Ramshorn Snail: Care, Colors & Info (+ Why You Need Them)
Tired of scrubbing algae? Want to make your nitrogen cycle more efficient? And all wrapped up in an attractive jewel-toned swirling shell?
Meet the Ramshorn snail. This cute little creature is sure to become one of your new favorite aquarium friends. Keep reading to learn why!
The Ramshorn Snail Lowdown
A peaceful little snail, these little guys tend to mind their own business. Occasionally you may see them swimming belly up on the surface of the water. Some theorize these snails produce tiny threads that allow them to “swing” across areas in the tank like a spider’s thread.
These snails are useful in that they eat algae and break down uneaten food and fish waste into a more bioavailable form for your filter’s bacteria. This helps your tank run smoother
Ramshorn come in several attractive colors:
- Brown (Copper)
- Brown leopard
- Blue leopard
- Purple (rare)
Younger blue ramshorn snails may appear brown to the eyes of some until they mature.
Tip: Feed carrots to your red ramshorns to enhance their red coloration!
Where to Buy Ramshorn Snails?
The little brown ones may come in on aquarium plants you get at the store or online, so sometimes you can get them for free (in addition to the bladder and mini ramshorn snails that often come on new plants). Usually these brown ones have spots or no spots.
If you want the designer colors that make them look more like a pet and less like a pest, you can do like I did and get them online.
Related Post: Ramshorn Snails For Sale
Size & Shell Shape
Ramshorns have a beautiful whirling shell shaped like a (you guessed it) ram’s horn. They don’t have a trapdoor unlike some snails, such as mystery snails.
You might not believe it at first glance, but these tiny little snails can easily reach dime-size or larger (when full grown). So you can expect them to grow to be 1 inch or even more in the right conditions.
Tip: Supplement calcium to your snails to help them develop strong, smooth, beautiful shells.
Foods like spinach are also good to incorporate.
Sometimes the algae in your tank is enough to keep a few ramshorn snails alive without the need for additional food. But if you don’t have a lot of algae you may need to supplement with other stuff. Then they won’t eat your plants out of starvation. Bringing me to the next point…
Do Ramshorn Snails Eat Plants?
Ramshorn snails actually DON’T eat aquarium plants under normal circumstances. Live plants exert things that are unappetizing to the snails. But they may chew on unhealthy leaves (which is actually beneficial to the overall plant health).
And if they are starving to death with no food source they might get desperate and eat them. But if they have enough to eat and your plants are healthy, no worries. So what to supplement with?
They appreciate most veggies, including spinach, lettuce, cucumber etc.
If you can feed them a veggie food blended with calcium or supplement with calcium tabs they will have the most beautiful shells. (I use this kind for gorgeous shells!) Without enough calcium, their shells will become brittle, fragile and flaky.
They may also develop sections of the shell that are different than the others.
Sometimes a diet rich in green algae is enough to keep them healthy without the need to add this.
Feeding Your Snails (& Not Your Fish)
What if your goldfish eat all the veggies before the snails? I’ve got a hack for you:
- Use a glass jar with an opening too small for the fish to fit in (but big enough for the snail) and stuff your snail food in it.
- Tie a string around the opening of the jar and lower it into the tank.
- Your snails will go in and dine without interference from the fish.
When it is time to refill? Simply pull up the string until the jar surfaces.
A temperature between 60–86 degrees F is perfectly suitable for these snails. They also tolerate a wide pH range, provided they are adapted slowly if it’s quite different than what they are used to.
Anywhere from 7–8 is generally acceptable.
They will not survive winter outside in harsher climates.
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These snails are famous for being prolific. They are able to reproduce asexually, so one snail alone can lay eggs. But they will also breed with each other.
It is not difficult to get them to breed either. Just give them good living conditions and they will reproduce without extra effort on your part. Their egg sacks are small round clearish blobs they lay on the walls and objects in the tank. Over time, the sacks develop little yellow to white dots, which are the maturing baby snails.
Eventually, these hatch out into a bunch of baby ramshorns.
If you keep your ramshorns with goldfish these eggs will either be eaten in the sack or soon after hatching. So if you want to save them to raise the young, you can scrape the sack off gently with a razor blade and transfer it to a jar or a breeding box.
Do Goldfish Eat Ramshorn Snails?
If they are large enough, the goldfish almost always leave them alone. This lets them do their “thing” in the tank – cruising around all day looking for algae and decaying food.
Again, IF they are large enough.
Tiny baby ramshorns are a delicious snack for goldfish, which is why baby ramshorns are actually commonly used as fish food. This is a GOOD thing for you.
You’ll notice this keeps their population under control in your goldfish tank. Some people have problems with overpopulation with these snails because – let’s face it – they are PROLIFIC breeders.
But about 90–100% of the babies won’t live long enough to turn into a pest with goldfish around.
As you can see, ramshorns and goldfish really complement each other in an aquatic environment.
What if I Bought Small Ramshorns?
Sometimes you might buy ramshorns as very young juveniles or babies. These might be too small to survive your goldfish.
When this happens to me, I just get an empty washed pickle jar, put an aquatic plant stem or aquatic moss in it and set it by a window for light. Then I put some food in each day for the snails.
I usually keep spinach in 24/7 and add blended invertebrate sticks. In no time, they will be large enough to add in with your goldfish!
Wrapping It All Up
Ramshorn snails are often viewed as a pest, but their abilities can be harnessed and their population controlled if you know what you’re doing.
So now I want to hear from you. Have you ever owned ramshorn snails? Do you have any tips or thoughts you want to share?
If so, drop me a line below!
Featured Image Credit: tartmany, Shutterstock