Small Pond Snails – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding

Small pond snails (Lymnaea peregra) – Detailed Guide Care, Diet, and Breeding

Lymnaea peregra, commonly known as the Small pond snail, is often considered a pest snail in aquariums. While some aquarists may intentionally keep them as part of their clean-up crew, they can become problematic under certain conditions.

Lymnaea peregra is known for its ability to tolerate a wide range of water parameters and temperatures. These snails are prolific breeders, and a few individuals can quickly multiply into a large population.

In this article, you will be looking at the profile of freshwater limpets, what they are, and how they get in our tanks, in addition to effective measures geared towards controlling their population.

Quick Notes about Lymnaea Peregra

Name Small pond snail
Other Names Wandering snail
Scientific Name Lymnaea peregra (Radix peregra/Peregriana peregra)
Water type Freshwater/brackish
Tank size (minimum) Any (does not matter)
Keeping Easy 
Breeding Easy 
Size 0.8 inches (2 cm) in length
Optimal Temperature 57–84°F (14–29°C)
Optimal PH 7.0 – 8.0 
Optimal GH 6 – 30   
Optimal KH 1 – 20
Nitrate Less than 100 ppm
Diet Algae eater/detritivore
Temperament Peaceful
Life span up to 2 years
Color Form Brownish 

Taxonomy of Lymnaea Peregra

The classification of these snails as distinct species is still debated because it’s unclear how much their unique shell shapes are influenced by genetics.

  • Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
  • Phylum: Mollusca (Mollusks)
  • Class: Gastropoda (Snails)
  • Subclass: Heterobranchia (Diverse sea slugs)
  • Superorder: Hygrophila (Aquatic snails)
  • Superfamily: Lymnaeoidea (Pond snails)
  • Family: Lymnaeidae (Pond snails)
  • Genus: Lymnaea
  • Species: Lymnaea peregra

Etymology of Lymnaea Peregra

The genus name “Lymnaea” is derived from the Latin word “Limnaeus,” which means “Marshy” or “Pertaining to a marsh.” Basically, it refers to the habitat preference of this snail genus.

The species name “Peregra” is also of Latin origin and means “Wandering” or “Traveling.”

So, the combined name “Lymnaea peregra” can be understood as “Wandering marsh snail”.

Distribution of Lymnaea Peregra

The Small pond snails have a very wide distribution across Europe and West Asia.

Its native range includes countries in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Poland, and Ukraine.

Nowadays, this species has also been introduced to other parts of the world, including North America, South America, Asia, and Oceania.

These introductions happened due to human activities such as accidental ship transport or the aquarium trade.

Habitat of Lymnaea Peregra

These temperate freshwater snails usually inhabit lakes, ponds, marshes, and ditches. Small pond snails prefer stagnant or slow-moving bodies of water.

They can thrive in both natural and man-made water bodies, colonizing areas with suitable vegetation and food sources.

Description of Lymnaea Peregra

Small pond snails (Lymnaea peregra) – Detailed Guide Care, Diet, and Breeding
photo source

As its name suggests, Small pond snails is relatively small in size. Fully grown snails in their maximum size will barely reach 0.8 inches (2 cm) in length and 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) in width.

Shell. Lymnaea peregra has a conical spiral shell to the right. It typically has a pointed spire and may have growth lines or ridges. In general, their shells have from 4 to 5 whorls.

Interesting fact: Lymnaea peregra from lotic habitats (running waters) had larger aperture-length/shell-length ratios than contemporaries from lentic sites (standing waters) to withstand water currents.

Shell color. The shell coloration exhibits significant variation. It is commonly light, ranging from light yellow to yellow or yellowish-brown. Occasionally, darker shells can be found, with shades of brown or even brownish-yellow. It also has a glossy appearance.

Tentacles. The head bears mobile tentacles that are flat, triangular in shape, short, and wide. Eyes are located at the base of the tentacles. The tentacles are whitish or yellowish-gray.

Body. The front part of the body extends from the shell, featuring a broad, transversely truncated head clearly separated from the body by a neck collar. The foot of wandering pond snails is quite long and robust.

