Mystery Snail Care Guide & Species Profile

Mystery snails are one of the most popular additions to freshwater tanks. These slow-moving, peaceful herbivores, let you sit back whilst they do some of the cleaning for you.

Most people will buy snails, such as nerite snails, to clean the glass and rocks of algae. No matter what level of experience, any community tank will benefit from these Gastropods.

In this article, we will talk about how to care for these fun little snails, including their appearance, breeding eggs, compatibility with other species, and much more…

Mystery Snail Facts & Overview

Mystery Snail

Care Level:Beginner
Color:Brown, black, blue, purple, gold, and white
Lifespan:1 year
Size:2 inches
Minimum Tank Size:5 gallons
Tank Setup:Moderate vegetation, adaptable
Compatibility:Community tanks

These snails have many names, one being the scientific name Pomacea bridgesii. Like all snails, they are members of the class Gastropoda. However, most people will use the common name mystery snail or common apple snail.

There are lots of other names for this snail including; mystery apple snail, golden mystery snail, spike topped apple snail, and Pomacea australis. The correct scientific name however is Pomacea bridgesii.

Because they are so common among aquarists, use the following general rule when purchasing snails for your tank. Take a few minutes to observe the group of snails at the store and pick the ones who are moving or attached to a surface; never buy a snail that has a cracked or damaged shell.

The worst feeling when buying a snail is getting home only to realize the beautiful shell you picked out is just that: a shell.

In the wild, these snails will live for around 1 year. They eat dead plants and clean the environment. This allows any nutrients that are trapped in detritus to be returned back to the ecosystem.

A really interesting feature is their complex eyes which are placed on a cephalic eyestalk. There are no other sensory organs in the eyestalk, so it can completely regrow after a few short weeks if severed.

Another interesting note is there are other species of this snail from China under the scientific name of Cipangopaludina chinensis and Japan under the scientific name Cipangopaludina japonica. They are considered invasive species in some areas.

Both the Chinese and Japanese snails are members of a different family; Viviparidae. They were originally brought to California for the food trade due to their size. Common apple snails are used in the aquarium trade.

This article will focus on the common apple snail, Pomacea bridgesii.

Typical Behavior

These snails are one of the most peaceful creatures you can have in your tank. They spend the majority of their time grazing on the algae that build up on the glass.

If approached by an aggressive fish, they will simply hunker down and hide in their shell. This does mean that keeping them with peaceful fish is important. Making sure they are not scared all the time means they will be more active and able to clean the tank more effectively.

On occasions, you might see the snails go to the top of the tank only to let go and free fall to the bottom. Sometimes they will only let go of part of the foot and slid down the glass quickly.


Mystery Snail Overview

Mystery snails come in a wide range of colors. The most popular are the black or brown, gold, and ivory variants. These colors will add a nice touch to your freshwater tank.

You may also come across stocks of Albino Mystery Snails too. These are much paler than other varieties, though they may still have subtle patterns of brown or gold stripes.

The shells come in solid, to banded, to a gradient color and the bright almost white head and foot color, add a pop of color. The color and pattern possibilities in these snails are almost endless.

They will grow to about 2 inches in diameter at most. This relatively small size allows them to be included in both small and large tanks.

When people think of snails they think of the spiral whorl starting at the apex (the top) and expanding downward to the aperture or opening.

This is no different for these snails, but their apex is more to the side of their aperture. As adults they only have about 4 whorls, all of which are relatively small.

Another part of their anatomy is an operculum which is the plate that is used to close the opening of the shell.

Their operculum looks like a big nail when the snail is closed and is a good way to see if your snail is alive and healthy. The operculum will fall off when the organism dies and will not properly close if something is wrong with the snail.

One of the most important parts of their anatomy is the head. They possess two large tentacles that are used to sense their environment and find food. Directly behind these long tentacles are their eyes which detect motion and light.

Both of these together help to find food and to alert the snail of predators. If a predator is spotted, the snail will tuck into the shell and close the operculum until they are safe.

Below this is their mouth and a second pair of tentacles that are used for feeding. They also have a siphon on the left side of the head used to pass water through their gills.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

Well Planted Mystery Snail Tank
Mystery snails prefer well planted tanks

This species is found in Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia, however they have now began to spread as invasive species to other parts of the world. The Chinese species especially is becoming a problem in the northern states of North America.

Natively they live in ponds, swamps and rivers where they can feed on dead or decomposing plants. They will feed on live plants but only when no other source is available. They spend most of their time grazing on the bottom of the environment.

The only thing they must watch out for is any fish or other creature that can break their tough shell. This can be any large fish or bird that may be lurking in the water.

Tank Conditions

To keep these snails right at home, keep your tank full of vegetation. This not only looks nice but also gives plenty of natural food. Common plants to include are Java Fern, Java Moss, and Hornwort; all of which are incredibly hardy.

