Why My Mystery Snail is Floating in a Tank

Have you ever seen your mystery snail floating motionless at the water’s surface and panicked? Mystery snails are popular aquarium pets, but their floating behavior can alarm new owners.

In this blog, we’ll explore why mystery snails are floating, whether it’s a cause for concern, and how to tell if your gold mistery snail is alive and well. We’ll also cover basic mystery snail care to keep your friendly snail happy and healthy.

gold mystery snail

Gold mystery snail

What are Mystery Snails?

Mystery snails are relatively large freshwater aquarium snails that come from the family Ampullariidae, and they are also called spike-topped apple snails. They are naturally found in South America and usually dwell in calm water, including lakes and rivers. Mystery snails are unique pets with beautiful shells and are recognized for serving as algae consumers in aquariums.

Here’s a closer look at their characteristics:

Family: Ampullariidae Scientific Name: Pomacea bridgesii Size: Mystery snails are among the largest freshwater snails, growing to a maximum diameter of 2 inches or more.
  • Growth: Mystery snails grow steadily throughout their lifespan, which can be up to 5 years.
  • Breeding: Mystery snails are hermaphroditic, meaning they have both male and female reproductive organs. However, they still need another mystery snail to reproduce. They lay eggs above the waterline in clusters. The eggs will hatch in about 3–4 weeks, and the baby snails will be tiny replicas of their parents.
  • Diet: Mystery snails are omnivores. They are excellent algae eaters and will help to clean up your aquarium. They will also eat leftover fish food, decaying plant matter, and other detritus. You can also supplement their diet with blanched vegetables, algae wafers, or snail food.

Can Mystery Snails Live Without Air

No, mystery snails can’t live solely on dissolved oxygen in water. They are air-breathing snails and have a special siphon called a pneumatophore that allows them to reach the water’s surface and breathe air directly. While they can extract some oxygen from the water, regular access to air is crucial for their survival. So don’t forget to install an air pump in tanks for the mistery snails.

mystery snail

Mystery snail

Mystery Snail Tank Requirements

Mystery snails are rather unpretentious, but they should be provided with a proper tank that with the conditions meeting their needs to live a comfortable life.

Here is a brief on what their ideal home should look like.

1. Tank Size

A mystery snail can adapt to nearly any size aquarium, yet for the most effective, it is desirable to have a 5-gallon or bigger tank for a single snail. This enables them to have enough space to move around and look for foods to feed on. If you’re getting multiple snails, the size of the tank has to be increased, and 10 gallons is suitable for two snails at the minimum.

2. Water Parameters

Mystery snails are known to thrive in hard water; the pH level of the water should be about 7. 6 and 8. 4 and a temperature ranging between 68°F and 84°F. They are sensitive to copper, so you shouldn’t use the water that has been treated by copper pipes. If the tap water quality is in doubt, it is advisable to use either bottled or RO water for the preparation of foods and drinks for the snails.

3. Tank Setup

Many people have reported in various forums that mystery snails are escape artists. These inverts need an aquarium with a tight-fitting lid, since they can jump and also die out of humidity. They are also grazers and will chew on live plants. If you want to have live plants in your tank, use mostly the ones that snails have no interest in eating or ones that they cannot eat, like Anubias or Java Fern.

4. Filtration

The waste that the mystery snails produce can be settled at the bottom of the tank, and therefore it is recommended to invest in a good quality fish tank filter. Mystery snails should have a HOB (hang-on-back filter) or canister filter, as it is beneficial for the snails and the tank.

5. Diet

Mystery snails are also known to feed on algae, fish food scraps, dead plant material, and blanched vegetables. To enrich their diet, you can add algae wafers or food for snails to their meals occasionally.

mystery snail is floating

The mystery snail is floating

Why the Mystery Snail is Floating

There are two main reasons why a mystery snail might be floating:

Air Intake: Mystery snails are air-breathing snails and have a siphon (pneumatophore) to reach the surface for air. Seeing them float while their foot remains extended for a short period is normal behavior.
Water Quality Issues: However, if your snail floats listlessly with its body retracted inside the shell, it could indicate poor water quality, like high ammonia or nitrites. In this case, test your water and perform a water change to improve the tank’s environment.

How to Tell If My Mystery Snail is Dead

Here is how to differentiate between a real dead mystery snail and a fake one:

Smell: A dead snail will have a stinky smell just like a rotting food item, and this will cause a lot of discomfort to people nearby.

Shell: A careful examination of the shell will reveal any indication of crack areas or uneven coloration. For one, a broken or faded shell can symbolize death.

Movement: Tap lightly on the shell or bring some food in front of it. Live snails will withdraw or respond to something. An inert snail will not be able to move in any way.

Trapdoor: Mystery snails have an appliance (operculum) they close their shell with. If the trapdoor remains open and does not push back when the person gently pokes or pulls on it, then it is likely a snail is dead.

Floating: While floating can be normal for air intake, a listless snail floating with its body withdrawn suggests death, especially if accompanied by other signs.

Mystery Snail is Floating

Why mystery snail floating

Final Thoughts

Well, mystery snails float for either air intake or due to poor water quality. If your snail floats listlessly with its body retracted, check your water quality and perform a water change. A dead mystery snail will smell bad, have a broken or discolored shell, and won’t respond to touch or food. Maintain good tank conditions to keep your mystery snail healthy and happy.

Related Products

hygger Aquarium Extendable LED Light
Extended LED light controller

hygger Aquarium Extendable LED Light

hygger Hang-on-back Canister Filter
Hang-on-back Canister Filter Features

hygger Hang-on-back Canister Filter


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.