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Thread: Help with breeding Mystery Snails

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    Help with breeding Mystery Snails

    I've been taking care of fish for years, breeding various species and the like. I've had a puffer fish, goldfish, tropical fish, a frog, snails, and a loach. Last week, however, I decided to start breeding Ivory mystery snails (Pomacea Diffusa). These are one of the kinds of snails included in the name “Apple Snails”. I've done an entire week's worth of research on the internet. My library had very little information on Mystery snail breeding so most of my research has been on the internet. I will be quite honest; I have become well sidetracked from my original objective: Breed snails for my Green Spotted Puffer to eat the babies. Young snails are just about the healthiest thing you can give a green spotted puffer. However, I've now become so obsessed with snails that I can't help but want to find out more about them and keep many for enjoyment. I want to make some money selling them as well. Also, I know many of my friends who would love to have some, and I have 4 local fish stores that I could give them to. So I will never be “overstocked” with snails.

    I’ve learned Mystery snails reproduce painfully slow compared to pest snails, so if you are after a food source it's really counter productive when a small tub with pond, nerite, trumpet, or rams horn snails would give you much more results in much shorter of a time. If you wish to breed Mystery snails as a source of income (or for their beauty) then you seem to have the right idea. J Also it takes a bit of dedication due to the fact that mystery snails produce MASSIVE amounts of waste compared to most snails. Regular water changes are quite necessary, along with efficient filtration if you are going to do this. I use a ten gallon but it might be much easier if you use a larger tank.

    I decided to ask all of you Houston fish box peoples what you know about breeding mystery snails. I am interested in hearing from mystery snail breeders that have information that I don’t include in this article. I would LOVE it if you told me some tips and tricks that I don’t already know. Please don't post links (If it's on the internet I've probably read it already. But if you do post links, no harm done.) I hope you read this entire article; it’s very informative and educational. I don’t want to sound like a know-it-all but I will post all of the info I have so far on breeding mystery snails for 3 reasons:

    1. So you don’t just tell me stuff I already know.
    2. So you and others can learn a few things you may not have known.
    3. So I can have all of the info in one place instead of notes scattered everywhere.

    Alright, so this is my set up, for mystery snail breeding:

    Please comment if you see a problem with my set up or if you see an improvement I could make. I would LOVE any feedback whatsoever.

    My wonderfully cheap 10 gallon tank (waterline six inches [15 centimeters] from the top of the tank because mystery snails lay eggs above the waterline, if the water isn’t low enough they will lay the eggs somewhere on the hood or crawl out searching for a place. This is quite dangerous because they could fall from your tank and break their shell or worse: They could get stepped on.)

    I have a Lid for the tank that won't let snails escape. The hood has a pretty good light, but lighting is not important for snail breeding (they like it dark, and are traditionally nocturnal).

    I have a thermometer, I check this regularly.

    I have a heater, that keeps the temperature at 81 degrees
    Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) I raised it there from 74 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius), I raised it two degrees a day

    A 5-15 gallon Whisper filter does the job of cleaning the tank. (I got a intake extender so it could pick up the snails' waste easier because snail poop doesn't float around it just lays on the bottom of the tank.)

    I have 2 crushed coral bags (I just cut the socks off of a pair of pantyhose, filled them with crushed coral that I bought at my LFS, (Local fish store), [1 pound of crushed coral in each sock] next I rinsed the coral filled pantyhose socks thoroughly, and then tied them at the would-be ankles of the socks. Then I placed the two “bags” on the bottom of the tank. With these two bundles it is very easy to clean the tank because there is no substrate. I recommend replacing these crushed coral bags every two months. One at a time otherwise you will shock your tank and snails. This helps harden the water, just how the snails like it, and higher the pH levels (7.0-8.0 is good for snails) Baking soda, Sodium Bicarbonate – NaHCO3, is pretty safe and it will increase and help stabilize your pH. Add 1 tsp of baking soda for every ten gallons if you want higher pH.

    I also have a power head in my tank that creates a current to pick up poop and excess uneaten food and push it to the filter intake. Mystery snails A.K.A “Pomacea Diffusa” originate from the Amazon River, so they don’t mind a current, as long as it isn’t to strong.

