Almost cosmopolitan, with many species (Family:
Ampullariidae) living in an area stretching
from Southern U.S.A. and Central and South America up to Africa and
Asia. They seem to prefer waters with moderate (to none) flow and are,
so far, the biggest freshwater snails living on earth.
Apple Snails. Golden Apple Snails, Mistery
Snails and more …
I keep (and have kept) them in tanks ranging from 75 to 300
liters with no (at least detectable)
troubles. With all kind of possible aquascaping;
see (below) the voice “Food” for troubles that could possibly
arise in planted tanks.
considering the wide part of the world these snails live in they’re not
at all demanding. My experience says moderate to highly alkaline
lukewarm/hot water does well, while too acidic environment (because of
the lack of “salt” in the water itself) could lead to problems with
their shell. Never allow water temp to drop below 18° C (65° F).
After having mated under water many of them lay eggs (in calcified
clutches) ABOVE the water level on, say,
branches, swamp canes and alike
All are absolutely NOT fussy, many (but not all of them) are “hard-core”
vegetable eaters; beware
since they can destroy a beautiful planted tank in days (do make your
test before). On the other hand they’re excellent scavengers.
My actual Ampullarias
– as said! - DO NOT feed on vegetables (see picture below, one specimen
is patrolling the bogwood in the P. scalare
tank) … but, even if yours do, never forget a certain amount of
“animal matter” in their diet
This is (under given circumstances) a tricky matter since many fishes
can bite their long antennas/tentacles forcing them to stay retired
in their shell which is NOT
acceptable for their well-being
These animals have also a rather odd biology with a top example being their
respiratory system adapted to tropical environment (which may
occasionally dry up completely). Thus, each
animal has lungs AND gills (to the best of my knowledge ONE EACH, but
I’m not 100% sure). This fact allows them – for instance – to
thrive also in water with an extremely low oxygen content and/or feed
in aerial environment, too.
Ampullaria snails have been introduced in
areas in which they didn't exist originally, adapting extremely well to
their new environment and are nowadays considered a pest in many
Ampullaria Snails are said to be the
possible (natural) carrier on some SERIOUS illness, for this reason
extreme care should be taken in dealing / handling wild specimens (I
agree that it is not that common, but better safe than sorry …) and it is better to buy only
quarantined specimens coming from a reputable source.
One of the “lullabies” Leonardo’s Grand-Grandmother (92 yrs old!) often sings
to him refers to snails.. so, it was no wonder that when he spotted them
in one of the fish shops I visit regularly he asked about them with curiosity … … to
make a long story short four of them are now walking (snails do not
swim!) in our tanks. This is the second time (ever) I deal – after a
long break - with these animals.
A good book on
Apple Snails in the Aquarium:
: Their Identification, Care, and Breeding.
This book by Gloria Parrera and Jerry G.
walls nicely covers all aspects of Apple snails keeping (including, if I
correctly remember, some recipes to cook them … this latter aspect
NOT being that common in pet books). I enjoyed it a lot.
My final tip:
I would like to draw your attention to a matter which you should always
keep in mind. ALWAYS keep your snails under surveillance. If one of them
doesn't look well, you better remove it in a separate tank till it
recovers. A dead
specimen (like most invertebrates, -a fact marine tank keepers know
pretty well) can turn – in hours – even the best kept tank in a “nastily
Images of my
These are “NON-vegetable eating”
specimens (four in all). One (out of two) of the long cephalic tentacles
is clearly in sight (up).
A view (image shot in
the Ancistus grow-out tank) of the “foot” while
the snail is climbing the front glass of the tank …
Moving at the bottom of the tank looking
for morsels of food (part of the operculum the brownish disc close to
shell itself is in sight). These snails are an excellent addition to the
(so called) “scavenger team”
Pictures (the second one being a
close-up) showing (in my humble opinion) a mating pair. I’ll keep
You informed on the matter … stay tuned!
the shell of one of my previous Ampullaria
Rather big, isn’t it?!?!? This
used to be a (furious) vegetable eater, four of them “heavily pruned” (LOL!) a
well planted 300 litre tank in less than
two days ... The story took place many years ago; the odd thing is that
I can’t spot any (noticeable) difference when comparing this shell with
the ones of the snails I keep now…