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FAQs on Snails in Freshwater Aquarium: Physa, Physella spp., Tadpole Snails

Related Articles: Snails and Freshwater Aquariums by Bob Fenner,  In vertebrates for Freshwater Aquariums by Neale Monks, Assassin Snails and Sulawesi Elephant Snails. Keeping Clea and Tylomelania in the Aquarium by Neale Monks, Fresh and Brackish Water Nerites by Neale Monks, 

Related FAQs:  Freshwater Snails 1, Freshwater Snails 2, & FAQs on: Freshwater Snail Identification, Freshwater Snail Behavior, Freshwater Snail Compatibility, Freshwater Snail Selection, Freshwater Snail Systems, Freshwater Snail Feeding, Freshwater Snail Disease, Freshwater Snail Reproduction, Snails by Species: Mystery Snails, Malaysian/Trumpet Snails, Ramshorn Snails,

Snail identification.        12/9/15
Just picked up some Cabomba and I saw this little fella in the isolation tank.
It moves amazingly fast.
<See WWM re Physa, Physella.... Tadpole Snails. Bob Fenner>
Sent with Alien Technology.... They are watching you.........through your own camera.

Snail identification RMF's try       10/20/15
I am hoping you can help me identify this guy. He and about 30+ of his tiny sibling managed to make there way into my new tank. I'm thinking the eggs were hidden in a new plant...I soaked the plant in a salt bath before adding it to the tank, but I kept the roots out of the salt. I am guessing the eggs were somewhere near the roots. Ah well, lesson learned. Anyway, I
have been removing the tiny little specs as I see them appear, but last night when conducting a water change I found 3 that were large enough to actually get a picture of. I am not opposed to keeping some around, but I want to know what I'm getting into. I hoping you can tell me what species they are and any info on the breeding behavior is appreciated. I looked
through the site and the shape of the shell looks sort of like the tadpole snail, but I'm not sure. I'm in the US if that helps. Thanks so much!
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwsnailidfaqs.htm
Looks to me to be a Physa, Physella sp. Bob Fenner>
Snail identification Neale's go        10/20/15

I am hoping you can help me identify this guy. He and about 30+ of his tiny sibling managed to make there way into my new tank. I'm thinking the eggs were hidden in a new plant...I soaked the plant in a salt bath before adding it to the tank, but I kept the roots out of the salt. I am guessing the eggs were somewhere near the roots. Ah well, lesson learned. Anyway, I
have been removing the tiny little specs as I see them appear, but last night when conducting a water change I found 3 that were large enough to actually get a picture of. I am not opposed to keeping some around, but I want to know what I'm getting into. I hoping you can tell me what species they are and any info on the breeding behavior is appreciated. I looked
through the site and the shape of the shell looks sort of like the tadpole snail, but I'm not sure. I'm in the US if that helps. Thanks so much!
<Is indeed a "tadpole snail" of some sort... Physa or Physella species are most common in aquaria. Generally harmless, rarely multiply to pest levels, seem to be readily eaten by suitably predatory fish (loaches, Synodontis, puffers, etc.). I personally don't worry about them, they're not like Melanoides spp. that breed wildly, nor like Apple Snails that destroy
plants. Cheers, Neale.>


Snail I.D.    6/1/14
<Oh yeah... read here:

Bob Fenner>
I was hoping you could help me identify this snail, we bought duckweed from a local(Ohio) garden center and after placing the duckweed into it's own tank(to grow more). I noticed we had snails crawling around,
they will crawl on the underside of a translucent slim at the water level. all up and down the sides of the tank. the eggs look like clear gel globs. the one pictured is about medium size of the ones I have seen.
Thank you for any help, I definitely want to know what I am dealing with.

