Japanese Trapdoor Snail – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Size, Breeding

The Japanese trapdoor snail (Cipangopaludina japonica) is popularly used to control algae in aquariums. Other names include the Chinese Mystery Snail, Black Japanese Trapdoor Snail, Rice Snail, Asian Apple Snail, Oriental Mystery Snail, and Black Snail.

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The Japanese trapdoor snail is incredibly low-maintenance, and it will improve your tank’s water quality. It is native to East Asia, with the largest populations in Japan and China.

The snail has also become widely distributed in the US, and you should check if it is legal to keep as a pet because it is invasive in some states.

Japanese Trapdoor Snail Appearance

Their shell color includes shades of black, brown, and green. Some individuals have solid colors, while others have different hues in the range. You can also see shells with large white regions on the spire near the apex.

The largest whorl will typically be of a solid color, while the other rings and lines will exhibit different shades and textures. It is common for the shell’s color to get lighter the higher it goes.

The snail derives its name from its operculum, which protects the snail from predation. This tough plate forms a seal at the edge of the shell to contain the snail’s body.

Adult Japanese trapdoor snails can reach two inches in length. There are one of the largest freshwater snails in the aquarium trade, and you should consider their size when planning for their habitat.

Japanese Trapdoor Snail Tank Requirements

What tank size is best for these snails and what plants can you keep with them? Will Japanese trapdoor snails eat the plants? Let’s see what are the tank requirements for these snails:

– Tank Size

The ideal tank size of this snail is 10 gallons. They do not need much space to thrive, and you should plan the tank size around the needs of their larger tank mates. You can consider a bigger tank since it will be easier to maintain stable water conditions.

– Plants and Decoration

Japanese trapdoor snails complement a planted aquarium. Some aquarists hesitate to keep plants because freshwater snails are known to nibble them.

As long as the snails are well-fed, they will not bother with the aquarium’s plants. Live plants also provide dead organic matter for the invertebrates to feed on. Use sturdy plants like anubias.

The snails prefer a soft bottom, and you can layer your tank with a sandy substrate. They spend a lot of time moving on the substrate, and a course substrate will injure their bodies.

Rocks, wood, and other decorations will present a lot of surfaces for algae to grow.

Japanese Trapdoor Snail Water Conditions

In the wild, the snails have adapted to soft, murky waters with silty or muddy substrates. They inhabit slow-moving streams, lakes, ponds, reservoirs, and rice paddy fields.

Japanese trapdoor snails are quite hardy, which gives aquarists the flexibility to plan the water parameters around their tankmates. They can tolerate a wide temperature range of 68 – 85 °F, but they will hibernate if the temperatures are above 86 °F or lower than 50 °F.

The snails have been known to handle temperatures as low as 0 °F. They do not have to come to the surface for air, and they will stay in the warmer water at the pond’s bottom. The snails can handle Northern climates as long as the ponds do not freeze during winter.

Japanese trapdoor snails need some time to acclimatize in a new environment. Drain some aquarium water into the bag, and leave them to adjust for some time.

Place them in a shallow area as they will soon explore their way into the deeper aquarium sections. The snail can sometimes be seen floating, and this is normal since air gets strapped in the shell.

The snail should be added to a well cycled and established set up. The PH should be 7.0-7.6, and an abundance of minerals will preserve their shells.

Keep ammonia and nitrite levels at 0 ppm and perform regular water changes to keep nitrate levels low. As with other freshwater snails, do not expose your Japanese trapdoor snails to copper.

The snails commonly get caught up in filter intakes as they search for food, and they can end up with injuries if you attempt to remove them. To prevent such occurrences, it is best to cover your tank’s filter intakes.

Japanese Trapdoor Snail Diet and Feeding

Japanese trapdoor snails are opportunistic scavengers who seem to eat everything. They love to roam around at night, looking for any soft algae on hard surfaces.

You should encourage algal growth in your tank to give the snails something to graze on. If your tank is ‘clean,’ you can substitute with algae wafers.

The snails will welcome pellets, flakes, and bottom-feeder tablets. Look out for food that is rich in calcium as it promotes the health of their shells.

You can also provide various vegetables for your Japanese trapdoor snails. They can eat zucchini, lettuce, and spinach, which you should leave in the tank for 24 hours. Remove the veggies if they remain uneaten.

Japanese Trapdoor Snail Tank Mates

These snails are peaceful and active, and they like to move around in search of food. When kept in a community aquarium, they will mind their business and steer clear of their tankmates.

These snails are perfect for aquarists who want to add some activity in their tank. They will sometimes lay still and remain stagnant.

You can couple them with other kinds of snail except the assassin snail. Shrimp like the amano shrimp, bamboo shrimp, ghost shrimp, and cherry shrimp are good tankmates.

Avoid aggressive fish like cichlids and goldfish. Some ideal tankmates include cherry barb, Kuhli loach, otocinclus catfish, Bristlenose pleco, tetras, and harlequin rasbora.

Japanese Trapdoor Snail Breeding

Unlike other hermaphrodite snails, each Japanese trapdoor snail is either a female or male. They are livebearers, and the female can produce hundreds of juveniles in her lifetime.

When compared to other egg-laying snails, however, these snails will not overrun an aquarium.

The reproduction rate is influenced by the availability of food in the aquarium. If your tank has too much algae, you can expect a lot of offspring.

You do not need to induce breeding, as the male and females will do the work as long as the ideal tank conditions are met.


The Japanese trapdoor snail is a peaceful, algae-eating snail that will complement a community aquarium.

It is among the few snails that can tolerate cold northern climates, and it will adapt to most freshwater aquarium conditions. The snail comes in a variety of shades, and they do not reproduce quickly.

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