View Full Version : How Do Assassin Snails Kill?

09-22-2011, 11:14 AM
I just ordered some assassin snails to help knock down my blue ramshorn population. After ordering I became curious as to how assassin snails actually kill other snails because I am pretty sure I have not read that anywhere. Do they use a venom of some sort like a spider, air flow restriction like maybe suffocate the other snail, or do they just go up and start eating the other poor creature? I don't know if any of you know the answer to this or have even ever thought about it, but curiosity has gotten the best of me.

09-22-2011, 12:44 PM
Im not 100% sure, but it LOOKS like they just track them down and start eating the other snail...

09-22-2011, 01:11 PM
Im not 100% sure, but it LOOKS like they just track them down and start eating the other snail...

I've watched them and I agree. They just grab the victim and then start munching. Maybe that's why they're a lot better on Ramshorns and pond snails than MTS which have the ability to put up a door.

09-22-2011, 01:11 PM
Dey shoots dem. Den, dey eats dem.

09-22-2011, 01:19 PM
be careful, they also eat fish eggs, and small wiggler fry.

09-22-2011, 01:27 PM
With Fava Beans and a nice Chianti.

09-22-2011, 01:32 PM
They are a freshwater welk, a relative to, but not the same as a snail.

I thought I read that they bore a hole through the snail's shell and that was why nerites, mts, and adult rabbit snails aren't bothered by them much since they have thicker shells.

09-22-2011, 02:09 PM
Ive watche em with the ramshorns... they just grab them and start a munching... they also get the mts... just never seen them do it, but got lots of empty mts shells!!!!

09-22-2011, 04:07 PM
I've had mine for over a year and yep...from watching them both during the day and late at night with a flashlight...that is what they do...pick their victim...attach themselves and suck and eat til there's nothing left but an empty shell...they'll get all the MTS eventually too, trap door or not...and if they get desperate they will gang up on a BIG snail like a mystery snail and kill it off too...they're very good at what they do...be careful when you use a net in the tank(s) you have them in...you can transfer their eggs without even knowing it and then one day...in a tank you wanted to keep snails in...you will see a baby assassin snail or two attached to one of the pretty snails you wanted to keep...LOL

and they are hard to kill off...at least mine are....I tore down a 20L tank...put all the used gravel in a plastic tote on the back porch...didn't think anything about it for week or so...was setting up a new smaller tank...went to get some of the old used gravel and there were 2 big assassin snails alive and well cruising around the old dried out gravel...threw them back in the assassin snail tank...they are still alive and well...LOL

09-22-2011, 05:47 PM
You guys are lucky...I started with around 30 I have 5 left. Had them about a year now and still no little ones...

09-22-2011, 08:17 PM
I have hundreds, started with just a few and they are everywhere, BUT they do not kill enough of the snails. I got some in on plants and I guess i am going to have to take tanks down to redo and kill out all snails. I hate them. I sold a bunch last week and that was nothing. Guess I might list more of them. The killers, and Yes they do get your Mystery snails too.

09-22-2011, 08:45 PM
I didn't really expect to get so many good comments! :D Thanks a lot to all of you for replying to my question.

09-23-2011, 11:04 AM
I started with 6 a year ago now I see at least 20 but they still have alot of work to do

09-23-2011, 11:39 AM
I have a few tanks with fish that I tend to overfeed. In those tanks the assassins can't keep up with the snail population. In the tanks where I make sure not to overfeed there are nothing but assassins left. I have to throw in snails from the other tanks to keep them happy.

09-23-2011, 06:44 PM
Well, as Underwhelmed pointed out, assassin snails are a kind of freshwater whelk. Neurotoxins are used by some species of whelks to stun and immobilize their prey before they feed on them. Other species of whelks don't have toxins at all, but just drill a hole in the prey snail's shell and start feeding on them. I wonder if assassin snails might possess a neurotoxin, since it seems like soon after they start attacking a prey snail that the prey snail stops struggling.

11-14-2012, 11:04 AM
I watched an assassin snail eat a large pond snail last night. The pond snail shell was almost transparent (no idea why) so I got a good view. Once the assassin snail (I'll just call it a whelk) got close, a small pinkish "mouth tube" emerged from between and below the eyes (but above the whelk's foot) and just got shoved right into the pond snail's shell opening and snuck up into the guts inside. It did not bore through the shell of the snail, just poked up around underneath. The snail tried to get away, but there was no hope. The snail soon just stopped trying, I could see the heart beating through the shell. It was interesting but also kind of sickly and horrific to watch, like a disemboweling of some prey animal on the African plains :boxed:. I should have taken photos. I could see the whelk's mouthpart continue poking around inside, some juices and gas came out of the snail's shell, and the foot and head started shriveling and turning from normal whiteish to yellow. This happened in the span of about 10 minutes. Then another whelk stumbled on the kill scene and poked it's pink mouth tube around inside the shell as well. I went away to look up info on assassin snails, when I came back the pond snail shell was completely cleaned out. Crazy. This was the first pond snail I noticed since adding dozens of them from another infested tank a couple of weeks ago. I have a feeling it might be the last I'll ever see! :bigthumbsup:

Rob in Puyallup
11-15-2012, 12:28 AM
They're murderers, really, and it's terrible watching them hunt and kill! I got a couple awhile back to get rid of some hitchhiking ramshorns. Instead they went straight to an MTS who's family has lived for years with me.

I regretted getting the Assassins after that, lol!

11-16-2012, 01:49 PM
my assassins got assassinated by my shrimp. i was not to thrilled at that one

12-05-2012, 08:27 AM
all i know is mine lay tons of eggs pretty much everywhere and i did see them eat up some MTS

12-05-2012, 12:08 PM
What do the eggs look like Thor? My friend has some assassins breeding like crazy in his tank, and we think that the small white dots all over his sponge filter in there must be the eggs, but I had heard they lay eggs below the substrate.

12-10-2012, 05:31 AM
Lot of vids on youtube showing assassins munching but this one is interesting as shows eating chicken. If I did this right, Greyfox. LOL