Have you been wondering which kind of freshwater gastropod is best for your planted tank? Without a doubt, snails are some of the most beneficial additions to any aquarium because they play a vital role in nutrient cycling and irrespective of the specie, they are brilliant indicators of a tank’s water quality.
Now, considering how popular they are, mystery snails seem to be the most preferred snail specie for the job above. And for good reason!
On top of featuring a highly unique and beautiful appearance that features large, colourful shells, and iridescently marked bodies, they also vigorously clean up excess food and waste.
If you’re thinking about adding mystery snails to your tank, here’s every important thing you need to know:
Mystery Snail Appearance
Scientifically known as Pomacea bridgesii, mystery snails have as many names as they have colours. People also know them as mystery apple snails, spike topped snails, golden mystery snail or Pomocea australis. And some of their most popular colours include black, golden, brown, and ivory variants.
Take note that the pattern and colour variants of these snails are endless. What’s more, mystery snails have bodies comprised of solid and banded shells with an almost white head and bottom part. And just like all other snails, they feature a spiral whorl that starts at their apex and expands downwards toward their aperture.
Adults have a total of 4 whorls, meaning they are relatively small in size compared to other snail species. In fact, they grow to a maximum diameter of about 2 inches. It’s this small size that makes them a perfect addition to both large and small tanks.
Not only that. Mystery snails feature an operculum, which is a plate used to open and close their shell openings. The operculum comes in handy in indicating a snail’s health as it doesn’t properly close and falls off when the organism has an illness or is dead.
Another vital part of the mystery snail is its head. The head features two large tentacles for finding food and sensing the environment. Right behind these tentacles are the eyes, which detect light and motion. These are also the two organs that alert the mystery snail of predators.
Once the snail spots a predator, it tucks into the shell and the operculum closes to keep it in until it’s safe. Also, the mystery snail features a second pair of tentacles located below the mouth for feeding.
Mystery Snail Tank Requirements
Natively, mystery snails have been residing in ponds, rivers, and swamps around Bolivia, Paraguay, and Brazil. One thing’s for sure- they love areas with decomposing or dead plants. The only time mystery snails feed on lives plants is when other sources aren’t available.
It’s also important to note that mystery snails spend grazing at the bottom of their environment. As such, the most ideal tank for these snails should have plenty of vegetation.
You can include plants like Java Moss, Hornwort, Java Fern, and any other hardy species. Lots of plants don’t always seem like the best of ideas but be sure it will give your snails natural foods in addition to beautifying your tank.
Equally important, mystery snails tend to climb up the sides of a tank whenever the food supply is low. So invest in a quality tight-fitting lid to prevent your snails from swimming out of the water.
Mind you, limit yourself to 1 to 2 snails per every 5-gallon tank. While these organisms thrive in any established community tank, they need enough space to do their thing. Additionally, include a hard substrate like gravel, sand, or pebbles to make it easy for your snails to move about.
Mystery Snail Water Requirements
When it comes to water conditions. Keep in mind that mystery snails thrive in wide-ranging aquarium conditions. However, it’s best to avoid any sudden shifts in water parameters or even temperature as this instability can heavily stress your snails.
Yes, your tank should stay cycled and stable at all times. On top of that, keep your snails in moderately-/ slower-moving, oxygen-rich, clear water. And the following water conditions should also suffice if your mystery snails are to stay healthy:
- Aquarium pH: 0- 7.5
- Temperature range: 68° to 84° F.
- Ammonia/ Nitrite: 0
- Nitrate: <20 ppm
- Calcium levels: 350- 450 ppm
- KH: 12-18
- gH: 8-18
Providing your snails with sufficient calcium levels is vital for adequate growth and healthy shells. A thin, excessively pitted, or cracked shell is a sure sign of calcium deficiency. Even more importantly, avoid unnatural treatments, plant fertilizers, and tank medication since mystery snails are quite sensitive to any foreign additives. Anything with copper will kill these snails.
Mystery Snail Diet and Feeding
As mentioned earlier, mystery snails are opportunistic scavengers that love feeding on dead and rotting plants, algae, as well as excess food. Which is why they come highly recommended if you’re looking to keep your tank’s algae growth in check.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t supplement them with other sources of nutrients. For calcium, make sure to provide dark leafy greens like turnips, spinach, collard greens, and kale. You can also feed them vegetables like carrots, green beans, and cucumber.
Mystery snails also love fish food like shrimp pellets, which are excellent sources of minerals and vitamins. So occasionally offer your snails around two teaspoons of ground pellets.
How about the feeding schedule? Some people feed them daily, others every couple of days or every other day. It all depends on how your specific snails seem to like it. Watch and learn.
Mystery Snail Tank Mates
Mystery snails are some of the shyest and peaceful species you can ever find. Their docile and non-aggressive nature makes them excellent additions to any community tank since they don’t interact with any other creature unless when they’re getting eaten.
As such, keep them with other mystery snails and peaceful fish like tetras, killifish, and guppies. You can also add peaceful invertebrates such as cherry shrimp, Amano shrimp, and ghost shrimp in a mystery snail tank. Avoid any creature or fish capable of breaking their shells.
Mystery Snail Breeding
Unlike other snail species, mystery snails aren’t hermaphrodites that reproduce asexually. Meaning you need both a female and a male to breed this species of snail. When you have both sexes in the tank, it won’t be long before you notice eggs on the water surface.
The eggs appear as a pink mass containing over 100 eggs and within 2 to 3 weeks, they start developing cracks to pave way for tiny snails. However, the Chinese mystery snail directly gives birth to young ones.
When Buying Mystery Snails?
Ensure to avoid buying those from tanks with dying or dead snails and fish. Tanks with dying inhabitants are a sign of poor water quality, sickly conditions, or even contagious diseases.
With this in mind, look for mystery snails featuring thick, non-pitted, non-cracked shells. They are the healthiest!
Otherwise, happy mystery snail keeping!