Tips for Keeping Aquatic Snails as Pets

When you think of snails, you probably think of the big garden snails that crawl around in the mud outside. Many people also associate snails with slugs. But there are some snails that are very different than those that you may first think of when some one says, “I have a pet snail.”

Snails kept in aquariums are aquatic snails. The primarily live in the water, although some can live outside of the water for short amounts of time. They don’t require this type of exercise by any means, but they will do just fine. In tanks with open tops or with large gaps in the lids, snails can and will venture out to explore the world around them, leaving nothing behind but a slimy trail.

But what kind of snail is the best type to keep in an aquarium? Well, first you have to consider the other fish that may be kept there. Many fish see snails as part of their menu, making them inappropriate tank mates for such a critter. Loaches, eels, large catfish, puffers and other very large fish are just a few that will make a snack out of your slimy pet.

Next, think about what size your tank is and how many snails you’d want to keep. Different snails have different requirements as far as space goes. While they are excellent janitors and eat up any extra debris, dead plant life, deceased fish and uneaten fish food they also have to rid their bodies of such things. In short, they poop a lot; plain and simple. Therefore, they require a specific amount of space just as fish do.

Now, take a good look at your tank. Do you house live plants? If so, there are some snails you will need to avoid as they can quickly mow down a planted tank within hours finding these green entres quite pleasing.

Last but not least, you will need to check with your local department of health. It might sound odd but many snails are banned in certain parts of the country. Due to the overpopulation of some types of snails, owners have been reported to releasing their abundance of snails into the wild, into ponds, lakes and reservoirs. Being that many of these snails are highly omnivorous, they eat everything in sight, devastating local plant life. Incidents were reported frequent enough that the import and export of these snails has been prohibited within certain guildines. Some snails are illegal to ship across state lines throughout the United States. There are even some states that prohibit the keeping of the snails in a home aquarium so be sure to check with the authorities prior to obtaining your pet.

Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s move on to the different types of snails.

Pomacea Canaliculata

Pomacea Canaliculata, or canas, are quite entertaining snails. They get very large, some up to the size of a small apple. This is how they were given the nick name “apple snail”. The cana comes in a variety of colors including golden, olive, and striped.

While not the most colorful of snails, their personalities certainly make up for it. They can be trained to come when fed and they can be handled for short periods of time. Their large size makes them desirable as well.

Some notes to be aware of with this breed is that they are plant eaters. They will certainly destroy any planted tank within no time and will have fun doing it. Because they get so large, they do require ample space. Ten gallons each is adequate in aiding in their happiness. This type of snail is illegal to ship and receive across state lines within the Unite States. Some states also prohibit the ownership of these snails.

Reproduction cannot be stopped when males and females are housed together, but it can be controlled. Bright pink eggs are laid above the water level, on the underside of a tank hood and on aquarium equipment such as heaters and filters. To keep your population controlled, simply remove the eggs as they are laid.

Pomacea bridgesii

Pomacea bridgessi, or brigs, are often referred to as mystery snails. The list of colors they are available in can be quite long. They can be found in brown, olive, black, striped, light purple, dark purple, pink, blue, ivory, jade and gold. The foot, or body, of the snail can be either light colored with small orange dots, or a dark almost black color with the same orange dots. The dark footed varieties are what causes the darker shell colorations. For example, if you have a blue snail, he will have a dark foot. However, an ivory snail will have a light foot. The dark foot of the blue snail is what gives him the blue coloring through the ivory shell. When a snail dies, his body is removed from his shell. With our example, the body is removed and the shell is now the ivory color.

These snails do not get quite as big as canas but can reach a size of a walnut. Their habitat should allow for at least 3-5 gallons per snail. These snails are also plant safe. They have been blamed for the eating of some plants as they have been caught in the act. However, what is actually being seen is that the snails are cleaning up dead plant debris, doing their best to keep their home clean.

Brigs are legal to ship across state lines with the appropriate permits. They have not yet been banned for ownership as they do not pose a threat on local plant life.

This type of snail also lays eggs above the water level, but in contrast to the pink eggs of the canas, brigs lay a mass of eggs of a more whitish color. The laid clutch can be removed to control the snail population.

Marisa cornuarietis

Marisa cornuarietis is also known as the Marisa, the Giant Ramshorn, or the Columbian Ramshorn. They come in two color varieties; wild striped, and gold. The foot of the Marisa can be either dark or light. This snail can obtain a size of around an inch and a half in diameter.

They can be known as plant eaters. Many Marisa keepers have kept the snails in planted tanks without problems, but on the other hand, others have not been so successful. It may depend on the particular type of plant, as many Marisas prefer to munch on the softer leaved plants.

These snails have also been placed on the list for banned snails when shipped across state lines. While they don’t pose the threat of the canas, they do have the potential for destroying plant life.

Space for these guys closely resembles that of the brigs with about 3 5 gallons required for each. Their eggs are laid within the water in masses surround with a jelly-like substance. These eggs can be removed by scraping them off the inside of the tank wall, plant life, dcor and equipment.

Asolene Spixi

The Asolene Spixi snail is a smaller snail that reaches the size of a marble. They have a light colored shell base with dark striping. Most spixi resemble each other with some slight variations among the stripes.

Spixis can be plant eaters when young but most adults will leave plant life alone. The amount of damage to plants as a result of hungry young snails is typically minimal as they leave small chew marks around the edges of the leaves. Space for spixis should allow at least 2 gallons per snail.

Spixis have not yet been placed under restrictions, but the potential is there. They are closely related to the Marisa which could be the sole reason to put them on the list. But because they stay small and are plant safe as adults, they may avoid this restriction in the future.

These snails also lay their eggs in a mass surrounded by a jelly-like substance. They are laid in the water, attached to anything in the tank. Clutches can be removed easily by scraping them off tank walls, plant life and equipment.

There are many other subspecies of aquatic snails but covered here are the most popular and readily available. Using the basics covered here you will do well in choosing the type that is best for you, your location and your current tank set up.