If you want to bring home a water tank and get some aquatic pets, but are confused about which pet you should first add to it, apple snails are your best bet. The apple snails are used as aquatic pets most commonly due to their low-maintenance lifestyle, calm and peaceful temperament, and easy-going nature.
This article will discuss elaborately everything you need to know about keeping apple snails as a pet: what do they eat? What are the ideal living conditions for them? Their breeding pattern, social behavior, and much more.
An insight about the Apple snails
Apple snails are the family of large freshwater snails that includes about 150 different freshwater species. These snails are native to the Amazon River. However, over the years, their population has spread into regions of South-West Asia, Hawaii, and the southern part of the US.
If you can’t pinpoint the exact species of apple snails you have brought home, don’t worry. All of them have the same living, breeding, and dietary requirements.
What do apple snails look like?
The most prominent part of an apple snail’s body is its shell, which occurs in different colors, and defines the size of their bodies. On average, apple snails have a shell diameter of 3-4 inches. But the shell diameter of a fully-grown adult can be about 6 inches.
They also have an operculum, an organ that is responsible for opening and closing their shells. The operculum is shaped like a nail when the shell is closed.
On their heads, the apple snails possess two antennae which are used to find food. Right behind their antennae are their eyes, located on small stalks on either side of the head.
It is possible that you might miss their eyes at the first glance because it is generally of the same color as the rest of their body. The eyes of the apple snails have the ability to detect light and motion.
The mouth of these snails is present a little below their eyes. Inside their mouths, a pair of tentacles are present which are used during feeding. On the left side of their head is a tube-like structure called a siphon, which allows water to pass through their gills.
What makes apple snails unique?
The fact that sets these freshwater snails apart from other snail species is that they can use two different respiratory systems.
Apple snails have both a gill and a lung, which allows them to live both underwater as well as on the ground, making them amphibious. They have a unique cavity called the mantle cavity, which keeps their different respiratory structures separate.
Check out the table given below to know more about the apple snails.
|Other names||Golden apple snails, Mystery snails, Golden snails, Ivory snails|
|Care level||Beginner (you can keep it as your first underwater pet)|
|Temperament||Calm and quiet|
|Color||White, brown, black, yellow|
|Average lifespan||12 to 36 months|
|Adult size||Can reach up to 6 inches in shell diameter|
|Minimum tank size||10 gallons|
|Average tank height||2 feet (about 60 cm)|
|Water temperature range||64-82 degrees Fahrenheit (18-28 degrees Celsius)|
|Water hardness range||8-15 dH|
|Water alkalinity range||6-7.5 pH|
Feeding food to pet apple snails
Of all the aquatic pets, the apple snails are the ones who create the least fuss about their food. They are omnivores and are habituated to a lifestyle of scavenging for food in the wild.
If you want to feed them store-bought pet food, you can go with floating fish flakes, both floating and sinking pellets, or algae wafers. However, if you’re looking for something to feed them from your kitchen, veggies like squash, cucumber, spinach, and lettuce are great choices.
If you’re feeding the apple snails veggies, be very careful of washing them thoroughly first. You can also soak these in lukewarm water for a couple of minutes to get rid of dust as well as any harmful chemical.
If you put vegetables that have not been cleaned properly into their tanks, it is not only bad for their health but bad for the tank hygiene as well. Also, make sure they are not left inside the tank for more than an hour, or they could make the water of the tank cloudy and dirty. If the snails are not eating them, remove them.
Most vegetables, when dropped into their tanks, float on the surface, which is not favorable for your snails. Apple snails find it easier to eat from the tank floor. So, to make their feeding easy on them, you can tie the veggies to a rock or the suction cup using a thread. This will ensure that they remain on the floor for the apple snails to find and eat them conveniently.
Apart from these, apple snails love to feast on living tubeworms and bloodworms. However, if your tank has a crowded floor, it is not possible for them to eat live worms. If you are feeding them live worms, keep the bottom of the tank bare.
With that being said, if the apple snails are sharing tanks with other fish, there are chances that the fish will get their hands on the worms first.
Apple snails also like eating algae and are great for keeping your tank clean of any algae growing on the walls. At last, you need to be careful not to overfeed them. Snails have a small body and thus, a small diet. Feeding them more food than they won’t do them any good.
Providing the ideal tank for pet apple snails
The first and foremost thing we should talk about is buying the right-sized tank for apple snails. The tank you’re looking for should be able to hold at least 10 gallons (roughly 45 liters) of water.
This is suggested in light of the understanding that 2-3 apple snails will live in the tank with other aquatic pets like fish as well. For every additional snail, you should add 3 gallons more water.
The water temperature should range between 64-82 degrees Fahrenheit (18-28 degrees Celsius), with the dH levels between 8-15. Also, add an air pump in the tank that pumps 24 hours a day to avoid a situation of oxygen depletion in the water.
Lastly, you need to make sure that the tank is never filled to the brim with water. Always leave at least 2-3 inches of space between the water level and the edge of the tank.
On the off chance that the oxygen level begins to deplete in the tank water, the apple snails climb up to the water’s surface to breathe air directly using their siphon tubes.
However, apple snails, like all other snail species, are known for being slow walkers. If your tank is too high, they might not be able to climb the top in time and suffer from breathing difficulties. In order to ensure that this doesn’t happen, buy a tank that has a height of not more than 2 feet (about 60 cm).
pH level of the tank
As mentioned in the table given above, the ideal pH level of the water should range between 6-8, with 6 being the lowest level. If the pH of the water goes any lower than 6, the water becomes too acidic for the apple snails.
