The Ramshorn Snails (Wheel Snails, Ear Snail) are small snails, approx. 2 cm long. They can be an interesting and useful addition to the aquarium stock. The most common species in aquarium hobby are: red (Planorbis rubrum), pink (Planorbella sp. ‘Pink’), brown (Planorbis planorbis), Great ramshorn (Planorbarius corneus), Planorbella duryi and their hybrids. Color variations are also available. A characteristic feature of these snails is a shell consisting of 5-6 turns, arranged in the shape of a flat disc, not a cone.
Ramshorn Snail origin
In aquaristics, we usually deal with several species of bays:
- Great ramshorn (Planorbarius corneus)
- Brown ramshorn (Planorbis planorbis)
- Planorbella duryi (Helisomia duryi) – comes from Florida, but has also been dragged into other parts of the world.
- Pink ramshorn (Planorbella sp. Pink) – arose as a result of selection and / or hybridization of the Great Ramshorn.
The first two species are found almost all over continental Europe, except Spain and Portugal. Native to Polish waters.
In the wild, found in stagnant or slowly flowing waters, among aquatic and emergent vegetation.
Ramshorn Snail characteristic
A characteristic feature of these snails is a shell consisting of 5-6 turns, arranged in the shape of a disc. It has no lid. In nature, the Ramshorn Snails are dark gray-black or brown in color. We can also meet individuals with a brighter shell. Pink coves, on the other hand, are derived from albino individuals. They have a pink or orange-red body. The shell can be pink, whitish, yellowish to olive green, and sometimes even almost transparent. In aquariums, we can see Ramshorn Snails with a brown “leopard” pattern. The pink snailsare approx. 2 cm long, while the horn ones may grow larger.
They have relatively long, threadlike antennae, at the base of which the eyes are set. With their help, ramshorn snails can see acutely at a distance of several centimeters. This allows them to locate plants and other objects on which they can climb up to the water’s surface to get air. They are pulmonary snails. However, in order to find food and avoid harmful substances, they use receptors that distinguish chemicals (chemoreception).
Ramshorn Snail requirements
They feel good in any aquarium if the water contains enough calcium and minerals to build a shell. So we provide them with medium or hard water. In soft water, snail shells will dissolve, which will be visible as white holes and splinters that cannot be eliminated.
The coves are quite resistant to the concentration of nitrogen compounds and phosphates in the water. Therefore, they are perfect as “producers” of ammonia, even at a very early stage of aquarium maturation.
They can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, although the thermal optimum of the coves is around 20-21 ° C. However, they will easily live both in unheated aquariums and in tanks with tropical fish.
Ramshorn Snail Nutrition
They are omnivores. They usually forage on dead plant parts, feeding on dead organic matter. They also eat algae and do not despise carrion when it comes within their range. The food is scraped off with a grater (radula). Its use can be noticed by observing a snail feeding on a glazed glass. You can feed them with falling fish or shrimp food, and even vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, and peppers. In search of food, they can lightly dig the top layer of the substrate. In the event of a lack of food, they can nibble on healthy parts of the plant.
Ramshorn Snail Multiplication
The ramshorn snails reproduce very easily in aquariums. Uncontrolled population growth can take the form of a plague and is an unfavorable phenomenon. To prevent this from happening, you should limit the availability of food: systematically desludge organic residues from the bottom, trim and remove dead plant parts, and do not overfeed fish and other aquarium inhabitants.
These snails are zwitterions, i.e. each individual has both female and male sexual organs. Self-fertilization is possible, but only a small percentage of such eggs develop. Much more often they reproduce by cross-fertilization, i.e. the mutual exchange of sperm between two individuals.
The eggs are laid in characteristic packages, in a transparent or yellowish casing. During development, you can observe white embryos, which transform over time into tiny snails. The development of eggs takes several days, depending on the temperature. The higher it is, the shorter their maturation time.
Ramshorn Snail – Good to know
- resistant to drying out – without water it can survive up to several months;
- resistant to freezing – they are still viable after defrosting; so it is not a good way to kill them;
- they can be vectors of parasites (larvae and adult forms of flukes);
- their reproduction may be limited by Tricladida (not very desirable in aquariums);
- the horn sinus is used as a model species in studies of the evolution of the immune response and the mechanisms of neuroendocrine signaling.