    I put a Cuttle bone, usually used in bird cages but if you take off the metal attachment and put a rock (or one of your crushed coral bags) on the Cuttle bone so it sinks to the bottom of your tank it will be a good source of calcium for your snails. They’ll munch on it once in awhile; also it slowly dissolves helping them with Calcium intake. Snails need a LOT of calcium if you are going to breed them. The calcium is for their shell health, the female uses huge amounts of calcium when laying eggs. Calcium sources include: Tums (just not the peppermint flavor), calcium vitamins, special supplements specifically used for aquariums, and keep in mind there is already some calcium in the water you put in their tank if it comes from tap (depending on where you live). Eggshells contain calcium in the form of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) so they should raise pH, GH and KH. You could experiment on different calcium sources, everyone has their own tricks.

    I treat the water with the conventional "makes tap water safe for fish" stuff, this is very important to do when caring for snails; snails will die if there is copper or other heavy metals in the water.

    Make sure you cycle your tank before putting snails in, to get all those proper bacteria working for you, or just get some water from an already established tank, or float a used filter cartridge around for an hour or so.

    I have a small live plant, an Anacharis, anchored down in one of the corners by my coral filled pantyhose sock. There are no other fish in my snail breeding tank. There are certainly no puffers in the tank, because these fish bite the tentacles and siphons off snails. (This is a horrible life style for a snail. However, snails can later re-grow their body parts.) Loaches, as well as turtles also eat snails; my goldfish tries to eat baby snails but usually just sucks on them and then spits them out.

    To clarify, I don't have any gravel or sand on the bottom of my mystery snail breeding tank; it's absolutely bare and clean. So when I put food in the snails find it easily and I can net out excess amounts easily and the filter can do a more thorough job.

    I put a very little amount of aquarium salt in the tank (first I dissolved it in a cup and then slowly poured it into the body of the filter, because snails will die if you put the salt to close to them or directly on them) Be extremely careful with salt.

    I added six Ivory Mystery snails (I first added two, they seemed happy so then I added four more) the tank stays very clean, mostly just because of how basic the set up is. 6 or 7 is good number of snails to start a breeding tank. This way there is only a 3% chance that all of the snails are of the same gender. It is very important to have one male and one female snail if you are trying to breed the common mystery snail (Pomacea Diffusa) that you buy at your LFS. These snails can not change gender or impregnate themselves like most snails can. They are not hermaphrodites.

    I feed the mystery snails; blood worms, goldfish and tropical fish food, algae wafers, and I try to feed them veggies, but they usually don’t seem very interested. They can even eat floating pound pellets. They climb to the water’s surface and form a little funnel with their muscular foot. They then slowly draw the food closer to them, then grab it and eat it. They will also eat rotting leaves but not healthy plants. Summer squash is supposedly a favorite for Mystery Snails. Also, today I smacked what I call a “mosquito eater” out of the air and threw it in my snail tank to experiment. MY SNAILS LOVED HIM! He was a very large insect and it took two snails 30 minutes to devour him. Afterwards there were no left-overs!

    The higher the temperature is in your tank the more active your snails will be. As long as you keep it under 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius)they should be happy, otherwise it gets dangerous. In fact, I wouldn’t raise the temperature all the way to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) because even that’s unnecessary. As long as the temperature is above 76 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) they should be okay. To initiate mating you need to start at like 76 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) and slowly raise it to around 82-83 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) . The most important thing to keep in mind is make sure you keep the temperature steady. If it is spiking up and down, your snails will die. One very important factor you need to keep in mind: If the temperature is higher then the snails will live shorter, grow faster, eat more, stay more active, produce more waste, mate more frequently, and have faster metabolisms in general. A mystery snail can live up to 3 years if the temperature is kept relatively low, but a snail in warmer water will usually live only 3-4 months. If you’re breeding them you’ll have hundreds so it wouldn’t be too much of a loss would it? I keep the water humid because that is crucial for mating snails.

