Ramshorn snails on aquarium glass

Ramshorn Snails Care: Types, Tanks, Diet And More

Ramshorn Snails are an easy aquatic animal to include in your aquarium. They’re active algae eaters and will help keep your tank clean.

They’re not always considered pets though; sometimes, they sneak into tanks attached to live plants as small snails or egg clutches. Depending on the goals of the tank, they can be considered pests in some situations.

They’re simple to care for and breed but it is still important to be educated when preparing to have Ramshorn snails in your tank. As long as you know how to care for them properly, you will be set-up for success.

Below, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about Ramshorn snails. We’ll review their tank requirements, diet, lifespan, and breeding. Spoiler alert – all of it is pretty easy so enjoy!

Ramshorn Snail Care Suggestions:

Ramshorn Snail Overview

Ramshorn Snails (the Planorbidae family) are fun to add to established tanks. They can be housed in community tanks, as peaceful snail members, or in species-specific tanks, like shrimp or snail tanks.  Ramshorn Snails are excellent tank cleaners and will feast on uneaten food, dead or decaying plant matter, and algae buildup. In other words, they will help your tank sparkle!

Many aquarists accidentally get Ramshorn snails introduced to their tanks via live plant and rock purchases. Ramshorn snails are infamous for hiding as tiny snails or egg clusters that burst into snail populations that self-propagate. Plants with bunches of fine leaves like Elodea and Hornwort are especially prone to spreading Snails.

As such, they’re very common and well-known in the fish-keeping world. You will find lots of guides about how to care for them, and also lots of guides about how to humanely remove them.

They’re not as easy to find in the wild. Some can be found living in streams and small ponds but the great majority exist in aquariums.

Ramshorn Snails Appearance

Ramshorn Snails vary a lot in their appearance. Both their shell and their skin can be different colors, creates an almost unlimited choice of color combinations. There are varieties such as the common Ramshorn Snail, Red Ramshorn Snails, Blue Ramshorn Snails, and Pink Ramshorn Snails. 

Their skin is usually either black or red. Black snails have melanin pigment while the red ones don’t. The red snails are a vibrant color because of their blood, which contains red hemoglobins. This is different than other snails species which typically don’t have red hemoglobin.

Ramshorn Snails’ shell is their trademark feature. It is a flat spiral, similar to a ram’s horn. The coloration of the shell is most commonly a light or dark brown. However, species such as the Blue Ramshorn Snail may have blue, red, or spotted shells.

Red ramshorn snails on aquarium plant

As Ramshorn Snails get bigger, their shells will also grow. Their growth is not limited by their shell size. As juveniles, their shells are thin and transparent – so transparent, in fact, that you can sometimes see them digesting food inside their shells. With a good diet with enough calcium, the shell will harden over time and become opaque.

Ramshorn snails breathe air and rely on oxygen to survive. Because of this, they do not have an operculum, which would hinder their ability to breathe underwater. This is different from most snails that live underwater and do have operculum. 

Ramshorn Snail Lifespan

The average Ramshorn Snail lifespan is only about a year. Experienced aquarists may be able to keep them up to 3 years in optimal tank conditions. 

An easy rule of thumb is that  the larger the shell, the older the snail. Further, as the snail ages, the shell gets thicker and loses its transparency so you can look for those two parameters if you need to guess the snail’s age.

Ramshorn Snail Size

Ramshorn Snails average about one inch in diameter (that’s how you measure the size of a snail). Their size is correlated to their age, so the larger the snail, the older the snail.

Ramshorn Snail Care

Ramshorn Snails are a hardy and easy species to care for in the world of aquariums. They can thrive in most environments and can easily make the trip from one tank to another in stealth mode on live aquarium plants.

However, just because they’re easy to keep, you can’t be lazy about maintaining good water conditions and a clean tank. Our Ramshorn snail care guide covers their ideal habitat, feeding, tank mates, and breeding.

Ramshorn Snail Habitat

Ramshorn Snails don’t need tons of space in their aquarium. A 5-gallon tank will support their growth and happiness. 

However, we recommend starting with a 10-gallon tank if you plan on keeping multiple snails. These snails like to roam around the aquarium so the extra space in the 10-gallon tank is helpful. Plus, it will contain more surface area for algae, which provides more natural food and will keep them busy.

Our Tank Recommendation: Aqueon 10 Gal Black Aquarium

What We like

  • Affordable pricing
  • Simple 10 gallon aquarium – you can customize all of the remaining elements

What we don’t like

  • Some users report excess glue in the corners of their tank
  • Some users experienced shipping problems leading to damaged tanks

Ramshorn Snail Water Conditions

Luckily for aquarists, Ramshorn Snails are happy with consistent, moderate water conditions. Nothing special needed for these snails. They are very adaptable and can live in both crystal-clear waters and murky habitats alike.

Here are recommended water parameters:

  • Water temperature: 65°F to 78°F
  • pH levels: 7.0 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 5 to 15 dKH

In order to maintain consistency with water parameters, it is recommended to have a schedule for water testing. Given that Ramshorn snails are pretty flexible, you can tailor this to the requirements of other animals in the community tank. 

They have a preference for neutral to alkaline water, as acidic conditions leach their shells. Ammonia and nitrites should be kept in control.

What to put in a ramshorn snail tank

Ramshorn Snails are easy when it comes to decorations. They don’t need special decorations for hiding spots or breeding areas, making them a cheaper option than many aquarium fish.

However, they love live plants in the tank. Live plants are often their vehicle of choice for getting into tanks unexpectedly!

There is a long-standing discussion among aquarists about the safety and longevity of live plants in a Ramshorn tank because the snails are reported to enjoy nibbling on the plants. They will eat live plants if they lack sufficient food.

