The ramshorn snail is a popular freshwater aquarium snail. By themselves, they make for great pets, but they can also share an aquarium with fish and shrimp. Here’s everything you need to know about ramshorn snails.

Care Level:Easy
Color Form:Black or red
Lifespan:1-3 years
Size:Up to an inch
Minimum Tank Size:5 gallons
Tank Set-Up:Freshwater with live plants
Compatibility:Peaceful community
Species Summary


Ramshorn Snails are peaceful animals. They spend most of their time scavenging for food and generally avoid other fish and snails. Because of their peaceful nature, they can share a tank with lots of different tank mates. Of course, avoid species that are known to eat snails.

They do love to eat plants so they might pose a risk to delicate aquarium plants. Ramshorn snails sometimes nibble at plants if they can’t find other food sources. So, delicate, slow-growing plants may not survive alongside these snails in the same aquarium.

Ramshorn snails are air-breathing snails and will sometimes move to the surface to take in oxygen. They use the air in their shell to seemingly ‘walk on water’. Though, they can quickly expel all the air in their shells to sink to the bottom of the tank to avoid danger.


Ramshorn snails in the Planorbidae family are either of two main colorations: black or red. 
Black ramshorn snails have melanin (a very dark pigment) in their skin. Red ramshorn snails lack melanin, so they appear red (a reflection of their blood).

Interestingly, most snails have green hemoglobin (green blood). The ramshorn snail, however, produces red hemoglobin. There are also some that are pink or blue due to selective breeding. But, these varieties are rare.

Their shells can be translucent to black and every shade between. Their diet influences the color of their shells.
A ramshorn shell is circular with sinistral spirals (opening slants to the right). Since these snails are air-breathing, they do not have an operculum.

In the aquarium hobby, they are very small though their shells can grow up to an inch in diameter.
There is no difference in appearance between male and female ramshorn snails because they can reproduce sexually or asexually. Only one snail is needed to produce more snails.


How big do ramshorn snails get? Ramshorn snails can grow to up to four centimeters (1.5 inches) in size. You can tell a snail’s age by the size and thickness of the shell. The larger and thicker the shell, the older the snail tends to be.


The average lifespan of a healthy ramshorn snail is about one year. There are instances where a ramshorn snail can live over a year but this is rare.


Ramshorn snails spend most of their time eating detritus, plant matter, and leftover fish food. They also eat soft algae that grow on hard surfaces. As pets, a ramshorn snail can help keep the aquarium clean. You can supplement their diet with a variety of fish flakes, pellets, bottom feeder tablets, algae wafers, and calcium-rich supplements.

Algae Eating

Ramshorn snails will eat soft green algae and sometimes soft brown algae. Other types of algae are too hard for ramshorn snails to eat—for example, Green Spot Algae.


  • Common Ramshorn Snail
  • Red Ramshorn Snail
  • Blue Ramshorn Snail
  • Pink Ramshorn Snail


Ramshorn snails are prolific breeders. These snails lay their egg clutches on hard surfaces like the tank wall, plants, and fish tank decorations. Ramshorn snails’ egg clutches are transparent and jelly-looking. It doesn’t take long for the snails to fully develop and leave the egg patch.


Well-fed ramshorn snails grow fast. With sufficient calcium in their diet, they grow thick and healthy shells. Underfed and lacking in calcium, the snails tend to grow slower and their shells show signs of wear and tear. Thus, it is important to supplement their diet with calcium-based food.

Tank Mates

The ramshorn snail is peaceful, so it is best to keep them with other peaceful aquarium pets. When threatened, ramshorn snails retreat to their shells for protection. Here are some good tanks mates for ramshorn snails:

Freshwater aquarium fish like:

Other Snails:

Some species of aquarium shrimp:

Never keep ramshorn snails in the same tanks with aggressive fish or crustaceans. Cichlids, goldfish, or other aggressive fish can harm the small defenseless snail. Aquarium crayfish like Hammers Cobalt Blue Lobster and Tangerine Lobster are also not good tank mates because they can capture and eat a slow Ramshorn Snail.

Tank Size

Ramshorn snails can live in most tank sizes. For example, small tanks between 5 to 10-gallons are ok. As a general rule, the more aquatic animals you keep, the large the aquarium you need. Their small size means you do not need a big tank to keep a large number. If you only have Ramshorn snails in your tank, you could fit 1-2 per gallon, but reduce this in a community. It’s important not to overload your filtration system.

Water Parameters

Ramshorn snails prefer consistent water conditions. That is water conditions with no sudden fluctuations in temperature and acidity. Good water conditions allow for healthy snails and proper growth of their shells. These snails can thrive in clear waters as well as murky habitats. For best results, try to stick to the following water parameters:

  • Aquarium pH: 7.0 – 7.5.
  • Hardness: On the hard side.
  • Water Temperature: 70 – 78 Degrees Fahrenheit
  • Lighting: Normal tank lighting

Things To Consider

How To Buy Healthy Ramshorn Snails

As with other species of freshwater snails, you should look for active ramshorn snails that cling to hard surfaces. Baby ramshorn snails tend to have small shells and are a bit transparent. Adult ramshorn snails have large and thick shells.

Check that the ramshorn snail that you are buying has two tentacles at the top of its head. Healthy ramshorn snails are active, moving about the aquarium in search of food, or eating.

Do not buy snails that are kept in tanks with other dead snails or dead aquatic animals. Do not buy snails that are floating or not stuck to a hard surface. Snails that are motionless on the tank bottom are more than likely dead.

If you are buying online, be sure to read the reviews and make sure that you are ordering from a trusted online fish store.

Live Plants

There are reports that ramshorn snails eat live plants. But, well-fed snails generally won’t eat live plants. Plants that have durable leaves and stems are safe choices if you are concerned. For example, the Anubias Barteri is a hardy plant that does well in snail tanks.


Dead ramshorn snails sink to the tank bottom. If your ramshorn snail is at the bottom of the aquarium and has not moved in quite some time, it is more than likely dead. The shell of the ramshorn snail may start to thin, and holes can form. It’s best to remove the dead snail from the tank.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Ramshorn Snails Good?

Once the population of ramshorn snails is manageable, they are good tank cleaners. They eat algae, plant matter, and other debris. But, if their numbers get out of control they can become a pest.

Do Ramshorn Snails reproduce asexually?

Yes. Ramshorn Snails can reproduce asexually. A single Snail can lay a cluster of eggs that hatch into a few dozen new snails. Eggs and live Snails often come with live plants unbeknownst to the owner.

How long do Ramshorn snails live?

The average lifespan of a healthy ramshorn snail is about one year. There are instances where a ramshorn snail can live over a year but this is rare.

Are Ramshorn snails invasive?

Since ramshorn snails are highly adaptable to extreme water conditions, added to their prolific rate of reproduction, the ramshorn snail is an invasive species; although they have become unnaturally assimilated into environments, their presence has become accepted as part of the ecosystem in many places.

What will eat Ramshorn snails?

Some aquarium species will eat ramshorn snails. More voracious eaters include puffers, loaches (such as the clown loach or any other member of the genus Botia), crayfish, and most gouramis— though many other fish will also consume snail meat.


Video: Ramshorn Snail Care Guide