These snails tend to swim out of the water, especially when food is low. Use a tight-fitting lid to ensure that all your snails stay in your aquarium.

They are hardy by nature but try to avoid rapid changes in water conditions. They are well adapted for moderately moving, highly oxygenated waters.

This is another reason why they are often added to tropical community tanks. The high oxygen levels are achieved through vegetation which is a key feature in many tropical communities.

As for water conditions, the numbers are straightforward:

  • pH level range: 7.6-8.4
  • Temperature range: 68°F-84°F
  • Water type: kH 12-18

The thing to keep note here is the relatively high pH. Low levels of pH can start to dissolve the calcium carbonate shells of the snails leaving them open to harm from other fish. Cracked, thin, or pitted shells can be a sign of low pH as well as low levels of calcium.

Adding calcium supplements can help ensure their shells are strong and healthy.

Having hard substrates like pebbles, gravel, or sand will make it easy to move for these snail but they do not need one specific kind. Each substrate will provide a different utility in your tank, so make the choice based on the rest of your tanks needs.

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

Mystery snails will do well in almost all size tanks. Because they do so well with community tanks it is best to keep them in an established community with a 5 or 10 gallon tank. They also work well in larger tanks.

How Many Mystery Snail Per Gallon?

You can keep 1 or 2 snails for every 5 gallons. This gives them enough space to move and eat as they please.

Tank Mates

Mystery Snail Tank Mates

These snails have little interaction with the fish in the tank unless they are being eaten. Yet another reason peaceful fish are a must.

Fish like tetras, guppies, and killifish will allow for the snails to mind their own business and eat away.

Another good tank mate for them is other species of peaceful invertebrates. Amano shrimp, cherry shrimp, and ghost shrimp all make great company for them and will not harm them at all.

If you’re looking to keep the Gastropod theme going then consider Ramshorn Snails, Ivory Snails, and Nerite Snails.

When putting them in tanks it is important to think about what fish or invertebrates are going to eat them. Oscars, cichlids, crayfish, and other aggressive fish should be avoided for this reason.

People often worry about keeping Mystery Snails with a Betta, but this should not be an issue if they are all getting enough food. They will live peacefully alongside your Betta and even clean up after them.

The same goes for most species of snails. They can be great tank mates if you’re worried that your Betta is getting lonely.

Keeping Mystery Snails Together

Two Mystery Snails

These animals will live together with very little issue. They will even live peacefully with other freshwater snails and invertebrates so long as they all have enough space to live and grow.

The only thing to keep in mind is how many you have per gallon. The rule of 1 fish to 5 gallons is one that applies to snails too. It is a good rule of thumb as to not overcrowd your tank.

Overcrowding is a problem for the tank itself and the well-being of your snails. Having too many can cause several health problems from damaged shells to lack of food or growth defects.


Mystery Snail 2
Mystery snails will eat all the algae off surfaces.

In the wild, these snails will feed on dead and rotting plants. They will also graze on algae build up on any surface such as rocks or sand. They are very optimistic scavengers by nature, which means they will eat a wide range of food.

Because of this, you want to keep a medium to high level of vegetation, thus giving them a natural food source. Plants will naturally shed as they grow and this gives your snails perfect food on top of the naturally growing algae.

They will suck onto the glass and eat the algae that grow off it. This is one of the biggest reasons people buy these little cleaners; keeping the glass clean for longer means less work for you.

If you haven’t cleaned the glass by hand, it is likely that you will be able to see the “tracks” of the snails as they move along and graze. They have what is called a radula which is what they use to scrape the glass and remove algae, leaving a “tire tread” pattern in their wake.

A great thing to see that lets you know you’re not the only one trying to keep the tank clean.

While these snails will likely be just fine on algae and plant matter, adding supplements will keep them healthy providing them with the right minerals they need. Bottom feeder tablets, flakes, or pellets will all enrich their diets.

It is also known that these herbivores love vegetables. Leafy greens like lettuce or vegetables like zucchini, so long as they are washed and softly blanched.

Just remember not to overfeed or leave food in the tank for too long. This could damage your water quality and lead to health problems for your inhabitants.


As discussed above, making sure your snails have healthy, undamaged shells is very important. Keeping the pH high and giving them calcium supplements can help avoid this problem.

One of the most common parasites is Angiostrongylus cantonensis or Rat Lungworm. You probably guessed that the adult form of this parasite is found in rodents, but the larvae will use snails as a temporary host until growing into adulthood.

This is something seen for the most part in the wild as these two species will likely never interact in the aquarium trade, meaning you don’t have to worry about this too much.

