Mystery Snail Care Guide: Tank Size, Tank Mates, Food, Breeding, etc.

Mystery snails are a slow-moving and non-aggressive creature who mainly feeds on herbs just like other Gastropods. These qualities can make them a great addition to your tank.

These low maintenance snails clean the tank as efficiently as other species like Nerite snails. Even a beginner can have them in their aquarium to add variety and to relax while they shine the aquarium for you.

In this article, you will get detailed information regarding these slow-moving creatures. You will also learn everything from their anatomy to the tank set up to the breeding process. So keep reading till the end.

Category Rating
Family Ampullariidae
Scientific Name Pomacea bridgesii
Class Gastropoda
Temperament Calm
Diet Herbivore
Care Level Beginner
Size 2 Inches
Color Form Gold, White, Blue, Purple, Brown, and Black
Lifespan One Year
Compatibility Community Tanks

Mystery Snail Overview

Mystery snail

These small, slow-moving snails are known by many names and often confused with the apple snails.

Pomacea bridgesii: Mystery snail, Golden mystery snail, Mystery apple snail, Spike topped apple snail, Common apple snail, and Pomacea australis

Pomacea diffusa: Mystery snail, Inca snail, Gold Inca snail, Golden Inca Snail, and Gold apple snail

Pomacea canaliculata: Golden apple snail

Aquarists may get confused among apple snails species Pomacea bridgesii, Pomacea diffusa, and Pomacea canaliculata, but they grow in different sizes.

Pomacea bridgesii size: Width:40-50 mm and height 45-65 mm

Pomacea diffusa size: Width 40-50 mm and height 45-65 mm high

Pomacea canaliculata size: Width 40 to 60 mm and height 45 to 75 mm

In the early days, Pomacea bridgesii and Pomacea diffusa were considered the same species, but now we know they have different DNA.

A few Apple snail species are banned in the US, and they are considered invasive snails.

These belong to the family of Apple snails, Pomacea diffusa. Some of the Apple snails are banned from owning in the US and considered as an invasive snail.

There are many varieties in this species, so always check before you buy anything. The best way to buy the right snail that you won’t regret after going home is observing them.

We don’t mean picking the one that has a beautiful shell. It is a secondary thing. The main thing that you need to check is that if it is moving or not. Only pick the one who is moving and is attached to the surface. Also, never buy a snail with a damaged shell.

Mystery snail lifespan

Mystery snails play a huge role in cleaning the environment. They eat dead plants and help in the retaining of nutrients stuck in the detritus back to the ecosystem. They play the same role for your aquarium. They are known to live up to 1 year in the wild.

They have many features that distinguish them from other snails. They have bright, colorful appearances, and they keep the substrate and glass of the tank shining. They are adaptable to different water conditions as well. All these qualities make them the best choice for a beginner.

Typical Behavior

Mystery snails are slow movers like other snails, but they are quite non-aggressive as well. They quietly feed on the algae formation on the glass or the surface of the substrate.

If you want to put them in your community tank, keep them only with the peaceful fishes. The movement of aggressive fishes can scare them. It will reduce their activity, and they will spend most of their time inside their shell.

Mystery snails can do many activities that will attract anyone towards them. Sometimes they go to the top of the tank and let go to fall directly to the bottom. Other times they can be seen sliding down the glass by simply letting go of a part of the foot.

Mystery Snail Appearance

Golden mystery snail

Coloration: Mystery snails are also known for their vivid and colorful appearance. Generally, they can be seen in black, gold, brown, and ivory colors. These colors will add a fresh new touch to your aquarium.

Shell Coloration: Their shell also comes in a variety of patterns like solid coloration, gradient, or banded with white head and foot. These color combinations make them stand out from the rest of their species.

Size and Structure: Mystery snails can grow up to 2 inches, and their small size is what makes them fit for both small as well as large tanks. These snails also have spiral whorl like other snails but are comparatively small. Even an adult snail has only 4 whorls, all of which are small in size.

Operculum: It is a nail-shaped plate used to cover the opening part of the shell. The operculum tells whether the snail is healthy, alive, or dead. If it is closing properly, then it means the snail is healthy. But if it is not or if it falls off, it means something is wrong.

Head: It is another important part of their body. They have two long tentacles, and just behind them are two eyes. With the help of these two, they find food, detect motion, and spot predators. If they detect predators, the snail hides inside the shell and closes the operculum until they feel safe.

Siphon: Below these tentacles, they have a mouth and another pair of tentacles, which they use for feeding. On the left side of the head, they have a siphon to pass water through the gills.

Mystery Snail Tank Size, Tank Conditions and, Ideal Habitat

They are mainly found in the ponds or rivers of Paraguay, Bolivia, and Brazil. Most of their time is spent at the bottom in feeding on dead or decomposing plants. Their tank conditions are easy to set up, and the things you have to keep in mind are given below –

Conditions Parameters
Temperature 68°F to 84°F
pH Level 7.6 to 8.4
Water Type 12 to 18 kH
Plants Java Fern, Java Moss, and Hornwort

Mystery snail tank size

Mystery snails are hardy, but rapid changes in water can affect their health. All they need is moderately moving and highly oxygenated water with plenty of plantation to feed and thrive.

If they ran out of food, they might try to swim out of water. So, make sure the lid is closed. The oxygen level can also be maintained through a heavy plantation. Apart from this, make sure the water pH is high.

The low pH can degrade the quality of the shell as it is made of calcium carbonate. The shell will start to dissolve in the water and make the Mystery snail vulnerable to other aquarium creatures.

