Mystery Snail Care Guide: Types, Food, Tanks, Tank Mates, Breeding

Mystery snails are a favorite among fishkeepers because they are fun to look at all day, easy to take care of and help with tank maintenance. 

Mystery snails are suitable aquarium snails for beginners and experienced aquarists. These little creatures are beautiful with bright color patterns, giant shells, and long tentacles, making your tank look more exciting and colorful. 

Mystery snail’s main popularity is because they can break down waste in the aquarium, making them almost a must-have in community tanks.

If you decide to add mystery snails to your aquarium, this care guide will give you everything you need to know, from the amount of water they need to their diet and the tank mates they prefer to live with.

Read on to find out more!

Species overview

It’s not a mystery why these invertebrates are a favorite in the fishkeeping community. They are fun, beautiful, and stress-free to take care of in most fish tanks.

Mystery snails, aka Pomacea bridgesii, are native to South America’s rivers, lakes, and swamps. You will likely find many in Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay.

The average lifespan of a mystery snail is between 1-2 years in captivity. While this might seem like a short life, most mystery snails only live in a home aquarium for a year.

While extending their lifespan past one year is almost impossible, you can give them a comfortable habitat so they can enjoy the time they have with you.

Here are some additional facts about the mystery snail you should know:

  • Scientific name: Pomacea bridgesii
  • Origin: South America 
  • Lifespan: 1-2 years 
  • Temperament: Peaceful 
  • Diet: Herbivore 
  • Care level: Easy 
  • Minimum tank size: 5 gallons 
  • Size: 1-2 inches 

Appearance and Size

Mystery snails come in a variety of colors, at least their shells do. You can find a mystery snail with a brown, black, blue, gold, white or purple shell. Their shells also have beautiful patterns that help you distinguish them from other invertebrates. 

Mystery snails have orange dots sprinkled across their head and body, which only adds to their beauty.

The anatomy of these snails is different from other marine creatures because they have gills and a lung. The gills help them breathe in the water, and they have a siphon tube that allows them to breathe in the air when they come up to the water’s surface.

While these snail’s bodies come in various colors, the only way you can tell the gender is by checking under their shell. A female mystery snail will only have a hole, while the male mystery snail has a penis shaft underneath its shell.

Adult mystery snails grow to a maximum size of 2 inches, with the females slightly larger than their male counterparts.

Types of Mystery Snails

Most mystery snails are categorized according to their colors. One of the most popular mystery snails in the aquarium hobby is the gold mystery snail.

You will likely find a gold mystery snail in most pet stores because of their striking golden yellow shell and playful behavior. They stand out in any aquarium because of their creamy white body with orange dots on their head.

A gold mystery snail is an ideal addition to match the tank’s green plants, and if your tank has a black background with a black substrate, it will look even better.

Another famous snail is the blue mystery snail. This blue mystery snail comes in a beautiful light blue color that blends well with the black substrate. 

The body of a blue mystery snail is dark blue with markings that radiate in the sunlight. If you have the space, you can put these beautiful mystery snails in one tank and see them interact.

What To Look For When Buying Mystery Snails

When buying mystery snails, you must take them home when they’re healthy. Signs that these snails are healthy include moving across hard surfaces and sticking to the tank’s glass. If you find them immobile and laying at the bottom of the tank, there likely very sick or dying.

Signs of sickness in a mystery snail include shell discoloration and white spots. If the shell is cracked or has holes, they were likely kept in poor water conditions. 

Most importantly, avoid buying a mystery snail from a tank with dying snails or fish. The water is likely very contaminated, and the mystery snail could already be sick.

Where To Buy Mystery Snails

Mystery snails are popular among fish keepers, so you won’t have a problem finding them in most pet stores. Depending on the store, they are available for around $6 per snail. 

You can also buy mystery snails online but be careful with the pet or fish store you choose. Ensure their shipping process is reliable and they have great reviews on online platforms before making a purchase.

Here are some reliable places where you can buy your mystery snail:

  • LiveAquaria
  • Flip Aquatics

Mystery Snail Care

Mystery snails are easy to care for due to many reasons. They mainly eat plants and can tolerate various water conditions as long as they have a spacious tank. 

From ideal water temperatures to the type of food they need and suitable tank mates, this care guide breaks down everything you need to know to give your mystery snail the best care. 

Tank Requirements

One of the most important considerations is choosing the right tank size for your mystery snail. Most fish keepers love having these invertebrates in their tank because of their cleaning benefits, but that isn’t all they have to offer. 