    Pomacea Diffusa or mystery snails come in many different colors: White (“Ivory”), black, blue, gold, brown, striped, burgundy, and pink. Breeders have mated special colored snails to get all of these colors. A snail from any color can breed with a snail from any other color. However, the baby snails will not be a pure color, they will usually turn out brown or striped, like in the wild. I like all of the colors equally; they really all have a special beauty. I have been to Petsmart and I have gotten many loads of baby snails for free, they are always generous about it. However, I just feed them to the puffer because I don’t think about them as anything but food. I will get some tomorrow and start raising them so they can breed. They are, for the most part, just the pest snails, perfect for feeder snails.

    When you see a snail climbing on top of another snail, this means that the top snail is a male, it doesn’t necessarily mean the bottom one is a female. To determine the gender of mystery snails you can take your snail out of water and hold him or her face up until it starts to peek out and look around, when it does this you can usually see the male’s …, and if there is not one there then it is a female. However, this isn’t the most reliable way because many times people don’t know what they are looking for and mistake some parts for others. I suggest just getting 6 to 7 snails, that way you will not have to worry about which gender the snail is. Mystery snails have a gill and a lung. They breathe oxygen through the water with their gill. However, if there isn’t enough oxygen in the water they will climb to the water’s surface and stick out a long tube that is not to be mistaken for a male’s ….*ahem. This is their siphon, males and females have it, so don’t get confused.

    The mating process itself is quite simple. It lasts anywhere from a short amount of time to three hours. The male mounts the female while she is still crawling around, he then climbs to the front lower right side of her shell, and she tries to shake him off. Then they mate….…afterwards she can store the sperm up to three months. (However, she usually stores it for only a few weeks)

    The female mystery snail looks above the water line for a place to lay her eggs. A smooth surface that is humid but not too wet is where she will lay her eggs. Once she finds a place she will begin laying the eggs, forming a clutch. A clutch can be white, neon green, pink, red, and black. The eggs will harden a few hours after the clutch is formed. A few days later they might change color. The eggs will hatch in 2 to 4 weeks depending on the temperature and humidity. Female Mystery snails sometimes lay unfertilized eggs, like a hen would. Mystery snails can lie anywhere from 75 to 600 eggs in one clutch. The female will usually lay 4-6 clutches in one season (Laying one clutch every five or six days). Mystery snails naturally breed from spring to summer, however it is quite common for them to breed year round when the proper conditions are met. Many of the baby snails will die the fist week, depending on how much food is available. Make sure to put some pantyhose over the filter’s intake valve once they hatch or else they will get suck up by the filter. Some breeders use incubators for the eggs and most times find higher survival rates among the snail eggs. An incubator consists of the following: small plastic container with lid, brand new sponge that has been rinsed and placed in the container, treated water that comes half way up the side of the sponge. If you decide to use an incubator, once you see the egg clutch wait for it to harden and then lightly spray it with some treated water and then carefully scrape it off the glass and place it on the sponge. Try to minimize the damage. If the egg clutch falls into water the babies will drowned. Put a lid on the incubator if you are using it and float it in the tank or put it somewhere with consistently warm temperatures. Keeping the clutch in the tank is simpler and will keep you from having to scrape them off the side of the tank. Once they hatch they will fall in the water and eat what their parents eat. Remove dead snails, they can rot, pollute the water, and make a horrible stench. The baby snails will be a little more sensitive to water quality then adult snails so keep up with the water changes. They are all ready to party from day one. In the end my entire set up and all of my supplies came out to be: $43.20. If you think about it that’s a REALLY cheap breeding tank set up that will last many years and bear thousands of snails.

    Even though some of this might seem complicated or difficult, it’s actually VERY simple and easy to get your mystery snails to breed, they just need certain conditions.

    Thank you so much for reading this! I want you to message me with any questions you have but more importantly HELP ME LEARN MORE. I simply want your experience and wisdom so I can have a more complete understanding of how to breed Mystery snails.

    I know if you are patient you will have many baby snails in the future. God’s creatures are so exciting and mysterious. I wish you good luck!

    These are for those of us that think it’s perfectly normal to give our snails some good old-fashioned home cooking. These are recipes I have gathered from around the web including places like Enjoy!

