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Apple Snails Make Popular Aquarium Pets

Photo Courtesy Wikipedia
Apple snails are a common part of many aquariums largely because of their attractiveness in appearance as well as their size. In fact, Apple snails are the largest living freshwater snails in the world. Some species of these snails can grow as big as six inches, or 15 centimeters in diameter if they are well cared for in the right conditions.
Apple snails are highly adaptable creatures and can be found in both tropical and sub-tropical regions. They are particularly well adjusted to areas that have periods of drought that alternate with periods of substantial amounts of rainfall. These snails are moderately amphibious and feature a shell that acts as a door of sorts. The shell prevents the snail from drying out while it’s hiding and waiting for dry spells to end.

Another adaptive characteristic of Apple snails are their unique bronchial respiratory systems that are comparable to the gills of fish, but they also feature a lung as well. This special combination actually aids the snail in its search for food. While they do spend most of their time in the water, they will occasionally emerge when the food supply is inadequate.

Apple snails belong to the family Ampullariidae which is also sometimes referred to as Pilidae. Some genera such as the Pomacea, the Pila and the Pomella or Asolenes, actually deposit their eggs above the surface of the water to protect them against aquatic predators. This ingenious strategic move by the snails keeps their eggs safe from fish and other underwater inhabitants that would otherwise devour the eggs. Another defense mechanism of the genera Pomacea and Pila variety of Apple snails is a tubular siphon. This tube allows the snail to breathe air while still being submerged and hidden from enemies such as birds. Since the Apple snail can be found in various ecosystems such as rivers, ponds and swamps, it has had to cleverly adapt itself to a variety of environments.

This species of snail have shells that are a variety of colors such as brown, yellow, blue and the body can feature variations from black to grey to yellow. The most common type of Apple snail found in pet stores and aquarium shops is the Pomacea bridgesii, which means pike-topped Apple snail. A close relative, the Pomacea canaliculata is a bit larger and rounder and is considerably less suitable for aquariums since they are more likely to eat aquatic plants.

The genera of Apple snails are divided by region. For example, the genera Asolene, Pomacea, Marisa and Felipponea are found in the southern portion of the United States, the West Indies and in both Central and South America. In Africa, the genera Lanistes, Saulea and Afropomus are native inhabitants while the Pila is found in Asia, as well as Africa.

Apple snails have another unique distinction in that they are not hermaphrodites like most snails, meaning having characteristics of both sexes at the same time. Apple snails are gonochoristic, which means they have separate sexes and both are needed for reproduction.
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