Mystery Snail

A Complete Guide To Mystery Snail Care

If you’ve been exploring the benefits of getting a mystery snail or want to provide the best care for the ones you already have, this is the best article you could read. These beautiful, unique freshwater creatures light up your tank with their attractive colors and are the perfect option if algae depletion is a goal.

Mystery snails are relatively easy to care for, but specific requirements must be adhered to ensure they remain healthy and vibrant throughout their lifecycle. This guide will cover everything from their tank requirements to recognizing, preventing, and treating mystery snail diseases, and even some DIY methods to control their population and make your aquarium the best environment at all times.

Mystery Snail Overview

Mystery snails are freshwater snails native to slow-moving ponds, rivers, and streams with lots of aquatic plants and vegetation in South America. The snail species has become very popular among aquarium enthusiasts because of their easygoing nature and awe-inspiring colors. Their colors usually range from gold, blue, black, and ivory, often with intricate patterns on their shells.

They have a distinctive appearance, with a round, dome-shaped shell reaching up to two inches in diameter. This apple-like shape means they’re sometimes called Apple Snails.

One thing to note is their tendency to be adept climbers, so make sure you have a lid over your aquarium tank. They also have a specialized respiratory structure called a “pulmonary cavity” that allows them to breathe air directly from the water’s surface. That usually means they can survive in low-oxygen areas and out of the water for up to 5 days.

Tank Setup for Mystery Snails

One of the most critical care factors for a mystery snail is its environment. It’s hard for them to thrive when certain specifications are absent, so if you’re building a home for your mystery friend, ensure it’s as close to its natural habitat as possible.

Several specifications to consider are the following:

  • Tank Setup 
  • Water Quality 
  • Substrate 
  • Plants and Decor 
  • Tank Mates 

Tank Setup 

Mystery snails are about two inches in diameter and must have enough space to move around without feeling confined. A five-gallon tank is ideal per one snail as they also tend to produce a lot of waste. 

Once you’ve found a perfect tank, the next thing to consider is a good filtration system. Due to the waste they produce, filters with mechanical and biological filtration capabilities, like canister filters, are a perfect choice since they provide double filtration power.

Water Parameters 

Mystery snails can be very sensitive to the kind of water in the tank, so it’s essential to ensure that the water is in top condition continually. Regularly test for ammonia, chlorine, nitrite, nitrate, and pH levels and take quick measures when they’re outside the required range.

You can use a water conditioner to dechlorinate your water and ensure you do regular water changes and have a nitrogen cycle in place to help regulate ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels.

The recommended level for these three is 0 ppm, and the recommended pH level is 7- 7.5. 

Establish a colony of beneficial bacteria in your filter to easily maintain your nitrogen cycle. Keep the water temperature between 68 and 82° Fahrenheit, and regularly confirm the levels above.


When choosing a substrate for your mystery snail tank, choose one that’s soft and easy to dig into, as these apple snails like to burrow deep. Use a depth of at least 2 inches as a benchmark, and use a substrate whose particles are no larger than your snail’s foot.

Sand is an excellent option because it covers these requirements, but you can also use gravel if it doesn’t have sharp edges and it’s not too big. Also, mind the color of the substrate you choose. While that can be subject to your preference, you should know that darker substrates can make it difficult for your snails and other inhabitants to see clearly.

Plants and Decor 

Mystery snails like to climb and explore, so providing live or artificial plants will give them a place to do this to their eyestalk’s content. Live plants will also help maintain good water quality by absorbing nitrates. Choose plants that are compatible with the water parameters of your tank. Examples include java fern, anubias, hornwort, and moss balls. 

In addition to plants, decorations can add visual interest to your tank and serve as exploration zones. Some good equipment options for mystery snail tanks include driftwood, rocks, caves, and PVC pipes—just ensure they have no sharp edges or small openings that could trap your snail.

Tank Mates

Mystery snails are generally peaceful, so it’s easy to select their tank mates. However, they should never be kept with aggressive or predatory fish like betta fish and crayfish, as they might view them as food. You also want to avoid keeping them with fish that will compete with them, like crayfish or large shrimp.

You can keep your snails with species like:

  • Tetras
  • Guppies
  • Corydoras Catfish
  • Small snails like nerites and ramshorns

One thing to note is that the species you choose should have similar water, temperature, and other tank requirements to your mystery snails.

Everything You’ll Need to Care for your Mystery Snails

06/20/2024 10:56 am GMT

How Often Should I Clean My Mystery Snail’s Tank?

