• Name: Assassin Snail
  • Family: Pachychilidae
  • Species: Snail
  • Scientific Name: Clea helena
More Details

General

Control runaway snail populations with hired assassins! The Assassin Snail, or Snail Eating Snail, is a small, easy-to-keep freshwater invert completely harmless toward fish and shrimps, but quite effective in reducing nuisance snail explosions. 

Assassin snail is often called killer snail or bumblebee snail as well. However, its scientific name is Clea Helena or formerly known as Anentome Helena. Anentome Cleo is also famous among the aquarist. It has a gray body with dark spots on it and has a “cap” that covers its shell in case of danger. The feature of this snail kind is an elongated breathing tube that is always stretched forward as the killer snail moves. An Assassin Snail found in stores will generally be about 3/4 of an inch long. Under the right conditions, a well-fed, mature Assassin Snail can grow to be upwards of 3 inches. The lifespan is about 2-3 years. Depending on water conditions and food source, they can live up to 3 years.

Assassin snail is one of the easiest one to care for among other snails because it is rather enduring. It widely kept because it helps to maintain populations of some other freshwater snails in control. However, it just partially solves the problem and gives a temporal result. Assassin Snails should not be considered the only solution to snail population explosions. You can also prevent undesirable snails by removing excess uneaten food from the substrate by regular vacuuming.

Assassin Snail feeds on other freshwater snails, so sufficient numbers of edible snails have to be living in the tank as a food source. As long as water conditions are right, and the food is plentiful, assassin snail care is not too difficult. The keys are tank size and stability. The tank has to be sufficient size and capacity to support an adult snail’s life. An Assassin Snail does best in aquariums with healthy and stable parameters, and larger tanks have a greater capacity to absorb sudden changes and shifts than smaller tanks do. The aquarium should be at least 30 gallons in size. They do not breathe air like most other aquarium snails. Because of this, they are susceptible to the water quality. Assassin Snails are often kept in small groups of five or six, so factor that in as a multiplier when calculating how the population will tax a tank.

They require a soft substrate that allows them to burrow. Sand is generally the best choice, but numerous other substrates on the market will also work. Adult assassin snails spend much of their time in the substrate, and they often ambush other snails from their position of concealment there.

Since an Assassin Snail is very active, the habitat should have plenty of places to explore. 

Diet & Nutrition

Assassin snails are predators and scavengers which feed both on live snails and on carrion or decaying organics, and this is what made them popular tank inhabitants. It is also a carnivore that buries itself in the substrate, waiting for something to eat.

Snail food mainly consists of other shellfishes, and if there is a significant snail population in their tank, then there is often no need to feed them at all. Assassins are particularly fond of eating Malaysian Trumpet Snails, Ramshorn Snails, and pond snails. With these snails, it seems to make little difference whether the predator is larger or smaller than prey. Snails without an operculum, like Ramshorn Snails, are particularity vulnerable to attack. But even snails with an operculum, like Trumpet Snails, are no match for a hungry Assassin Snail. They don’t feed on apple snails (Ampularia australis) eagerly, even the small ones they eat only in extreme cases. Assassin Snails may also be interested in eating snail eggs of the soft variety, but not hard Nerite Snail eggs. Assassins may also be interested in shrimp fry. Assassin Snails do not seem interested in eating their own or their eggs.

If there are no shellfish in a tank, diet can be complemented with other feed with high protein content. Frequently assassin snail may be fed with frozen bloodworm, fish flakes, fresh chicken liver mince, and other protein-rich supplements. The best choices are either Shrimp Pellets, or Sinking Wafers, and usually, you can just choose whatever food is most appropriate for the fish that share the aquarium with them. In a pinch, assassin snails may also be interested in scavenging for meaty debris and dead fish. But all things equal, it seems an Assassin Snail will prefer eating Trumpet Snails over fish flakes any day. The buccal opening of assassin snails is a tube using which they suck out their victim from its shell, so soon after an assassin snail is added to a tank, hobbyists may begin to see empty snail shells throughout the aquarium.

Determining Sex

Assassin snails have defined male and female individuals, so they are not hermaphroditic like many other snails. Currently, it is not known how to identify which is male and which is female. Both males and females seem to be the same size and shape.

Breeding & Spawning

They are heterosexual, as it’s impossible to define its sex by its appearance, so the only way to obtain their posterity is to keep several of them in an aquarium.

For successful assassin snail breeding, it’s necessary to provide the breeding species with calm surroundings, give them enough feed and free them from intrusive tankmates, such as prawns and active fishes, especially cichlids, tiger barb. Despite they are tolerant to water temperature; when the water temperature reaches below 68 Fahrenheit, assassin snails temporally stop laying the eggs.

