The assassin snail ranks as a popular freshwater snail among aquarists. It is notorious for eating other snails, and it is an effective biological weapon against snail explosions.
Assassin snails are easy to take care of, and they won’t feed on your plants because they are strictly carnivorous.
While they won’t target your fish, assassin snails have been known to eat any slow-moving animal that is small enough to be seen as prey.
The shell of an assassin snail is cone-shaped and golden in color, with brown and yellow stripes wrapping around it. The design of the shell has led to the nickname “bumblebee snail.” The snail breathes via a siphon, which is a long tube extending from the shell. The operculum shuts off the shell when the assassin snail is hiding inside, and it can be seen from the top of the snail’s foot.
The body of the snail displays a light cream hue, with dark spots sprinkled throughout. A pair of short tentacles are attached to the head, and they help the snail to move around and look for food. Every tentacle is characterized by an eye at the end to sense light and motion.
An adult assassin snail will typically attain a length of around one inch, but some can grow to up to three inches. When buying the snails, you should identify individuals that appear active. The snail should be attached to a hard surface like the glass or decoration.
The assassin snail is a member of the Buccinidae family with its natural habitat in South-east Asia. Populations have been recorded in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. The snails prefer small bodies of water like ponds and muddy or sandy substrates. Its native waters are slightly alkaline and well-lit and are characterized by debris, rocks, and plants.
Assassin snails are carnivorous, and they will not eat the live plants or algae in your aquarium. These animals typically target snails without an operculum like the Ramshorn snails, although snails with the organ like the Trumpet snails can also be preys.
Assassin snails also eat soft snail eggs and shrimp fry. While larger snails like the Nerite and Japanese Trapdoor snails are mostly safe from the assassin snail, the case is not the same for their young ones. One or two daily snails will be enough to sustain the assassin snail, as they will also forage for any uneaten fish food.
If your tank runs out of snails, you can give the pet pellets that are high in protein. You can provide brine shrimp, bloodworms, and other live food. While other aquarists give assassin snails flakes and algae chips, their reproductive rate has been shown to slow down if their feed is poor in protein.
Water & Tank Requirements
Assassin snails should be kept in a minimum of 10 gallons, but the larger, the better. It is easier to maintain stable water parameters in a larger tank, and since the animals do not breathe air as other aquarium snails, they are intolerant of poor water quality.
You can keep two snails for every five gallons, and it is best to keep about five or six assassin snails in one tank. A 30-gallon tank will be ideal for a small group of the animal.
Assassin snails are not ideal candidates for immature tanks, and your aquarium should be well-established for several months. The snail does not like water that is too acidic or soft, and you should aim for a PH range of 7-8.
The appropriate temperature range is 75-80ºF. Lower temperatures can affect the growth of the snail’s shell and leave it stunted. You can add calcium into the water to promote the development of the shell since it can break if it is weak. Keep up with one or two water changes every week to ensure that your snails are healthy.
Ensure that any fertilizers or medications you add to your tank are free of copper. It would help if you also covered filter intakes to discourage the snails from getting caught up in them.
Assassin snails spend a lot of time concealed in the substrate waiting for prey. They also forage in the bottom looking for uneaten food, and it is recommended to use a soft substrate like sand. You can add any aquatic plants that will thrive in the same water parameters since the snails will leave them alone.
Assassin snails get along with each other, and you can add as many as you like, provided you do not overpopulate your aquarium.
Keeping the snails in a community aquarium is complicated by the fact that it is a carnivorous species. It will easily prey on smaller shrimp and snails, although you can keep bigger snails like the Nerite varieties.
Assassin snails pay little mind to fish, and you can keep them with neon tetras, guppies, angelfish, celestial danios, rainbowfish, gouramis, and cherry barbs. You can also couple the snails with peaceful scavengers like the Otocinclus catfish or Corydoras Catfish. Assassin snails are also kept with freshwater clams.
The snails are preyed upon by larger cichlids or other snail-eating fish species. Their operculum will protect them from being eaten, but they will become injured or even stressed by constant attacks.
Unlike many gastropods, assassin snails are not hermaphrodites. The snails have definite genders, but you cannot tell them apart with the naked eye. They breed easily in aquariums, and you can keep a group of them to increase the chances of having females and males in your setup.
You can prep them for mating by availing a lot of live foods. The snails couple up and lock together for about 12 hours. The female assassin lays one egg at a time, and deposits them on driftwood, decorations, or plants.
Assassin eggs are yellowish in color and are contained in a translucent enclosure. The eggs hatch in 20 to 30 days, after which the juveniles burrow in the substrate. You may not see the young assassins for months until they mature.
Assassin snails are often used to deal with pest-snail infestations. Their carnivorous tendencies make them poor candidates for controlling algae, but they are perfect for aquascaped tanks. Do not keep them with predatory fish species like large cichlids.