The mystery snail (Pomacea bridgesii) is one of the most popular of all the freshwater snail species kept in captivity. This species is found in South America in the wild, and comes in a variety of colors, including blue, gold, purple, orange, black, dark green, and ivory. As with other snail species, the lifespan of mystery snails is only about a year, even when they are kept in the best conditions. Not keeping them in the proper conditions will shorten their life span, however.
Here are care requirements of mystery snails, including water parameters, feeding, and health concerns to make sure they live their full life.
Understanding the Mystery Snail’s Natural Lifespan
Mystery snails rarely live more than a year, even when given proper care. In captivity, the most common cause of death is poor water conditions. Also, it’s not unusual for mystery snails to die shortly after being introduced to the tank. This is usually due to stress from being transported issues with water quality, or the snail already being in old age, as it’s not possible to determine the age of a mystery snail by just looking at.
Providing Proper Care for Mystery Snails
Mystery snails are easy to care for; however, they need consistency in their care, particularly regarding water parameters. Most snails die due to neglect.
Of all the care requirements for mystery snails, providing the proper water parameters is the one you will want to give the most attention to. The ideal water parameters are as follows:
- Water temperature should be between 68 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
- pH should be 7.6 to 8.4
- Water hardness should be from 12 to 18 kH.
- The water should be well oxygenated with a moderate flow
Also, mystery snails are sensitive to the presence of copper in the water. One of the prime sources of copper is from water pipes when the tank is first filled up. This means if you use tap water to fill the aquarium, you’ll need to allow the water to stabilize before adding these snails. As with fish, it’s best to let the tank cycle before adding the snails into the tank.
You should also give your mystery snails a calcium supplement, as calcium carbonate makes up 95-99.9% of their shells, and low pH levels dissolve calcium carbonate. To help your snail maintain its shell’s condition, ensure the pH is at the proper level. Also, see the next section for ways and how often to provide calcium supplements in their diet.
Mystery Snail Diet
In their natural habitat, mystery snails are grazers and primarily eat plant matter. In captivity, mystery snails primarily eat algae. Because of this, you’ll want to encourage algae growth in the tank. If you keep live plants in the aquarium, they may also nibble on those. They will also consume uneaten fish flakes and pellets, which is why they are great for keeping the tank clean. You can enhance your snail’s diet by offering it fresh vegetables. I recommend trying:
Feeding snails kale, broccoli, or spinach offers the added benefit of being calcium-rich, which will help them maintain shell health.
Mystery Snail Health Concerns
There are no diseases that you need to be concerned with. When keeping mystery snails, the primary thing that you’ll want to look out for is water quality, as they’re extremely sensitive to changes in water conditions—even mild ones.
Changes in water quality can lead to shock and a quick decline in health. In turn, this can lead to the snail being infected by disease or parasites.
Understanding Mystery Snail Behavior
Mystery snails have a great temperament and pose no threat to other aquarium inhabitants. When they feel threatened, they’ll retract into their shell. Their primary behavior is grazing the tank bottom and walls for algae and other forms of organic matter.
Occasionally, you may find the snail floating on the water’s surface. Normally, this isn’t a concern unless they’re doing it for prolonged periods. In such cases, it may mean that they’re ill or dying.
Mystery snails are unique among snails in how they breathe. While other aquatic snails only possess gills, this snail possesses both gills and a primitive lung (pulmonary sack). This means they can extract oxygen from the water using their gills or extend a tube-like structure through the water’s surface to gather air. In the wild, this ability allows them to survive conditions when the oxygen content of the water is low.
Mystery snails are active both day and night, though they seem to prefer dim lighting. They’re are excellent climbers, so be sure to have a secure lid on the aquarium!
Breeding Mystery Snails
Mystery snails are gonochoristic, which means that it takes a female and a male to reproduce. This may seem obvious, but some mollusks don’t require a coupled pair to produce eggs. Though male snails tend to be smaller than females, there’s no visual way to determine the sex of these snails.
If you plan to breed mystery snails, I recommend getting a group of five to six snails, putting them together, and seeing what happens. During the mating, the male will approach the female from behind and crawl around her shell until he finds the correct position for mating.
The couple will remain joined for one to five hours. Once inseminated by the male, the female can lay eggs over an extended period. She can do so because she can store sperm for months.
In the evenings, the female will lay up to 200 eggs. The eggs will appear as a mass above the water surface or on the tank wall.
The eggs will incubate for 15-24 days, depending on the water temperature. The warmer the temperature, the less time it takes the eggs to hatch. You can remove the egg mass from the tank after three to four weeks if you don’t see any eggs with dark spots, indicating that they still contain an unborn snail inside.
Hatchling snails have a shell length of 2.4 millimeters but are otherwise identical to the adults. It’s important that you provide an abundant amount of algae for the hatchlings, as this will determine their survival rate. Other than this, they require no additional care.
How Mystery Snails Compare to Other Freshwater Snails
The genus Pomacea contains other species, and they’re classified as invasive species:
- Pomacea insularum (island apple snail)
- Pomacea canaliculate (golden apple snail)
- Marisa cornuarietis (Columbian ramshorn apple snail)
- Promacea diffusa (blue apple snail)
Except for Promacea diffusa (blue apple snail) , the other species are banned from the United States as they threaten the ecosystem and agriculture. They destroy aquatic plants and crops, like wetland rice.
Incorporating Mystery Snails into a Community Tank
Matching up mystery snails with tank mates is not difficult. Any freshwater fish or invertebrate with a gentle temperament that doesn’t include snails on their menu will be compatible with them. Examples include:
- Betta fish
- Neon tetras
- Cory catfish
- Nerite snails
- Ramshorn snail
- Ivory snails
- Trumpet snails
- Gold inca snails
- Ghost shrimp
- Red cherry shrimp
- Amano shrimp
- Bamboo shrimp
- Vampire shrimp
You can add a mystery snail to a freshwater tank if:
- The tank is at least five gallons.
💡Follow our handy guide to help you understand how many snails per gallon you can fit in your tank, based on their average size.
- The tank contains plenty of vegetation.
- The tank mates do not include aggressive or semi-aggressive species.
When introducing the snail to the aquarium, place the snail at the bottom of the aquarium bottom, in the upright position. Don’t just drop the snail into the tank; they may have trouble righting themselves if they land on their sides.
Also, be aware of aquarium filters. Mystery snails have been known to get trapped inside filters while searching for food. If unable to free itself, it may die.
If you notice a snail trapped in the
Mystery snails prefer a planted aquarium, which can provide them with an additional food source besides algae. Plants shed their leaves which accumulate at the bottom of the tank. Mystery snails will feast on it.
A Short Life at a Snail’s Pace
We hope that you enjoyed this article. While the mystery snail’s life span is short, you can allow it to get the most out of it, and in return, enjoy a clean aquarium. Do you have any mystery snails in your tank? Do you have any questions or tips for other fishkeepers? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to share this article with your fishkeeper friends.