Ramshorn or Rams horn snails are pretty common in the aquarium trade and get their name due to the shape of their shell. The shell is shaped like a flat coil, which resembles the horn of a ram. They are available to buy in aquarium shops but can often make their way into your aquarium via plants. There is a mix of opinion amongst aquarists as to whether these are a pest or a wanted addition, this all comes down to personal preference and whether you want them in your aquarium or not.
Ramshorn snails in the aquarium
Ramshorn snails can be a great addition to your aquarium. They are fairly nice looking as snails go and can be found in a range of colours. What’s really useful is how capable they are of consuming algae. They will spend most of their day cruising around the aquarium in search of delicious algae, which is great for us, as they keep the glass looking spotless.
Ramshorn snails are very easy to care for, they don’t want for much really and will pretty much take care of themselves, however, if you have an aquarium that is pretty low on algae then it is definitely worth throwing in the odd algae wafer here and there, however, they will eat leftover fish food if they happen to find it.
Ideal water parameters for Ramshorn snails:
pH: 7 – 7.5.
GH: Hard water is better as the calcium helps to keep their shell strong.
Temp: 21 – 25 degrees Celcius.
Whilst these are ideal, Ramshorns are pretty adaptable and will happily live in a range of conditions.
Feeding Ramshorn snails
As I mentioned a little already, Ramshorn snails are pretty easy to keep, they will eat algae from your aquarium and will eat any food uneaten by your fish. If you don’t have fish in the aquarium then a small amount of fish food every couple of days or so would be plenty. They will also appreciate the odd algae wafer. It’s a good idea to add a calcium supplement too as this will help with shell growth.
Ramshorns will really enjoy fresh vegetables. so these can be added to the aquarium in small amounts. It may be a good idea to blanch them first to soften them up a little.
Ramshorn snails are very active and will spend all day searching for food in the aquarium, it is quite interesting to watch them ‘zooming’ around.
Feeding a healthy, balanced diet will mean that your Ramshorn snails grow quickly and could reach a size of 4cm across.
Ramshorn snail breeding
Ramshorn snail breeding is probably the reason that the Ramshorn snail is considered a pest by many aquarists. They do breed pretty quickly and you only need one to end up with a huge population. Ramshorn snails reproduce asexually, which means a single snail can lay and fertilise its own eggs.
Ramshorn snails lay clutches of eggs on hard surfaces, including other snails shells. The egg clutches look like a small blob of jelly with usually around a dozen circular shapes in them.
Ramshorn snails breed quickly, so a population can quickly get out of control. Some effective ways of controlling the population are:
Feeding – don’t overfeed, if food is not readily available then the snails will be less likely to support vast numbers.
Assasins – Assasin snails will control the population, but will leave the shells of their victims lying around your aquarium.
Loaches – Many loach species eat snails. Loaches tend to be pretty effective though and may wipe out, rather than control, the population, they will also leave a collection of empty shells.
Ramshorn snail tank mates
Ramshorn snails are peaceful creatures and will not harm a healthy fish, they may, however, take a bite of a dead one. Tankmates should be peaceful too as many fish, such as loaches will eat them. Most fish that can fit a Ramshorn snail in its mouth will eat it, so Goldfish and larger Cichlids will happily snack on them.
Ramshorns are very happy living with shrimp. I keep an aquarium in my office with shrimp and Ramshorn snails in it, they are thriving and they especially like a tank filled with live plants. It’s by far my cleanest looking aquarium too. Almost zero algae survive despite the bright lighting for the plants.
Overall the Ramshorn snail is a great addition to the aquarium. Ramshorn snails will assist in keeping the aquarium algae free and will maintain their own population. If anything they require a little population control as their numbers can quickly become vast. To some aquarists this is useful though, as they are a great snack or food source for many fish. Pufferfish, loaches, cichlids and goldfish are just a few examples of fish that enjoy a Ramshorn snail for lunch, so if you keep these fish, Ramshorn snails could provide you with a permanent free food source.
Otherwise they are an interesting addition to any aquarium. They are even capable of walking on water. Due to their large ‘foot’, they can ‘walk’ across the surface of the water (upside down of course) which is pretty interesting to watch.
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