I found this in my aquarium - 5/9/2012
I found this in my aquarium. It is an established aquarium (about 9 months), is it a snail? I have had to Chinese algae eaters die in the past two weeks :( I have removed it from the aquarium and it is isolated in a small 1 gallon tank. I have seen little tiny white things swimming in the little tank with this thing. Are my Gourami at risk? Please help !!! Thank you, Pam
WWM: Hmm… freaky? No. It's a snail; likely Physa or Physella sp. Harmless. Generally don't even damage plants, and I think they're cute and amusing. Don't even breed that quickly, but if you're fussed, remove, squish to kill, and drop in the compost. Cheers, Neale.

Snails!   3/20/12
First off, I love your website and have learned so much reading it.  I have a problem, though, that I'm having trouble finding information for.
I recently bought some plants from a local fish shop and (surprise, surprise) snails hitchhiked into my aquarium.  Info on my aquarium - I have a 20 gallon long aquarium with three small (green?) Cory cats, six neon tetras, six mature guppies and around ten babies (the female is going back to the fish shop as well as most of the babies, once they grow large enough to move), and a male sword.  I keep the water temperature at 77 degrees and the water is slightly basic (it stays around a 7.8 and the water I use in water changes has the same pH).  I have recently started to try and grow plants in the aquarium.
 My substrate is gravel ( I wanted to switch to a sand substrate but I was afraid to do that with the aquarium already set up and containing fish).  I have noticed different snails at different times over the last week and I cannot tell if they are just hiding well or if they are dying off.  I was not wanting snails, but now that I got stuck with them, I'd hate to kill them off without good reason.
At first, I saw some sort of trumpet snail, though I haven't seen him since.  Last night I saw four snails, all seemingly of the same species (or at least genera).  Today I was only able to find three, but I became worried when I saw something black and antenna-like sticking out the wrong end of one snail!  The snail seemed to have a hole in its shell at the apex, and had squishy stuff coming out of it.
He disappeared on me and I haven't found him again.  I started to closely observe the other two snails visible in my tank, and got even more worried when I saw that their shells are translucent. 
<New, young>
They seem to be pond snails, perhaps tadpole snails (I've attached a picture of one from today).
<Looks like Physa...>
  Is the translucency of the shell natural, or is it a sign of sick snails?
<At this pH... likely natural... there could be a biomineral deficiency here, but I doubt it>
  Should I be doing anything special to care for the snails, or will food not eaten by the fish be plenty for them to eat?
<The latter>
 I'm a newbie to aquarium care - how easy is it for the snails to get out of hand and overtake my aquarium? 
<Heeee! A bit too easy in most cases>
I feel responsible for the snails now that they are in my aquarium, but if they are going to be bad for all of the aquarium, I will look for ways to get rid of them (the lettuce trick seems safest for everyone).
<Yes; agreed>
 I'm assuming I will need to kill them one I remove them from the tank so that they don't get accidentally released into local rivers.
<Yes... put in a plastic bag, in the freezer... painless... and place this in your solid/landfill trash bin later>
 Oh and one more question - do I need to worry about accidentally sending snails into the local river during water changes?
<Not if the water is drained onto your lawn, or placed in your house plants... The toilet is likely safe as well>
 I'm now worried that tiny snails or eggs might get sucked up and go down the drain without me noticing them.
Thank you for any help you are able to give!
<Certainly welcome. Oh, do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnails.htm
and the linked files above when you can make time. Bob Fenner>

Curious Pond Snail Behaviour 1/7/12
Hello great WWM folks. I just want to say thanks in advance for reading this email!
I currently have a 10 gallon cycled tank. All parametres are fine as per my last testing, and I do partial water changes once a week to once every 10 days.  I had in my tank 3 zebra Danios, and a little hitch hiker pond snail that came along as a tiny baby on a live plant I bought back in the summer.
Things have been good all along and after my tank finally stabilized, and I was sure it was cycled thoroughly, I decided to add a few more fish in there. I came home with 2 black swordtails,
<Mmm, Swords need more room than a ten gallon>
2 red wag tail platys, and a rock shrimp.
<May eat your snail>

