|Drawing of a live individual of Marisa cornuarietis: the visible soft parts are covered in dark spots. The edge of the round operculum is visible under the shell.|
informal group Architaenioglossa
These snails are popular in aquariums, and are also used in the wild as a biological control agent.
It is widespread in northern South America, although the type locality is unknown. The giant ramshorn snail is native to northern South America and Central America, including Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.
Non-indigenous distribution of Marisa cornuarietis include:
- Marisa cornuarietis was first discovered in the USA in Coral Gables, Florida, in 1957. It has spread to many other counties in southern Florida. It was first found in Texas in 1983 and has also been reported in California and Idaho. This species has been introduced and has established itself in Florida, in the southeastern United States. Established populations of this snail now exist in Broward, Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties. The initial introductions were probably from aquarium release, aka "aquarium dumping".
Although Marisa snails superficially resemble the great ramshorn snail because of the planispiral coiling of their shells, they are not at all closely related to true ramshorn snails in the family Planorbidae.
This is an easily recognizable species: the shell is flat-coiled (planispiral). The shell color varies from pale to darker red or brown or more vivid shades of those colors, and is fairly often striped.
The shell diameter is usually 35–50 mm (2 in) or even larger.
This snail prefers still or slow-moving fresh water, depending on the availability of aquatic vegetation as a food source.
This species eats aquatic plants, algae, and dead fish and snails.
Easily adaptable to captivity, this snail may invade and damage aquarium vegetation. It is practically omnivorous, and feeds on animal and vegetal detritus. This snail acts as a useful aquarium scavenger when it is not excessively numerous.
Studies revealed that this species retards the growth of water hyacinths by feeding on the roots of the plants. It has been suggested that the snail be used as weed-control agent in the canals of south Florida.
A non-hermaphrodite, it lays eggs in characteristic disk-shape clutches, adhering to various substrates. Unlike some other apple snails, this snail lays its eggs below the waterline.
In the aquarium
This is a popular species in the aquarium trade.
Marisa cornuarietis is one of about 120 species belonging to the Ampullariidae family, also known as the apple snail family (and sometimes called Pilidae). These apple snails are commonly sold in pet stores under the misleading names "giant ramshorn snail" and "Columbian ramshorn snail".
Marisa cornuarietis is usually purchased intentionally from pet stores, whereas true ramshorn snails (family Planorbidae) are very often considered to be aquarium pests, acquired accidentally, clinging to leaves of aquatic plants.
These apple snails grow to be much larger than the true ramshorn snails, and they consume large amounts of plant matter. This means they are not suitable for an aquarium where plant growth is being encouraged.
As a biological control agent
Marisa cornuarietis is used as a biological control to reduce the number of Biomphalaria snails, which are intermediate hosts to the disease Schistosomiasis. Schistosoma larvae (cercariae), namely of Schistosoma haematobium, enter and develop inside the Biomphlaria, to form miracidium, which can penetrate through skin to enter the human body.
Marisa cornuarietis snails compete with the Biomphalaria snail vectors for food. They also eat the eggs of Biomphalaria, thereby effectively reducing the chances of Schistosomia being spread.
The potential ecological impacts of this species were reviewed by Howells et al. in 2006.
- Pastorino, G. & Darrigan, G. (2011). "Marisa cornuarietis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
- Rawlings, T. A.; Hayes, K. A.; Cowie, R. H.; Collins, T. M. (2007). "The identity, distribution, and impacts of non-native apple snails in the continental United States". BMC Evolutionary Biology 7: 97. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-97. PMC 1919357. PMID 17594487.
- United States Geological Survey. (2008). Marisa cornuarietis. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL.  Revision Date: 2/6/2008
- Vázquez A. A. & Perera S. (2010). "Endemic Freshwater molluscs of Cuba and their conservation status". Tropical Conservation Science 3(2): 190-199. HTM, PDF.
- Howells R. G., Burlakova L. F., Karatayev A. Y., Marfurt R. K. & Burks R. L. (2006). "Native and introduced Ampullariidae in North America: History, status, and ecology". In: Joshi R. C., Sebastian L. S., Muñoz N. E. (eds.) (2006). Global Advances in the Ecology and Management of Golden Apple Snails. Philippine Rice Research Institute. 2006: 73-112.
- Nguma, J. F.; McCullough, F. S.; Masha, E. (1982). "Elimination of Biomphalaria pfeifferi, Bulinus tropicus and Lymnaea natalensis by the ampullarid snail, Marisa cornuarietis, in a man-made dam in northern Tanzania". Acta tropica 39 (1): 85–90. PMID 6122367.
- Oehlmann, J. R.; Schulte-Oehlmann, U.; Bachmann, J.; Oetken, M.; Lutz, I.; Kloas, W.; Ternes, T. A. (2005). "Bisphenol a Induces Superfeminization in the Ramshorn Snail (Gastropoda: Prosobranchia) at Environmentally Relevant Concentrations". Environmental Health Perspectives 114 (S–1): 127–133. doi:10.1289/ehp.8065. PMC 1874184. PMID 16818258.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Marisa cornuarietis.|
- Marisa cornuarietis at National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)
- Pesticides Database - Chemical Toxicity Studies
- Marisa cornuarietis at the Apple Snail Website
- Marisa cornuarietis (Linnaeus, 1758) at Gulf of Mexico Program
- Aufderheide, J.; Warbritton, R.; Pounds, N.; File-Emperador, S.; Staples, C.; Caspers, N.; Forbes, V. (2006). "Effects of husbandry parameters on the life-history traits of the apple snail, Marisa cornuarietis: Effects of temperature, photoperiod, and population density". Invertebrate Biology 125 (1): 9–20. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7410.2006.00035.x. PMC 2582394. PMID 19009043.
- Selck, H.; Aufderheide, J.; Pounds, N.; Staples, C.; Caspers, N.; Forbes, V. (2006). "Effects of food type, feeding frequency, and temperature on juvenile survival and growth of Marisa cornuarietis (Mollusca: Gastropoda)". Invertebrate Biology 125 (2): 106–116. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7410.2006.00045.x. PMC 2582395. PMID 19009044.