The key here is that aquarists need to make sure Ramshorn snails have sufficient food in order to protect the plants, which is easy because they’re not difficult to feed. Generally speaking, they will leave live plants alone in favor of dead leaves and rotting tips. Soft plants like Elodea may be tempting but generally, Ramshorns are a plant-safe species of snail.

Ramshorn Snail potential diseases

Ramshorn snails are hardy, resilient, and don’t suffer from major diseases. However, they are notorious for introducing diseases into a community tank, which can be a cruel surprise for the unsuspecting aquarist.

The main issue they can potentially introduce are parasitic skin flukes. Flukes latch onto the sides of fish in order to eat. At minimum, this situation is very stressful for fish. Left untreated, it can result in the death of the fish. Prompt treatment is required. 

Flukes are incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to visually spot on the snails, so we recommend avoiding this situation by putting them in a quarantine tank for a month prior to introducing them to the main tank.

Ramshorn Snail Feeding

Before adding any foods or medications to your snail tank, it is important to know all additions must be copper-free. Copper can easily kill your Ramshorn snails. If adding a copper-containing product is unavoidable, it is recommended to move your snails to another tank (with matching water conditions) until all copper is removed.

Ramshorn Snails are easy eaters – aquarium algae is their favorite food. They will hunt for algae on all surfaces of your tank so expect to find them clinging to the sides of the tank in search of a good meal. And look forward to a cleaner tank in your future!

They also love to feed on decaying plant matter which keeps your live plants slim and trim. They will also eat dead fish and shrimp. However, it is not recommended to leave the dead fish or shrimp long enough for this to occur, as it can cause major water imbalances quickly.

As part of their clean-up crew duties, they will also eat leftover fish flakes and pellets. 

For specific snail foods, we recommend algae wafers and some basic vegetables like lettuce, cauliflower, squash, and cucumbers. 

Our recommendation: Algae Wafers

Ramshorn Snail Breeding

Compared with a lot of aquatic species, breeding these snails is easy. They’re like the rabbits of your fish tank! 

They are hermaphrodites. This means that they have both sexual organs. As a result, they can breed with any other snail, making the process quick. In other words, if you have two Ramshorn snails, they can mate.

The snails will lay multiple, well-hidden egg clusters throughout the tank. The clusters contain about 12 eggs. After several days, the baby snail inside will be visible. Doing the math, each round of egg clusters could result in 24-36 new snails! 

Ramshorn snail eggs on glass
Ramshorn snail eggs in the aquarium. Macro photo

Soon thereafter, the tiny snails will emerge from the eggs and immediately look for food to eat. They’re pretty self-sufficient little babies and will hunt for algae immediately.

Ramshorn Snail Tank Mates

Ramshorn Snails are a choice food for larger, aggressive fish. Several species will eat these mollusks any chance they get. Loaches and Pufferfish will eat them with gusto.

Ideal tank mates are non-aggressive fish. Other peaceful snails, clams, and shrimp are also good options. Here’s a list of potential tank mates:

Keep in mind that these snails can quickly overrun a tank, pushing water parameters and space requirements out of balance for the tank inhabitants. Thanks to their frequent breeding, the population can get out of control quickly. Some aquarists like to include fish or snails that will prey on the snails in order to keep balance in the tank. Other aquarists remove them by hand; however, one missed snail could restart the whole cycle again!

Ramshorn Snails FAQs

Are Ramshorn snails good?

Ramshorn Snails are peaceful members of community tanks. They serve the functional purpose of keeping a tank clean by eating uneaten food, decaying plant matter, and soft algae buildup on hard surfaces. They can be challenging because they breed easily, making it possible for population sizes to get out-of-control.

Can Ramshorn snails live out of water?

Ramshorn snails rely on their lungs to breathe when they are outside of the water. However, this doesn’t mean they can live outside of the water. Their body will dry out when exposed to air for extended periods of time. 

Why do my Ramshorn snails keep dying?

This could be caused by a number of different issues – copper additives, improper water conditions, lack of calcium are a few. We would recommend immediately testing the water to rule out issues there first.

How often to feed Ramshorn snails?

Depending on how much algae is available in your tank, you could feed them daily. However, provide no more food than they can fully consume in 5 minutes or else your tank will start getting progressively dirtier.

Do Ramshorn snails need a heater?

Generally speaking, no. Ramshorn snails prefer water temperatures in the range of 65°F to 78°F so as long as the water temperature doesn’t dip significantly at night, it should be fine.

Why are my Ramshorn snails turning white?

They could be anemic and low in hemoglobin. Put them in a quarantine tank for several days, feed them leafy greens and vegetables, and provide enough calcium for a few days.

Do Ramshorn snails eat their own eggs?

Yes, Ramshorn snails have been known to eat their own eggs, even when provided a full diet.

How many Ramshorn snails per gallon?

You can easily support 1 Ramshorn snail with 5 gallons of water.

What are ramshorn snail colors?

Ramshorn snails can be lots of colors, including red, blue, brown, and pink.

Do Ramshorn snails reproduce asexually?

Yes, Ramshorn snails can reproduce asexually, making it extremely difficult to control their populations.

Are Ramshorn snails right for your aquarium? 

Now that you’ve learned just about all there is to know when it comes to caring for Ramshorn snails, you should be able to decide for yourself if they’re a good fit for your aquarium.

They’re a peaceful community tank member. They do well with other calm, non-aggressive fish and other snails and shrimp. However, they can quickly overrun a tank with their easy breeding and rabbit-like reproduction speed.

If you can accommodate their constant need for algae, they can make very functional additions to your tank that will help keep your tank clean.

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