If you see any crack or broken shell, it may indicate the low pH level or low carbonate in water. To keep their shell healthy and strong, you can add calcium supplements.

You can choose pebbles, gravels, or rocks for the substrate to make the surface hard and easy for them to move. But the Mystery snails don’t need any specific type of substrate. So, you can add anything according to the requirement of other creatures in the aquarium.

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

The Mystery snails are kept in a community aquarium with tropical water conditions. The size of the aquarium doesn’t really matter as they can thrive in all of them. As a beginner, you can start with an already established aquarium of size 5 to 10 gallons.

How many Mystery snails per gallon?

For every 5 gallons, you can keep 1 to 2 snails so that they will get plenty of space to move and eat.

Mystery Snail Tank Mates

Mystery snail tank mates

These small, non-aggressive Mystery snails are quite active but interact very little with other creatures in its surrounding. But if the other creatures don’t share the same temperament, it can reduce the activity of snails.

This makes it important to have creatures who are peaceful like them. Tetras, Killifish, Mollies, and Guppies are a famous example of this. They won’t threaten the Mystery snails and live peacefully.

To increase the variety in the tank, you can add invertebrates like shrimp as well. The species of shrimps include Ghost shrimp, Amano shrimp, and Cherry shrimp.

You can also add other Gastropods like Nerite snails, Ramshorn snails, and Ivory snails. The species that you should avoid at all costs are Crayfish, Cichlids, Oscars, and any other fishes that share the same temperament.

You can even keep the same species of Mystery snails in a group. They will thrive together as long as there is ample space to move and eat for each of them. But make sure not to overcrowd the tank, it will affect the health of the tank and the snails itself. To avoid this situation, make sure to add only one snail per 5 gallons.

What Do Mystery Snails Eat?

Mystery snail food

Do mystery snails eat plants or algae?

As we already know, Mystery snails are algae eaters and strict vegetarians. In the wild, they feed on the algae or dead/rotting plants from their environment. Apart from this, they can feed on a wide range of food.

In the aquarium, they will graze on algae from the glass or the substrate from the tank’s bottom. The heavy vegetation will also help them in feeding. The plants will shed as they grow, so the snails will have plenty of food to feed on.

Mystery Snail food

Apart from these, you can also include sinking tablets, pellets, or flakes to enrich their diet in minerals. Green vegetables like zucchini and lettuce can also be fed to Mystery snails after boiling.

These Mystery snails have radula that helps them to scrape off the algae from the surface. It makes them efficient tank cleaners and lessens the work for you. This is also the reason people prefer to buy them. You will also be able to see the tracks that they leave behind while moving and cleaning the tank.

Another thing to keep in mind is that never leave leftover food in the aquarium. They can degrade the quality of the water and makes it unhabitual for the creatures living in it.

Mystery Snail Care

Keeping Mystery snails healthy is an easy task. All you have to do is keep the pH level high and provide calcium supplements to keep their shell healthy and strong. Their shell’s health is important as the weak shell can make the snail vulnerable to other fishes.

The Mystery snails are hardy, but they can catch some diseases from the parasites, resulting in their death. Angiostrongylus cantonensis or rat lungworm is one of the parasites that can affect the health of these snails.

Mystery snail care

This adult parasite is commonly known to infect the rodents, but their larvae can affect the snails. The larvae use Mystery snail as a host and feed on them to grow as an adult. There is no to very little chance for them to infect the snails in the aquarium.

The snails caught from the wild can carry Grub worms with them. They can be recognized as small white cysts on the foot of Mystery snails. When these cysts rupture, parasites or flukes are released into the water and affect the same tank’s fishes. These parasites will live and feed on the fish until it dies.

These parasites once encysted the fish, and then it can only be removed physically. But these Grub worms can not reproduce itself inside the aquarium.

To make sure each creature in the aquarium is healthy and thriving, look at the health of the shell of snails. They are the main source of carrying diseases. The shells can be patched, but the process can only be done by hands and include risks.

Another way to ensure safety includes isolating the snails from the tank and following medical procedures to restore the health of the fish and the tank.

Mystery Snail Breeding and Eggs

Mystery snail eggs
Mystery snail eggs

Mystery snails are easy to breed, especially when you are looking for an easy way to increase their number. Breeding Mystery snails need both males and females, which makes them gonochoristic.

They don’t need any external help like alter water conditions to breed. The Mystery snails will breed when there is plenty of food for the small ones to feed on.

Mystery Snail Eggs

You have to lower the water level for the female snail to lay the egg on the surface of the water. They leave the eggs in the form of the cocoon, which makes it easy to spot them. You can also remove them if you don’t want them to breed.

After the snail lays eggs on the surface, make sure the air around the eggs is moist. It will take around a month for the eggs to hatch. Once the eggs hatch, the baby snails will fall at the bottom of the tank to start their life and begin feeding like adults.


Mystery snails are beautiful little Gastropods that will add vividness to your tank. If you already have a community fish tank of peaceful fishes and heavy vegetation, then these little creatures are perfect for you.

The Mystery snails are easy to feed, care, and breed. You don’t have to make any changes after adding them to your aquarium, which is another reason, they are so famous among the aquarists. They will help you keep the substrate and glass shining by efficiently cleaning the algae and plant debris from the tank.

You will be able to find them easily in any pet store around you. Just take this article as a guide and get the right mystery snail for your aquarium and feed them right and high-quality food.

What are the features that you like the most about these mystery snails? Do you have them in your aquarium and planning to keep them? Let us know in the comments below.