Grub Worms have been observed in aquariums where wild-caught snails were used. They appear as small, white cysts on the foot of the snail. When ruptured, flukes (parasites) are released into the water column. This is a problem for fish as the flukes will encyst their flesh and can only be removed physically. Grub Worms will stay inside the host fish until the host dies.

The good thing about this is that Grub Worms cannot reproduce inside your tank.

Most problems however stem from their shells. This is one of the most important things to look at to ensure health.

It is possible to patch the shells of snails; however, this process is one that must be done by hand and very risky. Most procedures require you to take the snail out of the tank and apply some form of fish safe epoxy.


Breeding Mystery Snails

Mystery Snails are gonochoristic which means a male and female must be present for reproduction.

If you are looking to have more snails without going out and buying them, the breeding process is easy.

The male and female will mate without any help or altered tank conditions.

Once the female is ready to lay eggs, she will lay her eggs above or at the water surface. They will leave their eggs in a cocoon which makes them easy to spot and remove if you do not want babies.

The eggs will be yellow, pink, or white in color.

A single clutch of eggs could produce 20-40 healthy adults, but they may lay multiple clutches around the tank, leading to many more.

A female could lay eggs weekly for nearly five months.

Many aquarists choose to move them to their own tank once they’re hatched to accommodate the dramatic increase in numbers and to prevent them from being eaten as they grow.

Trying to hatch too many eggs may overload your tank and impact the nitrogen cycle, so only keep what you can manage. Most eggs tend to be disposed of or hatched and promptly sold online or to friends/family.

If they lay their eggs above the water the air surrounding the cocoon must be moist enough and eggs should hatch within a month.

Baby snails will then fall to the bottom of the tank and begin their lives, eating the same food as their parents.

If you want your snails to breed, try lowering the water level a few inches to make room for them to lay eggs. Also make sure there is plenty of food as they tend to spawn only when there is enough food to feed their next generation.

Are Mystery Snails Suitable for your Aquarium?

When thinking about mystery snails for your tank, think about what you have in your aquarium. If your tank is full of vegetation and has a community of peaceful fish and invertebrates, then these snails are for you.

This species of snail is easy to keep as you don’t need to do much to keep them alive. They have few unique needs and do not necessarily need to be fed separately.

One of their best features is providing you a helping hand when cleaning the tank of plant particulates and algae from the glass. This makes your manual cleaning easier and less frequent.

All this means that these snails are perfect for both beginners and experts alike. It truly is hard for you to go wrong with them. This is why they have become one of the most popular freshwater snails for aquarium use. A quick look around any fish store will show just how common they are.

Have you ever kept mystery snails in your aquariums at home, or have you seen them in your local fish stores? We’d love hearing from you so let us know in the comments section below.

About Robert 420 Articles
Robert Woods is the creator of FishKeeping World, a third-generation fish keeper, and a graduate in animal welfare and behavior. He is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America, and the Nature Conservancy.


  1. Sandra Gaffney says:

    We love our snails and have 2. They are yellow inca females and are definitely one of the biggest personalities in our tank. Ours are now 1.5 and 2 inches long and approximately 1 inch across.

    • Linda W. says:

      We have a white mystery snail. She has our attention. She is always performing these falls that end up gloding onto a plant and down a few steps of a house that we have in the tank. If I could post a video, which I have of her in action. She is hilarious!

      • Barbara says:

        I have one that does that too. S/he balloons or parachutes down to the bottom of the tank, the climbs up and does it again all day long. Very acrobatic! Sometimes bounces off the plants, tumbles, no matter. Cracks me up.

  2. Sean says:

    I got a gold mystery snail a month ago to add to my fish tank, just this morning I noticed a cacoon/sac with many eggs just above the water line. I thought it took two of them? Was it pregnant over a month? Derp…

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Sean, yes it is quite possible. Females can hold sperm for up to a year. Thanks, Robert

    • Catherine Sharp says:

      the females can hold sperm for months at a time.

  3. Sara says:

    I just bought a Blue Mystery Snail, how do I tell if I have a male or female?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Sara, males are normally smaller than females, if you turn the snail upside down, males have a white sex organ (you’ll need to wait for it to peak out of the shell). Thanks, Robert

  4. Cpen says:

    I have a few of these in different colors and love them. The males are aggressive toward other males and large adults will attack other smaller ones. I have a smaller tank for the younger ones so this doesn’t happen. Planting with smaller moss in foreground and java fern, swords and penny white seem to make them very happy. Water condition is key to long life and in smaller than 10 gallon tank I suppliment with algae wafers.??

