Mystery Snails (aka, Apple Snails - Pomacea Bridgesii Effusa species)
Information and Illustrations
General Care, Reproduction, Eggs, & Babies
|Q. I'm new at
aquarium care. What should I be doing to maintain my aquarium for the
health of the snails and fish in the tank?
A. Regular periodic tank maintenance include fresh water changes (I recommend at least 25% weekly), use of a good water conditioner to remove harmful chemicals from the replacement water (I use Seachem Prime), cleaning build-up off the inside of the tank with an algae pad is recommended, gravel cleaning with an aquarium vacuum tube to remove accumulated debris and regular periodic changing of the filter media and/or filter cartridges. These are the main things you'll need to do to maintain your tank. There is even more information about basic aquarium keeping on this Aquarium Info Page.
|Q. How often and what
should I feed my snails?
A. I feed my snails twice a day (LIGHTLY). In the mornings, I give them a specialty food that I sell called Snail Trailmix. In the evenings, I give them broken up pieces of my Gourmet Snail Snax. Mainly, you'll need to remember that your snails need both protein and calcium for the appropriate building blocks to maintain their healthy growth. You will need to experiment with your own tank to determine the appropriate amount and frequency to feed your animals. The biggest mistake that most new snail owner's make is overfeeding. Remember how small the snails are and how much smaller their stomachs are in comparison to a larger animal. I try to feed only the amount that the snails will consume over a 4 to 6 hour period. Snails eat slower than fish (of course), but they tend to eat more than most small fish.
|Q. How much
filtration should I use for my snail tanks?
A. As a general rule, I use a filter rated for twice the water capacity in my snail tanks. I find out what the gph (gallons per hour) rating is for the filter I'm interested in and divide that by the water capacity of the tank I intend to use it on. If the answer to that is somewhere around 8 to 10, I know it's a good filter for the snail tank because it will turn the full volume of the tank over approximately 8 to 10 times per hour. I highly recommend Penguin & Emperor filters with bio-wheels for snail tanks, but that's just because I've had such success using them.
|Q. Do I need a
bubbler or air stone in my snail tank?
A. No. This is simply a personal choice on your part. As long as your filter is operating effectively, oxygenating the water column should not be an issue. Some snail keepers like using a bubble wand because of some of the antics snails will perform using the air bubbles.
|Q. Can my
snails be kept with Goldfish?
A. Typically, I don't recommend this because Goldfish are coldwater species and these snails are tropical animals. Another thing to consider is that some Goldfish can be aggressive and may harm the snails. I have known many who did keep these snails with Goldfish successfully, though. So, I recommend that you monitor behaviors closely at first to determine if your situation is working for all the animals concerned.
Q. What type of fish can I safely keep with my snails?
A. This question has many answers. Basically, keep in mind that you don't want snails in with "nippy" aggressive fish that will bite off their tentacles and/or eye stalks. The definitive answer here would be not to put snails in with fish for which snails are a part of their diet (i.e. Clown Loaches, Puffers, etc.). Notoriously aggressive fish are African Cichlids and most other types of Cichlids (including Oscars) and Barbs (especially Tiger Barbs). Most peaceful non-aggressive species will be safe in a snail tank. I have the following types of fish in my tanks: Guppies, Platys, Cory Cats, Oto Cats, Swordtails, Rasboro Hets, Bristle Nose Pl*co's, Raphael Catfish, MALE ONLY Bettas and juvenile Whitefin Shark Catfish. I've not experienced any issues with these fish. I don't keep snails in tanks with female Bettas because, in my experience, they are far more aggressive than the males. I do, however, have one male Betta in every tank in my house.
At this link you can read the contents of an article by Rob Torrens concerning the benefits of Apple Snails in fry Tanks.
|Q. Can I use salt in
my freshwater tank and still keep snails?
A. Yes. I use salt in all my tanks at a rate of approximately 1 tsp. per 20 gallons of water. My snails are fine with that. I recommend slowly raising the salinity over a period of several days and monitoring the snails for signs of stress behaviors (closing up, floating, burrowing into the substrate and/or hanging out at the water line can all be described as stress behaviors in snails). If the snails show no stress signs, you can safely maintain the salinity level up to approximately .01%.
|Q. My Mystery
Snail has deposited eggs on the underside of the cover of my tank. What
do I do now?
A. Well, there are a few answers to this question...if you want to keep the resulting babies, you can either leave the eggs where they are to hatch or remove them and place them into an "incubator" type container. If you do not wish for the eggs to hatch, you can simply remove the calcareous egg clutches (which are always deposited above the water line) and discard them or give them to someone who wants the baby snails and has a tank set up to hatch them into. The clutches also ship well via USPS Priority Mail, so can be shipped to another aquarist. Some folks even sell egg clutches on Aquabid.com.
|Q. Do I leave
them? Do I remove them?
A. Again, if you want them to hatch - you may either leave them or remove them and place them into an "incubator" type container.
|Q. Do I need a
heater for a snail tank?
