mature, after which tiny baby snails are visible inside the eggs. They hatch after 2-3 weeks depending upon the incubation temperature.

After hatching, baby Ramshorn Snails begin to scour for food straight away. They look for algae just like their parents.

Pro Tip: Ramshorn babies can be fed the same food as an adult Ramshorn, the only catch being the food pellets or vegetables should be made softer for the babies. 

Common Diseases in Ramshorn Snails

When it comes to diseases and sickness, the Ramshorn is quite resilient. But there is one major drawback whilst keeping these snails. They are a common carrier for a variety of pathogens.

One of the common ones is the flukes that it carries inside its system. They are so small that it is not even visible to the naked eye, so you cannot identify the infected ones from the healthy ones.

These flukes, also known as monogenean trematodes, spread through the water. It sticks itself to the skin and gills of the fish and slowly starts killing the healthy cells. It resultantly makes the gaseous exchange difficult for the fish.

A common remedy for the fluke-carrying Ramshorn Snails is quarantining them first by using different medications in a separate tank when freshly bought from the store.

This can ensure that the snails are free of parasites and don’t spread the infection to other organisms in the tank.

Pro Tip: Don’t use copper-based medications as it is toxic for snails. It will kill them instead of disinfecting them.

ramshorn-snail-tank-mates
Ramshorn Snail Tank Mates

Tank Recommendations

Quick Tank Facts
Water Temperature 70°F to 78°F
Minimum Size 5 gallons
Water Hardness 5 to 15 dKH
pH Level 7.0 to 7.5
Nitrate Content < 35-40 ppm

Tank Size Requirements

Ramshorn Snails are very tiny so they don’t need a huge space to live. And they wander all around the tank.

If you want to keep a pair of these snails, a minimum capacity of 19 to 20 liters should be enough.

And if you decide to keep a few pairs, then it is recommended to get at least a 38 to 40-liter volume of the tank.

What to Include When Setting Up a Tank 

Plants

When it comes to plants, you have to be somewhat careful. Snails, in general, like to chomp down on soft parts of plants such as leaves, buds, etc. Aquarium Ramshorn Snails are no exception.

Whatever plant you decide to put in the tank, make sure their parts are hard and thick. If they are soft, it is most likely that they would end up as food for the snails and they will die gradually.

A few plants suitable for them are-

  1. Anubias Nana
  2. Java Fern
  3. Amazon Sword
  4. Pygmy or Dwarf Chain Sword
  5. Hygrophila Polysperma (Indian Waterweed)
  6. Hornwort

Quick Tip: Planting small, fast-growing plants could be a good thing for snails. They will eat them if they ever get hungry, so you won’t have to worry about feeding them.

Lighting

Any kind of lighting would be good enough for them. In my opinion, try to get bright lights such as high wattage LEDs, Halogen lamps, etc.

Ramshorn Snails are small, so you need good lighting to see them. Another good option is Blue light. Adding this could make the snail, especially the red or pink ones stand out against the background.

Substrate

For substrate, it is advised to use a fine sandy substrate, preferably red or black sand. You can even use gravel as an alternative. Fine sand will not cause any harm when the snails are traversing along the bottom.

But ensure that the gravel or stone chips don’t have sharp edges, or they may cut, or scrape the snail’s skin when they travel over them.

Décor

All types of decorations can be used as long as the snails don’t get stuck in them. Ramshorn Snails are tiny, so small spaces could become a problem for them.

If they manage to get themselves stuck while exploring, it will be hard to get them out. So, be wary while choosing a decoration for your tank.

Tank apparatus

Having a good filter in your tank is a must. It keeps the tank clean and helps maintain low nitrate levels.

As we have discussed earlier, algae are an important part of the diet for Ramshorn Snails. So, when the nitrate levels are high, it inhibits the growth of algae in your tank.

So, try to keep a highly efficient filter for your tank. Just ensure that it doesn’t produce turbulence as it is not preferred by the snails.

You can opt-out of keeping any air pumps or air-stones too. These snails breathe air, therefore O2 concentration in the water won’t matter to them.

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Water Parameters

Although these snails are highly adaptable and hardy, sustaining bad water parameters is never good. It could also lead to disorders that may be incurable. If you want to keep your snail happy, follow these parameters-

  • The temperature should be between 21 °C to 26 °C, which is around room temperature.
  • Water hardness should be around 5-15 dKH. They prefer softer waters.
  • Ramshorn Snails like the water a bit alkaline. So, the pH of the water should be around 7.2 to 7.5.
  • Try to keep the nitrate content as low as possible for good algae growth. It should not exceed 40 ppm concentration.

