Mystery Snail Breeding Step-by-Step Guide

Jaime Douglas
Jaime Douglas

Writer at The Aquarium Keeper

Mystery snails are an amazing aquatic pet to have. They are highly interactive, almost always on the move, and easy to keep. If you have or had one of these amazing little creatures, there was probably a time when you thought about having more mystery snails. One way is to buy them, the other road is to try mystery snail breeding. These creatures are one of the easiest to breed in the aquarium hobby. Continue reading this article and start breeding your mystery snails today!

Table of Contents

Mystery Snail Species Overview

Before getting into mystery snail breeding, it is important to know as much information about these species as possible, because things like bad environmental conditions, or improper food can affect mystery snail breeding. 

close-up of black mystery snail on substrate

Mystery snails are very friendly and versatile creatures, these species are not needy, and can eat a wide range of different food. Here is all the basic information about mystery snails that you need to know:

  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons
  • Tank Setup: Aquarium should have a proper-working heater and a filter, even for snails. These components ensure, that mystery snails live in healthier conditions. Although it is important to have setups without a filter and a heater, we do not recommend it for beginners. The tank should also have a lot of live plants because they help clean the water and suck up some part of the waste that snails produce
  • Lightning: Low to high
  • Water Temperature: 20 – 28 °C (68–82 °F)
  • pH: 6.5 – 7.5
  • Temperament: Very peaceful
  • Diet: Mystery snails like to eat algae wafflers, melting aquarium plants, and blanched vegetables (zucchini, carrot, spinach), but at the same time these snail species can pretty much eat anything they can find.
  • Stocking: 2 mystery snails per 5 gallons 
  • Care Level: Easy
Mystery snails are also known as “apple snails” in the aquarium hobby. They have this unique name due to their shell because a lot of the time it resemble an apple.

Breeding Mystery Snails

There can be a lot of reasons why you should try breeding mystery snails. Maybe they are expensive to buy in your area, or maybe you just want to develop as a fishkeeper. Whatever the reasons may be, this step-by-step guide will give you the right information and will help avoid possible mistakes.

Things to Consider Before Breeding Mystery Snails

The thought of breeding mystery snails can be exciting, but it is important to have the right information before doing this. Things like tank size, mystery snail reproduction capabilities, color, and environment have to be considered thoroughly in order to be successful in mystery snail breeding.

Proper Size Aquarium

Before getting into the breeding process, make sure you have enough room for a bunch of baby mystery snails. As we mentioned above, we highly recommend housing 2 fully-grown mystery snails per 5 gallons. Also, take it into account, that a lot of baby snails will automatically produce more waste in your aquarium, and if you don’t have enough space, things can go wrong fast. As many as 15 mystery snails can hatch and survive in one egg clutch, so be ready.

Proper Environment

We highly recommend setting up a separate mystery snail breeding tank, because some fish species can intervene and negatively affect the breeding process. Aquarium fish can also try to eat newborn mystery snail babies, and adult mystery snails can have a harder time competing for food with other bottom-dweller fish species.

Mystery Snail Gender

Secondly, mystery snails have permanent genders and do not reproduce asexually. This means, that in order to successfully breed mystery snails, you will need both a male and a female in the same tank. It is very hard to find out what kind of sex a mystery snail is, so we highly recommend starting with a bunch of mystery snails, because it will give you a higher chance of getting both sexes. Having no males in your tank will result in females laying infertile mystery snail eggs.

Mystery Snail Color

Thirdly, choosing what kind of color mystery snails are going to be bred is also very important. Breeding the same color snails will most likely result in the same exact color, but not always. Mystery snails can carry the genetics of their previous ancestors, and that can result in a different color of the shell and body. It is very similar to humans because if everybody in the family has black hair, and one person is blonde, new offsprings are not automatically guaranteed to have black hair. This also applies to mystery snails.

Also, mixing different mystery snail colors can lead to interesting colorations and patterns, so if you are not strict when it comes to color choices, we highly recommend mixing different mystery snail colors.

