Japanese Trapdoor Snail: Ultimate Guide (Care, Diet, Breeding, & More)

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Written By Matt Stevens

Hi, I'm Matt! I've been obsessed with fishkeeping for over 15 years now and created this site to share my knowledge with others.

Japanese Trapdoor Snail is a wonderful freshwater species that is pretty underrated. They are fun to watch and keep in the tank, and they are also very easy to care for. Moreover, they can be quite advantageous for your aquarium as well.

Just like many other snails, these ones also feed on algae and organic matter in the tank, thus keeping it clean. By having a couple of them in your tank, you will see a noticeable difference in the water quality. 

We are totally smitten by Japanese Trapdoor Snails and want everyone to keep them. This is why we have come up with this incredibly helpful care guide, which will walk you through all of the guidelines regarding these critters.

Plus, it will also help you learn about their habitat, water parameters, breeding, diet, tank mates, and much more. Let’s check out everything you need to know about these fascinating aquatic creatures.

Species Summary

Japanese Trapdoor Snail is known by the scientific name Viviparusmalleattus, and they belong to the Viviparidae family. As their name suggests, these critters are native to Japan, and that is where most of them are found. Apart from that, they can be found in different parts of the world.

Life Span5-10 years
Color FormBlack, Cream, Tan
Care levelEasy
CompatibilityPeaceful species
Size2 inches
Tank SetupFreshwater with rocks and wood
Minimum Tank Size10 gallons

Usually, these creatures are found in dark and murky waters, particularly where they can find a high amount of mud. This is because these locations are full of vegetation and produce a lot of organic matter, which is a major food source for them. 

They are also pretty efficient algae eaters, and they spend most of their time scavenging their habitat for algae. Luckily, they don’t eat any live plants, so you won’t have to worry about spending any money on them.

Unlike many of the popular aquarium snails, Japanese Trapdoor Snails don’t have the siphon on their bodies. They are also used to extremely cold weather, which is why they are readily found in many different parts of the world.

However, they are also considered to be invasive species, which is why you might have to check the local laws to see if keeping them in captivity is prohibited.


The average life expectancy for Japanese Trapdoor Snails is between 5 to 10 years. This is fairly impressive, considering that most of the species we have reviewed earlier have a much shorter lifespan.

If you want your snails to live as long as possible, you will have to leave no stone unturned when it comes to caring for them. They will only live up to their lifespan if they are kept in quality conditions.

For this purpose, water quality and diet play a major role in their growth and wellbeing.


Japanese Trapdoor Snails have varying appearances, and this depends on their specimen. Generally, they have a beautiful outlook that is fun to observe. The most variation can be observed in their shells, which often have black, brown, green, and even cream colors.

The largest whorl on their shell has a base color from above, as well as different colored rings and textures that go upwards. The higher you go on the shell, the lighter the coloration becomes.

Just like other species, they also have an operculum that acts like a trapdoor and protects them when they are threatened. Whenever they feel intimidated or attacked by another creature in the aquarium, they will tuck their head inwards and pull the operculum over the opening of their shell.

Usually, Japanese Trapdoor Snails have three whorls on their shells, but you might also observe some with more or less. The shell becomes much thinner when you move away from their body.


On average, Japanese Trapdoor Snails grow to a full length of 2 inches, and there are very rare cases in which they are known to extend even further than this.

The size of these species depends on a number of factors, including water quality, diet, and how well they were bred and raised before you bought them.

Japanese Trapdoor Snail Care

Caring for Japanese Trapdoor Snail is the easiest thing you can do since they are low-maintenance and resilient species. Plus, they adapt well to different kinds of conditions in the aquarium.

However, there are certain specific conditions that aquarists have come up with in order to set a guideline that all aquarium owners must follow in order to keep them healthy and happy.

In any case, you should never slack off or be careless about the tank and water conditions for any creatures, let alone the Japanese Trapdoor Snail.

Here are some care guidelines and instructions that you should keep in mind if you want to care for them.

Tank Size

Ideally, the tank for a Japanese Trapdoor Snail should have a minimum capacity of 10 gallons. They are tiny creatures that don’t require a lot of room to thrive and grow, but it doesn’t hurt to give them some extra space to move around.

With a larger tank, you will not only be able to keep more snails, but you can spread out their habitat nicely.

If you are going to keep them with freshwater fish, you will also have to factor in the tank size requirements that those species have. You can’t risk keeping one creature happy while the others are miserable.

Water Parameters

There is a lot of flexibility when it comes to water parameters for Japanese Trapdoor Snails. Some might even say that maintaining the water conditions for these species is like a walk in the park.

They are hardy creatures and are used to living in various kinds of extreme climates. Although you can vary the conditions, it is much wiser to be consistent and let them feel more at home in their tank.

To start off, the water temperature in the aquarium should be between 68°F to 85°F, with the ideal temperature being the mid-70s. Moreover, the pH level should be between 6.5 and 8 because these snails aren’t used to living in acidic waters. Last but not least, their water should be soft or have a medium hardness.

Whenever you introduce the Japanese Trapdoor Snail to a new environment, you have to be very careful. This includes conducting regular water tests to ascertain that the water parameters are consistent. Any fluctuations can cause them to become stressed and also cause health problems.

Once they have spent a bit of time in the tank and have become used to it, you can reduce the frequency of testing.

What to Put in Their Tank?