Pro Tip: Be sure to replenish the water every 2-3 weeks to maintain low nitrogen levels and keep the water fresh.

Suitable Tank Mates

You have got to be careful when picking out compatible tank mates for them. As  they are quite small, keep them away from bigger aggressive fishes.

Try to put smaller to medium peaceful fishes (preferably vegetarian) with them. A few of them are listed as follows-

  1. Mystery snails
  2. Blue Velvet Shrimps
  3. Clams
  4. Guppies
  5. Mollies
  6. Danios (Celestial Pearl Danio, Glowlight Danio, etc.)
  7. Shrimps (Ghost Shrimps, Amano Shrimps, etc.)
  8. Honey Gourami
  9. Corydoras Catfish
  10. Goldfish

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Ramshorn Snail be kept with Betta fish?

Yes, they can be kept with them. Bettas are peaceful fish until two males are kept together. But even then, they are a small-sized species and will not bother the snails.

How many Ramshorn Snails can we keep in a 1-gallon tank?

Given their small size, you can put a pair or two in a gallon of tank. But given their speed of breeding, their population will spike in a few weeks. So, it is advised to get at least a 5-gallon tank to keep a couple.

Can Ramshorn snail produce asexually?

No, they cannot reproduce asexually. They have specialized organs which can produce both male and female gametes depending on the partner. They need another individual to produce eggs, so they produce sexually.

How often do Ramshorn Snails lay eggs?

If the water parameters are optimal with sufficient food, they will lay eggs quite often. There is a particular time period but you will see their population bloom in a few weeks. They reproduce all around the year, in all seasons.

Why is my Ramshorn Snail shell turning white?

When the Ramshorn Snail gets old, its shell begins to degrade. The layers on the shell begin to erode because it’s made up of calcium compounds and the water contains CO2. So, it’s a slow reaction that occurs over a long stretch of time, causing the shell to turn white. Also, their shell wears away gradually as time goes by, so that is also a cause.

Are these harmful to other aquatic pets?

No, Ramshorn Snails are far from harmful. They are very peaceful and go well with most aquatic creatures. It’s mostly other aquatic pets that eat them.

How to control the Ramshorn Snail population?

It may become complicated for beginners to control their population if they have no idea of their breeding capabilities. A few ways in which they can be controlled are-

  • Introducing big and aggressive species of fishes in the tank, especially carnivorous.
  • Keep an eye out for their eggs on the bottom of the tank or on leaf blades. Remove them before they hatch.
  • Reduce their numbers if you think they are reproducing a lot
  • Changing water parameters of the tank. Increase the pH slightly and reduce the temperature of the water. This will increase stress and discourage breeding frequently.

How to get rid of Ramshorn Snails?

A very effective way of getting rid of them if their numbers increase would be to trick them out using food items. You can put a piece of boiled vegetable to bring them out of their hiding, but keep the size big so it doesn’t get eaten fast. If you use a vegetable that is hard such as a carrot, it will take time to finish it. Put the piece of vegetable at night. The snails will come out of their hiding spots to eat the vegetables. And if it goes uninterrupted till morning, you will see them all gathered around it. Then you can easily scoop them up and remove them from the tank.

Final Thoughts: Should We Get Them?

Yes, they are good pets for your aquarium. They are good tank cleaners that eat away the rotting parts of plants and other organisms.

They also feed on algae continuously, so it keeps the tank class clear. Keeping a few ensures that your tank never undergoes an algal bloom.

Moreover, they are fast breeders, so you have to keep that in mind. Thus, If not controlled, your tank will be filled by them which could create problems for your plants. However, if you can get your hands on a few rare ones such as leopard patterned ones, definitely bring them home. Having a few does enhance the beauty of your aquarium.

About the Author

Victoria Lamb

Victoria is a freshwater aquatics specialist, fish keeper, and amphibian enthusiast. She has had more than 6 years of experience caring for aquariums and keeping several fish species, and her home boasts of 3 aquariums and a garden pond. Her goal is to educate fish owners on raising healthy and happy aquatic pets.

Career Highlights:

  • Has worked with several aquarium manufacturers as a consultant
  • Organized and hosted workshops on freshwater fish keeping at retail stores, educational facilities, and libraries
  • Released content for the amphibian community through her writings

Educational Highlights:

Bachelor of Science in Animal Behavior and Welfare

  • University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK (2014-2018)

Writing Experience

Victoria has done ghostwriting for many aquarium and pet websites in the past. She has also worked for Canada's largest natural health magazine- ALIVE, with 300,000 monthly circulations as a freelancer. She had six published articles on animal behavior and welfare during her graduation for her thesis.

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