Don’t assume they don’t need the extra space because of their small size. They need plenty of room and clean water to survive, so crowding them with other fish isn’t a good idea. They eat and excrete in the same tank as other fish, which can increase ammonia levels in the tank. High ammonia levels are poisonous to mystery snails. 

One mystery snail needs ideally a minimum 5 gallon tank to live in, but they’ll be happier with other mystery snails or fish in a 10 gallon tank filled with plants, rocks, and necessary tank equipment. 

You should know by now that you’ll need a larger tank to keep more than one mystery snail.

If you’re wondering how many adult mystery snails you should stock per gallon, check out this table below:

Tank SizeIdeal Number of Mystery Snails
5 gallons1-2
10 gallons2-4
20 gallons4-8
30 gallons6-12
40 gallons8-16


Mystery snails need plants in their tank, just like in their natural habitat. These snails are constantly nibbling on vegetation and plant matter, so you know it’s necessary for their tank. 

You should consider the plants you want to put in the tank. 

If you aren’t feeding your mystery snail well, they’re more likely to feed on the plants in the tank. If your mystery snail is constantly eating the plants in the tank, you should replace them with soft, delicate plants. 

These snails enjoy eating floating aquarium plants like Salvinia, which will keep off the other live plants in your tank. You’ll have to try out different aquarium live plants and see better what your mystery snail likes.

Other plants you can put in their tank include: 

  • Java moss
  • Anubis Barteri
  • Hornwort

You can safely keep mystery snails with live plants if you give them enough food.

You should also add some rocks and other tank decorations to their tanks. Rocks aren’t only aesthetically pleasing, but naturally occurring algae grow on them, keeping your snail busy all day. 

Water Parameters

Mystery snails are tough, so they can quickly adapt to various water conditions. You should be careful, though, because drastic changes in the water conditions can cause stress and health problems for your snail.

Like in their natural environment mentioned above, these creatures prefer slow-moving tropical water in their tank. Adult mystery snails like their water warm and on the hard side. 

Here are other water parameters you should consider for your mystery snail’s tank. 

  • Water temperature: 68 to 82°F
  • Water Type: Freshwater 
  • Water hardness: 7-18 dGH
  • Water pH: 7.5-8.5
  • Lighting: Dim to moderate 

You must ensure that the ammonia and nitrate levels in the water remain at 0ppm. To help these freshwater snails live long, you should add calcium to their tanks. Some fish keepers prefer not to tamper with the water too much and feed them calcium supplements and veggies.

Sufficient calcium levels can help your mystery snail grow and maintain a healthy shell. 

Because mystery snails can breathe in air, you shouldn’t fill the tank with water to the brim. Leave some space between the water and the lid so they can come up for air.

Food and Diet

In their wild habitat, these invertebrates are scavengers. You will likely find them scavenging for algae and plant matter in their natural environment. 

Feeding mystery snails isn’t something that should stress you out.

These snails aren’t picky eaters, so you have a wide range of plant and vegetation matter you can feed them. 

They don’t like their tank being too clean because they feed on algae and shed plant matter from dying plants in their tank. 

In their new environment, you’ll need to ensure that there are naturally occurring algae in the tank. You can do this by having surfaces in the tank where the algae can naturally grow. 

Naturally occurring algae will slowly grow on the aquarium glass, substrates, and plant leaves. 

The mystery snails will eat most of the algae on the glass, tank, and decorations – cleaning up the tank for you in the process. Luckily, you don’t have to do all the work to grow the algae in the tank. You can buy sinking pellets, feeder tablets, fish flakes, and algae wafers to supplement their diet from most pet stores. 

They can’t entirely survive on algae wafers, so you need to diversify your diet. Here are some vegetables you can give your mystery snails when they’re hungry:

  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini    

The vegetables should be washed and soft before you feed it to them. Like fish, you shouldn’t give mystery snails too much food. 

Overfeeding them will lead to health problems, which means costs you hadn’t planned on. While these snails love their vegetables, excess food in the tank can affect the water’s quality. 

Each mystery snail is different, so you can test these food options to see what they like.

Common Diseases

Mystery snails are sensitive creatures, so poor water quality and a bad diet can affect their health. Drastic changes in their water quality can also cause temperature shock, killing your mystery snail.

Parasitic infections

While these freshwater snails are generally healthy, some are susceptible to parasitic infections. Most of the time, parasitic infections are caused by poor water quality in the tank and can be fatal.

