The Tylomelania snails are beautiful, inquisitive, lively and adaptable â€” in fact almost everything you don't generally associate with aquarium snails. Chris Lukhaup explains why they are truly exceptional.
The Tylomelania snails from Sulawesi surprise us all with their colours, patterns and forms. Their size is another factor that makes them without equal in our aquariums. Those colours range from orange to gold-dotted and they proudly show them off if left in relative peace.
During the last few years, the genus Brotia, with their well-known representative, the Brotia pagodula, was a sensation in aquatics. However, it was soon discovered that most imported species do not do well in captivity.
Yet the Sulawesi snails do. If kept at suitable temperatures of 27-30°C/81-86°F, they are the largest imported water snail compatible with tank keeping. They even reproduce in the aquarium.
Their appearance is very variable, but always stunning. There are many varieties, from relatively smooth shell structures to heavily-sculptured long, conical shells. Most species have not been scientifically described so far, but many are already offered in the trade.
The shells grow to 2cm-12cm/0.8-4.7“ in length, so some could rightfully be called gigantic. Their apices are almost always corroded. They all have a trap door (operculum) with a central nucleolus surrounded by five to 11 rings. However, the operculum is too small to close off the shell entirely.
The bodies and feet display truly a feast of colour. Some have black bodies strewn with white or yellow dots. Some are monochrome, yellow or orange, or pitch black with yellow tentacles — but all of them look truly stunning.
Their eyes, at the bases of the straight, thin tentacles, are clearly set off against the long, soft, almost cuddly snout.
There is a clearly visible groove, starting in the shell and running over the body and foot, within which the eggs are transported to the outside when they are released.
Shortly after being introduced into the aquarium and adapting to water parameters, the Tylomelania snails start looking for food. They are not picky eaters and accept additional food.
They eat Spirulina powder, herbivore food, food tablets with a high percentage of animal proteins, and vegetables like cucumbers, bell peppers and courgettes.
Snails originally living on hard substrates will accept vegetables sooner than the others and also like to chew on intact aquatic plants.
When actively looking for food they dig into the ground and hard substrate-dwelling snails will rest on filter mats and decoration placed in the tank.