Most people think of bettas as being too feisty to live with others. However, there are a few tankmates that can live with bettas.
The mystery snail and betta usually mind their own business when they live together, so they make perfect tankmates. They even work in smaller tanks, making mystery snails an ideal first addition if you’re not ready to try a larger community yet.
We’ll explain how well snails get along with bettas, why mystery snails are a good companion for bettas, and about mystery snails’ needs.
Can Betta Fish Live with Snails?
Do bettas get along with snails? Yes, they can, but not all snails are suitable for a betta tank.
You probably know that most snails are calm and peace-loving, but so are most bettas in the right environment.
Yes, some bettas, especially males, can be aggressive toward their tankmates. However, the trick is to make sure to choose the right tankmate for your betta, feed your betta often, and make sure everyone in the tank has enough space.
Do Betta Fish Get Along with Snails?
Bettas can get along with snails, but it depends on the type of snail and the fish’s temperament. Female bettas get along with other tankmates better than male bettas, though this isn’t guaranteed. However, male bettas can get along with snails, too.
Snails are durable. In the wild, their shells protect them as they’re tossed about by water currents and from nippy fish.
Will Betta Fish Bite Snails?
Whether your betta fish will bite or nibble at your snails and harass them depends on your fish and your snail.
Some bettas love to eat snails, others only eat snails if they’re hungry, and some don’t show any interest in eating snails. However, the larger the snail, the less likely they are to attack it.
If your betta does bite off an antenna or an eye, you’ll want to separate the snail and fish. Luckily, mystery snails can regenerate and regrow their eye in about three weeks.
Do Male Betta Fish Eat Snails?
Male bettas can have a more volatile temperament than females. So, male bettas may be more likely to try to eat snail tankmates if they’re hungry.
Some may never be happy with a tankmate of any sort. The male betta may bump into the snail and flare its fins, but the snail might not flinch unless the betta starts to nip.
Choosing a large snail with a trap door, like a mystery snail, and making sure they both have plenty of food and space can keep your snail alive and well.
What’s the Best Type of Snail to Live with a Betta?
Some snails cohabitate with bettas better than others. The mystery snail is at the top of the list of snails that fare best in a betta tank.
What Makes Mystery Snails Good Companions for Bettas?
One reason mystery snails and bettas work well together is that they require a similar water quality. They also have the same day and night cycles.
Another reason mystery snails live well with bettas is that they are large (two to three inches in diameter) and have opercula. An operculum is a trap door on their shell that allows them to close themselves up inside their shell if a betta gets too curious.
Can a Betta Kill a Mystery Snail?
Yes, a betta can kill a mystery snail, but it’s less likely than with other snails because of the snail’s size and its operculum.
Of course, if you fail to feed your betta, the snail will be fair game, which is why an adult should supervise a child’s fish-feeding habits.
Which Other Snails Can Live with Bettas?
Mystery snails and nerite snails are the best snails to live with bettas. Besides these two, four other snails are also good contenders if you can’t find these two or want to try a variety in your tank:
- Nerite snail (Neritina natalensis): also known as a tiger snail or zebra snail, this snail is an algae and foliage eater., The tank needs a lid to deter escape., These snails are favored as they only breed in brackish water so you won’t end up with a million baby snails. and only breed in brackish water
- Japanese trapdoor snail (Viviparis malleatus): has an operculum, and predominantly eats algae instead of needing additional food like the mystery snail., Japanese trapdoor snails don’t eat fish or plants and retreat into their shells if water quality is low.
- Red-rimmed Melania (Melanoides tuberculata): also known as the Malaysian trumpet snail, burrows during the day and is most active at night. These snails mostly eat algae and reproduce quickly.
- Rabbit snail (Tylomelania): also as known as an elephant snail, slow to reproduce, can reach up to 4 inches (although mini rabbit snails are smaller)., They are slow to reproduce and come in different various breeds available., They are always active yet, peaceful to other tankmates.
- Assassin snail (Clea helena): will consume pest snails but are peaceful overall. They need extra protein in their diet.