 This was about 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately, the platys which had just arrived at the fish store that day turned out to all have Ich and as soon as I realized one was acting weird, I segregated it from the rest of the tank, and sure enough it got the spots a few days later. Yes, I realize I should have quarantined the fish first, my mistake. Now, I have gone through Ich before and it took a long time for my tank to recover from the treatment so I am being a bit stubborn about treating the whole tank.
I suffered through a lot of problems early on and don't want to wipe out all the good bacteria that has formed in my tank, not to mention, I now have invertebrates in there to consider.
<Ah yes>
Long story short, I got rid of both platys an the rest of the fish seem to be fine now. I know the Ich could still spring up, but so far so good for now. The problem is that my snail seems to be acting strange. It always used to be out and about before, and the last few days, I don't see it anymore.
I know they are typically more active at night, but this little guy would be visible during the day a lot and now it just kind of hides. I took a flashlight and saw it in the roots of my java fern just kind of sitting there and when I poked it, it didn't move. I tried to pick it up with my tongs and put it down on the gravel and it came out and started moving.
However, it just went back under the long the plant is attached to and I didn't see it again for another couple of days. I went looking for it again today, and I see it stuck on the glass near the bottom of the tank but it is all inside the shell and hasn't moved in hours. Is this normal? I am entertaining a few ideas here.
<Depends on the species... some do slow down during the cold times of the year... But it might be bothered by the shrimp>
1.) It is going into a period of dormancy I have read about in my research on the subject;
<Possibly... is this a Pomacea sp.?>
2.) It is stressed because of the new additions to the tank and it is unhappy;
3.) It is sick, or dying although I'm not sure why since I have also read inverts don't get Ich, and nothing else has changed in the tank aside from the Ich and new fish.
4.) Tank temp too hot? I wouldn't think this would be it since it is only at 79, which is a degree higher than normal.
<I'd keep this in the low 70's F for all you've listed, unless you're using elevated temperature as a treatment>
Is there anything I can do to see if I can bring about a change?
<The above>
Also, I am curious as to why this snail hasn't had any babies yet.
<It may not be a monoecious species... i.e. it may take two to tango>
 I have had it since the summer, and from what I have read, pond snails are pests in the tank because they procreate too much.
<... again... what species? Physa?>
 It's kind of strange that it hasn't (though I'm not complaining!) and I am pretty sure this is the species I have based on all the pictures I have looked up on the internet.
<May be too hot to reproduce>
Anyways, thank you again for taking the time to read this. I hope you have a wonderful weekend coming up!
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Re: Curious Pond Snail Behaviour   1/8/12
Hi Bob, thanks for the quick reply!
<Welcome Syl>
Today, I saw that my snail had moved from its position on the glass and is here and there in the tank. At least that means it is still alive. From what I see thus far, the rock shrimp doesn't seem to be bothered with the snail as I have never seen it anywhere near the snail. That is not to say it doesn't bother the snail when I am not looking, of course. That said, I was told at the pet store that the shrimp would not bother the snail. I know, I know, fish stores say a lot of things not necessarily true...
As for the sword tails, I suspect you are right! I see that there is way too much poop coming out of these creatures and that while they are small in size, their output may be too much for the water quality in my tank. I used to be able to get away with water changes ever 10 days or so but now, the water is constantly full of turds floating around, and I thought the rock shrimp was supposed to be a clean up crew but some of its excrements are several inches long! Not sure I am liking all this.
I originally kept my tank at 78 because I had a Betta in there. Since there is no longer that concern, I will slowly decrease the temperature. That said, I hope the lower temperature won't encourage the snail to get busy so to speak. As for species, I have no clue but I am guessing it is a pond snail by all the pictures I looked up.
<This does appear to be a Physa species... often called pond snails>
 I did capture some shots of it in my tank and attached one in this email. Hopefully you can identify it. Maybe it is not what I thought and would explain that it doesn't reproduce asexually.
<Mmm, these snails are hermaphroditic... perhaps yours will be active in this sense as well w/ lowered temp.>
Again, thanks for taking the time here and I will see if I can get the pet store to take back these sword tails. I'll try for something more suitable to my tank size, and quarantine them first this time around!
<Thank you for this follow-up. BobF>

