The Blue Mystery Snail, also known as the “Spike-Topped Apple Snail” is a herbivore and an impressive scavenger. With a very aesthetically pleasing shell and an iridescent body that radiates visually stunning colors that will add an extra flair to your fish tank.
Most aquarists wonder if they can keep one, if you’re one of those then you’ve come to the right place as our care guide will cover everything you need to know about keeping mystery snails in your tank.
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Blue Mystery Snail was discovered in the tropical regions of South America and named “Pomacea Bridgesii” by the renowned conchologist Lovell Augustus Reeve in 1856. It belongs to the class of Gastropoda and the family of “Ampullariidae”, also known as the Apple Snail family which consists of large water snails with gills, a hard shell, and operculum.
“Many people still wonder to this day why they are called Mystery Snails, it is argued that when they first started appearing in the aquarium market, no one knew what they were because some acted like pests and others cleaned algae so the name stuck with it.”
The Mystery Snail comes in various colors including blue, black, brown, gold, and white but the most popular ones are in blue and gold colors. All of them having distinctive patterns on their shells, there is a rare type as well called the albino, which is all white but still has a few discernible patterns on its shell. The body of mystery snails is iridescent which displays different colorful shades depending on the lighting.
Interesting Anatomical Fact:
The Blue Mystery Snail is a special one when it comes to anatomy because it has both gills and lungs (amphibious), it can be seen crawling up the fish tank walls to catch air occasionally near the fish tank lid. One should carefully seal the lid as these creatures are known to head out of water in search of food if they do not find any in their habitat.
Another interesting feature of their anatomy is their eyestalk, which does not have a single sensory nerve so if it gets severed, it regrows within a matter of a couple of weeks.
The shell of these snails is also quite different compared to the rest, where other snails have a vertical top to bottom whorl. These snails have curves in their shell where the top is curved to a side or the whorls go in a horizontal direction, at the bottom of which is the operculum (which if missing or not fully closed indicates that the snail is either dead or seriously unwell).
Mystery Snail shells differ in size from 1.5-2 inches wide and 1.7-2.5 inches in diameter. They use the light and motion-sensitive tentacles on their head to search for food and threats, which prepare them to hide in their shells behind the operculum and just behind these tentacles lay their eyes, and mouth below it which has a second pair of tentacles which allow it ease during food intake.
On the head towards the left, they have a siphon which helps get water through their gills, and towards the right, they have a pulmonary sack that acts as a lung.
Size of Mystery Snails
3-4 Inches. Size-wise, these snails grow up to a maximum size of 3-4 inches which is the equivalent of a golf ball (quite big by snail standards). Many shops ship them off when they are still miniature, close to 1 inch.
The lifespan of Mystery Snails
About 1 year. A mystery snail can live up to one year and maybe longer if kept in healthy water conditions.
How to breed Blue Mystery Snails and care of hatchlings?
- Blue Mystery Snails are “gonochoristic”, which means that a male and female must interact for reproduction to take place.
- There is no specific requirement or condition for breeding blue mystery snails as they mate when they know there is enough food inside the tank to sustain their next generation.
- Mystery Snails are not hermaphrodites like most snails, but it often becomes difficult to differentiate between males and females.
- However, they can change their gender based on situations, if you’re not sure if the pair you have is both male or female one thing to differentiate would be during the breeding process and that is the male snail is dominant ad usually gets on top of female snail to impregnate it.
- Apart from that, the male has a circular opening in its shell right next to the gills for a sexual organ that is not present in female snails.
- Once you are sure about having a pair in your aquarium, you can relax and prepare for their offsprings to arrive as Mystery snails do not need any special conditions and care to breed.
- These snails usually lay eggs which are enclosed in cocoons, visible to the naked eye and they float on the water surface
- They can lay numerous eggs per week for 5 months resulting in a significant number of hatchlings if the eggs survive.
- A single group can contain some 50-200 eggs depending on the size of the female, and it can result in 20-40 newcomers.
- The eggs are surrounded by a calcium layer which helps in the formation of new shells of the baby snails and gives the eggs a solid white look.
- It is recommended that the lid is tightly closed to ensure a humid environment inside, otherwise, the eggs will dry out.
- After hatching, the babies are highly dependent on algae inside the tank which is why it would be wise to stock up to ensure a higher survival rate of mystery snail hatchlings.
It is clear to see that these herbivores feed only on rotten plants and algae, but you must also care for their diet if you want them to grow up healthy with smooth shells.
Calcium; an Essential Component of Diet:
Calcium is a vital ingredient without which their shells will grow weak and develop cracks which is a sign of a terminal snail. Pure calcium addition is still ill-advised.
Blanched vegetables like spinach and broccoli are recommended as they contain the nutrients and are also green plants that the snail will feed happily upon.
Apart from that, the addition of coral also goes a long way, not just in increasing the hardness of the tank but also in providing a healthy calcium diet. Supplements like flakes, feeder tables or pellets also help enrich their diet, but the most important mineral for them is calcium.
