Apple snails in the aquarium

MdE(page at dewiki | page at commons), Pomacea bridgesii MdE 1, CC BY-SA 3.0 EN

With their attractive snail shell shape, beautiful colour designs and special behaviour, apple snails are among the most interesting aquarium animals. They should be part of a near-natural aquarium.

Why apple snails fit well into an aquarium

Apple snails belong to the tropical or subtropical freshwater snail family. There are 175 species and 9 genera of them. Their optical attractiveness is due to their size of 5 to 15 cm and their cheerful colouring in yellow, blue, brown and black. Among the most popular species for the aquarium:

Species for keeping in aquariums

Some apple snails are among the most popular specimensdue to their appearance and behaviour:

Pointed apple snail (Pomacea diffusa):

  • Housing size: approx. 5.5 cm
  • Housing colours: White, yellow, brown, pink, purple, blue
  • eats preferably dead plants

Paradise snail (Marisa cornuarietis):

  • Housing size: approx. 5 cm
  • Housing colour: cream, light brown with dark brown stripes, yellow without stripes
  • voracious
  • kills off live plants
  • reproduces well

Zebra apple snail (Asolene spixi):

  • Housing size approx. 4 cm
  • Housing colours: Light brown with darker stripes
  • restrained eating behaviour, does not go to plants
  • likes to dig in

Giant apple snail (Pila ampullacea):

  • Housing size: approx. 10 cm
  • Housing colours: Red brown to dark brown, also with dark stripes
  • eats plants
  • likes to dig in

The special feature of apple snails is their sophisticated breathing technique. They belong to the aquatic animals as well as to the air breathers and have both lungs and gills. Another anatomical speciality is the siphon. This is a tube-like structure with which the animals can breathe without having to emerge from the water. This enables them to survive even in oxygen-poor waters.

Apple snails are easy to keep in most freshwater aquariums. Their socialization is possible with almost all aquarium inhabitants as long as they do not eat snails.

Regarding their food requirements they belong to the omnivores. They feed on algae, plants, micro-organisms, carrion, other snails and fish clutches. However, their preferred food is vegetable, so the population of the aquarium should be well considered. Some snail species are content with dead plant remains and leaves. Others also choose healthy plants. Excessive feeding can be counteracted with an additional food supply such as algae tablets, food tabs and granulated food. The animals also like vegetables and salad leaves. The latter should be scalded with hot water before consumption and thus made more digestible. It is also important to administer the appropriate amount of feed. This should depend on the size of the snail and of course be nutritious.

Since apple snails use microorganisms to destroy their food, these also enter the water and provide valuable food for young fish. At the same time the snails make themselves useful as cleaning animals of the tank.


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MdE(page at dewiki | page at commons), Pomacea bridgesii MdE 1, CC BY-SA 3.0 EN

How do apple snails reproduce?

Apple snails are not hermaphrodites, but separate sexes. However, the sex has no visible characteristics and is hardly detectable. For breeding, several animals should be kept in the tank. The mating of the female is done by swinging or circling movements.

The fertilized clutch of eggs consists of white to light pink lime eggs and is attached above the water surface. It must always be kept slightly moist so that it does not dry out. On the other hand, the eggs must not be submerged in water, as the brood can then drown. If the young hatch, they simply drop into the water. Due to the reproductive ability of the apple snails, it is advisable to check the young. If too many eggs appear above the water surface, they can be easily removed.

Which types of apple snails are prohibited?

The snails are considered a delicacy in South America, Africa and Asia. There they are bred and sold in large numbers. In Europe, however, an EU-wide ban on keeping, breeding and importing the genus Pomacea has been in force since November 2012. These include the tip apple snail (Pomacea diffusa), the golden apple snail (Pomacea canaliculata) and the island apple snail (Pomacea insularum). The reason for the regulation is the uncontrollable wild spread of the snails in the Ebro Delta in Spain and the damage to the flora. Please note that this list does not necessarily have to be up to date – please inform us about changes in the comments.

However, the prohibition law applies primarily to the spread of the Pomacea genus. The possession and the breeding without passing on the animals is not punishable for private persons.

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