All the snails we’ve listed that can cohabitate with mystery snails have an operculum that they can close if threatened. However, the rabbit snail has only a partial one that they use when attacked by predators.
Which Snails Should You Avoid in a Betta Tank?
Since mystery snails can sometimes be called apple snails, be sure you don’t accidentally buy one of these snails instead:
- Amazonian apple snails (Pomacea diffusa): also called blue mystery snails, are invasive and, completely consume aquarium plants down to roots., They grow to be very large, breed profusely and eat other snail species.
- Giant apple snail (Pomacea maculata): grow up to 6 inches in diameter.
- Pest snails: hitchhike on aquarium plants and can carry diseases. They are very common to find in pond ecosystems., usually common pond snails, may have diseases
Overview of Mystery Snails
If you’re looking for mystery snails to purchase for your betta tank, you might also find them under the name apple snail or spike-topped apple snail. Mystery snails are gastropod mollusks, and their scientific name is Pomacea bridgesii.
You will find mystery snails in the wild in freshwater bodies of water in their native Peru, Paraguay, Brazil, and Bolivia in South America. They like to hide in densely planted vegetation by day and come out to hunt for food at night.
Mystery snails have gills that allow them to breathe underwater. They can live for a few hours outside of water, but they will eventually dry up and die without water within a day.
Typical Behavior of a Mystery Snail
Mystery snails are calm and won’t be as active as your betta. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not an interesting creature.
They can be very active while feeding and exploring their tank, but they move more slowly and steadily than a betta. You can watch them use their radula (their tiny teeth) to remove algae from the tank.
Mystery Snail Appearance
The shells of mystery snails have a round whorl. Their shells grow up to two inches in diameter and come in a variety of colors:
- Gold: have a speckled pearlized body
- Black or Purple: may be striped with lighter colors, have blueish-grey bodies sometimes with orange speckles
- Albino: shells striped with browns and off-whites, have white pearly bodies with speckles
- Olive jade
Mystery Snail Lifespan
You can expect your mystery snail to live for about one year, though they can often live for much longer.
How to Choose a Healthy Mystery Snail
Finding a healthy snail should not be difficult as long as you check for these signs of good health:
- A strong shell without cracks, pits, or operculum damage
- A snail that’s active or attached to the glass
- A snail living with healthy fish
- A snail with all its antennaetentacles and no eye damage
What’s the Best Habitat for Mystery Snails?
While mystery snails live among vegetation in the wild, it isn’t necessary to have a planted tank to have a mystery snail. The most important thing to consider is having is to have too many snails for your tank size.
Mystery Snail Tank Size
Mystery snails need a tank that’s at least five gallons. While you can add a mystery snail to a betta micro tank, it’s not a good idea. A mystery snail needs at least a five-gallon tank because of the bio-load of waste it can produce in addition to the betta.
How Many Mystery Snails Per Gallon?
The larger the tank, the more mystery snails (or other companions) you can introduce into your betta tank. You can keep one or two snails for every five gallons of tank space. Your mystery snails need enough space to roam and eat as well as to not over-tax the tank bio-load.
Water Needs for Mystery Snails
The pH level, water temperature, and water hardness needs for mystery snails are highly compatible with the water needs for bettas.
What pH Does a Mystery Snail Need?
The ideal pH range for mystery snails is in a range between 6.57.6 and 7.58.4. Since bettas need their pH to be between 6.6 and 7.6, you will need to keep a close watch on the pH in your tank to make sure you keep it stable and in the ideal range. As close as possible to the 7.6 pH sweet spot.
What Water Temperature Does a Mystery Snail Need?
Mystery snails thrive in tropical water temperatures between 68° to 84°F. Since the ideal water temperature for bettas is between 78° and 80°F, a mystery snail will be perfectly happy with the water temperature in a betta tank.
Though mystery snails can be kept in cooler waters, bettas cannot. Always accommodate a betta and mystery snail tank to the betta.
What Water Hardness Is Best for Mystery Snails?
