February 18, 2016
ASSASSINS ON THE PROWL
AT BLUE REEF AQUARIUM
Aquarists at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium are enlisting the help of assassin snails to hunt down unwanted visitors.
The ‘assassins’ in question are actually a colony of killer assassin snails from South East Asia which have been brought in to control the numbers of pest snails in their piranha display.
Also known as bumble bee snails, due to their brightly striped markings, the assassin snails have been introduced in a bid to hunt down Malaysian trumpet snails which have colonised the freshwater tank.
Blue Reef Aquarium’s Steve Matchett said: “Trumpet snails reproduce at an alarming rate and, due to the risks involved, it is difficult for our aquarists to safely remove them due to the resident piranhas.
“Hopefully bringing in these experts in biological control will help deal with the situation. Another common name for this species is the ‘snail eating snail’ and that is pretty much exactly what they do.
“They have the ability to swallow other snails out of their own shells and leave behind an empty shell with nothing in it,” he said.
The assassin snails will help to control the population of trumpet snails which are threatening to take over and damage the plant life and, potentially, the entire ecosystem.
“The great thing about using assassin snails to reduce numbers is that it’s a natural process and means we can minimise the amount of human intervention and disturbance to the displays,” said Steve.
“In the past the snails would have to be removed by hand and, as well as disturbing the fish, this could potentially increase the risks of a bite.
“We’ve only had the snails for just over a week and we’re already seeing major reductions,” he added.
As well as eating other snails, the assassin snails also eat detritus and waste which helps to keep the tanks clean. However they do not eat plants or other invertebrates and, because they reproduce much more slowly than the trumpet snails, they will never overpopulate the displays.
Issued by the Blue Reef Aquarium. For more information please contact Jade Horsley or Steve Matchett on 01637 878134.