  5. Mary Jane says:

    Hi, I just got a new black mystery snail but instead of an aquarium, I have a terrarium with no fish and just moss balls. What food/supplements will I need to put in the water to keep my snail healthy?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Mary Jane, they’ll get most of their food from the plants (I’m assuming you have some other plants in your terrarium?) and the algae. You can supplement their diet with bottom pellets or flake food. Thanks, Robert

  6. Katelyn says:

    I noticed a clump of something on the inside of my snails shell. Looks like eggs but not the ones I’ve seen in pictures. Any idea of what it could be? The snail is roaming around the tank just fine.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Katelyn, do you have a picture that I can take a closer look at? Thanks, Robert

  7. Shawn Arey says:

    Does anyone know if a golden male mates with a blue female, what color their offspring will be?

    • Alma says:

      I have golden shell with blue/dark body. They are beautiful!

    • Alix says:

      It depends on the genetics of each one! There are possibilities for almost every kind of snail, but you will mostly likely end up with about half-and-half golds and females. If you have any parent with a black or brown shells, the offspring will be mostly black/brown (this is called wild-type) because it’s such a dominant trait. That’s why I tend to keep my wild-type snails away from the designer ones when I’m trying to breed them. If you have any wild-type snails or they were ever housed with one, be aware that they tend to favor sperm retention of wild-type snails for some reason? I’ve noticed that in my population- whenever my guys retain sperm from previous tank mates, it’s always a wild-type tank mate. Maybe they just prefer breeding with wild-types for camouflage?

  8. B. Green says:

    I’m thinking about starting a 5 gallon tank with a betta, two ghost shrimp, and a mystery snail. Would a snail do well with a betta fish? I’d hate for him to be scared all the time. Also, how do the snails do with artificial plants? This will be a beginner tank for me. I’m not experienced with live vegetation.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hello, this sounds like an ideal beginner tank. You can choose artificial plants as long as you feed your snails and shrimps algae wafers. Thanks, Robert

    • Mel says:

      I had a very with the snails and ghost shrimp but about two months in my very attacked and killed them all:(

    • Frank says:

      I have a betta with a snail and they get along just fine. I had 4 ghost shrimp also in the tank but as soon as they got nice and fat my betta ate them all….except for the heads which was hilarious.

    • Kayla says:

      I had a betta with two snails, the betta killed them both. I hear it just depends on the fish though.

    • Barbara says:

      I got my betta and mystery snail at the same time and held my breath. I think this helped as the betta hadn’t established his territory yet. I think the betta May have nipped off one feeler on the snail so I kept an eye out to see if the betta was harassing the snail, but he mostly leaves it alone and the feeler did grow back. I think it really depends on the temperament of the betta. The mystery snail is very active, climbing up and parachuting down the tank all day long. Love watching it and it is some company for the betta. I know people say male bettas are solitary but without a chance to breed and raise babies as is their instinct, I think they can get bored.

    • Brandy says:

      I know this comment is old, but wanted to reply in case others were wondering.
      I have a 5-gallon tank with a betta, 2 beautiful mystery snails and 6 ghost shrimp. Occasionally the betta will dart to remind the shrimp that he’s the boss but otherwise everyone appears to get along beautifully. No one’s become lunch, yet. I also keep the betta well-fed, though. Brine shrimp and pellets. I also add a tums to the tank occasionally for the snails’ shells. They love it.
      I also have 3 plants; crystal temple, melon swords, and micro swords.
      Hubz and I love to sit and drink our coffee in the morning and watch our tank. I always thought of snails as slow, but ours move pretty quickly! LOL

      • Erik M. says:

        I know I’m super late, just thought I’d comment my experience! So ghost shrimp… I had them w a betta/snail combo, wayyyy back in 2005! I was 18 then; I had kept a few tanks at that point in my life, yet I was an amateur with fish, & more w inverts. I was a green thumb w the plants from a young age. Just sayin!!

        That being said, I am glad it sounds successful for you, bc mine was slightly problematic. I know people are worried about Bettas becoming nippy; but actually they are very secretive fish. The aggression is their emo-antisocial way! If they were a zodiac sign, it wouldn’t be Pisces, thats for sure. More like a scorpio! Love the one who they’re closest to (the human), everyone else is potential enemy, so must display fearlessness. I’m jk.. but the shrimp, they are sooo much more active than I anticipated! Unlike the dwarf shrimp species, like cherry, amano, etc.

        I really learned how reclusive bettas are by mixing them with the ghosties. The constant swimming around was very stressful. Plus they are the greediest eaters ive ever seen in any aquarium creature. If I fed anything, in any tank, the ghosties could look like they’re at a buffet. You’d swear they were on “My 600 lb. Life,” JK. I had to cordon them off just to feed the fish. Like, I’d keep the shrimp in a net, covered, for five mins kinda. That’s what tenacious eaters ghost shrimp are. If I fed frozen worms, to my 65 gal tank, God save us. Cause the shrimp would be carrying a BUNDLE of bloodworms around while gathering more. Like winter was coming and they needed to fatten up?!

