If you own a decorative pond, you’ve probably seen some local snails and are debating whether to keep them there or not. Let’s start with some background information before getting into the intricacies of these slimy little creatures. The gastropod family includes mollusks, slugs, and over 60,000 additional species in addition to pond snails.
They frequently migrate involuntarily from any surrounding water systems, like as rivers or wetlands, or are unintentionally introduced into ponds by quietly riding on aquatic plants.
Sometimes they’ll transfer to your pond if they find it acceptable on the backs of turtles who have been idle for a long (or accidently on your dog or cat when they brush against a plant with snails or eggs on it).
Snails, like amphibians, partially breathe via their skin to satisfy their oxygen demands, while certain species also have gills (yes, snails can have gills!). Others only have a single, small organ that resembles a lung, and they must occasionally surface to breathe.
Some snails in your area will be content to live continuously under the water, while others might occasionally need to come to the surface to breathe.
What Are Snails?
An example of a shelled gastropod is the snail. They can withdraw within it for cover much like turtles do. Along with freshwater snails, there are also sea snails; those without shells are known as slugs.
These creatures have played a significant role in human history, providing food in certain societies and being used to make jewelry out of their shells in others. Snails may be found in deserts, despite the fact that they are frequently connected to aquatic settings.
The majority of species consume plants and utilize their radula, or tongue, to break down their meal. However, some terrestrial creatures are carnivores.
Pond Snail Facts
Describe the gastropod. The word “gastropod” means “stomach foot” in Greek. If you’ve ever seen a garden snail, you’ll know what we’re talking about because they travel around on only one foot and eat everything in sight.
What causes snails to enter my pond? They frequently penetrate the surroundings of your pond without your knowledge. They live on aquatic plants, and if you add fresh plants to your pond, you could find one or two snails hidden in the leaves.
Aside from arriving on the back of cats and dogs, they are also known to travel with other species like turtles or other aquatic creatures. There is a risk that some of the snail eggs on the plant that your pet brushed against may have connected to the animal. Those eggs only need to be brought to your pond to find a new home.
Snails breathe in what ways? Pond snails come in a wide variety, and one of the most fascinating aspects of them is how they live in the water. They require oxygen to breathe to survive, like other creatures, but each species has a different way of doing so.
Some snails have a tiny organ resembling a lung that requires direct airflow to function. The snail must periodically come to the surface to breathe if it swims underwater. Others have gills, while others employ a technique that allows them to breathe essentially through their skin.
Pond snails range in size. They range in length from about a third of an inch to around three inches.
The Lives of Pond Snails
The way pulmonates and operculates approach reproduction is another intriguing distinction. The fact that pulmonates are hermaphrodites—individuals who can both fertilize and be fertilized by another snail—as opposed to the majority of gill-breathing operculates, which have distinct men and females, helps to explain why they can reproduce so swiftly.
But the pulmonates aren’t the only organisms that have a cunning breeding technique; Jenkin’s Spire Shell, an operculate, attempts a virgin birth.
Technically referred to as “parthenogenesis,” this process enables the snail to reproduce on her own without the aid of a partner, which is helpful if she finds herself alone in a suitable pond. However, perplexingly, all of her “daughters” will really be her sisters!
Regardless of your opinion of the creatures themselves, there is no denying that they are extremely skilled at what they do. Even if they aren’t your favorite species of pond animals, their unusual biology and incredible capacity for dispersal make them an intriguing group – however reluctantly you choose to accept it.
Pond Snails: Good or Bad For My Pond?
Pond snails (Lymnaeidae) may contribute to the health of your pond just like any other species, and they really have certain advantages.
Among other things, they may assist in removing undesirable parasites from your pond and dealing with decaying waste.
Snails, on the other hand, like eating the beneficial varieties of pond algae rather than the undesirable blue-green algae. If there isn’t enough algae for them to eat, they could also devour your pond plants.
The fact that snails can reproduce quickly and overpopulate your pond with snails that eat the aforementioned is another potential drawback.
With that stated, let’s examine the advantages and disadvantages of pond snails to determine whether they are suitable for your pond’s environment.
Do Pond Snails Eat Algae & Plants?
Freshwater snails eat algae, leafy plants, dead fish and snails, as well as some vegetables and fruits like carrots and apples, to a modest extent depending on the species. Since a tiny number of snails won’t have much of an impact, there shouldn’t be any significant plant damage in a highly planted pond.
They are effective for controlling algae since they first devour most plant leaves before consuming softer nuisance algae. They only eat plants if there isn’t much else to eat.
However, if your pond is just sparsely planted or has little algae, you’ll need to control snail reproduction since ultimately their population will grow too large for plants to recover once their foliage is eaten.
How Snails Functions In Ponds
Since they like eating algae, they can regulate its growth when it is prevalent in ponds. The best way to think of them is as organic janitors, but in well-kept ponds, they will also perform more decorative functions.