Just like their water parameters, setting up the tank for Japanese Trapdoor Snails is quite easy and straightforward. Not only does this allow you to set up the tank quickly, but it also increases the chances of them getting paired with tank mates.

For starters, you should place a soft and sandy substrate because they spend quite a lot of time at the bottom of the tank, and anything rough can hurt or irritate them.

As mentioned above, these creatures like to eat algae and plant matter, so the inclusion of live plants is a must. You should add a variety of live plants in the tank, but not too much. They won’t eat any of the plants, but the matter and dead leaves that fall from them.

Apart from this, you can also add rocks and driftwood to the tank. These things facilitate the growth of algae on their surfaces, which gives the snails enough food to eat off. This is also why you should invest in a larger tank because you will get ample room to place these accessories.

You can also add standard filtration to the tank with your Japanese Trapdoor Snails, but make sure to cover the filter intake and cover the aquarium with a lid. Otherwise, they might get sucked into the filter and get injured or die.

Common Diseases

Japanese Trapdoor Snails are generally hardy critters, so they aren’t really susceptible to any disease. However, there are certain diseases that you should always keep an eye out for.

One of the common diseases is Oedema, and it causes the buildup of fluid in their tissue. When this happens, their bodies start to swell which also makes them vulnerable to more diseases. If your snail is suffering from Oedema, you can’t do much except to wait it out.

Other than this, there are some less common diseases that you should look out for, and observing your snail every day will help you tackle them proactively. Make sure to look out for any unusual behavior or visible signs of illness.

One thing to remember is that, like other snails, these species can also get sick because of copper in the water. Even if it is in a low concentration, it can be lethal for their health.

Another reason why you should know this is because several medications for aquatic creatures do contain copper in them. Therefore, if you are administering medication to any creature in the tank, make sure to isolate them or quarantine your snails for the duration of the treatment, so they don’t get ill.

What do Japanese Trapdoor Snails Eat?

Japanese Trapdoor Snails are natural omnivores, and a major portion of their diet comes from eating various types of algae and plant matter in the tank. They scavenge the entire aquarium and feast on any organic matter they can find.

This is why you should facilitate the growth of algae in your tank without having to worry about cleanliness. The Japanese Trapdoor Snails are natural cleaners as well, so there is no problem there. If you pay heed to our tank setup guidelines, you won’t have any problem at all.

Apart from algae and organic matter, you should also provide them with plant-based pellets or bottom feeder tablets, as natural algae might not fulfill their nutritional requirements. Several aquarists have also tried giving them blanched vegetables like cucumbers, kale, lettuce, and zucchini. They eat these things as well, so you can try them too.

Make sure not to overfill the tank with food, thinking that the Japanese Trapdoor Snails will eat it all and keep the tank clean. Any leftover food that you don’t remove will start to decay and contaminate the tank, thus impacting the water quality and making life difficult for the little creatures.

Behavior & Temperament

Japanese Trapdoor Snails are as peaceful as it gets, and they spend a great deal of time exploring the tank in search of food to eat. Plus, they steer clear of other aquatic creatures and don’t engage with anyone. This is a good reason for you to keep them in community tanks, but they also do fine when kept alone.

Although snails are generally perceived to be slow and sluggish, these snails are quite active, particularly during nighttime. They cover a large portion of the tank in the entire day, looking for food.

Sometimes, they might climb onto the glass to eat algae but might also find themselves closer to the edge at the top.

Therefore, you should always keep your aquarium covered with a lid so that they don’t get a chance to escape, even if they do it accidentally.

Japanese Trapdoor Snail Tank Mates

Since they are peaceful and adaptable, Japanese Trapdoor Snails can get along well with various species of aquatic creatures. The only thing you should avoid is keeping them with an aggressive or predatory creature. Otherwise, they might get eaten.

For that matter, you should prevent keeping them with the Assassin Snail, but other freshwater aquarium snails are good to go. You can also keep them with various species of shrimp if you like.

Some suitable tank mates include:

Some aquarists have also tried cohabitating Japanese Trapdoor Snails with small cichlids like the Apistogramma or the Bolivian Ram. However, there is always a challenge in keeping them together, so be careful if you want to give this a try.


The breeding process for Japanese Trapdoor Snails is quite simple and doesn’t require a lot of intervention on your part. All you need to do is keep a couple of male and female snails together and also maintain the water parameters within the specified range.

The best thing about these creatures is that they don’t spawn rapidly and won’t overtake your entire aquarium. Therefore, you have the flexibility of breeding as many or as few snails as you want. 

However, there is one thing that you should keep in mind when it comes to breeding Japanese Trapdoor snails. They don’t start breeding until they are at least a year old. Therefore, you should find out about their age when you buy them from the pet store.

Also, it is impossible to differentiate between the male and female species, which is why you should ask the pet store to provide you with a pair, especially if you are interested in breeding them. If not, then you can either keep one snail or get a couple of male ones.

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, the Japanese Trapdoor Snail is a fascinating and interesting species of freshwater aquarium snails, and keeping them in your tank doesn’t require any extra effort or learning. Plus, caring for them is really easy, and you won’t have to jump through hoops in order to do that.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced aquarist, you can keep them in your aquarium. They also do a great job of keeping the tank clean. Plus, they are resilient and hardy species and also have a long lifespan, which is why you will have a wonderful time with them.