As a general guideline, partial water changes of 20-30% should be done once a week, but you may need to do more frequent water changes if the tank is heavily stocked or if the water quality is poor. 

Here are some tips for cleaning your aquarium

  • Do a partial water change of about 20-30% of the tank’s water once a week. That will help remove accumulated waste and debris and keep the water clean and fresh.
  • Use a gravel vacuum or siphon to clean the substrate during water changes. That will help remove any uneaten food, waste, and debris that has settled on the bottom of the tank.
  • Clean the tank walls and decorations to remove algae or other buildups. You can use a clean sponge or algae scraper to gently remove buildup without harming your snails or other aquarium inhabitants.
  • Check and maintain the filter regularly to ensure it’s working correctly and not becoming clogged with debris. The frequency of filter cleaning will depend on your filter type and your tank’s stocking level.

Monitor the water parameters (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, etc.) regularly to ensure they’re within safe levels for your snails and other tank inhabitants.

What Do Mystery Snails Eat?

Mystery snails generally prefer a vegetable or algae-based diet, but you can add a few other things to vary their diet. 

Some suggestions include:

  • Mystery snails love vegetables like spinach, lettuce, kale, zucchini, and cucumber. You can also feed them raw or blanched vegetables.
  • Mystery snails will eat algae that grow on the tank walls and decorations. But it would be best not to rely solely on whatever algae is available in the tank to feed them. Instead, use algae wafers as a supplement.
  • Mystery snail feeding and nutrition consists of several varieties like  fish flakes, pellets, or other types of fish food.
  • Mystery snails need calcium to build their shells and during breeding, so offer them cuttlebone, crushed eggshells, or other sources of calcium.

Vary their diet and feed them once a day or every other day depending on how long the food is gobbled up or remains uneaten. Never leave uneaten food in the tank as it reduces the water quality. Check up on your snail regularly and reduce its portions accordingly.

How Can I Tell if My Mystery Snail Is Sick? 

Mystery snails are hardy and not easily susceptible to diseases, but these signs should cue you to their discomfort.

  • Shell damage: Cracks, pits, or holes in the shell can indicate physical injury or poor health and disease like calcium deficiency.
  • Infection: A snail with cloudy or discolored flesh may have a bacterial or fungal infection.
  • Parasites: Snails can be affected by parasites such as planaria or flukes, which can cause lethargy or weight loss.

How to Prevent Diseases in Your Mystery Snail

While diseases might still occur even when we do our best, we must ensure we do everything possible to prevent illness for our mystery friends.

Here are some tips:

  • Always keep the tank clean and well-maintained to prevent the buildup of harmful chemicals and pathogens.
  • Ensure there’s no overcrowding, as it can lead to stress and increased competition for resources, which can weaken the snails’ immune systems.
  • Feed your snails a varied and balanced diet to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients.
  • Quarantine any new snails or other aquatic species before adding them to your tank to prevent the spread of diseases.

Treatment Tips

The best treatment method is a trip to an aquatic veterinarian, but these tips should help considerably too.

  • Shell damage: If the damage is minor, it may heal on its own. You can add a calcium supplement to the tank for more severe damage or a calcium deficiency.
  • Infection: Isolate the infected snail and treat it with appropriate medication or antibiotics.
  • Parasites: Treat with appropriate medication or use a snail-safe dewormer.

DIY Snail Traps and Control Methods

If you need to depopulate your snail tank, here are some DIY methods to trap and remove them.

Lettuce Trap

Place a piece of lettuce in the tank overnight, and in the morning, remove it with the snails attached.

Snail Trap Bottle

Cut the top off a plastic bottle, flip it over, and place bait (such as food) inside. The snails will crawl in and become trapped.

Manual Removal

Carefully remove snails from the tank using a net or tweezers.

Control with Predators

Adding a snail-eating fish or invertebrate, such as a loach or assassin snail, can help control snail populations.

Demystifying Mystery Snail Care

We hope you enjoyed this comprehensive guide to mystery snail care. We would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on this guide, so please feel free to leave a comment below. And if you found this information helpful, we encourage you to share it with your fellow aquarium enthusiasts. Together, we can ensure that mystery snails and other aquatic creatures thrive in our care.

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  1. Peg Hanscom says:

    I’m new to snails and my mystery guy just burped or pooped a large pink mass. I thought he imploded but he happily zipped away. What was that, is he sick or just stressed.
    He’s being stalked by a very large Betta. I have already got a new tank so I can separate them. Please help! Peg

    1. Peg, if you weren’t sure about your mystery snail’s gender, I’d have said the pink mass was a clutch of eggs. That being said, I’d love to hear an update!

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