Mystery Snail – Species Profile & Care Guide
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Mystery snails are highly appreciated in the aquatic business, but not for the reason you’d think.
They don’t quite make for the ideal aquatic pets because they’re small, slow-moving, and lack the entertaining factor present in other aquatic animals.
Like, I don’t know, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and everything in between.
Okay, so the Mystery snail isn’t as visually intriguing and entertaining. So, why do people have them? In 2 words – tank maintenance.
These slow and colorful creatures are great at cleaning the tank of hair algae and rank as scavengers. They will graze all day and contribute to a cleaner aquatic habitat while keeping their presence at a minimum.
These tiny creatures are also easy to keep, so if you’re interested in acquiring one or several, you’ve come to the right place.
Mystery Snail Types
All Mystery snails showcase an identical shell shape and only differ in coloring and size a bit.
The interesting part is that the snail’s cost will be heavily influenced by its color, and there are plenty of colors to choose from.
This includes blue, ivory, black, white, magenta, purple, and gold. The last 2 are rarer than the rest and generally more expensive.
Otherwise, there’s no significant difference between the different snail species. They will display a similar appearance and behavior, allowing you to differentiate them from other snail species easily.
The nice aspect is that you can have several differently colored snails for a plus of diversity.
Mystery Snail Requirements
When it comes to accommodating your Mystery snail, you have several parameters to consider:
As you can already tell, the Mystery snail doesn’t need too much room. A 5-gallon tank should do in case you’re planning to keep one Mystery snail as the single occupant.
Although, few aquarists choose to do that. In most cases, they will pair the snails with various peaceful, small, and omnivorous fish that won’t bother the snail.
Snails can coexist with a variety of fish species since they are slow and won’t attract any attention to themselves.
They will just stick to grazing algae off of rocks and patrol their environment at a suboptimal speed, to put it like that.
The snail’s small size and its lack of means of fast locomotion are the reasons why this creature doesn’t need too much room.
Given that the Mystery snail is quite small and non-aggressive, you can even keep several of them in the same habitat.
Just make sure there’s enough food for all of them. And consider 5 gallons of water for 1-2 snails at most.
Contrary to what may have transpired so far, the Mystery snail is quite a roamer. Sure, it doesn’t achieve impressive speeds, but it will roam its environment in a constant search for food.
This will lead it to climb the tank walls to clean the algae deposits and even swim toward the water’s surface.
So long as your snails have sufficient space and the food is plentiful, they won’t try to venture out of their enclosure. Which they are known to do when food is scarce.
Keep the pH between 7.5 and 8.5 and the water temperature between 68 and 84 F, and your snails will be fine.
They aren’t as picky about their water conditions as other aquatic animals, which comes naturally for a scavenger.
The Mystery snail also doesn’t have any preferences with regard to lighting. Just keep the tank out of direct sunlight, and you should be fine.
However, there’s one thing we should mention. The Mystery snail is particularly sensitive to copper, which can be present in some medications and even tap water.
So, on one hand, you should never medicate sick fish in the same tank with the snails. The copper contained in the medication can kill them fast.
On the other hand, never use tap water when performing your regular water changes. Aside from copper, tap water will also contain various amounts of chlorine, chloramine, and other heavy metals.
These will affect all aquatic creatures, along with the tank’s biofilm, and are capable of depopulating your tank fast. Chlorine especially.
To prevent that, always dechlorinate the tap water and perform chemical filtration using activated carbon, just to be sure.
Monitor water parameters to keep an eye on the dangerous chemicals like ammonia, chlorine, and deadly heavy metals.
The substrate may vary, depending on your preferences, since the Mystery snail isn’t as picky as other snail species.
Many snail species occasionally bury themselves in the substrate, like the Giant African land snail. The keyword here is ‘land.’
When it comes to an aquatic setting, your Mystery snails won’t spend too much time on the substrate. They will mostly roam their habitat, climb the tank’s walls, and check the rocks and decorations available around for food.
Mystery snails also don’t bury their eggs in the sand as other species do. Instead, they place them in a cocoon, which will often float on the water’s surface.
So, the substrate isn’t that important. I suggest getting a type of substrate that will best fit a planted aquarium since snails love plants.
Sand works great, and so are gravel and simple river rocks, if nothing else.
Mystery snails require a lot of vegetation. That’s because they won’t only eat algae but dead and rotten plant matter as well.
They thrive in environments with high vegetation since they keep them well-fed and safe from predators.
However, you don’t want your snails to consume all your plants. After all, they aid in keeping the environment healthy and well oxygenated.
Fortunately, Mystery snails have no interest in live plants, as they only consume dead matter for the most part. Even so, you want to remain on the safe side.
Consider tank plants like java fern, hornwort, and java moss, since these are hardy and grow fast.
They will provide your snails with cover and will enrich the environment, providing valuable hiding places for timid aquatic creatures.
A water heater may be necessary, depending on the temperature of the tank’s room. If you know for a fact that the room temperature remains stable year-round, a heating system may be obsolete.
Otherwise, I suggest investing in one to ensure temperature stability, or your snail may become stressed as a result.
Plus, a heater is a good option if you plan on adding some fish later down the line.
When it comes to filtration, I believe such a system is necessary for any aquatic setup.
The filtration system is key to keeping the environment stable and preventing the dangerous accumulation of ammonia and nitrites.
You shouldn’t rely on the snail to keep the setup clean since it most definitely won’t.
The Mystery snail can only impact the environment so much since it prevents the spread of algae and showcases some scavenging behavior.
But this isn’t enough to justify ignoring a robust and fitting filtration system.
Other than that, you shouldn’t bother with an air pump since the snails aren’t too fond of fat water currents.
