Creating the Perfect Habitat: Tank Setup for Ramshorn Snails

Ramshorn snails are a type of freshwater snail belonging to the Planorbidae family. They are named after the spiral shape of their shells, which resemble the horns of a ram. Ramshorn snails (lat. Planorbis sp.) are good for any freshwater tank. Snails feed on algae and feed leftovers which are dangerous for fishes health. Also, these snails server as some special indicator of a tank water quality – if all ramshorn snails have raised up from the tank bottom to the water surface, it means that there’s something wrong with the tank water and it’s time for water renew.

Habitat in the wild

In the wild ramshorn snails inhabit all over the world. Ramshorn snails have a wide distribution and can be found in North America, Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa. They are adaptable and can thrive in diverse freshwater ecosystems.

They prefer shallows, waters with slow flow or impounded waters. Quite often such waters are full of rotting plants which give the shelter and food. In their natural habitat, ramshorn snails play an important role in ecosystem balance. They are detritivores and feed on decaying plant matter, algae, and organic debris, helping to break down and recycle nutrients.

Lack of oxygen in such waters isn’t crucial, since they have adapted to breathe with atmospheric air. In the rivers these snails can be seen only in tickly planted backwaters, because they won’t do with high water flows.

Ramshorn snails can be both beneficial and potentially invasive, depending on the context. In their native range, they play a crucial role in ecosystem functioning. However, in certain cases, they have been introduced to new environments unintentionally and have become invasive species, outcompeting native snail species and disrupting local ecosystems.


In planted tank the species can be of red or brown color. Also some blue ramshorn snails can be seen, which have no difference in breeding or care comparing to red and brown ones. This coloring was achieved in pond fish farming after selection and further breeding of species whose shells were without a pigment and the species with common dark brown body coloring. It is this color that shines through the snail’s shell and it is visually taken as blue color by a human eye. However, blue ramshorn snail posterity has some percentage of ordinary colored species (at about 20%).

If you want to preserve the unusual coloring of your snails, it’s desired to perform the selection by removing ordinary colored species from a tank.

Ramshorn snails have flat voluted shell. The body (the part that is in the shell) is elongated and cone-shaped and it’s of the same coloring as its shell. To move around ramshorn snails use their quite flat and wide leg which is quite visible outside the shell. The snail has horns on its head – they are long, thin, paired tentaculum – and if you look closer, you’ll see the eyes on their bottom.

Ramshorn snails are amphipneustic creatures, adapted to life in polluted waters with low content of oxygen in water. The snail can breathe both with atmospheric air (by means of its special pulmonary cavity) and with oxygen dissolved in the water.

One of ramshorn snail peculiarities is its ability to swim on the water surface with its shell turned down. The snail achieves it by adjusting the floatage of its body – to do so it gets some additional air into its shell. When swimming the snail leans on water surface tension or bacterial slime.

If it is touched during its swim, it’ll immediately let the air out and drown. This reflex helps ramshorn snail to escape from predators in the wild. There’s nothing difficult in keeping of these snails in a tank. It’s quite enough to put them into the tank, they’ll find the feed themselves.

How big do ramshorn snails get?

Ramshorn snails vary in size depending on the species and individual factors such as age and diet. The diameter of the shell is commonly used to measure the size of ramshorn snails. On average, adult ramshorn snails have shells that range from about 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) to 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. However, it’s important to note that some individuals may grow larger or smaller than these average measurements.

How long do ramshorn snails live?

Lifespan is about 1-2 years, very seldom ramshorn snail live longer. Some ramshorn snails may live shorter or longer than the average lifespan. Providing a suitable environment, proper nutrition, and attentive care can help promote the well-being and longevity of ramshorn snails in aquarium settings.

How fast do ramshorn snails grow?

Young ramshorn snails, after hatching from their eggs, undergo a period of rapid growth during their juvenile stage. They will gradually develop their shells and increase in size as they consume food and nutrients. The availability of a nutritious and balanced diet plays a crucial role in the growth rate of ramshorn snails. A diet rich in algae, decaying plant matter, and other organic material provides the necessary nutrients for their growth.

