Bladder Snails are highly fascinating freshwater critters that have a polarizing personality, meaning that aquarists are divided over whether to keep them in aquariums or to remove them. There are also a couple of them who think they should be added as helpful aquarium cleaning creatures.
Whichever side you are on, it is best for you to understand how they live in their natural environment and how you can care for them once you buy them for your tank.
This helpful and extensive care guide is specially dedicated to Bladder Snails, and it also includes detailed information regarding their habitat, water parameters, diet, breeding, tank mates, and several aspects.
Bladder Snails are known by the scientific name Physaacuta, and they belong to the Physidae family. They are known to emerge in freshwater tanks suddenly, which is why they are known to be invasive species and also referred to as pests in most of the aquarium community.
These snails are known to latch onto plants and lay their eggs all over the tank, which means that they also reproduce awfully quickly. If you notice one of them, be ready for a massive spike in your aquarium population.
|Life Span||Up to 2 years|
|Diet||Omnivore with algae|
|Color Form||Grey base with yellow and orange spots|
|Care level||Very easy|
|Size||Almost ½ inch|
|Tank Setup||Freshwater with high pH and hardness|
|Minimum Tank Size||1 gallon or more|
Although these snails are quite notorious, they are fun to have in your tank, provided that their population is under control. They manage to eat up most of the algae in the tank, thus proving to be helpful cleaners.
Apart from algae, Bladder Snails also feast on waste and different types of algae in the water. Whether you have placed them in your tank or they have made their way in, they are an interesting species to look after. Therefore, it is important for you to learn everything about caring for these snails.
Most aquarists often confuse Bladder Snails for Pond Snails, which are garden-variety species. This is because they are very much similar in appearance. Moreover, the former are found in every continent other than Antarctica, and they have spread rapidly in the world. Therefore, scientists can’t discern their actual origins.
The main difference between the two types of snails is their size. Pond Snails are much larger than Bladder Snails, and their shell is also different from each other.
Bladder Snails are spread all over the world, and they are quite appealing to watch. For starters, they contain thin and translucent shells, which are pale yellow in color and also feature a few gold-colored spots and markings. Upon a closer look, you might also be able to see their skin through their translucent shells.
The skin on these snails has a gray base color with purple or black splashes. Their mantle features yellow and orange spots, making them a bit more colorful and vibrant. The shells also have a unique shape and look just like an egg, with the tip more defined. They feature four or five concentric circles that eventually spiral to the left.
From beneath their shells, you can also notice small thread-like tentacles protruding, and they also hold their eyes, which are two small black spots.
When they are subjected to a quality environment in captivity, Bladder Snails are known to live up to two years, but there isn’t any guarantee that they won’t get ill and die before that. All you can do is take good care of them and be vigilant about any diseases.
On average, these snails grow up to half an inch only, thus making them very tiny creatures. Some specimens are known to exceed this size limit by only 0.1 inches, and you can provide them with the best care in order to ensure healthy growth.
Bladder Snails don’t take any room in the tank, but they do contribute to the bioload and can cause a lot of waste. Thankfully, this point is taken care of because these snails eat most of the algae and waste in the water, leaving it cleaner than before.
Bladder Snail Care
Bladder Snails are incredibly hardy and resilient creatures, and caring for them is just about the easiest thing that you need to do on a daily basis. Neither do they take up too much space, nor do they cause a lot of fuss. This is why they can survive in community tanks very well.
Having said that, it is still important to know the aspects of caring for them, and you can learn more about it in the subsequent sections.
Since they are really tiny creatures, Bladder Snails don’t really have any preference about the environment that they are kept in, and they can thrive in both 1-gallon tanks or 50-gallon massive aquariums. Owing to their small size and spread throughout the world, they are pretty much adaptable and can thrive anywhere.
However, you should remember that every aquatic creature has a bioload that they release into the water, and these snails are also the same. If you are looking to keep them to eat algae and keep the aquarium clean, make sure you have a larger tank where their bioload doesn’t cause a problem.
Similar to other types of snails and aquatic creatures, Bladder Snails also thrive and live comfortably when you follow certain water parameters in order to keep them happy.
Since they are resilient and adaptable, their water parameters are also quite flexible, which means that you should have no trouble caring for them on a daily basis.
Starting with the water temperature, these snails are known to thrive in water that has a temperature range between 64°F to 84°F. Moreover, the pH levels should be kept between 7.0 and 8.0, and the water hardness shouldn’t be outside 12 and 18 dGH.
To make sure that the water conditions are being fulfilled, make sure to test the water from time to time. For this purpose, you can invest in a water testing kit, which won’t be beneficial just for the snails but also for each and every creature in the aquarium.
Moreover, you should perform weekly or bi-weekly water changes to prevent high amounts of bioload and waste, as well as ammonia and nitrate.
Newly born Bladder Snails have incredibly soft shells, which is why they require calcium in order to toughen it up. Without the presence of calcium in the water, your snails might suffer from stunted growth, lower reproduction rates, and shortened lifespans.