    Snail Jello
    1 can of baby food (4-6 oz)
    1 tsp+ fish food (may be omitted)
    Calcium/vitamin supplements (I use 1tsp Jurassi-reptical powder w/out phosphorus)
    1 packet (= 1 tablespoon) unflavored gelatin

    You can select any fish food and any flavor of baby food that you like. Try to find baby foods with at least 4% calcium (vegetable medley has a higher %), either fruit or vegetable types are find. This is a good way to feed fish foods that are good for snails but don't sink, like freeze-dried shrimp, or fish foods that have a strong smell when cooked in other recipes. You can mix in much more than a teaspoon of fish food, and including the ingredients of a "snail trail mix" instead of a single fish food would make this snail treat more nutritionally complete.


    Open the baby food and pour it into a small bowl. Heat the baby food in the microwave for 60 seconds (caution, it will be very hot).

    Stir in the unflavored gelatin (add it slowly to avoid unsightly clumps of gelatin; don't use a blender or you risk creating air bubbles that will make it float) crushing any lumps with the back of a spoon.

    Add calcium supplements and vitamins if you have/want them. Stir thoroughly.

    Pour this mixture into a dish with a flat bottom (tupperware-type containers work well; if you are doubling or tripling this recipe, you might consider a pie pan).* Fold in your fish food(s) if you are adding any.

    Refrigerate for several hours, then return and cut into cubes.

    One jar of baby food yields a good handful of snail treats. Keep them refrigerated until serving. These sink and hold up pretty well in the tank, but as with any food, large uneaten portions should be removed after the snails have finished. These can be frozen for up to a month.

    *You can use an ice cube tray to create big treats for a tank full of snails. No slicing is needed in this case.

    Calcium Blocks for Picky Snails
    Another gelatin/calcium recipe.


    1 tsp unflavored gelatin
    5-10 calcium pills, crushed
    1 tbsp honey
    (optional) other vitamins, low-sodium seaweed powder, etc

    -Dump gelatin into a small bowl. Boil 1 cup of water, and use as little of it as possible to dissolve the gelatin ( I used 3 tablespoons or so).

    -Let it cool for a few minutes, then mix in the honey, calcium and optional ingredients. This step is kind of tricky- you want a thick paste, but without any air bubbles in it. Try kneading it instead of stirring.

    -Flatten into a circle about ¼ of an inch thick. Put it on a sheet of waxed paper, and put it in refrigerator for a few hours. Once it is set, slice into thin chunks and place the chunks (not touching one another) onto a piece of waxed paper.

    -Put them into a warm, dry room. If you have a fan handy, you might as well point it at them (if not, don’t worry about it). Leave overnight. By the next morning, they should be completely dry. When these blocks are done, they’re hard as a rock, and sink like one too. You could probably use a dehydrator, if you have one, but I found that they dried very quickly without one.

    -Don’t make these when it’s humid out. They won’t dry.

    -Cutting it into small chunks is vital. If you don’t, it either won’t dry at all, or it’ll dry into an unbreakable shell of calcium with a gooey center.

    -I chose to use honey in this recipe because the snails seem to love anything sugary (thus attracting a picky, injured snail), and honey has been shown to have antibacterial properties, so I figured that might help to postpone the decomposition process while they’re drying out. Other sweeteners or fruit purees would probably work, though.

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    I'll have the flakes to start, thanks.
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    ok, wow. you are making this endeavor MUCH more complicated than it needs to be. i have been breeding these guys for years, and it's really quite simple. first, (and probably most important) thought, although you undoubtedly have a few friends and perhaps even a LFS or 2 (or even 3 or 4) interested in the babies you are producing, you are going to (quicker than you expect) end up with more babies than you can sell or even give away, so it's good that there is a hungry puffer around. ok, now that that has been addressed, here are a few more thoughts for you.
    1- six inches below the tank lid is probably too much, 2 or 3 would be plenty. you're better off with more water to dilute the wastes produced.
    2- crushed coral and cuttlebones are completely unnecessary. just use good old houston tapwater and you'll do fine. i would recommend seachem prime or amquel+ as a water treatment.
    3- add more plants to the tank. the snails will not eat live plant material, however they will eat the biological film that covers the surfaces as well as any dead leaves.
    4- a small school of micro fishes will make the tank more attractive and fun, and leftover crushed flake food is a great supplement to the simple diet of these snails, which brings us to the next point...
    5- feed algae disks, blanched veggies (blanching is key) and occasional small amounts of frozen spinach.