Size1/4 inch to 1 inch (0.6 cm to 2.5 cm) in shell diameter
Shell ShapeCoiled spiral
Shell ColorVaries (brown, red, translucent)
Body StructureSoft, elongated body with a muscular foot
LifespanTypically 1 to 2 years
HabitatFreshwater habitats such as ponds, lakes, and slow streams
Feeding BehaviorHerbivorous, feeding on decaying plant matter and algae
ReproductionHermaphroditic, laying eggs in clusters or gelatinous masses
Environmental ToleranceAdaptable to a range of water conditions
PredatorsFish, turtles, water birds, and some invertebrates
Ecological RoleHelps in nutrient cycling, algae control, and detritus removal
Benefits in AquariumsCleans up organic debris, contributes to a balanced ecosystem


Even one ramshorn snail that accidentally got into a tank can successfully breed, since these snails are hermaphrodite species (they are capable of self fertilization). When ramshorn snails are ready to reproduce, they engage in a mating process called reciprocal mating. After mating, ramshorn snails will lay eggs. This snail reproduction is that they lay eggs on tank walls, tank plants leaves. Ramshorn snail clutch looks like a transparent node with barely seen round cells. The eggs are translucent and can take days to hatch, depending on environmental conditions. Typically, it can take a week or more for the eggs to hatch into juvenile snails. A small snail will grow in each of these cells and in 4-14 days it’ll go out to start its own life.

Once hatched, the juvenile ramshorn snails resemble miniature versions of the adults. They will gradually grow and develop their shells as they consume food and nutrients in the aquarium. Proper nutrition and water parameters are essential for their healthy growth.

How often do ramshorn snails lay eggs?

Ramshorn snails have the ability to continuously produce and lay eggs throughout their reproductive lifespan.The time interval between egg-laying events can vary, but ramshorn snails have been observed to lay eggs every few days or up to a couple of weeks apart. However, individual snails may also exhibit shorter or longer intervals between egg-laying.

Care and keeping in a tank

There can be seen a lot of negative feedback as for these snails, since they breed rather easily and fill up a tank. But this happens only if the tank owner overfeeds his fishes and snails don’t have their natural enemies in the tank.

Do ramshorn snails eat plants?

It is said that these snails feed on tank plants, but this isn’t true. The misunderstanding occurs when someone sees the snails on the leaves of rotting or dead tank plants and takes them for a reason of this, however the snails are just eating the plant which has already been dead. All ramshorn snails have rather weak teeth to make a hole in a plant, though they’ll eagerly feed on rotting or already dead tank plant.

Ramshorn snails are known to occasionally climb out of the water and explore above the waterline. Providing sufficient vertical space or a securely fitted lid is important to prevent escape and ensure their safety.

Water parameters

Ramshorn snails can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures, but they generally prefer temperatures within a certain range for optimal health and activity. The recommended water temperature for ramshorn snails is typically between 75°F (214°C) and 81°F (27°C).

Within this temperature range, ramshorn snails are more active, display normal feeding behavior, and exhibit optimal growth. It’s important to note that they can tolerate slightly higher or lower temperatures, but extreme temperatures or sudden fluctuations can stress or harm the snails.

The ideal pH range for ramshorn snails is slightly alkaline to neutral, with a target range of 7.0 to 8.0. They can tolerate a slightly wider pH range, but extreme fluctuations or highly acidic conditions should be avoided.

Ramshorn snails can adapt to a range of water hardness levels. However, they generally prefer slightly harder water with moderate to high mineral content. A general guideline is a water hardness of 6 to 12 dGH (degrees of general hardness).

Tank size

The tank size suitable for ramshorn snails depends on the number of snails you plan to keep and the overall setup of your aquarium. Ramshorn snails are generally small and can adapt to various tank sizes, but providing enough space is important for their well-being. For a small group of ramshorn snails (up to 5-10 individuals), a tank size of around 5 gallons (19 liters) can be sufficient. This allows them enough space to move around and explore. If you plan to keep a larger group of ramshorn snails, it is recommended to provide a larger tank. As a general rule, aim for a minimum tank size of 10 gallons (38 liters) for a moderate-sized population.


They can feed on almost everything – vegetables, rotting plants, fish feed, dead fish. You can complement the snail diet with – lattice, cucumbers, squashes, cabbage. All these vegetables should be boiled for a minute and they should be given to the snails in small pieces.

Tank mates

The ramshorn snails are completely peaceful and well-behaved to their tank mates – fishes and prawns. They can feed on dead fish and sometimes it makes people think that the snail has killed it. However, if the snails colony is overpopulated, some fishes eagerly feed on them – for example, clown loach, pea puffer or paradise fish.

Here are some common tank mates that can generally coexist peacefully with ramshorn snails:

Remember to always research the specific species you intend to keep as tank mates to ensure compatibility with ramshorn snails and other inhabitants of your aquarium. Introduce new tank mates gradually and monitor their interactions to ensure the well-being of all the inhabitants in your aquatic ecosystem.