Giant ramshorn snail or colombian ramshorn snail (lat. Marisa cornuarietis) is a large and good-looking snail, very popular among aquarium husbandry fans. In the wild they are inhabits in lakes, rivers, bogs, however it prefers quiet and thickly planted places. Large snail can inhabit in brackish water, but at that it won’t breed. In some countries marisa snails are put into the waters on purpose – to get rid of invasive plants, since they eagerly feeds on them.
Habitat in the wild
The giant ramshorn snail, also known as Marisa cornuarietis, is a species of freshwater snail that belongs to the family Ampullariidae. It is native to South America but has been introduced to various parts of the world due to the aquarium trade. Giant ramshorn snail is widely spread in Brazil, Venezuela, Panama, Honduras and Costa Rica as well as in other tropical areas. In late 40-th giant ramshorn snail was brought to Cuba and a bit later the snail started to expand over Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas.
Colombian ramshorn snails are typically found in slow-moving or stagnant freshwater habitats, such as ponds, lakes, and streams. They prefer areas with abundant vegetation and a variety of submerged and floating plants. In their natural environment, these snails play an important role as detritivores and herbivores. They graze on algae and consume detritus, dead plant matter, and decaying organic material. Their feeding activities contribute to nutrient recycling in aquatic ecosystems.
When introduced to non-native habitats, giant ramshorn snails can become invasive and impact local biodiversity. In some cases, they can outcompete native snail species for resources and disrupt the ecological balance. Therefore, their presence outside their natural range can have negative consequences for local ecosystems.
As the name suggests, the giant ramshorn snail can grow relatively large compared to other snail species. Adult snails can reach sizes of up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter.
The lifespan of giant ramshorn snails (Marisa cornuarietis) can vary depending on various factors such as environmental conditions, food availability, and predation risks. In their natural habitat, the average lifespan of giant ramshorn snails is typically around 1 to 2 years. However, under favorable conditions and proper care, they may live up to 3 years or occasionally even longer.
The snail’s shell is flat-coiled or disc-shaped, resembling a ram’s horn, which gives it its name. Giant ramshorn snail shell has about 3.5-4 spiral turns. Their coloring varies greatly: from dark yellow to dark brown tints with black spiral stripes.There can be seen some mutations, when the snail doesn’t have any stripes at all. There are also species with complete yellow shell. Body color can be white with yellowish, gray and black pattern on it, with pigment spots. Very often the upper side is just beige and the bottom one is dark-brown. It has a breathing tube which is not as long as Ampullaria has.
|Scientific Name||Marisa cornuarietis|
|Common Names||Giant ramshorn snail; columbian ramshorn snail, marisa snail, columbian ramshorn|
|Native Range||South America (Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay)|
|Size||Up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter|
|Shell Shape||Flat-coiled or disc-shaped, resembling a ram’s horn|
|Shell Color||Varies, often brown, red, or pink with patterns|
|Habitat||Freshwater ponds, lakes, slow-moving rivers, marshes|
|Preferred Vegetation||Abundant submerged, floating, and emergent aquatic plants|
|Diet||Omnivorous, feeding on detritus, algae, decaying plant matter|
|Reproduction||Simultaneous hermaphrodites, capable of self-fertilization|
|Reproductive Strategy||Laying eggs in gelatinous masses attached to vegetation|
|Ecological Impact||Can become invasive outside their native range|
Care and keeping in a tank
The tank size for giant ramshorn snails (Marisa cornuarietis) can vary depending on the number of snails you plan to keep and the overall setup of your aquarium. As a general recommendation, for a small group of giant ramshorn snails, a tank with a minimum capacity of 10 gallons (38 liters) should be suitable. However, the more space you can provide, the better it will be for the snails’ overall well-being. It’s important to regularly monitor water parameters, perform water changes as needed, and ensure the tank is adequately filtered to maintain optimal conditions for the snails.
Care is rather complicated – colombian ramshorn snails need water of moderate hardness, pH 7.5 – 7.8 and water temperature 21-25 °C. Giant ramshorn snail are quite not demanding as for many things, but nevertheless there are some specific water requirements to be met, so the water would be acceptable for this type of snails.
Firstly, giant ramshorn snail is quite tolerant to saline influences. Even in rather brackish water (according to some references up to 30% salinity) with mineralization up to 3% can live, but it won’t breed.
However, if the water is too soft and without carbonates, than the snail’s shell will start ruining. Water with low pH level is also uncomfortable for these snails inhabitance.
The crucial thing is that for a giant ramshorn snail tank size is of no essential importance. Lange snails can be kept both in open and closed tank. Though they are also not very demanding to water temperature, it’s better to stick to the temperature 75–81 °F (24–27 °C). However, are very sensitive to water and air temperature decrease.
They are hermaphroditic, female has dark chocolate coloring of its leg, however males are light-beige with barely noticeable brownish spots.
They lay the eggs in the water on the bottom side of plants’ leaves. The eggs of giant ramshorn snails are laid in clusters or masses that are often translucent and gelatinous. The size and shape of the egg masses can vary, but they typically resemble small, clear spheres stuck together. Each egg’s size is about 2-3 mm.
The snails lay their eggs above the waterline, typically attaching them to various surfaces such as aquatic vegetation, rocks, or even the sides of aquarium walls. This behavior helps protect the eggs from being submerged and increases their chances of survival.
Each egg mass can contain a variable number of individual eggs. The number of eggs in a single mass can range from a few dozen to several hundred, depending on factors such as the size and reproductive capacity of the adult snails.
After a snail lays its eggs about 2 weeks later, when the eggs become transparent, the small snails appear and they disperse all over the tank. The incubation period for giant ramshorn snail eggs can vary based on environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. Generally, it takes around 2 to 4 weeks for the eggs to hatch, but this timeframe may be shorter or longer depending on the specific conditions.
As the eggs develop, they become more opaque and may darken in color. Eventually, small snails emerge from the eggs, ready to start their independent lives in the water. Though, despite their activity not all juveniles survive.
Like other ramshorn snails, in nature the Colombian ramshorn snail is primarily herbivorous. They have a preference for plant-based foods and consume various types of vegetation in their natural habitat.
In aquarium they are omnivorous and will feed on any type of feed – live, frozen, artificial one. However, tank plants may suffer from these snails, since if they are hungry they start eating tank plants and sometimes totally ruin them, like lawn mower. It’s better to keep giant ramshorn snail in a tank without plants. Diet should be complemented with vegetables – cucumbers, squashes, cabbage and tablets for catfish. You can provide them with a well-balanced diet by offering commercially available snail food, such as sinking pellets or flakes designed for herbivorous snails.
As for these large snails compatibility with other tank inhabitants – there are no reasons to be worried. They are peaceful creatures, which will successfully coexist with the same peaceful fishes. Many peaceful community fish species can be suitable tankmates for Colombian ramshorn snails. Examples include tetras (such as neon tetras or cardinal tetras), rasboras, guppies, mollies, swordtails, and dwarf gouramis. Make sure the fish species you choose are not aggressive or prone to nipping at snails.