Assassin Snail (Clea Helena): Ultimate Care Guide


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Common Name(s)Assassin Snail, Bumblebee Snail
Scientific NameClea Helen
OriginSoutheast Asia
Temperature68F – 75F
Water pH6.5 – 8.0
Adult Sizeup to 2 inches
DietCarnivorous

Assassin Snail Facts

  • The Assassin Snail is also called the Bumblebee Snail. It gets this name from the coloration of the shell.
  • Assassin Snails use a special band located on their jaws called a radula to latch onto their prey and slowly attack them. Several Assassin Snails will work together to take down much larger prey.
  • Assassin Snails are nocturnal and will only come out to feed at night.
  • Assassin Snails will not overrun your aquarium as they reproduce very slowly. The female Assassin Snail lays only one egg at a time.

What is an Assassin Snail?

An Assassin Snail can be an incredibly helpful creature to house in your aquarium. As their name suggests, the Assassin Snail is a type of snail that lives in aquariums, hunts and eats other snails. Assassin Snails are popular in the aquarium trade for their ability to control unwanted pest species of snails that could overrun your aquarium. They can even help control other pest snails by hunting them down and eating them.

Will an Assassin Snail Kill Other Snails?

Assassin Snails are carnivorous, opportunistic feeders that will readily eat whatever is available to them in the aquarium including other dead snails, fish, or insects. This means that they will eat fish food, and other types of snails. They are excellent hunters of pest snails such as Trumpet Snails. Assassin Snails will kill other snails in their aquarium unless they are bigger than them. There are some species of snails that would be safe from Assassin Snails such as Mystery Snails.

Assassin Snail (Clea Helena)
Assassin Snail (Clea Helena)

How Do Assassin Snails Kill?

Assassin Snails are skilled hunters. They use their radula and their mouths to latch onto the shells of other snails. Snail radula are a flexible band of microscopic teeth. Assassin Snails use their radula as a sort of scouring pad, or sandpaper to slowly grate away shell, flesh, and blood of their prey. This serves to weaken their prey. Other Assassin Snails close by pick up the scent of the attack and zero in on the target. Several Assassin Snails will work together to take down their prey. They may even use this technique to hunt down much larger snails.

How Many Assassin Snails Should I get?

Assassin Snails prefer to be kept in groups of up to 6 with 5 gallons of water per snail. However, if you do not wish to breed them or keep that many, an Assassin Snail will do just fine on its own.

Do Assassin Snails Become Pests?

Due to their slow spawning rate, Assassin Snails rarely end up becoming a pest in their own aquarium. If you feel that you have too many Assassin Snails in your aquarium, you can easily catch them and dispose of them.

How Do You Get Rid of Assassin Snails in Your Aquarium?

If you find that you are overrun with unwanted Assassin Snails in your aquarium, first keep in mind their food source. Assassin Snails need protein or meat in their diet. If you eliminate the food source, you will see them naturally die off.

You have the option of picking them out of your tank and disposing of them. You can also watch out for egg clusters. If caught early enough they can be squished to prevent hatching. If those methods do not work for you, you could possibly introduce a fish that would eat them and help thin out their numbers or possibly eliminate Assassin Snails from your aquarium altogether. African Cichlids are a good choice to help rid your tank of snails.

Are Assassin Snails Poisonous?

Even though the name suggests danger, the Assassin Snail is not poisonous. Assassin Snails were rumored to be poisonous, but those rumors are still unconfirmed. Assassin Snails are very similar to Cone Snails in appearance and structure. Cone Snails are snails that are poisonous and can kill humans. They do this by extending their proboscis and injecting the victim with their venom. There was a widely spread story of someone being found dead after handling Assassin Snails, but this too is an unconfirmed rumor that was most likely spread by someone mistaking the deadly Cone Snail for the Assassin Snail.

Assassin Snail Identification and Markings

Assassin Snails have cone shaped snails that are similar in shape to many other types of marine snail. They are most often identified by the markings on their shells. Assassin Snails typically have a few rows of distinctive black whorls on their light colored shells. The light part of the shell can be a white, cream, orangeish, or yellow. Their shell markings make them a little easier to spot in your home aquarium, but in their natural habitat they serve as a sort of camouflage.