        Wafers, flakes, I usually pulverize a bit for better chewability/digestion, but ghosts hoard those, too. Mini Hikari foods, pellets, frozen, don’t matter. I never would’ve thought these 30-cent shrimp from Petsmart would steal all my fishes’ meals! Also, ghosties grow huge compared to dwarf varieties. I didn’t expect that, like the 18 yr old I was. lol.

        I’d be thinking of a larger tank soon, if I were you! But you do you! 🙂 Or, replace with amano at some point. Buuuut, in my experience, anytime there were fish mixed w amano shrimp, I NEVER saw those shrimp again. EVER. And where I live, they aren’t 30 cents. They’re more like $2-5 each. Spent the money, added shrimp first OR after fish – didn’t matter. Like, they ra, in a ten gallon box. Haha, fled and died. Almost as emo as a betta!! I do have tons of plants in all my tanks, always have; but even nano fish, like neon’s, endler’s, otocinclus, or cory pygmaeus sent the amano FLEEING. So the betta…bottom line for me – ghost shrimp, stress betta; small shrimp, never see shrimp again. haha! It’s really not that abysmal, not trying to sound dramatic. I was disappointed in my own ignorance in the past, is all. 🙂 email me if you wanna chat – clearly I can talk about this crap to no end! sorry for the rant!! its an addiction… [email protected] I’m Erik in San Diego. Later!!

      • Erik M. says:

        also, if you’re still unsure about plants – just get anubias, java fern, + bolbitis (African water fern). Also Bucephalandra aka ‘Buce’. These are very forgiving plants, and prefer low light. They can burn or turn yellow if the light goes too high. But they will still thrive in most cases, and just get bigger, faster. The real benefit is they’re epiphytes, meaning they grow epiphytically, attached to objects in the water. so no soil needed. Simply tie them to rocks, driftwood, or buy them already attached to wood. Over time, the long roots will find their way and dig down. You can trim these plants a lot though, they really seem indestructible. One piece of java fern leaf will produce babies. Plus these plants occupy some of the same niches, environmentally, as bettas. Not super fast-flowing water, where they feed off of fish waste, dead plant matter + crumbs of fish food 🙂

  9. Tara says:

    I have a 5-gallon tank with a beta fish. I have some live plants started but they aren’t growing much yet. If I were to get a moss ball would that be enough food for a mystery snail? My tank is brand new so I doubt it would have much algae.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Tara, moss balls are great but I would also recommend feeding them some algae wafers too. Thanks, Robert

  10. Glenn Campbell says:

    Hello. Our golden snails started of as a pair; we know have over 40 spread through 3 different tanks. The breeding pair have passed on but their offspring who are all different sizes due to their environment and tanks. You can really see how closely related to Octopus they are. (Cephalopod). Sometimes they swim/float upside down;. foot out searching for food. Water tension. Looks quite funny. Cheers Glenn.

  11. Jamie Lewis says:

    When Mystery Snails start breeding, they can put rabbits to shame! Up until recently, I had been removing the clutches as laid, freezing the eggs (I don’t want to be responsible for introducing an invasive species), and tossing them out. I’ve literally done this process at least two dozen times. Even with removing the eggs, I ended up with half a dozen hatching and growing to adulthood. I ended up identifying my males from females when I found them breeding and put the genders in separate tanks. My population dropped due to some dying of old age and a few escaping the tank. I put one of the males in the female tank, and clutches statred appearing again within days. I pulled three clutches for incubation (in a storage bowl lined with paper towels that I floated in the tank). My first hatchlings appeared today and I’m staggered by the sheer number that’s coming out of just one clutch! I’m planning on raising them in a breeding tank floating in my main tank, but I suspect that I’ll have TONS of snails that I won’t need!

  12. Jackie says:

    Hello, I was wandering if it is normal for a mystery snail to hang out above the water line? If so, how long can they safely stay there before they dry out? Thanks

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Jackie, this is normal behavoir, they are likely just grazing on things that have built up on the water line. If you’re concerned just gently move him back into the water. Thanks, Robert

  13. SHERYL says:

    I really love snails. I have some in each of my tanks. The Nerites do lay those white eggs around but not too bad. If they are on the sides, I s rape them off. If in the substrate I just leave them. Is this okay? I love Mystery snails. Is it pkay to not have cats and algae eaters (fish) if I have enough of these to keep my tank clean? Of course I do clean the substrate and do water changes regularly. LOL I also have some of the little Trumpet Snails(?) that hitchiked on my Aracharis plants. They do multiply but not overly and I often find some deceased. They do a great job although I never see them burrowing into the gravel. I think these are the ones who are suppose to like to do that.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Sheryl, as long as you don’t find you have huge algae build ups, they should be absolutely fine. Regular water changes and maintenance will also help. Thanks, Robert