When a male and female mate, they lock together for many hours. The female lays several clear egg capsules which are square and approximately 1.0 to 1.5 mm in width and height. Each egg capsule contains a single small yellow egg. They look like little boats with a yellowish bulb inside. The egg capsules are generally laid on solid surfaces such as plastic and often on the base of plants. Fertile eggs usually hatch within a few weeks though the number of minerals in the water can influence the incubation time. Provided with optimal tank conditions one can get about 300 assassin snail species less than in a year.

Hatching takes from 21 to 30 days and after that, the snail juveniles hideaway in the bottom substrate and live there until they reach maturity. Maturity takes about six months, and at this time, they will emerge from the substrate more regularly.

They breed very slowly for a snail, and so rarely become a pest on their own. However, they can be difficult to remove from an aquarium, since they spend most of their time buried in the substrate.

Origination

Assassin snail comes from South-West Asia, especially Indonesia and Thailand. Moreover, In the wild, it inhabits not very deep water with pure water in the South-West of Asia.

Caution

They are peaceful to fishes, predatory to snails. It is safe to keep with shrimp, fish, live plants, etc. However, they shouldn't be kept in breeding tanks since they can eat fish eggs.

Although water parameters aren’t a crucial point, it’s better to keep them in the water with medium hardness with рН 6.5-7.5. These snails are freshwater inhabitants, and they don’t need any brackish water, though they can stand it rather well.

An Assassin Snail does not like sudden shifts in water parameters; the aquarium should be well filtered and heated. Also, make sure the tank has fully cycled established itself and stabilized before introducing them. Keeping Ammonia and Nitrite levels at 0 ppm is essential. It is also necessary to keep Nitrate levels low with regular partial water changes. Along these lines, be careful when adding medications and plant fertilizers. Assassins may be sensitive to some of their ingredients, especially in high concentrations, this is particularly true with Copper. Copper can be fatal to snails, so double check to make sure that any additives that you use are snail and shrimp safe.

Other Assassin Snail care issues are related to snail safety. Any tanks with Assassin Snails need to have a top to reduce the likelihood of them escaping from the tank. Along these lines, think about covering power filter intakes with a sponge pre-filter as snails sometimes get their heads and bodies trapped in the slats. They can get seriously injured, or killed.

Acclimation Process

When adding new assassin snails to a tank, temperature acclimate them by floating them in the tank for 15+ minutes. Try to make sure the display tank water and the water that the snail came in matches as closely as possible. If your water parameters do not match drip acclimate to allow your snail to adjust to its new water conditions.

Original Detail

Name Species Family Scientific Name More Detail Added by
Assassin Snail Snail Pachychilidae Clea helena <p>Control runaway snail populations with hired assassins! The Assassin Snail, or Snail Eating Snail, is a small, easy-to-keep freshwater invert completely harmless toward fish and shrimps, but quite effective in reducing nuisance snail explosions. </p> <p>Assassin snail is often called killer snail or bumblebee snail as well. However, its scientific name is Clea Helena or formerly known as Anentome Helena. Anentome Cleo is also famous among the aquarist. It has a gray body with dark spots on it and has a “cap” that covers its shell in case of danger. The feature of this snail kind is an elongated breathing tube that is always stretched forward as the killer snail moves. An Assassin Snail found in stores will generally be about 3/4 of an inch long. Under the right conditions, a well-fed, mature Assassin Snail can grow to be upwards of 3 inches. The lifespan is about 2-3 years. Depending on water conditions and food source, they can live up to 3 years.</p> <p>Assassin snail is one of the easiest one to care for among other snails because it is rather enduring. It widely kept because it helps to maintain populations of some other freshwater snails in control. However, it just partially solves the problem and gives a temporal result. Assassin Snails should not be considered the only solution to snail population explosions. You can also prevent undesirable snails by removing excess uneaten food from the substrate by regular vacuuming.</p> <p>Assassin Snail feeds on other freshwater snails, so sufficient numbers of edible snails have to be living in the tank as a food source. As long as water conditions are right, and the food is plentiful, assassin snail care is not too difficult. The keys are tank size and stability. The tank has to be sufficient size and capacity to support an adult snail’s life. An Assassin Snail does best in aquariums with healthy and stable parameters, and larger tanks have a greater capacity to absorb sudden changes and shifts than smaller tanks do. The aquarium should be at least 30 gallons in size. They do not breathe air like most other aquarium snails. Because of this, they are susceptible to the water quality. Assassin Snails are often kept in small groups of five or six, so factor that in as a multiplier when calculating how the population will tax a tank.</p> <p>They require a soft substrate that allows them to burrow. Sand is generally the best choice, but numerous other substrates on the market will also work. Adult assassin snails spend much of their time in the substrate, and they often ambush other snails from their position of concealment there.</p> <p>Since an Assassin Snail is very active, the habitat should have plenty of places to explore. </p> Tony Palacios

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