Assassin Snails hide in their shells until they are ready to eat. They have a yellowish colored body with gray speckles that they can pull into their shells for protection and seal themselves inside using a body part called an operculum. The operculum is an important body part of the Assassin Snail. If there is something wrong with the operculum, there is something wrong with the snail, most likely it will be fatal. Assassin Snails have two tentacles that have an eye on the end of each one.

Assassin Snail Care

Assassin Snails are not difficult to care for. They are a hardy species that can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. However, there are a few basic care requirements to consider. Here’s how to care for Assassin Snails.

Assassin Snail Food & Diet

Assassin Snails are carnivorous, but not picky when it comes to the food they eat. They can be found happily munching on dead and decaying snails, fish, and insects. If the Assassin Snails are being kept in an aquarium that also includes fish, they will readily eat up any fish food that is left behind. Assassin Snails can eat around 1 to 2 other snails per day.

What Should I Feed Assassin Snail?

In the wild, Assassin Snails will hunt and eat mostly other snails, worms, and insects. They will eat them regardless of their state of decay. In captivity, you can expect your Assassin Snails to readily eat pretty much whatever you are feeding other fish in your tank. If you are looking to purchase food for your Assassin Snails, you can purchase sinking pellets or Shrimp pellets.

Do Assassin Snails Eat Algae?

Assassin Snails are carnivorous snails that will not eat your plants or algae in your aquarium. Instead, they prefer to eat other snails, fish, worms, or insects. They will feed on their preferred foods regardless of their state of decay. They are quite the clean up crew as they will readily eat up leftover fish food as well.

How Many Snails Do Assassin Snails Eat?

Assassin Snails are quite the little hunters. They hunt alone, but if other Assassin Snails nearby smell the attack, they will join in to take down their prey together. Assassin Snails can eat up to 2 snails per day.

Assassin Snail Lifespan

Assassin Snails can live up to 2 years. It has been reported that some Assassin Snails can live longer if all their optimum conditions are met. The lifespan of the Assassin Snail is largely dependent on the quality of care that it receives, both the water parameters and their diet.

Assassin Snail Tank Requirements

Choosing the appropriate tank to house Assassin Snails is not too difficult as they can be housed as many as 6 Assassin Snails in a 30 gallon aquarium. Assassin Snails are tolerant of a wider range of water parameters than many of the other species that they would share water parameters with. They can tolerate a temperature range of 68F to 75F and a 6.5 to 8.0 pH.

Assassin Snail Tank Setup

Assassin Snails require some kind of substrate to bury themselves in to hide and wait for unsuspecting prey. They are happy with sandy substrate or gravel for this. They can live in a heavily or sparsely planted aquarium as they will not pay attention to the plants other than to search them for food. Decor does not bother Assassin Snails either. They can be found roaming all around your aquarium and even attached to the glass.

Assassin Snail Breeding

Assassin Snails, if left to their own devices, will not overrun your tank by breeding to excess. Even in the right conditions, Assassin Snails have a much slower spawning rate than other marine species. Unlike other marine gastropods, Assassin Snails are not hermaphroditic. However, it is virtually impossible to tell the male Assassin Snail from the female. If you are looking to breed Assassin Snails, it is best to purchase a grouping of 6 to 8 to ensure that you get both males and females.

When they are ready to breed, you will see your Assassin Snails coupling up together. They do this by sticking together and riding around together for a while. They can stay stuck together this way for up to 12 hours.

Once they have mated, you will be able to see the female Assassin Snail lay her eggs around the aquarium. The female will attach her eggs to the aquarium glass, decor, or even plants. The tiny Assassin Snail eggs will take anywhere from 20 to 30 days to hatch. Once the Assassin Snails hatch they bury themselves into the substrate. It is likely that you will not see them again until they resurface much bigger in 6 months.

Is it Hard to Breed Assassin Snails?

