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RE: Trap Door Snails



Hi Folks:

The name trap door snail is actually very confusing and most likely should
be avoided. Currently I have seen at least 3 very different types of snail
masquerading under this name. The term trap door refers to the operculum
which they use to seal off their soft bodies from their surroundings. There
are several species of very different snails that have operculum all of
which could be called trap door snails. These families include HYDROBIIDAE
VIVIPARIDAE, NERITINA and PILIDAE.

The first group is the PILIDAE. This variety has two distinct morphologies.
The first is the apple snail type (Pomacea). It has a compact short spiral
configuration and of course it has a "trap door".  These snails come in
almost as many varieties as gold fish. There are gold ones, albinos albino
snails with black shells, black snails with white shells, some with spiral
patterns on their shells and at least one that I believe has had its shell
bleached. There is at least one variety that gets incredibly large for a
fresh water snail. Actually about the size of a tennis ball. They have
relatively thick shells. These are very active snails, they consume huge
quantities of vegetation.  I watched a medium specimen wipe out a 2.5 gal
tank full of java moss in one day. It started sucking down one strand and
did not stop until it had consumed everything. It was like watching a
cartoon character eat spaghetti.  Another small golden apple snail I had ate
over 1 cu inch of riccia per day. These snails actually prefer plant
material to algae.  They require very good water quality, actually better
than many killifish and will die quickly if water changes are missed.  I
tend to recall these snails also eating dead fish so I would hazard the
guess that they would make short work of killifish eggs.  Due to the water
quality concerns and their voracious appetites they are best kept in larger
tanks. I would avoid putting them in with any valuable plants.

The second group of Pilidae snail is the so called giant ramshorns, (Pilidae
Marissa). These snails are not related to their smaller counterparts they
are actually more closely related to an apple snail. They will also eat
plants and eggs but are much less destructive than the round apple snails.
They will eat algae and plants, but they seem to have a preference to algae
whereas the other apple snails almost prefer plants.

The snails I have mentioned are usually tropical and as such may be shipped
interstate without difficulty in most of the United States. They are egg
layers that deposit an mass of eggs ABOVE the water line.

The next trap door snail is the "large pond snail" group (the true Mystery
Snails), family Vivipardidae. This includes the Giant Japanese (that I
occasionally collect in the summer), a Chinese variety one with a heart
shaped foot that is supposedly indigenous to the northern US east coast and
a few more similar species that are native to the southern United States.
The Giant Jap gets about 1.5 inches in diameter and of course they have trap
doors. These snails can be differentiated from the apple snails in that they
are usually more elongated than the apples. They are livebearers that
produce one to two pea size offspring at a time. The Giant Japs do not eat
most aquatic plants. They eat primarily algae. They do not hunt fish eggs.
They have no patterns on their shells but do have tinges of red or orange on
their bodies. They also have one set of shorter antennae and lack the mouth
barbels common to apple snails. These are vastly superior to most other
snails used with killies. They never over populate, both good and bad for
those who want more. Supposedly the Giant Japs were the original mystery
snail.  Some of these snails like the Giant Japs are NOT TROPICAL. If
released they can populate an outdoor back yard pond and/or local body of
water. For that reason they are not usually commercially available often. I
might add that when these snails close up you need a water change! Within a
week after the snails refuse to open your fish will start dying. They can
also tolerate a reasonable amount of salt in the water.

The final group that I have encountered is a medium black snail with a white
swirl pattern in its shell, Possibly Viviparus Georgianus. It is a very
round snail. I have seen them only twice, once in a LFS where all were dead
or dying and the other was in a Chinese restaurant where they were
exceptionally tasty.  I have never kept one so I can not comment further on
them.  Next time I stop by the Chinese restaurant I might just have a talk
with the cook.

My research and experience indicates that there are several snails sold
under the heading "trap door snail" that are actually very different
animals. Some are great killifish tank snails others should be avoided. If
your goal is to eliminate plants use the apple snails. But keep in mind they
are voracious and you will have to keep feeding them after the plants are
gone. For Killie applications, use the "large pond snail" type what they
lack in color they make up for in personality.

Peace,

~RJ~

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-killietalk at aka_org [mailto:owner-killietalk at aka_org]On
Behalf Of William Ruyle
Sent: Wednesday, January 01, 2003 3:04 PM
To: killietalk at aka_org
Subject: Re: Trap Door Snails


Frank,
The ones I kept in Maine were the dark brown or black variety. Going to be
looking for the gold ones Gary mentioned. They can grow to roughly the size
of a golf ball and the shell is a fat and short spiral and underneath
is a circular trapdoor that will be absolutely shut tight in their dormant
period, but slightly ajar as I mentioned before, if they are dead. The body
color (when they are out in "full sail" cruising the glass) is dark gray or
brown for the variety I kept. If you have hard water (which I didn't in
Maine) they should be easy to keep. I'm going to be trying Gary's idea of
the cucumber slices.
HTH,
Bill
forest at copper_net

----- Original Message -----
From: <YoHoHo at aol_com>
To: <KillieTalk at aka_org>
Sent: Wednesday, January 01, 2003 1:32 PM
Subject: Re: Trap Door Snails


> How do I know if the snails ARE trap door snails?  Will they be marked as
> such?  What do they look like that distinguishes them from other species?
>                  o
>             *
>              o
>            *
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> ~~~~~~~~~~<**)))><\~~~~~~~~~~~
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Frank Carriglitto
> ChiKA, WAKO, AKA #08234
>
> > Subject: Re: Trap Door Snails
> >
> > Sandy --  Most of the Walmarts in St. Louis area have the black and the
> > golden trap door snails.  About $1.00 each.  If you buy any -- make sure
> > the clerk gets the ones that are up on the glass.  Usually the ones
lying
> > on the bottom are dead.  Walmart starves them.
> >
> > Feed the snails very thin cucumber slices as soon as you get them home
> > and I suggest you quarantine them for a while.   I personnally don't
> > think ramshorn are as good for infusoria . Good luck !
> >
>
>
>
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