Adding Ramshorn Snails to Your Betta Fish Tank. What you need to know.

I’m a biologist with extensive experience in snail care, and one of the many types I love is the Ramshorn snail (and Greater Ramshorn snail). 

These snails make an excellent addition to your betta aquarium, thanks to their unobtrusive, peaceful natures.

In this article, I’ll share some of my personal experiences with this species, including their diet, breeding habits, and compatibility with other species (spoiler alert: keeping ramshorn snails and betta fish together is an excellent idea).

Key Take-aways

  • Ramshorn snails are from the Americas and live in freshwater environments.
  • They have a characteristic ram’s horn shape and vary in color and size.
  • Ramshorn snails are peaceful nocturnal animals and feed on algae and detritus.
  • They love kelp tablets, spirulina, lettuce leaves, kale, and commercial snail foods.
  • For setting up an aquarium, use broadleaf plants, sand, gravel or basalt substrate, maintain specific water parameters and avoid copper-based medications.
  • They overpopulate easily. Monitor their numbers and limit feeding if nesseccery.
  • They can cohabit with peaceful fish like Betta fish in a 5-gallon tank.

Ramshorn Snail And Great Ramshorn Snail Natural Habitat And Origin

Ramshorn snails originate in the Americas but have been introduced to many parts of the world. In the wild, they live in ponds, swamps, streams, and slow-moving parts of rivers. They prefer calm, shallow waters where they can easily feed on algae and detritus. 

They generally live in freshwater environments, though they can sometimes be found in the brackish waters of some coastal regions.

Unfortunately, their high level of adaptability means that they can quickly become invasive and have a negative impact on natural ecosystems by displacing native species.

They’ve been introduced into many areas thanks to release by irresponsible aquarium owners.

Ramshorn Snail Vs. Great Ramshorn Snail Appearance

There are many different species and colors of Ramshorn Snail.

The most common species are Planorbarius corneus and Helisoma trivolvis, which belong respectively to the families Planorbidae and Ampullariidae.

Great Ram’s-horn (Planorbarius corneus) by Michel Langeveld (CC BY-SA 4.0)

These snails’ shells have a characteristic ram’s horn shape, from which the name is derived. The shells can vary in size, from 0.5 to 5 centimeters in diameter, depending on the species. 

Shell color ranges from dark brown to red, blue, pink, gray, and black.

The shells may also have one or several turns, depending on the species.

Species in the family Ampullariidae are known as Greater Ramshorn Snails because they have larger, more robust shells than those in the family Planorbidae. 

Ampullariidae species also have an “operculum” that closes the shell opening, which species in the family Planorbidae lack.

Helisoma_trivolvis by Smithsonian Environmental Research Cente (CC BY 2.0)

Ramshorn Snail Behavior 

Like most aquatic snails, Ramshorn snails are peaceful nocturnal animals that move around and feed at night. They spend most of their time sleeping, breeding, or hunting food remnants.

Although they’re primarily aquatic, they have the ability to emerge from the water in search of food or to breathe atmospheric air.

How To Set Up Your Tank For Ramshorn Snail

Here are my top tips for setting up your ramshorn snail aquarium.

  • Plants – These snails like having access to plenty of broadleaf plants they can hide under and explore.
  • Substrate – Substrates with a relatively coarse size are best, but some finer options will work too. Consider options like sand, gravel, and basalt.
  • Temperature –  68-82°F (20-28°C)
  • pH – 7.0-7.5
  • Hardness – Moderate

You should also ensure your aquarium has:

  • A secure lid to keep the snails in the tank. 
  • An adequate light source to keep plants healthy and promote photosynthesis.

Finally, it’s worth noting that both Ramshorn Snails and Greater Ramshorn Snails are sensitive to copper. Don’t use any copper-based medications in your aquarium, as this can be fatal for your snails.

Diet In The Wild And Diet In An Aquarium

Ramshorn Snails and Great Ramshorn Snails are omnivores. They’re entirely opportunistic and will eat everything from algae to diatoms and decaying plants.

Helisoma trivolvis by Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (CC BY 2.0)

In captivity, you can feed them an array of options, including:

  • Kelp tablets
  • Spirulina
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Kale
  • Cooked veggies like zucchini or carrots. 

I’d also recommend offering commercial snail foods with calcium and protein supplements. 

Because they’re opportunists, they may consume other organisms in their aquariums, like smaller snails and their eggs.

How Do Ramshorn Snails Reproduce? Can They Cause Snail Overpopulation?

Ramshorn snails are hermaphrodites that can self-fertilize or mate with another snail. 

They deposit their eggs en masse on hard surfaces like plants or aquarium decor. Around two weeks later, the eggs hatch and release many tiny snails.

Ramshorn snails can easily overpopulate an aquarium. To avoid this, carefully monitor the number of snails in the tank and limit how much you feed them. 

If necessary, remove some snails by hand or temporarily introduce natural predators like killer snails or snail-eating fish to control the population.

Ramshorn Snail Compatibility With Betta Fish

As long as you don’t keep them with predatory fish or invertebrates, you shouldn’t struggle to find tankmates for them.

One option worth considering is the Betta. These fish rarely show aggression towards snails and can benefit from the ramshorn snail’s algae-eating abilities.

The snail will use the bottom layer of the tank, while betta fish usually dwell in the middle of the tank.

However, remember that aquarium size is an essential factor for successful cohabitation. In small spaces, Bettas can become territorial and aggressive.

Planorbarius corneus by Leonhard Lenz (CC BY-SA 4.0)

I’d recommend having an aquarium of at least five gallons.

Where Or How Do You Get Them?

Ramshorn Snails and Great Ramshorn Snails are a popular type of pet snail and can easily be found at sales outlets like:

  • Pet stores
  • Online aquarium retailers 
  • Specialty aquarium stores
  • Online retailers like eBay and Amazon.
  • Local aquarists selling off excess stock.

Carefully check the snails’ condition when they arrive to ensure you received healthy animals.

Ramshorn Snail (And Great Ramshorn Snail) Special Considerations

If you want to keep Ramshorn Snails or Great Ramshorn Snails, you should keep a few things in mind:

  1. In the US, releasing these snails into the wild is illegal. You should keep your snails carefully enclosed and never get rid of any aquarium substrate, plants, or debris in a way that could unknowingly introduce ramshorn snails into the wild.
  2. Ensure that your Ramshorn Snails and Great Ramshorn Snails consume sufficient minerals, especially calcium, to ensure they stay healthy. Mineral shortages can lead to disease and negatively impact shell formation.
from Freshwater and Marine Image Bank


Ramshorn snails are wonderful animals that can make a fascinating introduction to your aquarium. As long as you meet a few basic needs and don’t combine them with animals that like to eat snails.

Remember that these animals can multiply quickly, and always have a plan for getting rid of your excess. You can prevent breeding if you only keep a single Ramshorn snail with your betta.

About the author

Hi, I am Marcelo.

I am fascinated with researching and writing about fish.
I have a degree in biology (herpetologist) and animal science (zootechnics) specializing in ornamental fish and South American biotopes.

You can find the articles I wrote here.

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