Detailed Guide: Care, Diet and Breeding

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Ramshorn snails (Planorbella duryi and Planorbarius corneus) are becoming an all-too familiar feature around tanks these days. Some aquarists deliberately put them into the tanks and raise them as pets. Some other people eventually wake up to find out this particular snail has turned out as part of their tank. Whether you want to see a Ramshorn snail as your pet or it has become an unwelcomed pest that has found its way into your tank, one thing is certain – wherever there is a water tank, you are bound to see Ramshorn snails there.

Ramshorn snails are extremely prolific and adaptable snails. Under good conditions, they can grow very fast. Consider about it before the purchase of this beautiful snail. If you consider Ramshorn snails as pets, or you love to rear them for commercial purposes, then there are a few important tips that you need to know. Those tips will be adequately provided in this post.

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A Healthy Addition to Tanks

Ramshorn snails are very useful when they are put in shrimp tanks or even snail tanks. This snail species has a way of making a tank look cleaner by eating up whatever has been rejected by the aquatic animal that was there.

They are fond of moving from one end of a tank to another looking for what to feed on, eating up every decayed plant, debris, as well as algae, build-ups on hard walls.

These Ramshorn snails exist in different varieties and can be seen in pet stores. You can either buy them as the regular Ramshorn snail or as the Red Ramshorn snails. Some not so common varieties include pink and blue Ramshorn snails.

Quick Notes about Ramshorn Snails

Name Ramshorn Snails
Latin name Planorbella duryi, Planorbarius corneus
Family Planorbidae
Tank size (optimal) No minimum
Keeping Easy
Breeding Easy (Hermaphrodites)
Size 0.5 – 2,5 cm (0.25 – 1 inch)
Temperature 21 to 25 C (~70°F – 78°F)
Optimal PH 7 – 8
Optimal GH 7 – 15
Optimal KH 8 (5-15)
TDS (optimal) 150-200 (100-300)
Nitrate Less than 20 ppm
Diet Algae eater/omnivore
Temperament Peaceful and solitary
Life span 1-3 years
Color Form Huge variety of colors and patterns (orange, brown, red, blue, and some even have spots as leopard)

Size and Age of Ramshorn Snails

Ramshorn snails do exist in different sizes. At their tender age, they have transparent shells and are almost 0.25 inches long. But as the snail begins to get older, the shells become less transparent. Therefore, one way to identify Ramshorn snails regarding their age is to consider their shells. You can also expect their shells to grow in width as the snail grows in length.

Caring for Ramshorn Snails

Taking care of a Ramshorn snail is super easy. To get started, you only need to consider a couple of variables and you are good to go. Some of these variables include habitat, size of the tank, growth rate, reproduction, lifespan, water parameters, and diet.

  • Size of tank: Ramshorn snails do excellently well in just about any size of the tank. They thrive in tanks that can contain up to 5 – 10 gallons of water or even larger.
  • Habitat: Ramshorn snails seem to be more comfortable with the aquatic environment where there are living plants. They like it more when these living plants die and serve as food for them.
  • Water Conditions: Ramshorn snails prefer slow-moving water. They take advantage of the rotten plants that are in such water bodies and use them for security and food purposes. Plus, slow-moving waters are not as oxygenated as the fast ones, but that is what makes this habitat the best resort for Ramshorn snails. Their bodies have been designed to survive such poorly oxygenated waters since they can also process atmospheric oxygen with great ease. They are more conducive with waters with 7 – 8 pH, and whose temperature is between 70 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Another important point to note here is that you should always check the nitrite and ammonia levels of your water. Make sure they are always at 0 ppm.
  • Algae growth: you cannot have Ramshorn snails in your tank and still have soft green algae growing there. They love to feed on soft green algae as it is one of their favorite foods. Apart from this, they also like soft brown algae. But despite their love for algae, they don’t feed on green spot algae because it is too strong for them to eat.
    Note: There are reports that Ramshorn snails can also eat Black beard algae when hungry.

One thing that Ramshorn hobbyists often overlook concerning its rearing is fresh vegetables. You will always make their day when you feed them with spinach leaves, green lettuce leaves, and slices of green zucchini. It is a lot better if Ramshorn snails are fed in small portions.

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The Growth of Ramshorn Snails

Feeding a Ramshorn snail with a balanced diet that comprises aquarium algae, debris, commercial supplements, and vegetables will only result in healthy and steady growth. Ramshorn snails need a decent level of calcium in their foods to grow well.

Among other things, calcium helps to ensure that they grow up with fortified shells. With a lesser amount of calcium in their foods, they will surely grow less healthy than they are supposed to. If you feed them with a lesser portion of their food, it will also result in stunted growth.

So if you want to ensure perfect growth and a healthy set of Ramshorn snails, you have to give them foods that contain a healthy amount of calcium in it.

I highly recommend reading my article “How to Supplement Shrimp and Snails with Calcium”.

How They Fare With Living Plants

In the area of how Ramshorn snails behave around living plants, there are two opposing views. One group believes that Ramshorn snails should not be kept close to living plants because they eat them. But the other group certainly has an opposing view because they believe Ramshorn snails don’t cause any harm to plants.