Step 1. Create the Right Conditions

To begin, there are a few things that need to be done in order to make mystery snails breed. Firstly, they need to be properly fed. We suggest feeding quality food like algae wafflers, and blanched vegetables daily. Proper nutrition will make your snails healthier and provide them with the right nutrients and minerals to normally function.

Secondly, slowly increase the water temperature. As we mentioned above, snails like to live in water that is 20 – 28 °C (68–82 °F), but they only start breeding when the water temperature reaches 23 – 26 °C (73–78 °F). Make sure that you do not increase the water temperature too fast because that can stress out and shock your snails. Raise the temperature slowly every day, and stop when it reaches about 24 °C (78 °F).

Thirdly, lower the water level in your aquarium. Unlike other aquatic snails, these species lay their egg clutches above the water line. Lowering the water line will make sure that the female has enough room to do her desired action.

Step 2. Watch for Breeding Signs

The snail breeding process is very easily spotted and it will not take long to notice if the conditions are right. Just like a lot of creatures in nature, the male snail gets on top of the female snail, and that is how they do the deed. Some females simply go on with their day, others hide in their shells, and the most extreme ones try to shake the male off. The breeding act can sometimes even last up to 5 hours and can happen multiple times per day.

If you notice, that the male is not giving any space for your female for a long time, be sure to separate them, because females can die from too much breeding. Simply, female mystery snails become too stressed, they can’t function properly when there is another big snail on top all the time.

Step 3. Look for Mystery Snail Eggs

After you witness the breeding process of your mystery snails, we recommend checking your aquarium every morning. As we talked about before, mystery snails lay their eggs above the water line, which means in most cases you will need to take the lid off. Females also prefer laying eggs when it is dark, so the chances that you will catch a mystery snail in the process of laying eggs are low.

Step 4. Care for Mystery Snail Eggs

If you found a big pink/white clutch of eggs above the water line, congratulations because you have successfully made your mystery snails breed. At this moment it is important that you do not touch the eggs or move them in any sort of way. Mystery snail eggs should be fine just above the water line, they should have enough humidity and warmth to develop and eventually hatch in 2 or 3 weeks. The aquarium light will keep the eggs warm, while the evaporating water from the heat will provide enough moisture for the eggs.

Not all hatchlings will survive, but a lot of them do, and in most cases, they easily find a way to the water when they hatch. Some people move the eggs to a different container, but in this guide, it is really not necessary, because the eggs are already in a mystery snail dedicated breeding tank, and there are no other creatures that can affect them.

close-up of mystery snail eggs above the water line in aquarium

If you notice, that your mystery snail eggs do not change in appearance over a week, there is a possibility, that your mystery snail eggs are infertile. This is very rare but can happen, and there can be a lot of factors that lead to this (bad hatching conditions, lack of mystery snail males). If this happens, check the water conditions and evaluate, what might have gone wrong.

If everything went according to plan, you are now a proud owner of new baby mystery snails. They can easily be sold to local aquarium shops, in your community, or can stay in your aquarium, it is your choice!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often do Mystery Snails Lay Eggs?

Mystery snails can lay their eggs multiple times a year, even every month if there is a male present. Sometimes female mystery snails can lay eggs without a male. This can be easily explained: a female mystery snail can be already fertilized upon purchase, resulting in a bunch of snail eggs in your aquarium.

What to do if Mystery Snail Eggs Fell in Water?

Unfortunately, mystery snail eggs can’t survive in water, which is why the best thing to do if they fall into water is to remove them immediately. If you leave mystery snail eggs in water, they can start decaying and harming your aquarium inhabitants, by changing your water parameters and causing an ammonia spike.

Are Mystery Snail Eggs Poisonous to Humans?

Mystery snail eggs are covered in slime, which has a certain toxin, which is harmful to humans. We highly suggest not eating or putting in your mouth anything that comes out of the aquarium, even mystery snail eggs. There can be certain parasites that can cause a lot of harm.

Writer's Thoughts

Mystery snails are really fun to watch and are cool to have in an aquarium. Breeding them is relatively easy, and everyone should at least give it a shot. Trying new things helps us grow as fishkeepers, and breeding mystery snails can be a joyful experience.

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