  14. Kylee says:

    Hey i was wondering if this woud be overcrouding my tank/what should i do instead? I have a 55 gallon tank and was looking into buying tropical fish. I want a variety in my tank. Would it be okay to have 5 ghost shrimp, 5 cherry shrimp, 5 mystery snails, 10 guppies, and 5 platies. In this tank there are only real plants. I havent gotten any of these yet but i do have the plants so i can edit the plan.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Kylee, this doesn’t sound like overcrowding to me – have fun! Robert

  15. Ashley says:

    Hello, my son received a snail and a beta fish in a tank from
    His grandparents last week for his Birthday. When we first got Mr.Snail (my son named him) he was all yellow. Now within the last couple days he has a large black area on his shell. Is this normal?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Ashley, it depends what type of snail it is. Gold Inca Mystery snails develop a black part on their shell which is totally normal. Thanks, Robert

  16. Katie says:

    Hi Robert,
    My mystery snail flipped on its back and hasn’t moved. There also seems to be a thin, white filmy substance coming from him. What is that and is there something I should do?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Katie, this is a normal response for a snail that feels threatened, or if the water chemistry is different to normal. Are there any factors which could have caused this? Thanks, Robert

  17. Chloe says:

    Hello, I would love some problem solving support as I am concerned about our mystery snail. We have him in a 5.5 gallon tank with a Betta and four tetras for a month. The tank seems to be cycled, I’m testing for this every other day and changing water twice a week. The snail has become very inactive and is not interested in the algae wafers I provide for him. He isn’t moving much and seems to not be able to close his foot plate (forget what it’s called) completely all the time.

    I haven’t checked the KH levels (going to buy a test tonight). Aquarium has no live plants. Would love any helpful advice. I am new to this hobby and care that I do my best to keep things healthy for our new friends. Thanks!

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Chloe, thanks for your message. Firstly, your tank is quite heavily overstocked with that many fish, I’d suggest upgrading to at least a 10 gallon tank, depending on the Tetras you are keeping. When you do a water change, do you just change around half of it or do a full change? You only need to carry out partial water changes. You’ll need to have left your tank for around 4-6 weeks before adding any fish, to ensure it is cycled properly. Many thanks, Robert

      • Chloe says:

        Hi Robert,

        Yes I realized after that the tank is heavily stocked. Beginners excitement I suppose. Thanks for the advice to upgrade. I change about 25% of the tank twice a week currently. We’ve had the tank since September 8th and as I said I’ve been monitoring water conditions.

        Do you think that the overstocking is the cause of the snail’s malaise? And that getting a bigger tank will improve the water quality enough to support it’s health?

        Thank you for your advice,

        • Erik says:

          you only need to change 25% once a week…or 50 like I did, that might be best w that many fish. Then again ive only had ten gallon at the smallest ever. That counts as nano, right… lol. Or get more anubias, java fern and bolbitis fern to offset/absorb some of the excess nutrients.

  18. Tee says:

    Hi Robert,
    I have two mystery snails in a 10 gallon live planted tank (along with 6 fishes who ignore the snails). The male is constantly mating with the female. How can I assess her stress level? It seems like he won’t leave her alone, and I worry about her losing conditioning/getting sick/etc. Any recommendations? Are they social or solitary? Is the companionship worth the physical stress, or would she like the tank to herself? (I see, and remove, a few egg clutches a week).

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Tee, watch out for any signs of stress including change of shell color or deterioration in the shell. I would imagine that they are fine living together. Can you add some plants or hiding spots for the female? Many thanks, Robert

      • Tee says:

        She has plenty of plants and a little “house” to hide in. He’s just fixated on her. Are they a solitary species or do they tend to be communal? Thank you!

        • Fishkeeping World says:

          Hello, they are solitary and she’ll be fine on her own. Thanks, Robert

  19. Craig Thomas says:

    I have a ton of newly hatched mystery snails. I have them in a 10 gallon tank. How much water should i have in the tank?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Craig, just a regular water level is fine for them. The lower water level is mostly to encourage breeding. Thanks, Robert

  20. Sadaf Shaw says:

    I just noticed literally ten minutes ago that there are tiny little bugs on top of gravel layer of my 10 gallon tank. I saw a couple on my golden mystery snail as well. Ugh! Help! I have one guppy and three harlequin rasboras with artificial plants. Are these parasites harmful?? I cannot get much of a picture since they’re tiny but the size of a needle head. Tiny!! They look almost grayish.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Sadaf, can you describe them any more so I can help you to identify them please? Thanks, Robert

  21. Cody says:

    I have a 3.7 gallon tank with one betta and two mystery snails. Is this a case of overcrowding? I’ve had them for the past few months(just bought a heater with the weather changing) but was thinking about a 5 gallon tank if necessary. I’ve also included a few live plants and moss ball.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Cody, I wouldn’t keep a Betta fish in anything less than a 5 gallon tank. Robert

