Small aquarium snails, such as coils or Melania, can enter any aquarium along with plants or decorations. There are several ways to deal with these unwanted guests – mechanical collection, special preparations against snails, etc. But the most effective and safe way is still considered biological, such as reducing the population of unwanted snails with the help of a predatory mollusk – the Helena snail. We will talk about it in our article.
Helena (Anentome Helena) is a freshwater gastropod mollusk native to Southeast Asia. A distinctive feature of these invertebrates is their predatory lifestyle. Helen’s diet is based on other small snails, which they eat, literally “sucking” them out of the shell.
Helena snails are quite beautiful, their brindle color of alternating light and dark stripes looks spectacular. However, the appearance of aquarists who keep these mollusks in their aquarium fades into the background. The main value is Helen’s love of eating little fellows, which allows excellent control of the number of rapidly breeding “weedy” snails (such as coils, fiza, and Melania). This is a great way to get rid of unwanted guests without manual collection and specialized medications.
Helena snails are small in size, the largest individuals rarely exceed 2 cm. Mollusks have an elongated cone-shaped shell with a ribbed surface. It is decorated with alternating yellow and black stripes. The body itself is gray with specks. There is a small partition near the mouth of the sink, which allows you to close the entrance in case of danger.
Helen’s leg is quite long, with its help the invertebrates move quickly. The long breathing tube is also clearly visible when moving. The mouth has an unusual structure: it is modified into a small proboscis, with the help of which the snails penetrate the victim’s shell and suck out the mollusk in it.
Helena is widespread in Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia). They can be found both in rivers with clean running water and in lakes. Snails live at shallow depths. The substrate is preferred sandy or silty.
Care and maintenance
Keeping Helen in a home aquarium is not difficult, snails are hardy and unpretentious.
Molluscs, due to their size, can live in aquariums with a volume of 3-5 liters (per individual), but the most optimal containers will be 15-20 liters.
Particular attention must be paid to the soil. It is best to stop on coarse sand or small rounded pebbles up to 2 mm in size. This is due to the fact that after feeding, Helena has a habit of partially burying themselves in the ground. “Soft” substrates will not damage the delicate shells of mollusks.
To ensure clean water and maintain comfortable conditions, the aquarium should be equipped with a filter and a compressor. A thermostat does not hurt either, because snails are thermophilic and most active at a water temperature of 23-27 ° С.
In aquariums with Helen, you can plant any kind of aquarium plants, snails are completely indifferent to them.
Helen should not be kept in very soft and acidic water. Lack of minerals and high acidity is bad for the development of the shell. Optimal values will be: GH = 8-15, pH = 7.0-8.0. The snails are completely freshwater, there is no need to add salt to the water. It is strongly not recommended to use preparations containing copper in an aquarium with Helen, because it is detrimental to aquarium invertebrates.
Finding neighbors in a common aquarium with Helens is not the most difficult task. Any ornamental fish, be it tetras, zebrafish, or barbs, will get along well with snails. There is a common misconception that predatory Helenae is capable of attacking and eating fish. Fortunately, Helen’s speed and agility are not enough to hunt for fish. The most they can do is gnaw at the corpse of a dead fish.
It is not recommended to combine Helen with small shrimps, freshly shed young crustaceans can get her for lunch. Caviar laid by other fish is also at risk. If Helena finds the clutch, she will quickly deal with it.
Do not put Helen in an aquarium with predatory cichlids, these fish sometimes do not mind eating small snails. And of course, it is necessary to exclude from the list of cohabitants species of fish that feed on snails – tetrapods, body.
Helen themselves are dangerous for other types of small snails (Melania, coils, etc.). With adult snails (ampulla, neritina, Theodorus), there should be no problems with incompatibility, Helens rarely attack a victim that is larger than them.
Helena snail feeding
In natural habitats, Helena feeds on other snails or carrion.
Most often, Helen is launched into an aquarium in order to destroy highly multiplied small snails – they will form their diet for a while. When looking for prey, Helena chooses different tactics. In some cases, they pursue their prey, in others, they ambush and patiently wait.
If all the “weedy” mollusks are eaten or they are not in the aquarium, then you cannot do without additional feeding of Helen. Since the snail is a predator, it needs food with high protein content. Tetra Tablets TabiMin sinking catfish tablets are perfect, as are Tetra FreshDelica natural treats with bloodworms or brine shrimp.
Reproduction and breeding
Reproduction of Helen in an aquarium is not troublesome, but surprisingly long. And there is no reason to expect special fertility from these mollusks. Snails are dioecious, but it will not work to distinguish the male from the female by appearance. Therefore, you will have to keep a decent group in order to increase the chances of meeting different sexes. An interesting fact is that after pairing, Helens stay close to each other.
At the end of the mating process, the female lays eggs on a hard substrate, similar to transparent cubes with a yellow ball inside. Incubation takes 20-30 days and largely depends on the temperature of the water.