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Snails: Types, Behaviors, Lifespan, Costs & More

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Snails are an exciting, low-maintenance pet.

Besides, they contribute to the cleanliness of your tank by feeding on algae during the day.

This explains why they are seen in numerous home aquariums worldwide.

Nevertheless, snails do demand a few essentials to thrive.

Aquarium owners should take a few measures to properly care for their snails.

Read this guide to learn about their behaviors, lifespan, aquarium and water requirements, general care recommendations, and more.

What Is a Snail?

A snail is a tiny, soft-bodied animal with no legs and a huge spiral-shaped shell.

Snails are renowned for moving extremely slowly and leaving a slime trail behind them as they feed on garden plants.

What Is the Purpose of a Snail?

Snails help balance the ecosystem.

They clean the environment by consuming certain forms of fungi and rotting vegetation.

Additionally, they are near the base of the food chain.

Therefore, they are food to other animals.

Remove them from the ecosystem, and you’ll hugely disrupt this natural balance.

What Is the Origin of Snails?

It’s believed that the earliest land snails emerged approximately 350 million years ago when vegetation required extremely moist environments.

Survival on land meant a time of unfavorable climatic circumstances for the snail, whose body is still predominantly adapted to water.

Similar Alternatives to Snails

  • Slugs: Like snails, slugs are gastropod mollusks, although they lack an external shell. They inhabit similar environments to snails, which are moist and dark.
  • Clams: These are bivalve mollusks with two feet. One is for burrowing and the other for holding their shells together. They spend most time submerged in mud or sand in rivers and shallow ocean waters.
  • Squids: Squids are cephalopods belonging to the mollusk family. These ocean predators swim backward, using their arms to shove water behind.
  • Oysters: Oysters are bivalve mollusks that inhabit most oceanic waters. Most people consider them economically beneficial because you can eat them or use them to make pearls.

How Much Do Snails Cost?

Snails cost between $3 and $4.

If you like to buy them in large quantities, you can do so by the dozen.

The average price per dozen of snails is approximately $40.

Snails Behavior & Lifespan

Here’s what you should know about the behavior of snails and their average lifespan.

Snail Behavior

Snails are very peaceful invertebrates that get along well with their kind and other species.

They move slowly and love to keep to themselves.

Snails retreat into their shell and close their operculum or trap door when disturbed.

What Do Snails Do for Your Tank?

Snails help keep your aquariums clean.

They are scavengers that consume dead plant matter, algae, dead fish, and other debris.

Is a Snail Dangerous?

Snails are not always dangerous.

However, they can be lethal if they contain the rat lungworm parasite (Angiostrongylus cantonensis).

Snails Lifespan

Snails, often seen in home gardens worldwide, lead a pretty interesting life.

But how long do these creatures live?

How Long Do Snails Live?

Snails live between one to ten years in the open and approximately 25 years in captivity.

Without predators and other environmental threats, the average snail could live long.

How Fast Do Snails Grow?

Snails mature fast, typically reaching maturity in 4–8 weeks.

Besides, numerous snail species are hermaphrodites. Therefore, they can reproduce asexually.

How Big Can a Snail Get?

Fully-matured snails can grow to nearly 20 cm (8 inches) long and 13 cm (5 inches) wide.

Snails Tank & Water Requirements

Here’s what you need to know about the snail tank and water requirements.

Best Tank Size for Snails

Typically, one snail requires at least five gallons of tank space.

This makes them suitable for nano tanks, based on the number of animals you wish to keep inside your aquarium.

Best Water Parameters & Conditions for Snails

Keep water temperature between 65 and 83 degrees Fahrenheit and pH between 7 and 8.

For appropriate shell development, aquatic snails require hard (calcium-containing) water.

Ideal hardness is about 70–90 ppm of calcium.

If you want to increase calcium levels, add coral, shells, and limestone.

Do Snails Need an Air Pump?

No! Unlike most aquatic organisms that require a constant flow of oxygenated water to survive, snails can breathe perfectly in still waters.

In fact, they can sustain brief stints outside water.

Best Habitat for Snails

Snails love chilly, dim surroundings.

Therefore, keep the aquarium out of direct sunlight.

It helps control the temperature and protects your snails from overheating and dehydration.