Ramshorn snails do feed on plants, but the thing is they do it for specific reasons. They feed on plants when they are mostly not well-fed. And they also do that when the leaves of such a plant are soft. If you are very worried about them eating your plants, you can put them together with plants that have hard leaves. A good example is Anubias barteri.

The best thing is to feed them very well with a leafy vegetable diet, and you can worry less about them eating up your live plants.

The lifespan of Ramshorn Snails

Ramshorn snails that are properly fed and healthy can live for up to three years. With some good luck, yours can stay even longer. With that in mind, it is usual for Ramshorn snails to die not too long after they have been introduced into a tank. There are a couple of reasons why Ramshorn snails are likely to die shortly after they are put into a tank.

The stress of moving from one tank to another could be responsible for such premature deaths. But whatever the case, the fragility of these snails have to be mentioned, so you can have it in mind when you start rearing them.

When a Ramshorn snail is lying motionless at the bottom of a tank for a while, it is a likely indication that it is dead. However, there are times they stay without moving inside the tank for a short period. But if this happens for a longer period, you can be doubly sure that that snail has passed on.

Another way to know that a Ramshorn snail is dead is that their shells begin to have holes and become thinner. While some breeders do advise that you remove the dead snails from a tank as fast as you can, others propose that you leave the dead Ramshorn snails so that their bodies can decay in the tank and serve as minerals for the others who are still alive. Of course, it depends on the situation. For example, if you have lots of dead Ramshorn snails, they can cause an ammonia spike.

Ramshorn Snails and Reproduction

One of the challenges enthusiasts have with rearing Ramshorn snails is the way they reproduce. It only takes them a while after they have been introduced into a tank before they start laying their eggs. In addition to laying these eggs in clutches, they also do it quickly. This is the case because they can become fertilized without a second partner, as they are commonly grouped as hermaphrodites.

They lay their eggs on the walls of the tank and on the leaves that are inside the tank. Every clutch of the egg is similar to a transparent node, having round-looking cells. It takes between 2 to 3 weeks for a little snail to grow and possibly become independent.

Since they are hermaphrodites you can only control the way they give birth by influencing their ration of food. All things being equal, the more they eat, the more they are likely to reproduce.

Survival Instincts of Ramshorn Snails

Ramshorn snails may not be the most fascinating creatures when it comes to getting away from predators. But they do have their little way of doing things.

They unusually swim on water surfaces with their shells upside down. This is possible by utilizing its body’ floating ability to achieve balance. To achieve balance, it allows air into its shell.

At a state of equilibrium, a Ramshorn snail can leverage bacterial slime or surface tension to swim on the surface of the water. So whenever they are swimming on the surface of the water and their movement is suddenly disrupted, they sense danger and immediately let out the air in their shells, and begin to sink to the bottom. That is how they manage to get away from their predators.

How Ramshorn Snails Relate With Tank Mates

Ramshorn snails are one of the most peaceful creatures considering how they relate with other tank mates. They are never aggressive and the only way it defends itself from others is when it retreats into its shell. They lack operculum like their Gold Inca snail counterparts who are able to seal their shells after retreating from a possible attack. Occupying a Ramshorn snail tank with other peaceful neighbors like Otocinclus and Cory catfish is always a brilliant option.

You can also decide to use freshwater shrimp-like Amano shrimp, Bamboo shrimp, Vampire shrimp, Red cherry shrimp, Blue tiger shrimp, Snowball shrimp, Caridina cf. babaulti, Blue Velvet Shrimp, Ghost shrimp, Malawa Shrimp, etc

If your choice is to use other snail types as fellow tank mates, then that is also acceptable. In that case, you can adopt Gold Inca snails, Mystery snails, Nerite snails, Malaysian Trumpet snails, Rabbit snails, Brotia Pagodula snails, White Wizard Snails, Black Devil Snails, Chopstick snails, Japanese trapdoor snails, Hairy snails, and Ivory snails.

Whatever you do, don’t put them together with aggressive fish like Goldfish, Cichlids, or any type of fish that is likely to cause harm to them. Other fishes that should not be used as tank mates include aquarium Crayfish (even Dwarf Mexican crayfish), Tangerine lobsters, and a few others. Ramshorn snails are basically slow in their movement, so they won’t probably stay long when you put them close to such aggressive aquatic creatures.

Making the most of how you rear your Ramshorn snails are determined by how much information you have and how experienced you are in this field. With the information that has been highlighted above, it will be easier for you to feed, breed, and protect your Ramshorn snails until they get to the age when they are mature.


Ramshorn snails have are often overlooked, underappreciated, and sometimes even hated within the aquarium community. Personally, I think that they are great for a shrimp tank.

  • They eat any uneaten food so I never have to stress about overfeeding.
  • They eat dead plants so your tank will always look great.
  • Ramshorn snails are great algae eaters. Your tank will look even better and cleaner.
  • Their poop is very beneficial to shrimp.

Related articles:

  • List of Freshwater Aquarium Snails. Pros and Cons
  • If you have more questions about snails, check out my article “30 Frequently Asked Questions about Snails in Freshwater Tanks.
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