Please ID this snail stow­away

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Advice -

I bought a piece of decor with Mi­croso­rum at­tached for a tem­po­rary tank I have run­ning. Later, I spot­ted this snail and would be grate­ful if you could iden­tify it. There are two As­sas­sin snails in the same tank too. ANNE DEMBOWSKI, EMAIL

NEALE REPLIES: What you have there is a Tad­pole snail, ei­ther a Phy­sella or Physa species. Th­ese are small, air-breath­ing fresh­wa­ter snails, closely re­lated to the big Lym­naea snails of­ten seen in gar­den ponds.

Tad­pole snails, or Bub­ble snails, are usu­ally thought harm­less. They feed mainly on al­gae, es­pe­cially di­atoms, and also on or­ganic de­tri­tus scraped off solid sur­faces. They might nib­ble on very ten­der plants, and will cer­tainly go for dy­ing leaves, but oth­er­wise do lit­tle harm in planted tanks.

As with any snail, if con­di­tions are favourable, with lots of al­gae and un­eaten fish food, they may mul­ti­ply quickly and be­come a nui­sance.

Tad­pole snails lay their eggs on the glass in jelly-like lumps a few mil­lime­tres across. In­ex­pe­ri­enced aquar­ists may even mis­take th­ese for fish eggs! Th­ese lumps are easy to re­move with an al­gae scraper.

Your As­sas­sin snails will try to eat the Tad­pole snails given half a chance, but they do have an in­ter­est­ing de­fence. When ha­rassed, they grip the sub­strate firmly and thrash their shells about, dis­lodg­ing, or at least sur­pris­ing, their preda­tors!

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