  22. Andy says:

    Just got my first Inca snail. Noticed that there’s a white film all over the shell with tiny white spots . Not solid, so don’t think it’s inch . Kind of cloudy. Can’t find anything online. Any ideas ?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Andy, The spots could be forming because your water is too acidic. Check the water parameters and feed some calcium fortified shrimp food, algae pellets and boiled spinach in small amounts. Thanks, Robert

  23. Wayne Eckersley says:

    Hi; I currently have about 12 Apple Snails and are actively laying eggs which we have now incubated in a plastic aerated tub with damp tissue (following articles on You Tube by Rachel O’Leary and others)
    Can you please clarify if these are ILLEGAL in the UK. According to DEFRA they are in the UK and Europe yet they are readily available in Aquarium Shops?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Wayne, yes they are illegal in the UK. Many thanks, Robert

  24. Fred says:

    Hi. I keep reading they are good for the tank, focus on algae… but when I dropped them into a tank of Jungle Vallisneria, the otherwise healthy plants got CROPPED in under 10 mins. They could have gone for algae, instead went after the plants. What plants are SAFE around these chaps?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Fred, these fish are herbivorous so there aren’t many plants they won’t eat. What you can do it choose fast growing hardy plants such as Anacharis which you can read about here: Thanks, Robert

  25. Stacie says:

    I have 2 blue mystery snails and the larger one has been attempting to mate with the smaller one relentlessly for the past week or so… however, I have realized that the smaller one does is a MALE! What is happening? Why? The bigger one keeps damaging his shell doing this pointless act.

  26. lucinda says:

    This information is great! This is my first time with a snail, and I have been trying to learn as much as I can about them. This is going to be a long comment. I have a gold mystery snail, and I wasn’t feeding him correctly (or enough I suppose). he was moving around the tank a lot, the stopped and was hauled up in his shell for probably two weeks. I tested my water, some levels were not in good zones, and I knew that probably had a little to do with it. I got the levels where they need to be, but when he started coming out of his shell I noticed the door was not attached like it should be. I did some reading and learned of some things I should be feeding him. I still have him in the tank, but isolated. I started with some spinach since I didn’t have kale, but made sure I got some. He has been out of his shell and moving about like he used to, but his door is still not where I would be comfortable reintroducing him to the tank. Should I let him go in isolation, and see if he regenerates, or just prepare him his own tank and see how he does?

  27. Jon says:

    I have a 55 gal tank with 4 angelfish and lots of java fern will mystery snails be ok thanks

  28. Emily says:

    I am starting a group project and was looking for suggestions on the best set up for a beginners tank? Our project is directed toward the diet preferences of the snails with fresh (blanched) vegetables, algae wafers, and shrimp pellets. We planned on carrying the diets for one week a piece and measuring different variables to determine their growth after their each diet.
    I just need to know the best habitat for them since they will have to be in a controlled environment. We have two ten gallon tanks arranged for them and will most likely have 3-6 snails each one.
    Would artificial plants suffice? Is there a preferred substrate? How often should the water be changed? What is the best calcium substitute, powder/liquid or cuddle bones? How can I anchor the blanched vegetables in the aquarium, or do I need to?
    Thank you for the advice,

  29. Emily says:

    I am starting a group project and was looking for suggestions on the best set up for a beginners tank? Our project is directed toward the diet preferences of the snails with fresh (blanched) vegetables,

  30. Aaron Harris says:

    My snail went up to the water level and a tentacle came out and extended toward the surface. He did a weird undulating motion while he extended it. What was that about?

  31. Crystal says:

    I just bought 2 mystery gold snails yesterday. They were active most of the evening and this morning one was but now they both have been mostly closed up in their shell. How long do they stay closed up? One has been at least 12 hours and the other half the day. Normal?

  32. Stephanee says:

    We bought a mystery snail with 2 balloon molly fish, but it died after a few days. I then bought a living plant and let the water adjust for a few days before getting a new snail. One day after adding the new adult snail, there was a teeny tiny baby snail cleaning the glass when we woke up. Could it have been attached to the adult when I brought it home? We definitely did not have eggs, and it was honestly one day after bringing home the new friend.

  33. Nicki Klunk says:

    We have a snail and a beta. We have had them for several months now. Over the past couple of months the snail is being mean to the fish. The snail comes out of the shell and will smack the fish in the face. And last night had had the fish cornered and had a hold of it. Should we separate them or is this normal? We have never had a fish and snail last this long.

  34. Donna Triola says:

    Good morning. I was wondering if the white eggs my mystery ? laid are fertile?

