but, then, I personally don’t see heart shapes
on bleeding-heart tetras, either. These
snails are a little more difficult to find but
are well worth the effort—they’re fantastic
algae eaters, and their shape helps them get
into nooks and crannies other algae grazers
My personal favorite group of snails are
the rabbit snails. I first saw these about eight
years ago while visiting my good friend Stan
Robin Sung and speaking before the California
Organization of Aquatic Show Tropicals.
They looked every bit like gigantic Malaysian
trumpet snails (MTS), and I wasn’t exactly
impressed. Then, I saw them in a display tank
at the wholesaler, and I had to go back to get
more. While their shells do make them look
MTS-like, it’s the bodies of these snails that are
really interesting. They’re brightly colored and
also have just plain adorable faces (which are
what earned them the name of “rabbit snails”).
The most commonly imported species
appears to be Tylomelania gemmifera, although
the exact nomenclature of the group is
questionable. Many scientific names are being
misapplied in the trade, with some being bad
misspellings of others, and a few are simply
made up. As they’re all pretty similar, the
confusion is understandable, so we’ll simply
call them Tylomelania spp. This is a fairly
large snail, reaching about 4 inches ( 10 cm)
in length, with a cone-shaped shell containing
about 10 whorls.
The color of the shell is variable, with
some individuals being mostly black, some
having white speckling, and some leaning
toward brown and even gold. The body is also
variable, with gold, brown, or black appearing.
These different snails are typically labeled as
gold, chocolate, yellow, or black rabbit snails.
A narrower species is traded as the white-spotted rabbit snail and usually given the
scientific name of T. towutensis (although I’m
skeptical about this name).
The rabbit snails come from the Sulawesi
region of Indonesia. They’re true freshwater
snails and will reproduce in the aquarium.
These snails are either male or female, so you’ll
need at least two to breed. The eggs are held
inside the mother for a time, before she lays
a small egg. The egg hatches almost instantly,
and a miniature snail is born. These are often
mistaken for the Malaysian trumpet snails, as
they’re similar in size. Typically, only one or
two babies are born at a single time, so these
snails will not rapidly fill an aquarium.
Care for these snails is quite simple. They
will do best in soft water with a neutral to
slightly alkaline pH, similar to their native
habitat. However, I’ve found them to be fairly
forgiving, provided they’re kept at a typical
tropical temperature, around 76° to 80°F ( 24°
to 27°C). If it’s too cool, they will not thrive,
and if it’s too hot, bring on the garlic butter.
Feeding them is no trouble. They’re
scavengers and will pick at any detritus in
the aquarium. A sinking pellet that includes
shrimp meal and spirulina makes an ideal diet.
They can also be fed zucchini, cucumber, and
the like. They will graze aquarium plants, but
I’ve kept these snails in fast-growing planted
Green rabbit snail (Tylomelania sp.).
Orange rabbit snails; because they breed in freshwater, rabbit snails can reproduce in the aquarium
provided both male and female specimens are stocked.