Mystery Snail Care, Diet, and Tank Requirement information can be hard to find. Here there is a full spectrum of information mixed with research, personal experience, and input from breeders. By the conclusion of the article, a general understanding of the mystery snail’s requirements will be acquired.
Is a Mystery Snail Right for this Tank?
“Can a mystery snail go in a […]” One of the first questions asked of many. There is no gallon requirement for any specific species of invert, vertebrate, or otherwise. Correct, a whale can’t fit in a ten-gallon tank. However, understanding bio-loads will logically prove that a ten-gallon isn’t suitable for anything larger than the tank itself. For more information on bio-loads- (Article to Come Soon)
Mystery snails, both Pomacea diffusa and Pomacea bridgesii species, encounter different conditions in captivity vs their natural habitats. While they geographically originate from the Amazon River Basin, they can be found in many tropical bodies of water. Their intolerance for salt and heavy metals may prevent them from entering deltas, keeping them further in freshwater zones. Areas with large amounts of decomposing matter, such as swamps, bogs, and rainforests, help to bind the heavy metals with natural processes. These make for very acidic conditions in some places, as low as 4.0-5.0pH (Maurice-Bourgin, et al).
Within tanks, the ecosystem is very incomplete. Many biological and biochemical processes that would be in the wild can’t take place in tanks due to size, water changes, and inconsistent variables. Snails perform best in captivity with consistent water parameters, including consistently high pH, GH, and KH. Based on experience, a pH of 7.8 or higher works well. However, if the water is soft, it will still dissolve the shell. For FREE powdered calcium carbonate- Click Here.
In conclusion, the best advice to give about keeping any (normal) invert is that “Consistency is Key.” Do not adjust the pH, KH, or GH, unless the desired result can be maintained 100% of the time. Inconsistencies will bring the ecosystem down.
Breeding Snails / How do I Keep Them from Breeding?
Breeding Mystery Snails can be easy, or hard. That is the largest reason that they’re such an impossible-to-defeat agricultural pest in many states and some countries. There are some tricks to breeding them, or to keep them from breeding.
Temperature: Raising the temperature (mid 70s to lower 80s, Fahrenheit) maintains a higher metabolism rate. This increases reproduction processes. To prevent breeding, drop the temperature to lower to higher 60s.
Calcium Intake: Calcium is used largely in shell product and egg production. Calcium that isn’t used for the snail can be used towards the eggs and the babies within. Creating Snello with a good source of calcium and iodide in it can lead to more babies and better shell growth. An easy kit of Snello that has been used be breeders and hobbyists can be found HERE- Click here.
Water Levels: Dropping the water levels in a tank will provide space for a high humidity (but not submersed) clutch lay. Creating a hatchery can help with hatching out clutches. Otherwise, under right, and consistent, conditions, leaving them in the tank is sufficient. If clutches are not desired, simply knock them into the tank. They will not respire, and they will die. Scraping them off and drying them, freezing them, or simply tossing in the trash works as well.
I Already Have Babies; I Don’t Want Them: Whatever is done, DO NOT release them into the wild. As an agricultural nuisance, they can destroy ecosystems under the right conditions. Even just one that has a fertilized clutch building up in it can wreak havoc. If you need to get rid of snails without euthanizing them, contact us and we will help find a home for them. CONTACT US HERE. This service is available for any aquatic animal that does not fall within federal or state restrictions of their location(s).
Diet and Food for Mystery Snails
Mystery snails and calcium are talked about a lot on forums, in groups, and at swaps. Most things said about it are true, but there’s been a piece missing from the puzzle. Recently we researched that iodide plays a very large role in shell development, egg development, and ultimately, calcium absorption.
Iodide used in conjunction to calcium carbonate is similar to how humans utilize Vitamin D to absorb calcium more efficiently. Without iodide, calcium absorption may be limited, resulting in stagnated shell growth, thin shell growth, shell inconsistencies, operculum issues, “dud clutches,” failed breeding projects, and potentially early death. As with any vitamin, mineral, or even water (in the case of less aquatic organisms), too much can cause issues as well. In a study we read earlier this year, a diet mass (DM) of 12% or less in calcium carbonate results in healthy and consistent land snail growth. Because of this, we recommend 5% or less of the DM of aquatic snails being calcium carbonate. Note that calcium is also found in other forms such as leafy greens.
As with any organism and any diet, variety is key and essential to good health. Keeping snails on any one product, or any one series of products/feeds can be damaging.
Shell Health and Signs
Mystery snail shells, growth lines, cracks, holes, and clefts are all important factors and signs of their health. The lines on snail shells tell a rough history of both environmental conditions and diet- especially diet!
Inconsistencies can show differences in diet throughout their lives. Thinner and thicker shell growth shows different diets, differing in calcium or nutrients required for healthy shell growth. Flaking and pitting can be signs of soft water or an acidic environment. Once these damages occur, they cannot be undone. Future growth can be protected with proper husbandry and diet.
Holes and clefts caused by calcium deficiencies, diet issues, tank conditions, or damages can be “patched.” Snail shell patching can be researched on youtube, facebook, or various blogs. A strong diet of calcium and iodide supplements is recommended after patching or noticing these damages.
Taking care of mystery snails in aquariums or ponds can be super easy. Just keep everything consistent. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or research on google scholars. If you have a question that hasn’t been asked in groups, or there’s conflicting information, you may always contact us here- Click Here!
Sources Cited: L Maurice-Bourgin et al., (IRD [ex-ORSTOM]), 1999, 'Hydrological and Geochemical Processes in Large Scale River Basins'