Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1957
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record:
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record: 1957

General Invasion History:

Marisa cornuarietis is native from Central America to Brazil in fresh waters. It was introduced to Cuba in the 1940s, Puerto Rico in 1952, Martinique in the 1980s, and has subsequently been brought to many Caribbean Islands with the aquarium trade and with cargo vessels (Pointier 2005; Rawlings et al. 2007; Gulf Marine Fisheries Commission 2008). Some introductions into Africa (Sudan, Tanzania) and the Caribbean (Dominican Republic) have been deliberate, for the biocontrol of native snails transmitting blood-flukes causing schistosomiasis (Pointier 2005). It was first collected in Florida in 1957 and is established in fresh-slightly brackish canals and estuaries in southern Florida (Hunt 1958, cited by McCann et al. 1996). This snail has been collected near Warm Springs, Idaho, and is established in rivers in central Texas (Horne et al. 1992; Howells et al. 2006; Rawlings et al. 2007).

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History on the East Coast:

Marisa cornuarietis was first collected in 1957 in Coral Gables, Florida in canals feeding into Biscayne Bay tributaries (Hunt 1958). It was popular in the aquarium trade, but fell out of favor because of its appetite for aquarium plants (Hunt 1958). This snail is known to disperse along the shores of brackish lagoons (Robins 197, cited by McCann et al. 1996). 

Invasion History on the Gulf Coast:

In 1996 and 2004, Marisa cornuarietis was collected on the Gulf coast of Florida, near Fort Myers (USNM 888709, US National Museum of Natural History 2008; Florida Museum of Natural History 2013). The USNHM specimen is labelled 'Gulf of Mexico', and may have come from brackish water.

Invasion History Elsewhere in the World:

Marisa cornuarietis was introduced to Cuba by 1940 (Hunt 1958), Puerto Rico in 1952 (Hunt 1958; USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2008) and later to Martinique, Guadeloupe, and the Dominican Republic (Pointier et al. 2005; Cowie and Hayes 2012). It has also been introduced to Sudan, Egypt, and Tanzania, for biocontrol of snails transmitting blood-flukes that cause schistosomiasis (Cowie and Hayes 2012).


Marisa cornuarietis is a large tropical freshwater snail. Adults have a planorboid (flattened spiral, with the spire not protruding) shell of 3.5-4 whorls. Young snails do have an elevated spire, and a globose shape. The shells are marked with transverse growth lines. Adult shells are 48-56 mm high or long, and about 22 mm wide. The aperture makes a slight angle with the axis of the shell. Individuals can have dark-yellow, brownish, or black spiral bands. The banding pattern is unequal, so sometimes, these snails have one side dark and the other yellow. A golden-yellow mutant form is commonly sold in the aquarium trade. Description from: Thompson 2004; Ghesquiere 2013.


Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Mollusca
Class:   Gastropoda
Subclass:   Prosobranchia
Order:   Architaenioglossa
Family:   Ampullariidae
Genus:   Marisa
Species:   cornuarietis


Ceratodes cornuaurietus (None, None)

Potentially Misidentified Species



Marisa cornuarietis has separate sexes and females tend to be larger than males. Fertilization is internal and eggs are laid in gelatinous transparent masses, below the water surfaces (Cowie and Hayes 2012; Ghesquiere 2013). Its young hatch as miniature snails, which can disperse rapidly downstream on floating vegetation (Cowie and Hayes 2012).

It is herbivorous and is found in shallow water, with dense vegetation in swamps, river, canals, lakes, and irrigation systems (Hunt 1958; Cowie and Hayes 2012; Ghesquiere 2013). This snail has a lower temperature limit between 8 and 13°C and tolerates salinity up to about 4.3 PSU (Hunt 1968 and Robins 1971, cited by McCann et al. 1996). It has a lung, as well as gills, and can tolerate 30-120 days of air exposure, depending on humidity (Cowie and Hayes 2012), which may facilitate transport on trailered boats. Marisa cornuarietis feeds on a wide range of aquatic plants, including Najas, Myriophyllum, Elodea, Cabomba, filamentous algae growing on rocks, and terrestrial plants such as tomatoes, carrots, lettuce and rice. In addition, this snail feeds on egg masses and juveniles of other snails, making it a potential biocontrol agent for snails hosting disease-causing trematodes (Hunt 1958; Cowie and Hayes 2012). Potential predators include ducks and fishes (Cowie and Hayes 2012).


