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

Photo of author
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.

Mystery Snails are the most popular species of freshwater snails in the aquarium community, and they are also a delight to watch. Plus, they are peaceful creatures that move at their own pace and also help in keeping your tank clean.

Many aquarists and enthusiasts buy these snails because they are easy to care for and also because they keep the aquarium free from algae and waste. Once you get them in your tank, you won’t be able to let them go.

If you ask us which species of snail you should go for, these snails would be our top pick. Plus, their name keeps them shrouded in mystery, and we are sure you would like to know what that is.

If you are looking to buy and keep Mystery Snails in your aquarium, we are here to help you. We have put together this helpful care guide, which will familiarize you with everything you need to know about caring for these critters.

Through our guide, you will also be able to learn about their habitat, water parameters, diet, breeding, tank mates, and many others. So, without further ado, let’s dive deep into the aquarium world and learn more about the mysterious Mystery Snails!

Species Summary

Mystery Snails are known by several names, but their scientific name is Pomaceabridgesii. They belong to the Ampullariidae family and are also known as members of the Gastropoda class, which also includes all the snails. Therefore, you might also hear them being referred to as Gastropods.

Life Span1 year
Color FormVarious colors, including gold
Care levelBeginner
CompatibilityCommunity tanks
Size2 inches
Tank SetupModerate vegetation
Minimum Tank Size5 gallon

These snails are highly popular in the aquarium community all over the world, and they are native to South America. They are particularly found in a high amount in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Peru. 

Plus, they are also called the Spike-topped Apple Snail, Common Apple Snail, Golden Mystery Snail, Mystery Apple Snail, and Pomaceaaustralisas well. In their natural environment, they are scavengers and continue to hunt for plant matter in numerous water bodies. 

Commonly, Mystery Snails are found in rivers, swamps, and ponds. They spend most of their time at the bottom of the water body, closer to the substrate. This is mostly because they can find an abundance of organic plant material near the bottom.

What you might not know about Mystery Snails is that several of their specimens are known as invasive species in some parts of the world. This is particularly due to their distribution caused by human intervention, as well as their resilience.

Another thing you should know is that these snails are often confused with other species, which is why you need to be extra careful while buying them. Make sure you are buying from a trusted seller so that you get the right type of snail, that too in good health. Several aquarists and beginners have been raising other snails as Mystery Snails.


On average, Mystery Snails are expected to live up to one year only, and this is the common life expectancy for most of the snails and aquatic creatures you find out there. 

If you have reviewed other guides and forums, you might have seen people giving off inaccurate figures for their lifespan, which tends to raise expectations. This is why we want to set the record straight. Even if you provide them with excellent care and quality conditions, you won’t be able to prolong their lifespan.

However, you may lower their lifespan by subjecting them to poor and unhealthy living conditions in captivity. Since they are hardy, Mystery Snails might still survive in those conditions, but that doesn’t give you a free pass to slack off on their care regimen.


On the surface, Mystery Snails look just like any other snail, which is also why they are often confused with various species. Their shell also has a basic shape and curve that is common in snails. However, the main difference can be observed in their coloration, which is where you can distinguish them from other species.

Mystery Snails come in various colors and patterns, and most of them have a shell that is brown or light brown in color. Otherwise, you would find that it has a white color with a faded appearance. Usually, the colors are solid and don’t have any patterns, but sometimes you might also find bands and stripes.

The stripes or bands are always darker than the base color, thus making them easy to spot. Plus, they also differ in width. For instance, you would notice a white shell with a thin brown stripe, along with a pale yellow band following it. When it comes to these combinations, there are endless options.

Moreover, their bodies also come in a variety of colors. Generally, you will find them to have a mix of white and grey colors, but you can also find them in yellow, black, dark grey, and several other base colors as well.

Mystery Snails have basic anatomy, and their shells have a couple of whorls at the top, usually three of four. These whorls spiral downwards, and its thickest point is the bottom of their shell. Other than that, they have a standard head shape with two tentacles protruding outwards, and their eyes are perched on top of stalks.

They can also tuck in their eyes when they are in danger. Most of the time, you will only observe their tentacles when they are searching for algae and plant matter in the substrate. Another interesting characteristic of their anatomy is their breathing mechanism.