Mystery Snails are slow eaters so it is recommended that enough food is placed in the tank that will keep them well-fed and busy for hours. Additionally, they have quite an inefficient digestive system, their digestive tract is home to numerous microorganisms that stick to their feces as it leaves the snail’s body. This makes their feces full of healthy nutrients for other tank mates like shrimp. A good quantity of food also helps them mate better.
Behavior and Temperament
The Blue Mystery Snail is a peaceful animal that loves to coexist with its fellow fishtank inhabitants. It is rather sensitive to light and touch but it somehow can differentiate between a threat and a random encounter because it will not always react to touch from fellow snails.
If it feels threatened it coils up into its shell and closes the operculum, which is why it is preferable to let it live with peaceful fish so it keeps on cleaning the fish tank.
Relationship with Shrimps:
It forms a symbiotic relationship with some tank mates like the shrimp. People who have kept shrimp can affirm how quickly they pollute a tank, but paired with mystery snails, the tank remains clean. It’s like a cycle that repeats itself, old shrimp are taken out, and the snails clean the tank before new shrimp is introduced, and so on.
These snails are generally considered very playful and full of character, climbing and jumping off of the fish tank walls and sliding down them. A treat to watch when you’re sitting in front of the aquarium.
Ideal Tank Mates
The ideal tank mates for mystery snails can be Tetras, Guppies, and Killifish that mind their own business and do not disturb or startle the snails. Invertebrates like Shrimps as mentioned above are also highly recommended tank mates for mystery snails and adding snails with snails is harmless.
Worst Tank Mates
Since Mystery Snails are very docile, harmless creatures, it is recommended that their tank mates are also the same. Aggressive fish like the crayfish are not the ideal tank mates for these friendly gastropods.
Rough and feisty tank mates like the Goldfish, Aquarium Crayfish, Stripped Convicts, Jack Dempsey, Oscars, and other cichlids should at all costs be avoided.
Aggressive tankmates like these have a very high chance of critically injuring the snail by pulling its eyes and tentacles off or even killing it.
Fish Tank Conditions
An aquarium is maintained regularly by the Blue Mystery Snail but the owner has to ensure that the interior conditions remain optimal, the water should not be too acidic because in that case the snail’s shell can get significantly damaged. A PH level above 7-8, a GH in between 7-18, and a KH of 8 are usually preferred.
The tank should have a decent number of plant life, the rot of which is fed on by these snails, if there are no rotten leaves or plants then the snails resort to eating healthy plants. In addition to this, they also scrape off algae from the fish tank walls, helping to keep them clean.
Being tropical animals, these snails thrive in temperature ranges of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit and this also makes them breed more readily and thrive in general.
Ammonia and Nitrate Levels
One has to be careful about the levels of ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites in their fish tank as drastic changes in their level can prove lethal for mystery snails.
Being freshwater aquatic creatures, these snails have very little tolerance for salinity levels ranging from 0-6.8 PPT. Under such saline conditions, the snails will have an 80% chance of survival after 3 days of exposure but these extreme conditions will severely hamper their breeding and general behavior. Copper levels should be carefully monitored as snails, just like shrimps are highly sensitive to copper and can end up dying from exposure.
As far as the filter is concerned, normal snails will survive without one but with mystery snails, a filter is recommended.
Common Issues with Blue Mystery Snails
Incorrect Placement in Aquarium:
When buying snails, people often just drop them in the aquarium and let them land in whichever position they hit the floor, but it is important to note that afterward when a snail tries to leave the shell and does not feel the ground with its feet, it stays in its shell till it dies. This is why it should be carefully placed in the fish tank with its right side up so it can feel the ground.
Another factor many people overlook is exposed filters to which these snails are attracted and get their heads stuck in, which may also lead to their death.
Attack of Parasites:
Parasites called the “Angiostrongylus cantonensis” or the Rat Lungworm and Grub worms can also pose a threat if wild snails are introduced to the fish tank environment. Rat Lungworms attach themselves in the form of a puss-filled sack near the snail’s feet which spreads across the entire tank if explodes.
These parasites can latch themselves onto other animals and humans so care must be taken with snails that are brought in from the wild. Grub Worms on the other hand live and die inside the host and there is no chance of it infecting the tank.
So it is safe to say that it does not take much for these Blue Mystery Snails to survive, these creatures are resilient which makes them easy to keep for both beginners and veterans alike.
Pricing and Availability
To get your own Blue Mystery Snail, visit any of the aquatic stores to find them up for sale for anywhere between $3-4 apiece. They will be handed over to you while they are still young but there are a few things to keep a lookout for.
Do not buy snails that seem lethargic or have weak or cracked shells because they are either ill or dying. Always pick the snails that are active and healthy.
They love to feed on decomposed plants and algae because they are natural scavengers.
yes, they are completely natural animals.
No, the active hours of Blue Mystery Snails depend on their activities and mood. The females usually lay eggs on the water’s surface during the night but other than that they can be seen playing around in the fish tank at any time of day and under any light conditions.
So if you want a low-maintenance fish tank with colorful and playful inhabitants that are easy to maintain. Then the Blue Mystery snails are highly recommended. Let us know which Care guide you want to read next and we’ll bring it for you.
Best of luck with your aquarium!!!