Do Snails Need Live Plants?

No. Snails do not feed on live plants unless they are starving.

Instead, they love nibbling on dead plants, algae, dead fish, and leftover fish foods.

Snails Tank Mates

Snails coexist harmoniously with their kind and other freshwater animals.

However, snails are tiny and cannot defend themselves; their only protection is the shell.

Therefore, when selecting tank mates, choose animals that won’t hurt them.

How Many Snails Should Be Kept Together?

Keep no more than 1–2 snails per 5 gallons.

This ensures there’s no overcrowding and that each snail gets enough food.

What Fish Make Good Tank Mates for Snails?

Snails are peaceful animals.

Therefore, tranquil community fish can be excellent choices, as well as algae eaters and bottom feeders like Otocinclus Catfish and Cory Cats.

Which Fish Should Snails Avoid?

Even though fish cannot directly consume snails, they could still inflict harm.

Avoid curious fish in your tank like Dwarf Cichlids and Barbs and predators like Stingrays and Puffer Fish.

Snails Breeding & Reproduction

Snails reproduce similarly to most other organisms; they mate and lay eggs.

Some snails, however, are hermaphrodites, indicating that two snails could fertilize one other.

Do Snails Breed Easily?

Not really. Actually, it’s quite uncomfortable for both.

Their courtship is euphemistic, and foreplay consists of stabbing one another with a love dart.

Mating takes about an hour.

This enables both snails to assume a position that makes their genital orifices touch.

How Long Does It Take for a Snail To Have Babies?

After snails lay their eggs, the gestation period is often brief.

Some snails start to hatch within 24 hours, while others take up to four weeks.

The typical gestation period in the wild lasts around 2–5 weeks.

How Long Is a Snail Pregnant?

The eggs take 1–5 weeks to hatch based on the water temperature.

The warmer the water, the sooner the eggs will hatch.

How to Care for Snails

Snails are easy to care for if you give them their basic requirements.

These include the proper habitat, correct nutrition, and hygiene.

General Care for Snails

Snails are best kept in a plastic aquarium, terrarium, or glass.

This environment provides snails with a safe area to crawl and a more climbing surface area.

Besides, terrariums and aquariums are easy to wipe and clean when required, contain the substrate, and help retain moisture.

Snails Diet and Feeding

Most snails are mainly herbivorous.

They consume foods like algae, bacteria, and aquatic plants like water lettuce.

However, some species might be detritivorous, which means they’ll scavenge for decaying animal and plant matter.

Snails are nocturnal animals. They search for food at night or during early morning hours.

They rely heavily on their acute sense of smell to locate food.

Baby snails have a greater appetite and a preference for shoots and tender leaves than their adult counterparts.

Before food reaches the esophagus, snails feed on solid food by cutting or scraping it with their radula.

Unlike mammals, snails don’t have teeth.

Rather, they have specialized mechanisms for digesting food.

Common Problems With Snails

Here are some typical concerns associated with keeping snails:

  • They’re unsightly
  • They spread infections such as Schistosomiasis that could harm people and other pets
  • They decrease crop yield
  • They can ruin water features

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common FAQs on snails.

Can snails see you?

Yes, snails can see you. However, their eyesight is poor because their eyes lack the muscles necessary to focus images. Therefore, they don’t depend on their eyes.

Instead, they have heightened sensitivity to dark, which helps them locate the source of illumination.

Nevertheless, they’re colorblind.

Do snails have teeth?

No, snails don’t have teeth. They do, however, possess a feeding feature known as a radula.

This chitinous strip is packed with hard calcium particles used to cut or sandpaper food before ingesting it.

These are not actual teeth since they lack the structure of enamel and dentin layers seen in real teeth.

The form and arrangement of teeth vary between different species.

For instance, a typical radula could have 120 rows, each having 100 teeth, but some species could have over 200 teeth per row.

Wrapping Up

Keeping snails is a wonderful way to interact with nature.

It helps many of us relieve stress in this hectic world.

Hopefully, you’ve learned everything you need to know about snails.

They’re easy to care for hobbyists of all skill levels.

Snails could make a terrific pet even without introducing any fish into the tank.

Besides, they can decorate the tank’s base with so many distinct colors of snails available.

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