The acid in the water begins to erode their shells. If this continues for long, you will start noticing small holes in their shells. Over time, these holes will get larger and become life-threatening for your snails.
Apple snails also require harder water, which has more minerals. This is because minerals like calcium strengthen their shells.
Before you add the apple snails to your water tank, you should treat the water with products that are used to neutralize the metals present in it.
The presence of any metal, especially copper, is detrimental to the health of your snails. Apple snails are very sensitive to copper, and even a small amount of it can make them severely ill.
If you notice symptoms like lethargy in your snails, it might indicate that the metal content of the water is too high for them. The metal treatment of the water should be done every time the water is changed.
Apple snails contain many microorganisms in their stomach, which help them digest their food properly. These microorganisms, called amoebocytes, are often excreted out of their bodies mixed with feces.
If you have more than one apple snail in your tank, you can notice cloudiness due to too many discharged amoebocytes.
These, however, pose no threat to apple snails or any other aquatic pet you keep. Thus, you needn’t clean your tank every time you find it cloudy.
Breeding of apple snails
Most of the snail breeds do not have specific genders. However, the apple snails have distinguished male and female snails, and both of them come together for breeding.
If you want your pet apple snails to breed, ensure that you’re buying both genders in the beginning. These snails do not need anything particular for breeding. They will breed on their own when they are ready.
Once the breeding session is over, the female apple snails climb out of the water and lay their eggs either on the wall of the tank or on the inside of the tank’s lid. Apple snails always lay their egg outside of water, because if they lay them underwater, their babies will drown inside the egg itself, and die.
The female snail always lays eggs in a cluster, which is pinkish on the outside. These eggs, when they are laid, are soft and slowly harden over time.
The eggs of apple snails need moisture to grow. Therefore, you should take care that there is enough moisture in the tank to support their growth. The temperature ideal for their eggs ranges between 24-27 degrees Celsius. If the right temperature is maintained, the eggs hatch in about 2-3 weeks.
Under ideal conditions, the female apple snail can lay clutches of eggs about 5-7 times during the course of several weeks. After one breeding session is over, they take a break that sometimes extends up to a couple of months.
Then, they are ready to start breeding again. If apple snails are getting enough food, they can breed more than twice in a year. One healthy female apple snail can easily overcrowd your tank with baby snails within a year.
Caring for baby apple snails
When the cluster of eggs starts hatching, many of the baby apple snails die within the first week of their life. This is completely natural, which is why you shouldn’t be worried about it. The ones that survive the first week grow up relatively early.
The baby apple snails look like a miniature version of their parents. They’re mostly self-sufficient and don’t need much by way of caring, except food.
These little snails walk a lot slower than their parents and may take forever to find their food, especially in a large tank. You can put food closer to them in the tank to make feeding easier for them. You can also grow algae in the tank so that they can feed on them when hungry.
Another step you can take to ensure they can find enough food is to move them into a different, smaller tank. They can live in this tank until grow up, and can then be moved back into the larger tank.
Other aquatic pets that can live with the apple snails
As we mentioned earlier, apple snails are very peaceful beings who do not have a tendency of hurting or even disturbing other animals who live in their vicinity.
When it comes to adding more aquatic pets in the tank where your apple snails live, the question you should be asking is: which of the aquatic pets can hurt your apple snails?
Species of Cichlids, Loach, or Pufferfish are not healthy for apple snails. They have a tendency of poking at apple snails, nibbling on their antennas, and disturbing them continually. These fish can even kill the snails. Similarly, if you know any other aggressive fish breed, it is best not to add them to the apple snails’ tank.
In case you’re willing to add other snail species, you can choose freely. Apple snails get along with all snail species except the Assassin snails, who are known to hunt and kill apple snails.
Apple snail lifespan
Although the average life expectancy of apple snails is about 1-3 years, they can die well before that. Many experts and snail owners had confessed that they had found their apple snails dead on several occasions even when all the living conditions were ideal: they had access to enough food, oxygen, suitable water, etc.
In case your apple snail has died, you need to remove their dead body from the tank at the earliest. Otherwise, the whole tank will become dirty and stinky.
If the dead snail begins to rot inside the tank, it will release many bacteria that can affect the health of the other snails and fish who live in the tank. But how will you find out if your snail has really died?
How to recognize a dead apple snail?
It is pretty easy to mistake an alive apple snail for a dead one. Snails have strange behavioral patterns. At times, they get inside shells and stay there for a considerably long time.
This could be because of the presence of an aggressive fish in the tank, or just because they felt like it. It could be days before you see their faces again, but they are alive alright.
Apple snails also often float at the surface of the tank. To someone who is new to all this, it might look like they are dead, but they aren’t. Moreover, dead snails rarely float.
So, how do you confirm whether your snail has actually died or not? The first method to find that out is by smelling the snail. If there is a strong, rotten stench coming out of your snail, it has died. The other method is picking the snail out of the water and check the shell.
If the body is missing, the snail has probably been eaten by a tankmate and died. In case the shell is closed, check the trapdoor of the shell; if it is tightly closed, your snail is alive inside, but if it is loose or opened, it has died.
Do apple snails make good aquatic pets? Final thoughts
Yes, apple snails are the perfect addition to your aquarium. They are peaceful, mind their own businesses, don’t throw a tantrum about their food, and keep your aquarium clean. What’s not to like? You just have to make sure you’re providing them with the right water requirements, and they will thrive.