surprising assassin snail feeding behaviour (pics)

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ECooper

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Original poster
Jun 30, 2010
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Vancouver
So I walk by the aquarium one day and see that there is an assassin snail climbing up the inside of the glass and on a collision course for a pond snail heading the opposite way. “Aha!” I thought to myself, “maybe I am about to see an assassin eat its prey!”

So I watched as the two snails crept slowly towards each other…and then finally met face to face…at which point neither even slowed down. Each headed on their original course…the pond snail simply crawled up the front of the assassin snail, moved the length of its shell, and then down off the tip of the shell back to the glass, and proceeded on it’s way. It was the oddest thing! I walked away feeling somewhat amused…the dreaded assassin snail indeed!

While this was happening, I noticed that there was a second pond snail a few inches ahead of the assassin, but going in the same direction. A few minutes later, I walked by again to discover that the assassin snail had continued on its way, overtaken the second pond snail, and proceeded to engulf it. Doing so necessitated losing its grip on the glass. It was suspended for a while on some hornwort, then fell to the bottom, finished feeding on the pond snail and departed, leaving an empty shell behind. The whole process look only minutes. I have attached a series of photos…

Anyhow, I got to thinking…could the assassin snail have been tracking the pond snail it eventually ate by following its slime trail? Maybe that was why it didn’t eat the first pond snail…it really didn’t know it was there. It would be interesting to run some experiments to see if indeed that is how assassin snails feed…by following the slime trails of their prey.

assasin snail eating pond snail 1sm.jpg assasin snail eating pond snail 2sm.jpg assasin snail eating pond snail 3 closesm.jpg assasin snail eating pond snail 5+sm.jpg assasin snail eating pond snail 6sm.jpg assasin snail eating pond snail 7sm.jpg
 

tomany

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Nov 23, 2009
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Hartford, Al
Interesting thought and great pic! I have assasin snails. I've never seen them feed, but have a lot of empty shells in the tanks.
 

XanAvaloni

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Nov 13, 2009
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absolutely fabulous photography, magazine-quality. How big is the assassin? I've never kept them and there is nothing to give scale except the (late) pondie.

great work, and interesting question. Assign a couple of grad students to watch the tank 24/7 and gather data. Sign your name to the paper they write, and publish on PLoS. Become tenured. :)
 

GuppyGirl1230

Snails, Guppies and Corys, OH MY!!!
Jul 14, 2010
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Westminster, Colorado
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Maribeth
ECooper!!!

Beautiful pics, and what an interesting theory!! I would be very interested in the results of an experiment to test it!!

Maribeth
 

angel fresh

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May 23, 2010
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A very good photography and nice tracking , the results of the theory might be very interesting when tested.
 

dudley

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Feb 9, 2005
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Dee
Excellent photo spread!! I also only see empty shells in my tanks with assassin snails. Maybe I'll have to start looking at the tanks longer to catch them doing their job.

What camera are you using for these wonderful pics?
 

jackiomy

Lover of Oddballs
Jul 6, 2008
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Jacki Wilson
Ewww gross! I have assassins and would rather not think about what they do. LOL
 

EOD

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Sep 12, 2010
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Schofield Barracks, HI
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David
So an easy way to get rid of the all the pond snails in my tank would be to get 1 or 2 assassin snails?
 
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