Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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MBilyeu 12-23-2008 04:02 PM

Mystery snails
So I wanted to put some snails in my 30gallon, and I was looking around at the local petco and petsmart. All they had were mystery snails of a few different colors that looked like they were just shells. I would think with about twenty in each display that I would see at least one out of its shell. I was thinking about getting four or so, but how do I pick the best ones to get? Will they become more active in my tank? Do I acclimate them any differently than a fish? Should I put some veggies down there as soon as I put them in? Sorry there are so many questions, I don't have a clue about what to expect when it comes to snails, I just thought they would look good in my tank.

Oldman47 12-23-2008 04:36 PM

The best bet for a snail is to get the ones that are cruising around on the tank glass. The ones laying on the tank bottom may be in very poor condition or just may be resting but I don't trust them for my tank.

Lupin 12-23-2008 08:06 PM

I know of a few people who are members here but don't frequently post who breed quality Pomacea diffusa. Let me know if you prefer the other breeders than the store yourself. Take note the name Pomacea bridgesii is outdated and has been replaced with Pomacea diffusa. I agree with ghreed. Normally, I try to pick ones that cruise around. I would be more convinced that way that they are in healthy condition. There are those that remain in their shells and may be asleep. If you want to determine if they are dead or not, smell them. If the specimen has a really foul smell, then it is dead. Make sure the shells are not dangerously thin nor damaged.

Your pH should be no lower than 7.0. Why? Acidic water erodes their shells severely. Thin shells are more prone to major damages such as cracks and fissures which could endanger the life of the snail. They rely on their shells to give them protection.

As far as tankmates, be very careful when selecting fish for tankmates. A lot of fish nip their eyes and antennaes. Apple snails have been known to be one of those with very weak defenses. Despite losing their eyes and antennaes, they can still regenerate their lost parts but that is no reason to continue keeping them with aggressive tankmates as they will eventually die from stress. I don't mix mine with anything except MTS, nerites, bristlenose plecos and the Rineloricaria parva. The plecos and nerites clean up their shells of any algal growth so efficiently.

Apple snails require calcium rich foods. Make sure you are feeding them calcium rich veggies such as collard greens. Cucumber, lettuce, squash, carrots and many others are taken well. Avoid ones with high phosphorus content as this may cause consequences to the tank such as green water phenomenon. I feed my snails snail jello which contains honey, crushed calcium pills, baby food (i.e. Gerber) and unflavored gelatin. I also add broken eggshells for constant calcium supply. Another alternative is cuttlefish bone. You could also place crushed corals or oyster shells in your filter. Here's a bunch of snail jello recipe.
A couple more recipes for snail food - Aquaria Central

If you wish to try calcium pills, try Caltrate or Tums. I use Tums with flavor added. It is just pure calcium carbonate. The flavor added tends to attract the snails quickly and prompt them to eat. Their faces get doused in white powder.:lol: Caltrate without Vitamin D is best recommended. If you can't find one without Vitamin D added, you can use the one with Vitamin D added but I wouldn't recommend using it long term s Vitamin D is an oil soluble vitamin which if not excreted may become toxic in high levels. I believe in another forum, a member may start conducting an experiment on the effects of Vitamin D. I may do so as well if time permits but not now especially when finances are involved.:? I dose Tums daily in my snail tanks to continuously supplement the snails with calcium for optimum healthy shell growth.

Regarding acclimation, treat them like you do with fish. Give them a few hours to recover before they pop out of their shells and roam around. It took my last blue diffusa two hours before he finally roamed around.

Lastly, if you do plan to breed these snails, please plan out your stocks and prepare for some spare tanks. Usually, it is advisable to keep one snail per 2.5g. They lay clutches of peach colored eggs above the waterline. My snail tanks have 2.5 inches space above the waterline so they can lay eggs there. Males tend to copulate with anyone reardless of their sexes and are distinguishable immediately if found clinging on the right side of another snail. Another way to determine their sexes is by looking for their penis sheath which females don't have. Cover your tanks and make sure all gaps are closed. They tend to escape especially when they loom for areas to lay their eggs on. Each clutch has 50-200 eggs. Not all eggs will hatch though. Some will fall to the water and drown. If you find some eggs fall to the water, you still have time to fish them out and put them in a breeder box provided the environment is warm and humid. The warmer and more humid the environment is, the faster the eggs hatch. Wait for 5 weeks. After 5 weeks, if none of the eggs appear to have develop a moldy appearance, crush one egg and see if it has gooey stuff. If so, dispose the clutch as it is infertile. Females can store sperm for a few months after a male copulates with her. The clutches laid each month tend to become less fertile than the previous ones though.