algae, aquatic plants, juvenile snails, snail eggs

Trophic Status:




General HabitatNontidal FreshwaterNone
General HabitatCanalsNone
General HabitatMangrovesNone
Salinity RangeLimnetic0-0.5 PSU
Salinity RangeOligohaline0.5-5 PSU
Salinity RangeMesohaline5-18 PSU
Tidal RangeSubtidalNone
Vertical HabitatEpibenthicNone

Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Minimum Temperature (ºC)13Hunt 1958 (Field)
Maximum Temperature (ºC)35.5Snails feed normally at this temperature, but eggs do not develop normally (Cowie and Hayes 2011).
Minimum Salinity (‰)0This is a freshwater species.
Maximum Salinity (‰)4.8Experimental (Robins 1971, cited by McCann et al. 1996)
Minimum Dissolved Oxygen (mg/l)0.5Hunt 1958
Broad Temperature RangeNoneSubtropical-Tropical
Broad Salinity RangeNoneNontidal Limnetic-Oligohaline

General Impacts

Marisa cornuarietis is a popular aquarium snail, despite its tendency to consume aquatic plants, which has also made it a pest in rice fields. It has also been introduced in tropical regions for biocontrol of native snails carrying disease-causing parasites. Ecological concerns include consumption of aquatic plants in critical habitats, competition with native snails, and predation on the eggs of rare snails and endangered fish (Hunt 1958;Horne et al. 1992; Karatayev et al. 2009; Cowie and Hayes 2011; Ghesquiere 2013).

Economic Impacts

Ornamental: Marisa cornuarietis is a large, attractive snail making it popular amongst aquaria enthusiasts (Ghesquiere 2013) despite its tendency to consume whole aquarium plants. Its impact on aquaria plants has led some people to dump the snail into the wild (Hunt 1958).

Agriculture: Marisa cornuarietis is a pest of rice fields in Puerto Rico (Cowie and Hayes 2011).

Human Health: In some tropical countries, M. cornuarietis has been introduced to control native snails which host trematodes causing schistosomiasis in humans. The introduced snails control the natives through competition and consumption of egg masses. In Guadeloupe, M. cornuarietis contributed to the decline of Biomphalaria glabrata, and in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, it helped control B. glabrata and Pseudosuccinea columella (Cowie and Hayes 2011). It was introduced to Egypt, Sudan, and Tanzania for similar biocontrol efforts, but has not become established in Africa (Cowie and Hayes 2011).

Ecological Impacts

Herbivory: Marisa cornuarietis is capable of very rapid population growth, and can remove much of the rooted plant growth from lakes and canals (Hunt 1958; Horne et al. 1992). However, it undergoes great fluctuations in abundance and recent reports of ecological damage are not known (Howells et al. 2006).

Predation: Marisa cornuarietis often consumes the eggs of other freshwater snails. In experiments, it consumed the eggs of an endangered fish, Etheostoma fonticola (Fountain Darter) at a higher rate than native or other introduced snails. However, the extent of this predation in the fish's habitat, in Texas springs and streams, is still unknown (Phillips et al. 2010).

Regional Impacts

S200Biscayne BayEcological ImpactHerbivory
In Florida canals, M. cornuarietis can consume large quantities of aquatic plants of many genera, including Najas, Myriophyllum, Elodea, Cabomba, and, when abundant, can eliminate rooted vegetation (Hunt 1958; McCann et al. 1996). However, reports of recent damage to Florida ecosystems are lacking (Howells et al. 2006).
FLFloridaEcological ImpactHerbivory
In Florida canals, M. cornuarietis can consume large quantities of aquatic plants of many genera, including Najas, Myriophyllum, Elodea, Cabomba, and, when abundant, can eliminate rooted vegetation (Hunt 1958; McCann et al. 1996). However, reports of recent damage to Florida ecosystems are lacking (Howells et al. 2006).

Regional Distribution Map

Bioregion Region Name Year Invasion Status Population Status
S200 Biscayne Bay 1957 Def Estab
G050 Charlotte Harbor 1996 Def Estab

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude


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