It is not considered difficult to breed Assassin Snails. If they are being kept in the right conditions, you can expect your Assassin Snail population to slowly increase. Assassin Snails have a much slower spawning rate than other species of snails so that you won’t run too much of a risk of them taking over your aquarium in large numbers.

Can One Assassin Snail Reproduce?

Unlike other species of marine gastropods, Assassin Snails can not reproduce asexually. They require both males and females to reproduce. If you are planning on trying to breed Assassin Snails, you will want to purchase a group of around 6 to 8 snails. Since male and female Assassin Snails are virtually indistinguishable from one another, this will tip the odds in your favor of getting both males and females.

Assassin Snail Eggs

Female Assassin Snails lay their eggs all over surfaces of the aquarium. The eggs are laid one at a time and are very tiny. They are a milky yellowish color and adhere to the surface that they are laid on until they are ready to hatch up to 30 days later. Female Assassin Snails will lay their one egg roughly in the same area as their last one.

What Do Assassin Snail Eggs Look Like?

Assassin Snail eggs are very tiny, but you can still see them by simply observing your aquarium. The female Assassin Snail will lay her eggs on surfaces of the aquarium including plants, decor, and even the aquarium glass. The milky yellowish eggs will be found in relatively close proximity to one another, and they adhere to the surface that they are laid on.

How Long Does it Take For an Assassin Snail To Hatch?

Assassin Snail eggs take a little while to hatch, and even longer before you will see the Assassin Snail young out and about roaming your aquarium. Once the female lays her eggs, they can take anywhere from 20 to 30 days to hatch. Once they emerge, the newly hatched Assassin Snail young will retreat, burying themselves into the substrate for up to 6 months until they are larger.

How Often Do Assassin Snails Lay Eggs?

Assassin Snails can lay up to one egg per month, and usually around the same area that they laid their first one. Assassin Snail eggs are laid one at a time. Assassin Snail eggs can take up to a month to hatch, but the tiny Assassin Snail will bury itself into the substrate for up to 6 months after hatching.

Assassin Snail Disease

Assassin snails are capable of many of the same ailments as fish species. One of the most common ailments for Assassin Snails are parasitic infections. You will be able to see if your snail is affected by simply viewing them. A parasitic infection on a snail will show up as white spots on the shell. Unfortunately, many of the medications that are used to treat sick fish such as copper are lethal to snails. If you notice that you have snails or fish that are sickly, you will want to quarantine them away from your healthy ones to make sure that you are preventing the whole aquarium from being affected.

Assassin Snail Tank Mates

Assassin Snails are great tank mates for other Assassin Snails provided that you give them enough room. You will want to be careful about housing them with other snails as they will see them as food and hunt them down for a meal. Owners of Assassin Snails have reported some success at housing Assassin Snails with other larger snail species, but a hungry group of Assassin Snails have been known to take down much larger prey.

Clams, Cory Catfish, and larger Shrimp make for good tank mates for Assassin Snails.

Examples of incompatible tank mates for Assassin Snails would be any other snails smaller than they are as the Assassin Snails will hunt them for food. You will also not want to choose fish species that hunt and eat snails such as large African Cichlids who eat snails

It is a good idea to monitor any species that you put together for any potential problems that arise so that you can correct the situation as fast as possible.

Assassin Snail and Shrimp

Assassin Snails will make for good tank mates with Shrimp as long as the Shrimp are much larger than the Assassin Snail. Be cautious however, as Assassin Snails have been reported to eat Shrimp. This is a rare case, but it could still happen. Assassin Snails need to be well fed and placed in the appropriate size tank to have success in keeping them with other species safely.

Where Can I Find Assassin Snails For Sale?

If you are looking to purchase Assassin Snails for your home aquarium you will be able to find them for sale online from breeders, or in most pet stores. You can expect to pay around $5 per snail. You will want to make sure that you do your research and purchase your Assassin Snails from a reputable source, this will ensure that you are getting healthy snails that are parasite free.

Even if you are buying your Assassin Snails from a trusted source, it is still possible to introduce ailments into your aquarium. It is a good idea to quarantine anything new for a few weeks before placing it into your aquarium. This is not required, but is an added safety precaution that can be followed to help prevent illness.

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With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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