  35. Clair says:

    I have a small tank well oxygenated, with 2 tetras and 3 mystery snails. I have Had bad luck with having pond snails and rams horn snails take over this tiny space when I only want mystery snails. I am Hoping to add some plants to the space but want to ensure they are pest snail free. If i treat the plants then rinse well and wait 2 weeks or so before moving to my mystery tank will that be safe for my mysteries? Most plant treatments kill invertebrates which is what i want But not the “good” ones. Which plant treatments do you recommend? Thx

  36. Hk. says:

    I have put two snails in my aquarium but my Tinfoil barb is chasing it down. What is the solution for it?

  37. Matt says:

    Hello Robert!

    I recently bought 2 blue mystery snails for my 10 gallon tank and was reading that hard water is preferred for their health. What is your recommendation for increasing water hardness?

  38. anonymous says:

    omg i got a blue mystery snail today and this was so helpful thank you

  39. Jordyn says:

    We have a 5 gallon tank with a snail and a betta. It has a small waterfall at the top to filter and cycle the water and there’s a small betta tank heater. Our snail was pretty active for a while when we brought him home (the tank was pretty dirty because our daughter had accidentally put too much food in) but he hasn’t moved now in about 6 weeks. He’s stuck on an artificial tree, the water is very clear and there’s no smell. We aren’t sure what to do. It feels like a long time and like he must have died, but we don’t want to throw him out if he’s still alive. We don’t want to un-stick him and check him out because if he’s alive, then we can’t re-stick him and it leaves him exposed to the betta. Any advice?

  40. Avi says:

    My mystery snails just laid eggs! I’m so excited. I’m wondering if I need to worry about the cardinal tetras in the same tank eating the babies? I’ve seen them eat worms and peck at tiny pond snails when they drop from the sides of the tank, so I wasn’t sure if I need to move the egg sack to a different tank or something if I’m hoping to raise some. Is there advice on how to go about setting up a snail nursery if that is the move? thank you!!

  41. Sandy says:

    What type of calcium do I add to my tank for my snail? I have read on other sites a crushed tums but this site just says to add calcium but offers no suggestion in the article. Or how often.

  42. REESE says:



  43. Heather says:

    I had two mystery snails in with my male betta however, he got aggressive so I moved them into the tank with my female betta (10 G). It is a relatively new tank so there isn’t a bunch of algae so I’ve been making sure to put algae wafers in. The thing I’m worried about is they seem far less active in this tank. They seem to stick to the side near the water line and not move. I’ve tested the water and everything comes back ok and the heater keeps it around 78.6. Could the flow rate be too high (it is quite low for my betta but stronger than my last tank)? I’m just not sure why they went from being so active to quite inactive. Any insight would be appreciate as I want to keep them happy and healthy. Perhaps I’m overreacting. Thanks!

  44. Mallory says:

    Hey there! I recently upgraded my betta and mystery snail from a 5 gallon to a 10 gallon tank. I guess I carried away and bought two more mystery snails. It was only after purchasing them that I did research and realized the 1 per 5 rule. The three of them will NOT stop breeding!!! I don’t have space for all of the babies and I don’t really know what to do with them. I plan on contacting local pet stores to inquire whether or not they would take some of them off of my hands but I’d really love it if they just quit mating!! All three are mating with one another and at times they seem to all participate at once…??? I have no idea what’s happening. Any advice on how to just get them to quit? I plan on moving the small ones to my old tank until I get rid of them. Should I move one of the adults there too? Thank you in advance!

  45. Sheila Aaron says:

    Y does my mystery snail stand up sometimes on his butt and just hangs there 4 awhile? Is he ok?

  46. Blake C says:

    I’m starting a brand new first time Betta home! I know I’m excited too! My question is about mystery snails though. I see their water parameters are a little different than the Bettas, but listed as a good tank mate; Are they hardy and can adjust? Or do I need to do something special or extra for them?

  47. Bear says:

    I have 2 mystery snails. One has a brown plate…the other doesn’t seem to have one at all. Is that normal? Both are active and seem happy. They like to climb silk plants and the keel off to bottom. I do plan to add live plants as I can.

  48. zach says:

    Hi! I currently have a non-planted 55 gallon community tank. I am thinking of adding a mystery snail but there are no plants. I drop algae wafers in often but they usually get gobbled up by my peppered corys and even the mid tank community fish will come down and nip at them. I’m afraid the snail will be too slow to get to the algae in time. Thoughts?

  49. Hector says:

    I just put 3 mystery snails in my 29 gal. tank and it was great to see them eating the algae that started to grow 3 weeks ago. It is well cycled and have 15 fish in the Tank with peaceful fish. I read where a cuddle bone in the tank was a good source of calcium for the snails, please comment.

  50. Gloria says:

    Do snails need to be separated when they are too “loving”? Can they overdo it?

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