Mystery Snails contain a siphon on their heads, and they use it to move water through their gills. This isn’t something you find in any other species of snails, which is why it is also unique. Also, they have an operculum, which acts as a lid to cover up the opening in their shell, mainly for safety.

You might not notice the operculum on their bodies when they are moving around in the tank because it is mostly hidden from view by their foot, but it gets moved to the side from time to time. Another thing you need to know is that the operculum falls off when they are sick or dead, and this is an indication for you that something is wrong.


Mystery Snails achieve a full size of two inches in diameter when they are fully grown. By now, you might already know that snails are measured in diameter as compared to length due to their build.

Similar to the lifespan, you can hinder their growth by providing them with subpar and poor water and tank conditions. If you see a fully mature snail topping out at one inch in diameter, you can be sure that they have bred or raised poorly.

Mystery Snail Care

Caring for Mystery Snails is something even beginners and amateurs can easily undertake, so you can have a shot at raising them without any trouble. However, you have to be particular about their care guidelines, and you can’t be lenient or careless just because they are hardy species.

Mystery Snails thrive in an environment with consistency, and it also keeps them from falling ill. Therefore, you should maintain the care regimen that you begin and also be aware that neglecting them can prove lethal for them.

This is why we have outlined each aspect of Mystery Snail care in the subsequent sections so that you can understand how to take care of them efficiently.

Tank Size

To buy a tank for Mystery Snails, you should keep a range of five gallons per snail. And this is also one reason why they are a popular choice for nano tanks, but this varies based on how many species and creatures you actually want to incorporate in the aquarium.

Bear in mind that the 5-gallon minimum requirement is for one snail only, which means that you will need extra space if you want to add more. Ideally, you should increase the tank size by five gallons for each snail that you add to it.

You might hear from inexperienced and novice aquarists that since they are tiny and slow-moving creatures, you can add several specimens in the same 5-gallon tank. However, this can be wildly careless and harmful for the snails because they need their space too.

Water Parameters

Another integral part of caring for Mystery Snail involves taking care of the water parameters. These critters are quite sensitive to any fluctuations and shifts in the water conditions and levels, which means that you should take them seriously.

For this purpose, you should pay close attention to the water conditions. You can buy a reliable water testing kit to make sure that the water conditions are in check so that these little creatures can stay comfortable and free from diseases.

For starters, the water temperature should be kept between 68°F and 84°F, while the pH levels should be maintained between 7.6 and 8.4. Last but not least, these snails are used to hard waters, so you should keep the hardness between 12 to 18 kH.

Apart from these water parameters, there are a couple of things you should also know about. Mystery Snails need a fair amount of calcium in order to thrive and strengthen their shells. To give them their regular supply of calcium, you can get calcium supplements and add them into the water, or you can give it through vegetables that are rich in calcium.

In both cases, the snails will be able to receive the calcium they need for healthy growth and also keep them well-fed from time to time.

Another thing you should keep in mind is that Mystery Snails start to get harmful reactions when they are exposed to copper in the water. Commonly, copper makes its way and grows in the water when the tank is filled up to the brim.

To make this doesn’t happen to your snails, you can stop using untreated app water, which is something most aquarists do. It can actually be bad for these species, which is why you should avoid untreated tap water.

What to Put in Their Tank?

Another important thing to know about Mystery Snails is what to put in their tank. First and foremost, you can choose a substrate that isn’t coarse and goes well with the plants you put in the tank. Therefore, you have a variety of options to choose from.

Plants are very important for the aquarium if you are going to keep Mystery Snails since they are used to eating algae and plant matter to sustain themselves and also clean the tank. You have a lot of flexibility when it comes to choosing the plants, and you can even add floating aquarium plants to the aquarium.

Java moss, Hornwort, and AnubiasBarteri are some of the suitable options for the tank, but you can also experiment with different types of live and floating plants. Make sure that the plants you add are durable and can withstand nibbling by the Mystery Snails since they like to do so sometimes, especially when they are short on algae and dead plant matter.