Body color. The body is elongated and typically light gray, gray, or yellowish-gray. The mantle is gray or yellowish-gray and often has numerous small dark spots scattered more or less evenly across its surface.

Respiration. According to the study, Small pond snails can obtain oxygen by both cutaneous respiration and from their pulmonary bubble.

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Lifespan of Lymnaea Peregra

According to the study, the vast majority of individuals in these populations are annuals, however, a few rare individuals may survive to a 2nd year of life.

Typical Behavior of Lymnaea Peregra

Small pond snails are absolutely peaceful in nature. 

They move by crawling on surfaces, floating and sinking using their lung cavity, and sliding on the underside of the water’s surface film. Crawling is achieved through muscular foot contractions while floating and sinking rely on air in the lung cavity. Sliding occurs by releasing mucus and gliding on the surface film.

Note: They rise to the water’s surface by filling the cavity, extending their foot, and bending their body. To descend, they can compress the cavity and sink to the bottom. They resurface by expanding the cavity or crawl along underwater surfaces if unable to float.

These snails are primarily active during the night. They often spend the daytime hiding and resting.

Although these snails are not true burrowers, in the nature, they can easily retreat into the mud when a water body dries.

When disturbed, such as when picked up, the foot contracts and closes the aperture of the shell.


  • Social: No
  • Active: At night
  • Peaceful: Yes
  • Burrowers: No

Diet of Lymnaea Peregra

Small pond snails are omnivorous. They are known to consume Green dust algae, Green spot algae, diatoms (brown algae), etc.

However, when algae are scarce, they may consume live plants, selecting the tender parts, as well as plant detritus.

Note: To scrape off food, snails use a specialized rasping apparatus called a radula, a toothed ribbon located in their throat. The working of the radula can be easily observed in an aquarium as the snail crawls along the glass, occasionally extending the radula from its mouth and scraping it against the glass surface.

Small pond snails are also scavengers. They occasionally feed on decaying animal matter as well. They also ingest small invertebrates (such as hydras and protozoans) and fish eggs whole.

In aquariums, they will also appreciate blanched vegetables and eat the same food you feed your fish and shrimp.

Do not forget that calcium plays a huge role in snails. Calcium is needed for several vital life processes in snails, the most obvious being the formation of shells.

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Is Lymnaea Peregra Plant Safe?

It is a tricky question.

Generally, these snails can be considered plant-safe. However, it is important to note that under certain conditions, such as high population densities or limited food sources, they may exhibit more herbivorous behavior and consume live plants more actively. In such cases, they could potentially damage or eat delicate and tender plant species.

So, if you have a beautiful planted aquarium with expensive plants, I would not recommend them.

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Caring and Keeping Lymnaea Peregra

When it comes to caring for Lymnaea peregra, it is worth noting that discussing “caring” for this species may not be necessary, as they are highly resilient, adaptable, and tolerant.

Tank size:

Tank size does not matter for these snails. These small snails can live basically anywhere.

Water Parameters:

Temperature: Experiments have shown that Lymnaea peregra exhibits normal movement behavior within a temperature range of 57–84°F (14–29°C). At low temperatures (<50°F or 10°C) the snail withdraws its soft tissue into the shell and hybernates.

pH: Although these snails can be found in both alkaline and acidic waters, their optimal water pHis in the range of 7.0 – 8.0.

Note: If your water has a pH of less than 6.0 for weeks (months), these snails may have problems with shell formation. At low pH, calcium uptake is particularly difficult, which slows down and disturbs the formation of the shell.

Hardness: They will appreciate hard water KH > 1 and GH > 6. They grow larger in hard water.


No special requirements.

However, if you intend to breed Lymnaea peregra as live food for your fish and want to increase their population, you can use a basic sponge filter in their tank setup.


No special requirements.

All snail species are nocturnal creatures. So, they could not care less about it. Lighting should be adapted to the needs of plants (and/or algae if needed) in your tank.

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Even though Small pond snails can be kept in any tank with any substrate, I would still recommend smooth gravel over any other type.