And make sure to pick a fitting filtration system for your snail tank. After all, you don’t need too much power for a 5-10-gallon tank, provided you only have snails.
Mystery Snail Feeding and Diet
The snail’s diet will revolve primarily around scavenging products. These include hair algae and residual plant matter for the most part.
However, since the snail will be living in a close environment, this may not suffice. I recommend feeding your snail a more well-rounded diet that includes sinking pellets, tablets, and flakes meant for bottom-feeders.
Since these are herbivorous creatures, you can also provide veggies like zucchini and lettuce.
Just make sure you don’t throw in too much food in their habitat. While they possess a healthy appetite, the snails may not be able to consume the entire food.
As a result, the leftovers may begin to decay and foul the tank water. It’s important to note that Mystery snails don’t need a lot of food, especially if they live in a larger tank.
Feeding them a bit of food once per day should be enough if they already have a lot of plants and algae around.
Mystery Snail Tank Mates
When it comes to figuring out the ideal tank mates for your Mystery snail, the thing that matters the most is peacefulness and agreeableness.
The perfect tank mates should be relatively small, peaceful, and not overly inquisitive. Larger fish species may harass, bully, or even kill and eat your Mystery snail.
These creatures will have no problems killing or pecking at your snail, causing stress and injuries in the process.
Also, make sure that the snail’s tank mates enjoy the same water conditions and a similar tank layout.
The snail’s habitat will ideally be heavily planted and with various rocks around that would house algae and plant matter.
Also, nothing is 100% for sure when pairing snails with fish. Always monitor their interactions regularly to make sure they remain friendly.
Fish have different personalities and sometimes, even calmer and friendlier species may step out of line.
Mystery Snail Diseases and Treatment
The Mystery snail doesn’t have any species-specific conditions to worry about.
That being said, there are several problems to consider when caring for a Mystery snail:
- Copper poisoning – Copper doesn’t develop naturally in the tank. Instead, it always comes from outside, either via medication, contaminated tank equipment or decorations or via improper water changes. Copper acts like poison and can kill the snails fairly fast.
- Poor water conditions – While the Mystery snail is a pretty hardy animal, it cannot thrive in poor water conditions. Always monitor water parameters and keep the snail’s habitat clean and fresh. The snail will obviously contribute to the cleaning process, but you shouldn’t let the tiny creature carry the tank’s maintenance work on its own.
- Shell problems – This is obviously an issue that you may not be familiar with if you’ve never had snails before. Being an experienced aquarist changes nothing since fish don’t have shells. Snails do, and this requires a different approach to their care routine. You should keep the tank’s pH in the higher range and occasionally provide the Mystery snail with calcium supplements. These will strengthen its shell, providing better protection and safety.
Mystery snails may also be vulnerable to various internal parasites, especially the Rat Lungworm or the Grub Worm.
However, these are only common in wild snails since they have no way of entering a close environment like a tank.
So, don’t introduce wild snails into your tank, and this is also true for fish. For the same reasons.
While the Mystery snail doesn’t usually display health issues, it’s important to know its vulnerabilities and how to counter them.
Keep the snail’s water clean with stable water parameters, provide calcium supplementation, and don’t medicate the snail’s water.
If you have sick fish in the same tank, consider moving them into a temporary aquatic setting.
A hospital tank will allow you to quarantine the fish and provide adequate treatment without introducing copper into the snail’s habitat.
How Big do Mystery Snails Get?
The Mystery snail won’t grow larger than 2 inches. This is a small animal that likes to keep a low profile and doesn’t require a lot of space.
Its modest size makes it pretty much defenseless against larger and more aggressive fish, which is why you should always pair the snail with small fish.
How Long do Mystery Snail Live?
The Mystery snail will live 1 year at most in captivity. Interestingly enough, they have about the same lifespan in the wild too.
That is unless they’re faced with predation and meet their end earlier.
Theoretically, you can improve your snail’s lifespan by providing a fulfilling diet, calcium supplementation, and pairing them with compatible tank mates.
Even so, there’s no guarantee that your snail will reach 1-year of age. Most of them will only settle for little over half that.
Are Mystery Snails Good Algae Eaters?
Yes, they are. Mystery snails will consume algae as their primary food source, which is one of the reasons that people have them as pets.
They are easier to maintain, as a result, since their tank will remain cleaner for longer.
However, you shouldn’t rely on their ability to thrive on algae since they also require a variety of other nutrients.
Many aquarists feed them veggies and provide supplementation to satisfy their dietary requirements.
Another crucial point here is the snail’s predilection toward looking for food constantly. The snail will patrol its habitat relentlessly, looking for hairy algae wherever they might be.
They are also excellent climbers, so you will constantly see them traversing the tank’s walls all over the place. This is where the problem lies.
It’s common for Mystery snails to escape their environment due to their climbing abilities and constant stroll for food.
Consider having a lid on your tank to prevent the snail from climbing out. Because it will. Not today, maybe not tomorrow, but the snail will eventually figure out how to do it.
Are Mystery Snails Good for Beginners?
Yes, Mystery snails are a perfectly good option for beginner aquarists. They don’t produce a lot of waste, are easy to maintain, and don’t require any special attention.
So long as you maintain their habitat clean and stable, they will thrive.
I would say that the most interesting aspect of Mystery snails is that you can use them for a variety of purposes.
Some aquarists rely on Mystery snails in aquascaping to add some flavor to the habitat.
Others use them in community setups as cleaning organisms, contributing to the system’s stability.
I would definitely recommend this species to a beginner, even for a fishless tank. The snails are hardy and don’t need much to thrive.
If anything, they will help you understand the essentials of caring for an aquatic creature. You can then use this knowledge to transition to a fish tank more easily.