If you want your snails to have a fulfilling and long life, as well as healthy growth, you can add crushed eggshells and cuttlefish bones to the aquarium.
What to Put in Their Tank?
Similar to other aspects of their care, Bladder Snails aren’t picky about the setup of their tank. This is mainly because they are spread out all over the world and don’t really have a specific natural environment that you need to replicate, as is the case with other aquatic creatures.
They are also more unique than other snails that you can find out there, mainly because they are known as pulmonary snails. This means that they have a respiratory system that allows them to float and even swim in the water since they breathe air.
They use air in their respiratory system to sink to the bottom of the tank, and it also helps them ward off any parasites or bugs in the water. They never dig through the sand as other snails do, but they like to hide and cover themselves in soft substrate.
For this purpose, you can add either sand or gravel to the substrate and also add several hiding spaces and rocks into the tank. Plus, they also like to latch or hitchhike on the plants and also hide among them. The best part is that they don’t damage any plants but like to feed on dead plant matter.
If you are looking to get them to reproduce, you can add lots of algae, driftwood, and plants that decay quickly, as these food sources will facilitate their breeding process. Apart from this, the tank setup is entirely in your hands.
Make sure not to overfill the tank with decorations and plants, especially if you have other species of snails or fish in the tank. When you have multiple aquatic creatures in one aquarium, you have to take into account the individual requirements of each of them.
Bladder Snails are resilient and hardy species, to the point that aquarists aren’t usually worried about them being susceptible to diseases. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about any specific diseases as well.
Having said that, they aren’t immune or protected from any of the freshwater diseases that other mollusk and snails are prone to. Some of the most common diseases that might harm their health are fungal and bacterial infections.
Although they can be easily treated if you quarantine your snails and give them proper care and medication, neglecting these diseases can damage their shell while also shortening their lifespan and hindering their growth.
Parasitic infections are also a possibility when it comes to Bladder Snails, but they are relatively rarer.
As mentioned in the previous section, they have a unique respiratory system that helps them shake off any bugs, pests, or parasites that might try to latch onto their skin or shell. Therefore, if there is an infestation, you can trust the snails to cater to it themselves.
Like other snails, fish, and invertebrates in general, the best way to keep your Bladder Snail from falling ill is to maintain the tank and water conditions. You should keep an eye on the water parameters and quickly act if there are any sudden fluctuations.
If you notice a spike in the water quality, you can perform partial water changes to rectify the situation. Quarterly water changes are a wise thing to do, as they keep ammonia and nitrate levels low and also reduce the likelihood of any type of infection spreading through the water.
What Do Bladder Snails Eat?
Bladder Snails are natural omnivores, and they love to eat. This is why you will always observe them eating something or the other. Plus, they can eat anything that fits inside their little mouths.
Some of the things they regularly eat are algae, decaying plant matter, decaying meat or insects, and even insect larvae. In captivity, they usually resort to eating algae, because it is readily available. They will also eat leftover food, waste, and anything else they can find in the tank.
However, too much food can always cause problems with Bladder Snails, since it would facilitate their reproduction. Therefore, if you notice the snail population growing rapidly, you should know that they are getting a lot to eat.
To mitigate this, you can quickly remove waste and decaying matter from the water before they get a chance to eat it.
Behavior & Temperament
Bladder Snails are known to stay in the shadows, so much that you might even forget that you introduced a snail or two in your tank. They are quite small and also love to hide, which is why you might not see them too much.
During the day, they are seen scavenging for food. When they find it, they camp in the area until they have wiped it clean. They don’t engage or fight any other snails or fish. However, they don’t do well if you keep them with aggressive and large-sized fish. Plus, they also don’t get along with other species of snails.
Bladder Snail Tank Mates
Bladder Snails can cohabitate the aquarium with just about any invertebrate. However, a common expert technique is to place them with at least one predatory fish so that they don’t breed rapidly and their population stays at bay.
Here are some suitable tank mates for the Bladder Snails:
As you may have gauged, breeding Bladder Snails is a cakewalk, because they do so naturally and frequently. They reproduce so quickly that they can fill up the tank in no time at all.
Bladder Snails are hermaphroditic, having both male and female reproductive organs. So, if they are all alone, they will self-fertilize and lay eggs all over the tank. If there is more than one specimen, they will breed normally.
At one time, the snails will release 10 to 40 tiny eggs, which are left under plant leaves and hatch in just a week. Within one month, they also start to mature to move freely around the tank. Soon, your tank will be swarming with them unless you have a predatory fish in the aquarium.
Whether you are looking to add an aquarium-cleaning and waste-eating snail to your tank, or you want to remove them, you have to agree that Bladder Snails are quite interesting to have in your aquarium.
Plus, caring for them is really easy, so you won’t have any trouble raising them with other creatures in a large tank. Plus, if you make use of our guide, caring for Bladder Snails will be like second nature to you.