A snail is not the answer to significant pond issues, especially those regarding water quality. For instance, planktonic algae blooms, which will be far too tiny for them to devour, are the reason of your pond’s water becoming green. The ingestion of slime algae is more suited to snails.
Snails are another error that some pond owners make while trying to reduce pond muck. While it is undoubtedly true that snails will eat whatever organic waste they come across in the sludge layer, in most circumstances they will choose the healthier algae, which is in charge of keeping the pond clean.
This implies that in some situations, the snails can even make things worse. Another thing to keep in mind regarding snails is that they reproduce pretty quickly. If there are too many of them in the ponds, dead snails will mix with the sludge and worsen the situation.
Drawbacks of Having Pond Snails
The majority of pond snails do eat algae, but many of them favor the beneficial soft green algae that is simpler to remove over the hazardous blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria. Furthermore, most snails are hermaphrodites and have a fast reproductive cycle.
In an overpopulated pond, especially one with insufficient algae, fish may devour your pond plants and eventually kill them. Including green vegetables in the diet is one strategy to lessen this.
The acute pond snail is one species from the physa genus that should be avoided or removed because they reproduce extremely fast and eat diatoms and healthy algae, both of which are crucial for aquatic life.
Additionally, if snails are allowed to breed unrestrictedly, they will significantly increase waste when they start to disappear. As a result, toxic waste products like ammonia and nitrites, which are fatal to fish, may increase.
Additionally, a lot of wild snails serve as hosts for a variety of parasites that can spread to fish and animals. Choosing snails from aquariums, fish farms, and breeders considerably reduces the possibility that they may have parasites or viruses if you decide to keep them in your beautiful pond.
Never take snails from the wild and put them in your pond since they might harbor dangerous diseases, germs, and parasites.
How Snails Should Be Used
Snails should be viewed as an animal that adds interest and beauty to the environment, similar to fish, frogs, or turtles. Although snails can assist when string algae is present, it is not advisable to rely on them to clean the pond on their own or without the use of additional tools.
Another thing to think about is that, if you already have pets or animals living in the pond, they can mistake the snails for food and attack them, so you need to be careful when introducing them.
Life Cycle of these Hermaphrodite Species
Snails are identified by entomologists by their “peppered shell and dark brown color with spots on their body.” The slimy body is shielded from harm by the rigid shell. Snails can develop into huge or tiny pond snails, and they use their tentacles to detect food.
Pond snails are also known as aquatic snails since they can’t survive on land and must reside in bodies of water. They occupy ponds in part because they may burrow underground to hide from predators. These mollusks can spend months immersed in the substrate of ponds before emerging when the conditions are right for reproduction.
These snails are hermaphrodite, which means that both the male and the female may lay eggs after fertilization, and as such have a higher propensity to harm pond environment.
Both sexes lay 1,000 eggs at once. These eggs have the physiology of a mass of jelly linked to pond plants, and after four weeks, they mature into young snails. However, these water snails may not be able to complete their entire life cycle due to predators like ducks and dragonflies.
According to the WHO, these hermaphrodite species are known to colonize ponds that have been polluted with feces. This emphasizes how crucial it is to maintain clean pond water.
If a pond has dense vegetation, pond snails won’t cause much harm before you can simply remove them. Pond snails eat on plants, algae, and leafy flora and can kill them if overpopulated.
They can be employed in ponds with a heavy layer of weed because they consume algae. Pond snails can consume all types of algae, with the exception of green algae that is floating freely. So long as they don’t proliferate excessively, snails can be employed to maintain the natural balance of a pond’s ecosystem.
A Little Natural History about Snails
In Britain, there are around 30 different varieties of freshwater snails, ranging in size from the small Dwarf Pond Snail (Lymnaea truncatula) to giants like the Great Pond Snail (Lymnaea stagnalis) or Great Ramshorn (Planorbarius corneus).
Although some snail enthusiasts would purchase snails from suppliers for aquarists or beg for a few from friends’ ponds, freshwater snails frequently appear without invitation, generally attached as eggs on aquatic plants. The eggs themselves, which are normally located in a mound or strip of thick, jelly-like substance on the surface of leaves and stems, are usually pretty simple to spot if you look for them.
Since snails are prolific breeders, their numbers may rise quickly once they become established in a pond, so it pays to be on the lookout if you don’t want them.
Pond snails may be divided into two major groups: “pulmonates,” which breathe air via their lungs, and “operculates,” which get oxygen from the water through their gills. Many of the species that water gardeners are most acquainted with, such as the Great Pond Snail and the several types of Ramshorns, are pulmonates.
They have an advantage over their gilled relatives since they can colonize most types of ponds even when the dissolved oxygen content is low because to their capacity to breathe air.
The operculates, on the other hand, are limited to clean, well-oxygenated water, like Jenkin’s Spire Shell (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) and Bithynia tentaculata.