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 Assassin Snail Factoids

Original Origin

Southeast Asia

Origin Now

Fish farms and from hobbyists' tanks

Size Under an inch
Longevity 2 to 5 years (estimated)

Temperature

Room temperature works fine

Attitude

Moves around a lot

Security

Tough shell plus burrows into the gravel

Foods

Snails and other organic substances in reach

Water

Prefers hard water   pH immaterial.

Breeding

Males and females.  Not a fast reproducer -- few eggs at a time

Threats Copper, salt, and snail eating fishes

LA
That's not a snorkel breathing tube like you see on mysteries, apples, and the Cousteau crew.

LA

Prologue.  I found out about these little guys late last year -- maybe November.  I saw their name on a wholesale list and couldn't resist.  I always order a half-dozen of any moderately priced critters I've never seen.  I have very little trouble resisting fifty buck plecos.  But these little assassin snails don't cost much -- unless you buy them by the pound.

LA
My first batch of assassin snails -- one DOA, five alive.

Size.  Assassin snails come in at about half an inch.  They reputedly grow to almost an inch, but I haven't had mine that long.  They've grown a bit, but at a snail's pace -- as might be expected.  Part of the problem -- I wasn't sure what they ate.  So I fed them sinking fish food like all sensible snails eat.

LA
Interesting shell.

Not Unattractive.  Definitely on the small side, assassin snails can be difficult to find.  They're not common and sometimes they disappear into the gravel.  In a planted aquarium, you'll likely miss them altogether.  However, they look good once you find them.

LA
Sinking cichlid pellets were ignored.

LA
Much harder to tell if flakes were nibbled on.

Foods?  I'd heard of saltwater assassin snails but not in freshwater.  So the foods I tried were on the experimental side.  They got sinking cichlid pellets first.  Easy to keep track of.  Five assassin snails got five pellets.  Next day five pellets were growing filaments of saprolegnia.  Total water change, new aged water from a fish tank, and sinking fish food (Tetra Crisps poked so they'd sink).  Much harder to keep track of but they seemed to decrease in size over time and didn't mold out.  Couple days later they got a total cleaning and regular Aqualand flake food.  They seemed to do fine.  So I tried to order more.  No such luck.  Looked like they weren't going to be a retail snail if I couldn't get more.  After a month or so, some more finally came on the market and I doubled my herd.

LA
Lunch on the left -- a ramshorn snail.

Preferred Foods.  When I first got the assassin snails I couldn't find diddly about them on the net.  Still, I tried again later and found out some info.  They're supposed to prefer pond snails for lunch, then ramshorns, then Malaysian trumpet snails, in that order.  Not much will eat a trumpet snail, however I didn't want to mix them because of their similar physiognomies -- in this instance, their shells not their faces.  I gave them some pond snails and some ramshorns.  I did not see the mass destruction as I was promised on the web, so three days later I added some flake food for the added snails.  After a week or so, I saw some empty snail shells.

LA
Assassin snail in between two empty harvested snail shells.

Not Cannibals?  Reputedly assassin snails do not dine on other assassin snails.  Frankly, I would not trust them if they ever run short on their regular rations.  As far as I'm concerned, that particular jury is still sequestered.  Assassin snails apparently do not eat algae or other plants.  They will grudgingly eat dead fish.

Odd Snail Behavior.  Assassin snails truck right along -- not at the traditional snail's pace.  The other snails evinced equally eerie behaviors, i.e., many of the potential food snails slid up out of the water -- above the water level almost the moment I dropped them into the water.  The assassin snails seemed to prefer the smaller snails -- maybe they're weaker and easier to overpower?  So rather than a pond, ramshorn, Malaysian preference, they prefer small, then medium, then large.

LA
Lots of room in a small plastic bare container.

LA
Assassin snails like to burrow into the sand (or at least try to burrow).  Not much sand here.

LA
Easy to tell where they've been.

LA
He's about three inches above the water line.  They will climb out and about.

LA
Pink paddletail eel in back.

Housing.  Initially, I put them in the smallest bare Critter Carrier with about a quart of water.  They did fine for a couple weeks.  After learning that they like to burrow in the sand, I added a one-third-inch of sand.  Everything proceeded apace except now I could see their trails in the sand.  The sand just made it a little more difficult to change their water.  If I had added lots of sand, it would have made them more difficult to keep an eye on.  Eventually I moved them to a massive 3.5 gallon tank with several food snails and a pink paddletail eel.  He was eating live California blackworms and the assassin snails should make a good clean up crew.

LA
Assassin snails can cruise across the water's surface.

Room at the Top.  Many snails learn to skim the surface to eat floating flake foods.  I've never seen assassin snails eat food from the surface, but they do the same "skimming."  Evidently, capillarity enables them to adhere to the surface tension.

LA
Crowded tank with too much food -- like any other snail behaves.  Time for a water change.

LA
Interesting looking critters.

LA

LA

Last Word.  Now that we know a bit more about them, we feel confident enough to order another couple dozen.  As mentioned earlier, they're reasonably priced.  And they do eat snails, even without the garlic butter sauce.  LA


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