    hope this helps, and good luck! i would be happy to answer any other questions that you have.
    my fish house:
    2.5g- ramshorn hatchery
    6g eclipse- yellow shrimp, chili rasboras, yellow apple snails
    29g- geo grow-out, angels, 12"fire eel, dwarf frog, apple snails
    45g- jade sleeper gobies, native killifish, feeder endlers

    2 oscars, parrot, silver dollars, albino channel cat, syno euptera, bichir, baby jaguar, convicts, yabby
    125g- fahaka puffer, rainbow shark
    and about a dozen bettas....

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    chrispaul's Avatar
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    Oh wow! Thanks so much! I'll post any questions I think of.

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    Mystery Snails are so easy. Ally is right you are making it harder then it is. If you have a male and female all you need to do is leave the water leval low. The female will come out of the water to lay her eggcluch.
    But make sure you have a top on the tank. Some times the females will get lost and fall out of the tank.
    Nothing Kills Evil Like a Sharp Stick...

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    Help with breeding Mystery Snails

    I don't think breeding them is all that difficult I had a set breed 4x last summer by accident. They were in a 28g tank with 3 angels, blue tetras, and green cories. I had the tank moderately planted and kept the water in the mid to low 80s. I did nothing special I think if you try too hard it will be counter productive. I had from the 4 clutches well over 300 babies. It got to the point that I was selling them for a dime a piece on here.
    29 Gallon SA Tank -- 5 Bleeding Heart Tetras, Mated Pair of Angels, 7 Green Corys, and a Rubberlip Pleco

    30 Gallon Breeder -- 20+ neon tetras, 3 albino cories, 2 albino bristlenose plecos, female betta, 1 angel

    5 Gallon Shrimp Nano - Sakura Red Shrimp, Boraras Brigittae, Oto Cats, Olive Nerites, and Pink Ramshorn

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    Re: Help with breeding Mystery Snails

    Toss them in a tank with the water level a few inches from the top and let them do their thing. No need to over-complicate breeding mystery snails. That's why there's not much info in books on them. It would be a waste to print a book saying, "toss them in a tank or bucket and you'll have babies in no time".

    Sent from my spaceship using Tapatalk 2.

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    They really like algae wafers and I dont put saltin my snail tanks
    Thanks so much,

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    Okay! thanks

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    Fancyfish's Avatar
    I have an aversion to salty water.
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    That is a very comprehensive document on mystery snail breeding. I'll agree it's a little overboard but you did a lot of research and put it together very well.

    I was wondering why you added salt to the snail tank. I don't use salt in my tanks though I know some fish do better with a little salt added.

    Also, if you are overcrowding your snail tanks or raising a lot of young snails, you do need the crushed coral and calcium supplements. The snails will pull the minerals out of the water and drop the ph way low. I've had mine drop to 6.0 or lower in a tank I've let go without water changes for 2 weeks.

    I started breeding these guys again last summer and am enjoying it greatly!
    Hi-fin pepper Cory's, Black Cory's, Long Fin Golden Aneus, Swordtails, some lyretail(RREA's, Red, Albino Koi, Red & Gold Tux), Different types of BN plecos(albino, calico, long fin, blue eyed short & long fin)
    Mystery Snails, Yellow Shrimp, CPDs

    HAS Master Aquatic Gardener awarded 1997
    HAS Master Fish Breeder awarded 1998

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    allysangels's Avatar
    I'll have the flakes to start, thanks.
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    yes, you are correct fancyfish... i guess i left out the part about weekly water changes to keep the PH and hardness up.
    my fish house:
    2.5g- ramshorn hatchery
    6g eclipse- yellow shrimp, chili rasboras, yellow apple snails
    29g- geo grow-out, angels, 12"fire eel, dwarf frog, apple snails
    45g- jade sleeper gobies, native killifish, feeder endlers

    2 oscars, parrot, silver dollars, albino channel cat, syno euptera, bichir, baby jaguar, convicts, yabby
    125g- fahaka puffer, rainbow shark
    and about a dozen bettas....

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