Apart from the substrate and plants, you should also add a few rocks to the aquarium, depending on how much space you actually have. They facilitate the growth of algae in the tank, which Mystery Snails would be happy to munch on, and they keep them happy and busy all day as well.

Common Diseases

Another crucial component of learning how to care for any aquatic creature is to know the diseases that their species are prone or vulnerable to. In the case of the Mystery Snail, there are no relative or particular diseases that they suffer from. This is mostly because they are hardy creatures.

However, let us reiterate that this absolutely doesn’t mean that you can be lenient and lax about their care and the quality of the water.

As we mentioned above, the slightest fluctuation in the water quality and conditions can prove to be drastic for Mystery Snails. It could lead them to experience sudden shock and severe health effects.

Plus, if the water conditions are consistently poor, your snail will start developing parasitic infections, which can be quite difficult to treat in their species. The parasites take a huge toll on their health and often result in their death.

Moreover, the presence of copper in the water can also be fatal for your Mystery Snails, and the same is the case with all invertebrates. Apart from this, other less fatal diseases can also lead to improper shell growth and deformities in these species.

To identify any signs of disease proactively, you should observe your snails regularly. If you notice anything unusual on their shells or bodies, or they have become irritable and sluggish, the chances are that they might be suffering from a disease that needs to be addressed right away.

Therefore, you should take care of the care guidelines that we have mentioned above regularly and make them a normal part of your routine. By diligently maintaining the water conditions and other factors, you will be able to help them live as long as possible and grow to their maximum size as well.

Generally, Mystery Snails never stop at one place, so if you notice a specimen not moving for a while, they are likely suffering from an infection or disease. Make sure to address the diseases quickly so that they can be restored to their original health in no time.

What do Mystery Snails Eat?

Mystery Snails are herbivores, which means that a major portion of their diet consists of plants, vegetation, algae, etc. They follow this diet in the wild as well since they can find algae in abundance and don’t need anything else to sustain themselves.

Just like in their natural environment, these creatures will scavenge all around their habitat in search of algae and plant matter. Once they find a food source, they will gobble it up before moving on to the next area.

Therefore, you will have to ensure that there are always enough algae in the tank for them to eat, and this is something most aquarium owners find challenging.

However, this isn’t difficult at all since you just have to add smooth surfaces and rocks on which algae can grow naturally. Apart from this, they also eat organic plant matter.

However, this might not be enough, especially if you have more than one Mystery Snail in your tank. For this purpose, you can rely on algae wafers and sinking flakes to fulfill their nutritional requirements. Plus, you can feed them vegetables like cucumber, kale, spinach, and zucchini.

Also, make sure that you don’t have too many algae in the tank because it can affect the cleanliness of the tank, as well as the quality of water.

Behavior & Temperament

Mystery Snails are as peaceful as it gets, and you will always find them minding their own business, even if you put them in a community tank. If they are intimidated by other species that cohabitate the tank, their natural instinct is to hide within their shells, coming out only when the threat is over.

Therefore, you should avoid keeping them with any aquatic creatures that might be aggressive and predatory towards them. We will discuss tank mates in the next section.

Their usual function involves scavenging the tank for algae and food sources, and they also move quite fast. Sometimes, you might even observe them floating in the water. If they do it for a while, there is no problem, but if it is for a longer period of time, your Mystery Snails are most likely sick or dying.

Mystery Snail Tank Mates

Mystery Snails have hundreds of suitable tank mates to choose from, and this includes any freshwater fish or species that isn’t aggressive or doesn’t eat snails in the wild. Most of the species don’t even realize the presence of these snails in the wild. 

Here are some suitable tank mates:


The breeding process for Mystery Snails isn’t complex or tricky at all, and even beginners can take care of it. Basically, you just have to isolate a male and female pair in the tank, and this can be a bit challenging since sexing Mystery Snails is really difficult.

Once they start mating, the female will lay eggs near the surface of the water, and after a few weeks, little babies start to hatch from them. The best part is that they take care of themselves, so you don’t have to do a thing.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, Mystery Snails are quite fascinating and a joy to watch. If you are already contemplating buying and keeping them, go ahead by all means.

If you adhere to the care guidelines that we have outlined, not only will they stay happy and healthy, but they will also live out their maximum lifespan even.