  • These snails do not usually burrow.
  • The main reason – it is easier to grow algae on them!

Reproduction of Lymnaea Peregra

Lymnaea peregra is a self-fertile hermaphroditic species. It means that each individual possesses both male and female reproductive organs. This allows them to potentially fertilize themselves, although cross-mating with other individuals is more common.

Some breeding facts:

  • Small pond snails are known to reach maturity around 0.3 – 0.3 inches (7–10 mm).
  • They grow pretty fast and start to reproduce in the 7th week.
  • Attempts to hybridize them in the laboratory have not yet been successful.
  • They lay capsules. Each capsule may contain 10-20 eggs.
  • Experiments showed that foreign semen is stored and remains viable for several months after copulation. It is used for cross- As it becomes exhausted or dies, the self-fertilization rate gradually increases.
  • The mean number of eggs per capsule is almost twice as high in cross-fertilization as in self-fertilization.
  • Eggs fail to develop at high temperatures (>97°F or 36°C). Hatching success is high at temperatures between 50°F (10°C) and 86°F (30°C) (100%–82.9%).

Lymnaea Peregra and Suitable Tankmates

Small pond snails are excellent feeders for Assassin snails, Crayfish, Loaches, Pufferfish, Oscars, etc.  

Besides that, they can live and thrive anywhere.

In Conclusion

Overall, Small pond snails demonstrate adaptability in their ability to withstand different environmental conditions and adapt their behavior and diet to suit the available resources.

These snails may be good feeders or clean-up crew in a community tank. So, depending on your goals, they are not all bad if we keep them under control in our tanks.

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  1. Lam, P. K. S., and P. Calow. “Intraspecific life-history variation in Lymnaea peregra (Gastropoda: Pulmonata). I. Field study.” The Journal of Animal Ecology(1989): 571-588.
  2. WULLSCHLEGER, ESTHER B., and JUKKA JOKELA. “Morphological plasticity and divergence in life-history traits between two closely related freshwater snails, Lymnaea ovata and Lymnaea peregra.” Journal of Molluscan Studies68, no. 1 (2002): 1-5.
  3. Lam, P. K. S., and P. Calow. “Differences in the shell shape of Lymnaea peregra (Müller) (Gastropoda: Pulmonata) from lotic and lentic habitats; environmental or genetic variance?.” Journal of Molluscan Studies54, no. 2 (1988): 197-207.
  4. Gaten, E. “Life cycle of Lymnaea peregra (Gastropoda: Pulmonata) in the Leicester canal, UK, with an estimate of annual production.” Hydrobiologia135 (1986): 45-54.
  5. A. BYRNE, J. D. REYNOLDS, R. F. MCMAHON Shell growth, reproduction and life cycles of Lymnaea peregraand L. palustris (Pulmonata: Basommatophora) in oligotrophic turloughs (temporary lakes) in Ireland. Zoology. Volume 217, Issue 2, February 1989, Pages 321-339
  6. Dussart, G. B. J. “Life cycles and distribution of the aquatic gastropod molluscs Bithynia tentaculata (L.), Gyraulus albus (Muller), Planorbis planorbis (L.) and Lymnaea peregra (Muller) in relation to water chemistry.” Hydrobiologia67, no. 3 (1979): 223-239.
  7. Jarne, Philippe, and Bernard Delay. “Inbreeding depression and self-fertilization in Lymnaea peregra (Gastropoda: Pulmonata).” Heredity64, no. 2 (1990): 169-175.
  8. Salih, O. Al-Habbib, W. Al-Habbib, S. Al-zako, T. Ali, The effects of constant and changing tempertures on the development of eggs of the freshwater snail Lymnaea auricularia (L.), Journal of Thermal Biology, Volume 6, Issue 4, 1981, Pages 379-388
  9. Dussart, Georges, and Richard Kay. “Relationships between water chemistry and respiration rate in several populations of lymnaea peregra Müller (Gastropoda: Mollusca).” Hydrobiologia69 (1980): 57-65.

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