Pond Snails. stkg./sel.   10/17/11
Hello there!
I've been reading lots of information on your website with regards to pest snails and what's best to do.
My current situation that I would appreciate advice on is this:
So it's the same old story, so snails hitch hiked their way to my tank on a plant. The snails I caught (wanted to avoid killing them) are presently living in a tub with some cut off's from the plant and the odd fish flake to eat. I gave the main plant itself a salty-warm bath, to eradicate anything else, given it a through clean and have put it back in the tank after giving it a weeks quarantine. So all is well there.
The snails also laid some eggs in their little tub. So yesterday I was doing a quick clean (with a little pipette just sucking up the dirt) and I was very careful to avoid the eggs (they'd fallen off the plant they were
originally hanging on and were lying on the bottom) I then topped up the water a little bit. However today I cannot see the eggs any more, they seem to have disappeared?
<Mmm, maybe>
There are no baby snails, as I doubt the eggs would have hatched after 5 days. So not sure what happened there?
<Could be just very small at this point; too small, transparent to see>
I was also considering taking the snails to my parents house, to live in the ponds at their house. They have 2 wild life ponds, with mainly frogs and newts. Would it be safe to release the snails there?
<Mmm, please don't do this. These are highly unlikely indigenous... You could/might well be spreading a pest... Or worse; many gastropods are vectors/carriers of parasitic disease... some for humans>
I've read mixed things about it, some say no as snails may or may not carry diseases, or some say yes, that they are a good addition?
<In general not.>
Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdsnailwgm.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Pond Snails   10/20/11

Thanks so much!
<Welcome Aimee>
I had briefly read that article, but I've now realised my snails fall in the 'un wanted' category of belonging to the Physa species.
Is it okay to continue looking after them in the tub they currently reside in, or should I kill them?
<Up to you...>
I've heard of people keeping snails in buckets and the tub they currently have is like a mini bucket, 125mm across the entire top and 130mm high, usually filled about half way (there is also a lid with small holes to stop any escapee's).
There's only 3 snails (that are currently sized around 7mm in length) and I imagine the population will be fairly easy to control as I will spot eggs and can then keep or destroy them depending on numbers?
<You'll see>
I was considering moving them into a 21 litre tank that will be available sometime early next year (maybe keeping a few guppies or Betta with them?
Or will they just kill the snails?)
<They'll all get along>
only issue really is that the top of the tank has grates, so I imagine they may try to escape and/or the population may be difficult to control, losing track of how many are in there?
<Highly unlikely an issue>
I know it may sound a bit crazy looking after snails that are considered pests, but they are so interesting to watch and observe and their shells have such lovely colours and patterns! What do you think would be best to do?
<I have this genus of Gastropod...>
I'm a bit unsure on which option is best to take!
<Then wait till you are sure. BobF>
Thanks, I appreciate the help!

Freshwater snail I.D. 9/22/11
Hi crew,
Would you mind trying to I.D. this snail for me?
It would appears that some hitched a ride in on some plants that I ordered which have been in a cycling, unstocked (fish) tank for one week. This is the biggest (about 0.5 cm long), but a few more 'babies' seem to appear each day (last count ~10 individuals visible).
Should I remove them or let them be?
I live in Singapore, if that helps your I.D. attempts.
Cheers and thank you so much for your time,
<It's a Physa or Physella species, of the sort often called Tadpole Snails.
They're basically harmless and feed on algae (diatoms, primarily) and organic detritus. Some people report damage to plants, but I have them in my planted tanks and they never seem to do any noticeable harm. They do breed fairly quickly, laying jelly-like masses of eggs, but they rarely become plagues in the same way as Melanoides spp. snails can do. I think they're rather fun to watch and add character to an aquarium. Cheers, Neale.>

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