It’s widespread to get wild-caught mystery snails with parasitic infections. If you want to add them to a community tank, you must quarantine these wild-caught mystery snails first. It can take you between 3-4 weeks to safely introduce them to the main tank.

The parasite aggressively attacks the mystery snail and uses their bodies as hosts. Some symptoms of a parasitic infection in a mystery snail include white spots, lethargy, and discoloration of the shell.

Quarantining the mystery snail and raising the tank’s temperature can help you deal with the parasite.

Illnesses Caused By a Bad Diet 

A bad diet can lead to several health problems for your mystery snail. Not eating the right foods can lead to stunted growth and our poorly formed shell. They need nutrients in their diet to grow healthy. 

Some of these nutrients include calcium. If your mystery snail doesn’t get enough calcium in its water, its shells will likely be cracked, discolored, and very brittle. You can rectify this by giving them calcium supplements and ensuring the pH level is right for these creatures.

Dealing with the sickness of your mystery snail can be scary, but as long as you provide them with a healthy tank environment and the right food, they will be OK. Maintain the proper water parameters and add some plants to their tank, and hopefully they will live long and healthy lives.

Behavior and Temperament

Mystery snails are peaceful; you will see below that they can comfortably live with other fish and snails. Most of the time, these snails keep to themselves when eating algae and leftover food. 

They like climbing the tank’s walls and jumping out of the water, so you’ll need a lid for their tank at all times. Watching them slide down the tank is fun because they have a one-track mind when they want to. 

Mystery snails will hide in their shells when they feel threatened by other fish. For safety, the snail will tuck its head into its shell, protecting its eyes and shutting the operculum.  So you should monitor their behavior to see if they are stressed in their new tank environment. 

Even if you choose one of the suitable tank mates below, it doesn’t mean there won’t be times when your mystery snail is afraid.

Suitable Tank Mates 

You can keep many tank mates with these freshwater snails because they are easygoing and calm.  Most freshwater fish can live with these snails if they aren’t aggressive or have a habit of biting their tank mates.

These snails are peaceful, so they aren’t the kind to cause any problems. They mind their business, so you have a wide range of options when looking for tank mates.

Here are some friendly tank mates you can keep with these snails: 

  • Killifish
  • Ghost shrimp
  • Tetras
  • Otocinclus
  • Cory catfish
  • Guppies
  • Red Cherry Shrimp
  • Bettas
  • Platies
  • Nerite snails
  • Amano Shrimp

Some tank mates you should avoid putting with mystery snails include crayfish, Jack Dempsey, Oscars, and striped convicts. Aggressive tank mates can injure and possibly kill your mystery snail, so you shouldn’t risk it. 


Learning about breeding mystery snails is essential if you want to get more of these beautiful creatures in your tank. The good thing is breeding mystery snails is straightforward, so even beginners can handle it. 

All you need to do is put a female and male mystery snail in the tank, and they will do the rest. They will naturally start breeding in their tank without your intervention or moving them to a breeding tank. 

You also don’t need to change the water parameters drastically. It’s common to do so when breeding fish, but not for these little creatures. Suitable breeding conditions include enough food, lower water levels, and warm temperatures. 

Female mystery snails lay their eggs on the water’s surface. It can take a couple of weeks for the eggs to hatch. The newly hatched snails will drop into the water and start developing. 

You can move the baby snails into a separate tank if you want. While mystery snail breeding is stress-free for you, the females have a hard time because the males bully them when it’s time to mate.


Can I keep one mystery snail?

Yes, you can. Mystery snails are tiny and ideal for nano tanks. So keeping one of them can be easier to take care of. If you want to add more mystery snails, you need to move them to a larger tank.

What substrate is best for mystery snails?

A hard substrate is suitable for these snails because it allows them to move around the tank quickly. Some good options include small pebbles, gravel, and sand. Too harsh materials can injure your mystery snail’s delicate body.

Are Mystery snails good for your tank?

Yes. Mystery snails are helpful because they clean up waste and excess food in the fish tank. They are active eaters and will eat most of the algae and dead plant material in the tank.

Are snails born with shells?

Yes. Snails, like mystery snails, are born with shells that will grow bigger as they age.

Is a mystery snail right for you? 

If you’re planning to get a mystery snail, we hope these tips help with your decision. These little creatures are fun companions and easy to take care of, making them great for beginner fish keepers.

For those aquarists who want to put mystery snails in a tank, you should ensure it’s more than 5 gallons with fresh water, plants, and friendly tank mates so they can feel at home.

Even though they only have a Lifespan of 1 year, we hope you will enjoy having these companions in your tank!

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