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Facts about Ramshorn Snails

Photo Courtesy Wikipedia
The aquarium industry refers to any kind of snail that features a tight, spiral shaped shell as a Ramshorn snail. The shells of these snails resemble a ram’s horn, as their name implies, or the coil of a rope and forms tight whorls.

Most of these snails belong to the family Planorbidae and are considered by some to be minor pests in aquariums. Like the blood of humans, these snails have blood containing hemoglobin, which may explain their bright reddish coloring. They also breathe air through large folds that serve as a primitive type of gill that protrudes from one side.

These Ramshorn snails sport one pair of tentacles and their shells contain no operculum. The opercula of Gastropods are finger-like plates near the opening of their shells and are attached dorsally to the foot of the snail. This structure seals the aperture, or the opening through which the snail emerges. The aperture is usually oval or elliptical in shape and is comprised of three parts or walls, the parietal, the columellar and palatal walls.

Most kinds of Ramshorn snails are usually small with some growing to be an inch to an inch and a half in size. Their shells can range in color from varying shades of browns to a deep black and some can even be translucent. It is believed that the darker colors are the result of dietary materials that usually aren’t available in home aquariums but are found rather in ponds or swampy areas.

Ramshorn snails lay their eggs in translucent globules that usually contain about a dozen eggs or so. Because of the translucency of the globules, it is possible to actually see new snails, which are a clear, white color, developing in size.

Some species of fish will eat Ramshorn snails such as Crayfish, Bettas, Loaches and most Gouramis. Larger Apple snails will also prey on the much smaller Ramshorn variety. Neon Tetras, Guppies, Danios, Cory Catfish as well as White Cloud Mountain Minnows all make suitable tank mates for the Ramshorn snail.

An aquarist should be aware that red Ramshorn snails are known to carry various parasitic Flukes that can be transmitted to other fish as well as to humans. Flukes, or Trematodes as they are sometimes called, are flatfish, primarily flounders of the genus Paralichthys. But the majority of these particular Flukes require the use of an intermediate host, so if the snails are isolated for at least a month, the disease will then be eliminated.

The species Marisa cornuarietis are often sold in pet stores as Columbian Ramshorn or as a Giant Ramshorn, but are actually a type of Apple snail. These snails are easily distinguishable due to their two pairs of tentacles, a siphon located on their left sides, as well as an operculum. Both the Columbian and the Giant Ramshorn snails feature a yellowish shell with brown stripes spanning the length of the shell.
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