A. I do recommend a tropical tank setting for snails of the P.Bridgesii effusa species. I set mine at approximately 80ºF.
|Q. If I remove them
and want them to hatch, how do I keep them in an environment that will
allow them to hatch?
A. I make a VERY CHEAP incubator for snail eggs. It's effective. Works every time. And it's cheap! LOL I use little sour cream tubs that I save after they're empty (of course). Make sure it's clean. Poke several air holes in the lid so the egg clutches get air. Cut a piece of styrofoam that will fit pretty tight inside the container and can sit about 1/2 way down inside the container (so the egg clutches have enough "head space" that they don't crush against the lid). Cover the piece of styrofoam with a layer of white paper towel (I don't use the towels that are printed because I worry about the harmful chemicals in the dye used to make the print). Fill the container about 1/3 to 1/2 full of water from your tap (I use warm water). Put the paper towel lined styrofoam piece in and push it down so the towel "wicks" water and saturates the entire paper towel (wet, but not drowned). Lay egg clutch(es) on the towel and cover container with the lid. Now, where is a very warm spot to incubate? The warmer the egg clutch is while incubating, the quicker it will hatch (now, we don't want to cook it or dry it out...just want to keep it real warm). I use the light strips on top of my tanks most times. Unless I get just a whole load of clutches. Then, I use a heat pad turned on the lowest setting and wrapped in at least two layers of a bath towel. I just set the little "incubators" on top and leave them alone. In a couple weeks I'll have babies!
|Q. How will I know if
A. It's very difficult to tell if a clutch of eggs is fertile by just looking at it unless one has an extremely keen and experienced eye for such things. One thing is for certain...if you keep a clutch and it doesn't hatch within 4 weeks, it's a "dud". That's about all I can say about that.
|Q. How long
does it take for them to hatch?
A. With most species Apple snails (including P.Bridgesii effusa species) 2 to 4 weeks depending on how warm and humid they are kept. Warmth (about 80 to 85ºF) and humidity (the lids of my incubation containers always have condensation on them) will determine hatch time.
|Q. Will I see
any difference in the egg clutch as it gets closer to hatching?
A. Oh, yes! In the picture below I've put egg clutches together in groups. The ones in the lower right portion of the picture are newly lain clutches that are not more than a week old. The ones in the upper left portion of the picture are approximately 2 weeks old (some may be 15 days while others may be 16 days). The two clutches in the upper right portion of the picture are 2+ wks old and are within 24 hours of hatching. You can see that the older egg clutches lighten in color as they progress toward hatching. Then, when they are very close to hatching, you can see they turn very light in color and you can actually see the "thinning" of the walls of the egg cells because in some clutches containing dark shelled offspring, you can see the shell color through the cell walls. At that point, the egg clutch is no longer hard on the outside. It becomes "crumbly" until at last, the baby snails emerge at which time the egg clutch simply seems to disintegrate.
|Q. What do I do
with the babies once they hatch?
A. Newly hatched snails will do fine inside an incubation container for about the first 24 hours. After that, I usually put them into a cycled and "seasoned" tank that has plenty of algae growing inside because it's very difficult for something so tiny to travel very far in search of a meal. They'll troll through the substrate eating algae and this will usually be their habit until they are at least a couple weeks old. Don't expect to see much of them until they get a little bigger. Lots of folks panic when they put them into a tank and they just disappear. But, they normally begin to make a "show" of themselves within a couple weeks after they've grown some.
|Q. Do I need to
feed the newborn babies special foods?
A. One thing is certain, you won't get many survivors if they don't get food. The good thing is that in a well established tank, there is always a lot of food for these little guys and they do very well in such a setting without much fuss from you or me. ;) No, they do not need special foods like some fish fry. They will feed on algae as well as infusoria produced by the adult snails in the tank.
|Q. Should I set
up a separate tank for the babies?
A. There are a lot of different opinions out there about this question, so I'll tell you mine which is based on my own experiences. If I am already overcrowded in my existing tanks, I will set up another system...however, I use this newer setup for adult snails in the established tanks and use the established tanks for the hatching babies. My reason is simply that babies don't do well in a new or "clean" setup. They cannot find anything to eat. Even if you feed them regular foods, it'll be difficult for all the babies to travel the distance necessary to eat. Many die under those circumstances.
|Q. Will the parent
snails eat the babies?
A. Nope. In fact, the adults naturally produce infusoria which is an excellent first food for their offspring. The only time they'll eat another snail (baby or adult) is after it is already dead, IME.
|Q. Will my fish
harm or eat the babies?
A. If your fish aren't harming the adult snails in the tank, chances are they won't harm the babies either. Now, if you have Clown Loaches in your tank or other "snail-eating" and/or very aggressive fish, this might be an issue you'll want to address.
|Q. What do the
babies look like? How big will they be?
A. They are VERY tiny at first. See pictures below which are magnified approximately 5X's. The babies in the pictures are less than a week old.
|Web site and contents property of Susan M. Mast dba, Snips 'n Snails Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved|