Aquarium snails are often seen as pests because they reproduce so quickly and can take over a tank. However, apple snails are often sought out by hobbyists because of their unique characteristics.
Apple snails are native to South and Central America, Africa and southern Asia. A new variety was introduced to Taiwan in the 1980s where it was hoped it would become a protein source for the population. However, it carried a parasite that transferred to the people and later escaped and became a pest in the rice fields.
Size and Appearance
Apple snails can grow to be 6-inches long. According to Apple Snails.net, they are the biggest, living freshwater snails. They come in a variety of colours. The common yellow colour (golden apple snail) gives it the appearance of an apple.
Unlike other snail varieties, the apple snail is gonochoristic and not able to reproduce on its own. Females lay eggs in the tank and a male is needed for reproduction, as well as prime conditions for the eggs. This makes their reproduction much slower than other snail species and less likely to overtake a tank.
Apple snails consume vegetation and will also consume fish food. If they are kept in a planted tank they may start to eat the plants. Some apple snail variations are less likely to eat aquarium plants. Snails need water with calcium in it to maintain their shells. They can live in most tropical water temperatures. The warmer it is, the faster they move and eat.
Because of their eating habits, hobbyists enjoy having apple snails as part of their aquarium cleanup crew. They help keep the aquarium clean while not reproducing in masses. They also get along with many community fish.
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