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11 Types of Freshwater Snails (Pictures, Facts)

Snails are small, slow-moving mollusks with shells most commonly found by people in gardens and backyards. There are also many different types of freshwater snails, marine snails, as well as land snails. They all have soft bodies with no legs and move by sliding their bodies across the ground.

The patterns on snail shells vary depending on the species. Others are rough or bumpy, while others are smooth and shiny. There are thousands of different species of snails worldwide, and we’ll learn about some of them that live in freshwater habitats.

Difference between saltwater and freshwater snails Snails are mollusks that can live in freshwater, saltwater, or on land. Land animals can be found in gardens, whereas you can find the other two types in water habitats.

11 Types of freshwater snails

You can find freshwater snails in water habitats such as lakes and rivers. Some need to go to the surface every now and then to breathe air, whereas others breathe through their gills and don’t need to come up for air very often.

These snails cling to rocks or plants beneath the water to avoid being carried away. Marine snails share some similarities with freshwater snails, but they live in the ocean, and most of them breathe through their gills. They’re typically found in coastal areas and salt marshes.

Check out this list of 11 freshwater snails you’ll find all over the world.

1. Bladder Snail

Acute bladder snails in shallow water
Acute bladder snails in shallow water | image by harum.koh via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Physella acuta

A bladder snail is a freshwater mollusk that lives in lakes and ponds. They prefer shallow waters with lots of vegetation near the shoreline and are frequently found in slow-moving bodies of water with few predators.

These mollusks are hermaphroditic, meaning they have both male and female sexual reproduction systems and reproduce through self-fertilization. The shell of the bladder snail is egg-shaped and has 4 to 5 whorls. Bladder snails eat algae, plant material, and decaying animals found at the bottom of their habitat.

2. Seminole rams-horn

Seminole rams-horn snail
Seminole rams-horn snail | image by Dat doris via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Scientific Name: Planorbella duryi

The Seminole rams-horn snail is a species found only in Florida and is commonly kept in aquariums. They’re typically brown in color, but those kept as pets can have a variety of colors due to breeding, including pink, purple, green, red, and blue.

These snails can grow to be 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and have a thin and fragile shell with a smooth surface that curves like a ram’s horn. The snail’s shell becomes thicker and wider as it ages. Seminole rams-horns have a lung-like organ that allows them to breathe and trap air while underwater.

3. Tiger Nerite Snails

The tiger nerite snails
The tiger nerite snails

Scientific Name: Neritina Semiconica

Tiger nerite snails are small, colorful, freshwater mollusks. They’re native to Africa and can be found in a variety of freshwater habitats around the world. These snails are some of the most common snails found in aquariums because they’re simple to care for.

Tiger nerites only grow to an inch in size and have a normal lifespan of three years, though they can live longer in captivity. These slow-moving animals enjoy eating various types of algae and other vegetable matter found in their environment.

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4. Spike-topped apple snail

Spike-topped apple snail underwater
Spike-topped apple snail underwater

Scientific Name: Pomacea bridgesii

The spike-topped apple snail, also known as the mystery snail, is a freshwater snail native to South and Central America. It has a 50 mm wide shell that’s mostly yellow but can also be green or brown.

They’re found in tropical environments and are commonly kept in aquariums to help clean the tanks. Spike-topped apple snails are hermaphroditic (have both male and female sex organs), but they reproduce by cross-fertilizing each other’s eggs rather than self-fertilizing them as other snails do.

5. Chocolate rabbit Snails

Scientific Name: Tylomelania zemis

The chocolate snail is a unique species of snail found in Indonesia. It’s one of the most common rabbit snail species, distinguished by its chocolatey brown body and light brown shell. Their shells are cone-shaped with a spiral pattern that extends to the tip.

These rabbit snails have a very calm personality, which makes them popular among snail keepers because they’re not aggressive with other species. They can grow to be 1.5 inches long and live for up to three years.

6. Red-rimmed melania

Red-rimmed melania on a leaf
Red-rimmed melania on a leaf | image by Dennis L. via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Melanoides tuberculata

The red-rimmed melania is native to northern Africa and southern Asia, but it has spread to many other countries. They’re typically found at the bottom of freshwater bodies like large lakes and small springs.

Their shells are cone-shaped and light brown in color, with 10 to 15 whorls and rust-colored spots, hence their name. This species doesn’t require going to the surface in order to breathe because it breathes through its gills. Red-rimmed melania also consumes microalgae.

7. Black Devil Snail

Scientific Name: Faunus ater 

The Black Devil Snail is a type of snail found in Thailand’s brackish waters. They’re also found in other parts of Asia and are kept in water tanks. These animals have grayish-black or brown bodies and chocolate brown to glossy black shells and can grow to be 9 cm long.

They live up to 6 years and have a peaceful temperament, which makes them simple to care for. Black Devil Snails are also active snails, preferring to feed on algae and decaying matter.

8. Assassin Snails

An assassin snail on a tree branch
An assassin snail on a tree branch | image by RSX via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientific Name: Anentome helena

Assassin Snails are a fascinating freshwater snail species. They have golden yellow shells with dark stripes that wrap around to the tip of the shell, making them very eye-catching.

These snails are native to Vietnam, Thailand, Sumatra, and Malaysia, where they’re commonly found at the bottom of rivers, usually in mud or sandy areas. They’re called assassin snails because they’re known to kill other types of snails by eating their soft bodies out of their shells.

9. Great ramshorn

Great ramshorn on a twig
Great ramshorn on a twig | image by Leonhard Lenz via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Scientific Name: Planorbarius corneus

The Great Ramshorn Snail is another type of freshwater snail with a shell that resembles a ram’s horn. This snail has a keen sense of smell, which it uses to find food. Great Ramshorn Snails eat dead fish and algae, which are plentiful in their environment.

They can only be found in habitats where the water is either still or moving very slowly. These creatures are also snails that lack gills and rely solely on their lungs to breathe.

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10. Japanese Trapdoor Snail

Scientific Name: Viviparus malleattus

The Japanese Trapdoor Snail is a small brownish-black snail found in Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. They’re one of the most beautiful snails, with spiral-shaped shells and an operculum that functions like a door, closing over the opening of their shell when these snails are inside. This is also why they’re known as “trapdoor” snails.

These mollusks prefer slow-moving water environments with sandy bottoms. They have a 5-year lifespan but can live longer if properly cared for.

11. Island apple snail

Island apple snail on the grass
Island apple snail on the grass | image by Malcolm Manners via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Pomacea maculata

The island apple snail, a type of apple snail, is a large mollusk found in South America. It protects itself from predators with its golden brown or black shell. The shell is also globular and spiral in shape, with a maximum length of 6 inches.

These snails eat dead organisms, snail eggs, and aquatic vegetation such as algae. This species also has gills and lungs, allowing it to move out of the water and into another water habitat.