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Clea Helena Breeding, Plus A Strange New Snail

nmonks

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Hello,

Traded as the "snail-eating snail" or "assassin snail", Clea helena has suddenly appeared in quite a few shops here in England. I've had my specimens about six months now, and they're doing great. Laying eggs all over the place, and all but eliminating the Malayan livebearing snail population that used to be in the tank. Not sure how many eggs actually hatch, but at least some do because I saw a fairly nicely grown juvenile today with a shell length of about 5 mm.



While up at Maidenhead Aquatics last weekend I came across something being traded as the "yellow helmet snail". No idea what it actually is, that name apparently belonging to a completely different saltwater conch! It looks a lot like a giant Melanoides snail, about 4-5 cm long. It doesn't seem to harm plants, but does enjoy algae wafers. I'm guessing it's a bit of an omnivore.



Anyway, more pictures on my freshwater reef page, and there's actually an article of mine about this sort of aquarium coming out in PFK in a month or two.

Cheers, Neale
 

TylerFerretLord

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Nice to hear that they'll breed in captivity.

When was the name changed? I had always read Anentome helena, or were the sites just outdated?
 

Liam

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Good that they are breeding, they dont breed fast then, I have a few but only one in each tank, must put them together for a while to see if they breed. They seem to prefer to prey on bigger snails first. I thought that Clea helena was an old name and that its new name is the one TylerF gave. I also read somewhere that they were a kind of freshwater whelk, dont know if there is any truth in that.
The new snail looks quite interesting and nice.
 

dizzied

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Liam is right, Clea helena is outdated, and the correct name is Anentome helena.

The larger snail could be one of the Tylomelania species from Sulawesi.
 

TylerFerretLord

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The larger snail could be one of the Tylomelania species from Sulawesi.
I thought that as well. They certainly look similar.

Anyone have a link to the site with a list of the species gathered from Sulawesi? I seem to have misplaced my bookmark.
 
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nmonks

nmonks

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Hello all,

Tylomelania does look like a good candidate for the big snail. So thanks for that!

As for the "correct" name for the snail-eating snail, Anentome helena used to be favoured, but it's Clea helena again. A quick Google will reveal Anentome helena is a name only used by aquarists; all the scientific web sites use Clea helena now. Anentome has been lowered to the tank of subgenus. So strictly speaking the snail-eating snail is either Clea helena or Clea (Anentome) helena depending on your degree of pedantry. There's only a single species in Clea apparently, so hardly anyone is going to bother with the subgenus.

In my tank, the Clea helena are constantly breeding. You see them stuck to each other, clambering about, one snail dragging the other. They lay pin-prick sized white eggs in transparent capsules on solid objects. Initially these were on the black plastic filter housing, but now they're all over the place including plant stems. They appear to take a long time to hatch and I've never seen the baby snails. But I have now seen juveniles; apparently they stay in the sand until they reach a certain size. No idea what they're feeding on. The juveniles appear on the substrate after dark.

All in all these are well worth keeping. In a lightly-stocked tank with a sandy substrate they appear to be easy to keep.

Cheers, Neale
 

Wolfenrook

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Just about still on topic, but if you check back Tropical Fish Hobbyist did an article on 'freshwater reef tanks' about 10 years ago, including comparissons to invertebrates in the wild, including the freshwater sponges. If you can track it down it is an excellent article, and gave me my early interest in freshwater invertebrates long before many of them were even available in the UK.

Ade
 
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nmonks

nmonks

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Thanks for this! Will certainly try and find this article.

I've always enjoyed coldwater invertebrates -- pond life by another name -- and enjoy rummaging around in wild habitats for them. Some, like leeches and pea clams, are really quite lovely animals. It's a shame that the trade is only slowly waking up to the potential here.

Cheers, Neale

Just about still on topic, but if you check back Tropical Fish Hobbyist did an article on 'freshwater reef tanks' about 10 years ago, including comparissons to invertebrates in the wild, including the freshwater sponges. If you can track it down it is an excellent article, and gave me my early interest in freshwater invertebrates long before many of them were even available in the UK.
 

dizzied

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As for the "correct" name for the snail-eating snail, Anentome helena used to be favoured, but it's Clea helena again. A quick Google will reveal Anentome helena is a name only used by aquarists; all the scientific web sites use Clea helena now. Anentome has been lowered to the tank of subgenus. So strictly speaking the snail-eating snail is either Clea helena or Clea (Anentome) helena depending on your degree of pedantry. There's only a single species in Clea apparently, so hardly anyone is going to bother with the subgenus.
Why do you have to be such a freaking brainiac all the time?

Any chance you know how to sex them? I'm still trying to find out whether I have both males and females in my trio of Clea helena.
 
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nmonks

nmonks

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Why do you have to be such a freaking brainiac all the time?
Just did a little research prior to writing about them for PFK. Nothing special. If it makes you feel better, there's lots of stuff I can't do. I never learned to drive a car, and I can't cook rice without making it stick to the pan or else come out like soggy white maggots.
Any chance you know how to sex them? I'm still trying to find out whether I have both males and females in my trio of Clea helena.
No idea; are they not hermaphrodites? In any case if they are (literally!) climbing all over one another then you have a pair. Mine honestly spend hours on top of each other, the one underneath (the female?) dragging the other one (the male?) about.

Cheers, Neale
 

dizzied

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...I can't drive or cook rice either...

Any information I've found on this snail says they have separate sexes. Guess I'll just have to wait and see.

BTW Neale, I ducked into a bookstore a few days ago while I was running from the cops. I found a copy of your "Brackish Water Fishes" there and started reading, and I have to say it was an excellent book! I didn't buy it ($40!), but it's probably something I'll pick up if I ever go back to brackish aquariums.
 

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Thats great Neale... I remember you saying you had some and I've been waiting for you to let us know if they breed in freshwater before getting a few because of the prices :p

I'm planning to get some shrimp from Germany before the end of the year, and they also sell these snails so i'll probably get a few snails at the same time.

Any ideas if they will eat anything else if they manage to clear my MTS infestation?
 
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nmonks

nmonks

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Not sure; I keep adding snails, and there's no shortage in the tank. I'd guess they'll eat frozen foods like bloodworms happily enough. Whelks generally are opportunistic carnivores rather than specialists.

Cheers, Neale

Any ideas if they will eat anything else if they manage to clear my MTS infestation?
 
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