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Colorful and Mysterious: Mystery Snail Care

 

Looking to add a little mystery to your freshwater aquarium?

Try a mystery snail!

These colorful little fellas not only bring some serious style with their stunning shells, but they also help keep your aquarium ecosystem in check.

Let's get down to the basics.

Mystery snails, also known as Pomacea bridgesii, originate from South America. They hang out in rivers, lakes, and swamps, doing their thing and keeping the environment balanced.

These snails are multitaskers—they can breathe both through a lung and with their gills. They grow to about two inches in diameter, but there are some smaller and larger ones strutting their stuff too.

The shells they rock come in a variety of vibrant colors—gold, blue, black, ivory.

Oh, and they've got this muscular foot with iridescent freckles for gliding around. They definitely know how to make an entrance!

 

Tank Setup

 

  • Size: While a minimum tank capacity of 5 gallons is suitable for a single mystery snail, providing a larger tank is beneficial. More substantial tanks offer more swimming space and help maintain stable water parameters.
  • Substrate: Choose a soft substrate, such as sand or smooth gravel, to prevent any damage to the snail's delicate foot. Sharp or rough substrates can cause injuries and hinder their movement.
  • Water Parameters: Mystery snails thrive in water temperatures between 68-82°F (20-28°C). Ensure the pH level is maintained around 7.0-8.0. Regularly monitor ammonia and nitrite levels, as these compounds are toxic to snails, as is copper.
  • Filtration and Aeration: Mystery snails prefer calm waters, so a gentle filter and aeration system are recommended. Avoid strong water currents that may stress the snails or hinder their movement. They do, however, seem to enjoy riding bubbles up to the surface and parasnailing back down.

 

Feeding

 

  • Mystery snails are omnivorous and enjoy a varied diet. Offer a combination of commercial foods and fresh vegetables.
  • Algae Wafers: High quality algae wafers should form the basis of their diet. These wafers are specifically formulated to meet the snail's nutritional needs.
  • Blanched Vegetables: Supplement their diet with blanched vegetables such as zucchini, spinach, cucumber, or lettuce. Ensure the vegetables are soft and easily consumable.
  • Sinking Pellets: Include sinking pellets to provide a balanced diet. Look for pellets that are specifically formulated for snails or bottom dwelling aquarium inhabitants.
  • Calcium Supplements: Mystery snails require calcium for shell development and maintenance. Provide a calcium source, such as a small piece of cuttlebone, Crushed coral, or crushed eggshells. These can be placed directly in the tank.

Lighting

 

  • Moderate lighting is ideal for mystery snails. They do not require intense lighting but benefit from a suitable light source to support the growth of live plants.
  • Live Plants: Mystery snails often enjoy munching on duckweed, but will only graze on the dying leaves of live plants, which also provide them with additional hiding spots. Consider adding plants like Java Fern or Anubias to their tank, as these are tough plants they can crawl on without damage.
  • Light-Dark Cycle: Maintain a regular light-dark cycle of 8-12 hours per day to establish a natural day-night rhythm.

 

Compatibility

 

  • Mystery snails are completely peaceful and can coexist with a variety of fish and other aquatic animals.
  • Community Fish: They are compatible with a wide range of community fish, such as tetras, guppies, and corydoras catfish.
  • Aggressive Fish: Avoid keeping mystery snails with aggressive or fin nipping species, such as cichlids or bettas, as they may harm the snails.
  • A side note; You would think Pea puffers are too small to damage Mystery snails, but they will relentlessly nip at them until they are killed.

 

Breeding Mystery Snails

 

  1. Gender Identification:

    • Mystery snails are not actually hermaphrodites, like many other snails. Instead, they can change their gender on demand. They will still require a partner to reproduce.
    • Sex identification: There are some slight differences in sexual expression, but not many. Males have a slightly longer breathing siphon, and a penis sheath located under the gills on the left hand side. It has also been reported that mature females will have less opaque, more translucent shells than their male counterparts. You may be able to see more of their organs!
  2. Mating Process:

    • Mystery snails can fertilize eggs for several hours.
    • High and Dry Nest: After mating, the female snail will lay her eggs above the waterline, so make sure you have a tight fitting lid!
    • Egg Clutch: The eggs are typically deposited in elongated pink groups. They change color to pae grey as they mature, and get ready to hatch. Each clutch may contain 20-200 eggs, depending on the size and age of the snail.
  3. Egg Care:

    • Humidity: Mystery snail eggs require a humid environment. If your clutch is laid near the waterline, and in a tank with a lid, that may be all the humidity they need. If not, try misting them with a spray bottle several times a day.
    • Incubation Period: The eggs will hatch within two to four weeks, depending on temperature and humidity levels. Warmer temperatures may result in faster hatching.
    • Hatching and Juvenile Stage: Once the eggs hatch, tiny, fully formed snails will emerge. They will feed on any available algae and detritus in the aquarium. Supplement their diet with algae wafers and finely crushed food to support their growth.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about snails and the common myths surrounding them, check out Vincent's blog post titled ‘Myth Busting: Snails Edition’!.

 

 So, now you're all set!

Embrace the mystery, enjoy their snaily escapades, and create a stunning aquatic sanctuary that both you and your mystery snails can cherish.

Smooth Snailin'!


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