Freshwater snails need hard water that contains calcium for proper shell growth. Snails belonging to the Ampullariidae family, like mystery snails, need a dH of 12 to 18. Bettas prefer soft water, but they can tolerate a water hardness from 5 to 20 dH. You will want to make sure your water hardness falls within the ideal range for mystery snails.
You can add shells, limestone, or crushed coral to your tank to increase the calcium levels for your mystery snails if you have soft water, though this usually isn’t necessary.
How Many Nitrates Can a Mystery Snail Tolerate?
Your betta can tolerate up to 40 ppm of nitrates, but most snails have a much lower tolerance level. Your snail can only tolerate 20 ppm or less of nitrates, so you will want to make sure to do frequent water changes t0 clean your water often.
Snails are sensitive to copper, so be sure to check any medications, chemicals, or decorations for copper before putting them in the tank with your mystery snail.
How to Introduce a Mystery Snail to a Betta Tank
- Float the securely-tied bag of snails in your betta tank for 30 minutes (you may need to remove some tank water to prevent overflow).
- Replace ¼ of the snail water in the bag with betta tank water (be sure to throw away the snail water).
- Refloat the bag for 30 minutes.
- Repeat until the snail bag contains mostly betta tank water.
- Remove the snail from the bag with your fingers or tongs. Do not cross-contaminate the water in the bag with the water in your tank!
- Drop the snail into the tank and discard the snail water.
Do Mystery Snails Need Special Food?
As long as you only keep one snail per five gallons of water, there should be enough algae in your tank to feed your mystery snail.
In the wild, mystery snails will eat almost anything they come across. In your aquarium, they will eat leftover betta food, waste, dead and decaying plants, and algae in your tank.
Supplemental Feeding for a Mystery Snail
If your tank is too clean to provide enough algae for your snail or if you have more than one mystery snail per five gallons of water, you may want to add a food supplement for your mystery snail.
You can feed mystery snails with shrimp pellets, algae pellets, and blanched vegetables. They need food that is high in calcium and protein. Be sure to monitor how much pellet food your mystery snail normally eats so that you don’t end up polluting the tank with excess.
If you encounter the mystery of a missing betta and have several mystery snails, there’s a likelihood that your betta died and your snails consumed it.
Will Mystery Snails Clean Your Fish Tank?
While mystery snails do eat algae and waste, you shouldn’t expect them to keep your tank clean.
The larger your tank, the less they will contribute to the overall cleanliness of your tanks. You will still need to perform regular tank cleaning even if your mystery snail helps clean your tank a little.
How To Prevent Mystery Snails from Escaping
Because mystery snails can breathe air, they like to escape at night. Their escape-artist tendencies are why they’re called mystery snails. They might disappear from your tank only to reappear later. To make sure that they do not escape, you will need a tank with a dependable lid.
Unfortunately, mystery snails have become an invasive species in North America and Southeast Asia. Their introduction beyond South America has resulted from aquarium hobbyists releasing them into the wild or snails escaping from tanks.
Mystery Snail Breeding
Mystery snail breeding is easy to control, but tank size is an important consideration.
How Can I Prevent My Mystery Snails from Breeding?
Mystery snails are not able to reproduce asexually like some snails. Thus, you don’t have to worry about your snail population getting out of control if you don’t have a lot of space in your tank. Mystery snails also cannot breed underwater.
So, if you keep your water level high, they won’t have room to climb up to the top to breed and lay eggs.
Can I Breed Snails in a Betta Tank?
If you are thinking about breeding mystery snails, you will want to keep your tank size in mind. Since most betta tanks are small, breeding snails in a betta tank is usually not a good idea because the water quality can deteriorate quickly as the snails grow larger.
Instead, set up a separate tank specifically for breeding snails. This is easy to do as they don’t require much extra care or maintenance.
Bettas and mystery snails can live together in harmony. They enjoy similar tank conditions and can easily acclimate to each other. Your mystery snail will also help you keep your betta tank a little cleaner and add more character to your tank.
The most important thing to remember is that mystery snails are not a cure-all for algae problems! They can also add a significant amount of bioload to the aquarium, so make sure that you don’t overstock.