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Ramshorn snails

Ed wrote: 

"I have recently in the past 2-3 days been watching some unknown snail
crawl across my tank, it started off small now it's about the size of 
apencil eraser. it looks liek a ram but the color's different. it has a 
solid color base and spots over it, they seem to be growing with it and 
the snail is doing a very good job helping with the chores so i'm giong 
to leave it. Does anyone know if this is a ram? doesn't look like the 
red/yellow ram's i've seen."


Just as there seem to be a number of differing species commonly called 
"trumpet" snails, there too are many snails that we (and field guides 
pertaining to gastropoda) generally call "rams-horn" snails. For 
instance, melanoides tuberculata is cited as the trumpet snail in 
various aquarium fish text, but I have species which are not m. 
tuberculata but which seem to burrow in the substrate and invariably 
exhibit similar behavior. By rough visual comparison, these seem to be 
m. turricula and tarebia granifera. Some may be species of the genus 
elimia, which possess the same conical shells but which differ in shell 
size, smoothness and color.

With regard to "ramshorn" snails, I have a few which resemble your 
description. I haven't been able to find this particular species in any 
text, and perhaps it is a variation on helisoma spp., frequently cited 
as "ramshorn" in fishkeeping text.

Moreover, a number of different snails frequently called "ramshorn" are 
quietly moving about in a couple of my tanks. These seem to be of the 
planorbella complex, and have varying body colors ranging from bright 
red to grey and brown. Their shells vary in coloration, smoothness, and 
markings, but retain the same general shell shape of the helisoma spp. 
They stay small and do not appear to harm healthy plant leaves. Most 
interesting are what appear to be planorbella scalaris, whose shells 
differ from conventional ramshorn shells in that the posterior end of 
the shell appears to have been sliced off at an angle, so that the shell 
is not completely round. 

I imagine that upon closer inspection a variety of gastropoda are 
evident in many of our tanks. They are an interesting addition to 
planted aquaria.

Erik Leung
San Francisco

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