Ramshorn Snails – Why I love these fast breeding cleaners!

Hello, everyone, I’m Jim, and welcome to another article from healthy betta.

Today I thought we’d take a look at some of my favorite tank inhabitants they are ramshorn snails named for their vertically orientated shells that coil around much like a ram’s horn. They’re supremely common in the fish-keeping hobby and I’m sure, you’ve seen these guys either in videos or just happily munching their way around someone’s tank.

Now there is something of a divide between those who love ramshorns snails and those who do hate them, and I fall very much into the first category and that’s because to me these little snails are that perfect mixture of incredibly useful as they do such a fantastic job of keeping the tank clean from algae, while at the same time they have a very low bio load and, at the same time, they look nice. They come in a range of different colors, including yellow, orange-reds, and blues, as well as these sort of pinkish ones that I keep, and they don’t get too large.

ramshorn snail
Ramshorn Snail https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ramshorn_snail_on_the_wood.jpg

Even a good-sized snail is only going to grow to be about an inch across.

But what are ramshorn snails like to keep and what sort of setup do they need?

Best Water Conditions for Ramshorn Snails

First of all, ramshorn snails can be found all over the world, including in temperate climates like the UK, we actually have our own native black ramshorn snail, but the colorful ones that you see in aquaria are tropical species and ideally need to be kept at a temperature, that’s 18 degrees c and above, they can survive at lower temperatures but it will stunt their growth and it’s not fair to keep them in conditions that they’re not adapted to.

They also need to be kept in neutral to slightly alkaline water that’s with a ph over 7 – and this is because acidic water will eat away at their shells, which will significantly weaken the snail.

Other than temperature and ph though ramshorn snails are very, very adaptable to whatever type of setup you have. They can live in tanks as small as 5 or 10 liters, either with or without plants, and the only thing you need to bear in mind is that they primarily eat soft surface algae and tank debris.

Ramshorn Snails Feed

They will happily trek around your tank constantly on the lookout for rotting plant or animal matter and anything that they come across, including fish or shrimp food, or anything like that’s been left behind.

They feed by scraping hard surfaces with their little rasping tongues, which are called a radula, and they are ravenous, feeders, seemingly never-ending, on a quest for food. They are such a greedy species that it makes sense to give them as many surfaces as possible. The more surfaces you have in your tank, the more places that algae can grow, and the better Ramshorns snails will try to eat soft plants such as elodea, densa, or hornwort for example, but live plants certainly are not their first choice of food.

They would much rather eat nice soft algae, because plants are just too tough for them, and so as long as you have a tank that has a strong enough light source to grow algae and it has plenty of surfaces for them to feed on, whether that’s plants or a nice gnarly bit of driftwood or something, then your snails will be able to find plenty of food for themselves.

Ramshorn snails are also very cheap to buy and a really good specimen with a nice strong base color shouldn’t be costing you more than a couple of dollars, but they might not necessarily be available from local fish shops. As I say, some people do see them as pests, but they can always be bought online, so it is very easy to buy yourself a nice little starter colony and when I say start a colony, I mean to start a colony.

Breeding your Ramshorn Snails

One thing you may have noticed is that I haven’t mentioned purposefully feeding your snails, and this is because I am pretty certain ninety percent of what ramshorn snails eat comes out the other end as eggs, the more food they have the faster they will breed and in good conditions with plenty of food their population can skyrocket in a matter of weeks, and just so you know they are hermaphroditic species, and so any two snails can breed and they will do so long before they reach an adult size from about a centimeter in diameter they are capable of reproducing, although the batches of eggs that they make at that age are going to be a lot smaller than those of a big adult.

Ramshorn Snails are prolific in the extreme, and so you tend to hear the same stories over and over about people’s experiences with them, they say they bought two Ramshorn Snails and they ended up with literally a thousand a couple of months down the line, and this is why a lot of people claim Ramshorn Snails are a pest or a vermin in tanks and something that you should avoid.

It’s because they can have this massive population boom when there’s plenty of food around but – and perhaps this is just me – I see them as something that just needs to be managed. You know that Ramshorn Snails are going to breed quickly before you buy them, and so you just need to make sure that you have an idea of what you’re going to do with the unwanted baby snails. I keep the babies that I, like the look of.

That’s any that have a nice, strong, color or show any sort of different color variation, and the rest of them, either get fed to the wild birds or my pet quail.

I do sometimes sell them on as well, although that’s not quite so often so. yes, I do sometimes find I have a huge number of snails, but they’ve more than paid for themselves with the few that I’ve sold on and none of them go to waste and that way I never feel overwhelmed by them, because I was prepared for this from the beginning, of course, you might also want a lot of baby snails if you’re raising a snail-eating species of fish, such as Pea Puffers or many of the different loaches, or if you’re raising assassin snails, who funnily enough by their name, have a bit of a penchant for their kind, in which case Ramshorn Snails are the perfect feeder snail for these species just because of how quickly they reproduce.

Young snails are as easy to raise as their parents, and they have quite a good growth rate by about three weeks old, I would expect them to be roughly half a centimeter in diameter. One of the really interesting things about Ramshorn Snails is that you can tell their health and in some ways their history by looking at their shells.

A good healthy Ramshorn Snail is going to have a smooth shell with no raised bumps or ridges and their coloring should be even throughout. If you see any Ramshorn Snails that have lumps or raised bits on their shells, this is generally an indication that they’ve had a bit of a tough time and these are usually the result of injuries although I have seen them form on snails that have been exposed to very high levels of ammonia.

As for the different colors, well, this is just down to personal preference as to what you like the look of, but I tend to go for either a deep red or a bright blue myself.

I hope this has given you a bit of an insight into why I love these fast-breeding cleaners, and perhaps even inspired you to get some of your own!


Overall, Ramshorn Snails are a great addition to any tank as they are prolific cleaners. They are also very easy to breed, so you can always have a steady supply of them. However, it is important to be aware that they can reproduce very quickly and may become overwhelming if not managed properly. But with a little bit of care, Ramshorn Snails can be a great asset to any aquarium.

How long do ramshorn snails live?

Ramshorn Snails have a relatively short lifespan and typically only live for 1-2 years. However, they can reproduce very quickly, so there is always a steady supply of them. Additionally, they are very easy to care for and do not require much maintenance.

Can ramshorn snail survive out of water?

No, Ramshorn Snails cannot survive out of water for more than a few hours. They are aquatic creatures and need to be in the water to live.

Do ramshorn snails eat plants?

Yes, Ramshorn Snails will eat plants if they are hungry enough. However, they are not particularly fond of them and will usually only eat plants if there is not enough other food available. Additionally, they are more likely to eat soft, decaying plants rather than healthy, green plants.

Are ramshorn snails harmful to fish?

No, Ramshorn Snails are not harmful to fish. Many fish enjoy eating them! However, it is important to note that Ramshorn Snails can reproduce very quickly and may become overwhelming if not managed properly. Additionally, they may eat plants if they are hungry enough.

Do ramshorn snails carry diseases?

No, Ramshorn Snails do not carry diseases. However, they can sometimes harbor parasites, so it is important to quarantine new snails before adding them to your tank. Additionally, it is important to practice good aquarium hygiene to prevent the spread of disease.

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