Great Pond Snails: The Leader of the Pond Snail Gang

Pond snail is the generic name given to several water snails that, as you might have guessed, live in freshwater ponds and similar habitat types. There are reported to be more than 60,000 different species of them from all around the world.

Below, you will find more information regarding one type of pond snail in particular — the namesake great pond snail, also known by its scientific name, Lymnaea stagnalis.

Other species referred to as ‘pond snails’ include:

  • Ramshorn snails, also known as ramshorn pond snails

  • Wandering pond snails

  • Big-eared pond snails

  • Dwarf pond snails

  • Assassin snails

  • Tadpole snails

  • Rabbit snails

  • Mystery snails (also known as apple snails)

  • Japanese trapdoor snails

What Are Great Pond Snails?

Great pond snails are known as the largest type of freshwater snail found in the UK. They are also a common species in many other places across Europe, Russia, and North America.

They’re super hardy, with the ability to survive even the coldest and harshest of climates (see: Russia!). This is perhaps why they are seen around the world as a beginner’s snail, especially in freshwater terms.

How Big Can Great Pond Snails Get?

Most great pond snail shells grow to around 1.6 inches (4cm) in length. Rarely, individuals can reach lengths of 2.8 inches (7cm).

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As well as being quite long, Lymnaea stagnalis have wide shells, up to 3cm across. On average, they tend to reach 2cm to 3cm.

Great pond snails are relatively large compared to other types of freshwater snail, so they are well suited to environments where smaller gastropods would become prey.

pond snail

In comparison, dwarf pond snails, known scientifically as Galba Truncatula, are tiny, growing to only 0.4 inches (1cm).  

Where Do Pond Snails Live?

Different pond snails will choose different habitats, but they are usually found in ponds, slow-moving bodies of water (canals and rivers), and lakes. They are freshwater snails, so they live in freshwater habitats.

Can Pond Snails Live Out of Water?

No, they can’t live out of water.

Although great pond snails (and some other pond snails) are air-breathing snails, they can’t survive for long out of water – between 2 and 24 hours. Water-dwelling snails dry out when they aren’t in water, which kills them.

What Do Great Pond Snails Eat?

Great pond snails, like many other pond snails, are known to eat a wide variety of things that you would otherwise have to clean yourself. This includes different types of algae, blankett weed, dead organisms (fish and plants), any leftover fish food, and even fish poop!

This species, like other pond snails, are beneficial for a pond or freshwater aquarium, because they makeup part of the ‘clean-up crew’. They are known for consuming (and therefore clearing away) fish waste, such as poop (detritus) and leftover food; decaying matter, such as dead snails, aquatic plants, and other organisms; and other waste and unwanted organic debris/material, such as algae and blankett weed.  

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pond snail on a glass

Can Pond Snails Reproduce Asexually?

Great pond snails are hermaphrodites, which means they can switch sex, from male to female or vice versa, in order to reproduce. This is what makes them prolific breeders.

The humble pond snail can easily reproduce quickly and take over a watery habitat if there is enough algae, the water quality is suitable, and the population is not kept in check.

How Long Do Pond Snails Live?

Most species of pond snail will live for approximately 2 years, although this does vary.

Trapdoor snails usually live for between 1 and 5 years, whereas the apple snail usually reaches a maximum age of just 2 years. The great pond snail can live for up to 3 years.

The conditions will, of course, have a massive impact on life expectancy. If there is enough algae, a comfortable level of water chemicals and temperature, and few snail-eating critters (such as catfish) to deal with, gastropods will live relatively long lives.

Are Pond Snails Invasive?

Great pond snails are not known to be invasive, but other species of freshwater or pond snail are. These include the Malaysian trumpet snail (Melanoides tuberculata), which was introduced to the US as a result of home aquariums and the industry.