Be warned that there are over hundreds of species of apple snails. Several are voracious plant eaters most particularly the Pomacea canaliculata. I had massive dieoff with babies of mine due to inadequate food supply following my vacation for a week so I'm left with over 70 of these. These grow to baseball size and can mow down a planted tank in hours. Diffusas are different. They prefer dead and decaying plants rather than the healthy specimens although occasionally, they may eat ones with soft foliage.

Lupin 12-23-2008 08:34 PM

I might add that selling brigs to other states require a permit. You can ship juveniles to adults as long as they are distinguishable enough to be brigs and not the other species and as long as you have permit already from the USDA/Aphis to ship to a certain state. Clutches are banned for shipments. Many apple snails are banned from shipping due to their potentials in destroying foreign ecosystem such as the Pomacea canaliculata and Pomacea haustrum. They can still however be obtained legally through hobbyists within your state.

Here's a list of snails that are legal and illegal for shipping.
Responsibility as a Hobbyist - Aquaria Central

The USDA/Aphis are quite within their rights to confiscate and destroy your stocks if found you are engaging in illegal activities unless proven otherwise.

MBilyeu 12-23-2008 11:24 PM

Wow. Thanks for all the info lupin. I didn't plan on breeding them, but I know that I may not be able to control that. My plan was to add a few snails and some ghost shrimp to the tank to give it diversity. I am mainly going with just fancy male guppies, but possibly dwarf gouramis as well. I was planning on putting a few dwarf hairgrass plants in 2 of the corners and 1 anacharis. My problem is that I have very hard tap water and my ph stays around 8.0. So I don't know if plants are going to work. I just might end up not planting.

I went to another lfs today that deals mainly in marine products, but I did find one freshwater snail there that was moving around. I don't remember the name, but it was a blue snail in a gold and blue swirled shell about 3" big. The price on the tank said $19.99, and I thought that was a little high compared to the $1.99 price at petsmart/petco for mystery snails(It could have been for a fish that was no longer in there). But everytime I go to one of the chain stores the snails are all hiding in their shells.

If you know of breeders in Washington state, I would love to buy from them. I really only want four at the most, so I think that getting them via mail isn't really worth it because of the shipping costs. Say I do end up finding some snails for my tank, how do I keep them from breeding and/or what is the best way to get rid of the young? Will pet store usually accept them? I know that it is against the law to release them, so what are my options?

Lupin 12-24-2008 06:17 PM

Actually, with all apple snails of the Pomacea genus, you can control their populations quite easily. They lay their eggs above the waterline. If you don't want to hatch them, freeze or crush the eggs when disposing them. If you do plan to breed them, you can sell them legally without permits within your state. Permits are required only for state by state shipping. Diffusas are sexual. If you look carefully enough, males have a penis sheath. More information can be found in about sexing them. I'll find a blog link for you when I have time later. It has pics of how to distinguish their sexes. Males will copulate on anyone regardless of their species and gender so it doesn't mean the snails they are trying to copulate with, are all females.

Your water being hard and 8.0 is just right for the snails which means you don't have to use cuttlefish bones and eggshells although any calcium dosing actually thickens their shells making them more glossy and clean in looks and less susceptible to any injuries such as fissures on shells or chipped parts which may need patching up by epoxy. Any plant will work fine there.

Any pics of this snail? If it is 3", it is not a Pomacea diffusa. It could be other species but only the diffusas have color variations, nothing else.

Lupin 12-24-2008 07:12 PM

MBilyeu 12-24-2008 07:57 PM

Thank you. I will try to get a picture if I can sneak one in the store. I wont be able to do that til Friday. I will post again then.

paytheplayer 01-06-2009 01:52 PM

I have a question. I didnt want to start a new thread for this, but I have a black mystery snail.
I know its not the best pic, but you get what it is. Anyways, I was curious if anyone knows if their "poop" is red? I've been seeing a bunch of tiny red strings around, and they werent there before I had him. Anybody have any ideas?

Lupin 01-06-2009 07:01 PM


Originally Posted by paytheplayer (Post 161473)
I have a question. I didnt want to start a new thread for this, but I have a black mystery snail.
I know its not the best pic, but you get what it is. Anyways, I was curious if anyone knows if their "poop" is red? I've been seeing a bunch of tiny red strings around, and they werent there before I had him. Anybody have any ideas?

As far as I know, there is no 'black' mystery snail. The color appears to be dark green to me. 'Black' mystery snails often end up with dark green or dark purple colors perceived as black. What do you feed your snail? I sometimes see red and orange poo but it's from the snail jello I give them.

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