How do mystery snails reproduce? Maybe you’re planning on breeding your mystery snails and need to know the best way to do it. Maybe you’ve heard that snails breed like rabbits and will quickly overrun a tank. If that were always the case, who would want them, right?
Whatever your case may be, we are here to help. Mystery snail reproduction is simple, but there are things you can do to encourage or discourage the appearance of eggs.
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What Is A Mystery Snail?
Mystery snails are a favorite among aquarists old and new. They are one of the largest aquatic snail species, and they come in a variety of colors such as white, yellow, and black. They are active animals, always crawling around the aquarium searching for their next meal. What makes these animals unique is that they breathe both air and water. They need water to survive and will dry out if they are outside the tank for too long, but they can live for several hours outside of water.
The fact that mystery snails can breathe air is vitally important to their survival because they can’t lay their eggs under water. Although the snails are aquatic, their eggs will rot if they become too wet, so the adult female crawls out of the water to find a dry place to lay her eggs.
To learn more about mystery snails, read our full guide here.
Are Mystery Snails Asexual?
Many snails are asexual and can breed with themselves, but mystery snails aren’t one of them. Mystery snails need both male and female to reproduce. Fortunately, because these snails aren’t asexual, they won’t reproduce uncontrollably like many pest-snails.
So, how do mystery snails mate?
How Do Mystery Snails Mate?
Scientists aren’t sure exactly what age mystery snails are considered sexually mature. However, because they only live to about one year old, they can begin breeding when they are a quarter of their full size.
The male positions himself overtop of the female, crawling onto her shell until he is positioned over her right side. Males have an organ called a “sheath” that they insert into the female’s reproductive tract to begin the mating process.
The entire process can span one to six hours. During this time, the snails will be attached while the female goes about her business. The female will continue to eat and crawl around the tank with the male along for the ride.
After mating is over, the snails separate from each other. The eggs begin to develop within the female and she will lay them within a few days.
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How Often Do Mystery Snails Mate?
The interesting thing about mystery snails is that they like to mate frequently. Mystery snails enjoy mating so much that males will attempt to mate with other males if no females are available.
Will My Tank Be Overrun With Snails?
Fortunately, despite their fondness for mating, your aquarium will not end up overrun with snails. Pest snails, like bladder snails, are usually hermaphrodites. They have both sex organs and can reproduce on their own, quickly overwhelming a tank.
Mystery snails are not hermaphrodites. Instead, both male and female are needed for mating.
Even though mystery snails mate so often, the frequency is not needed. This is because one session can leave the female equipped to fertilize several batches of eggs.
Too Much Mating
Unfortunately, too much mating can be harmful for the female snails and may even kill them. If you find that the males are harassing your females too often, you may want to place them in separate tanks to give her a break.
Many breeders keep tanks specifically for their pregnant females. They move them to this tank directly after mating so that they can lay their eggs in peace.
NEVER try to physically separate snails while they are mating. That can seriously harm or kill both of your snails.
How Can You Tell If Your Mystery Snails Are Mating Or Something Else?
If you see your mystery snails climbing on top of each other, they are most likely mating. Some people may mistake the act for fighting, but that is unlikely. Even if they are fighting, they have no way to hurt each other, so it’s best to leave them be.
Sometimes they will climb on each other just for the sake of climbing. They may use their tankmates as a stepstool to get to hard-to-reach-food, or even as a free ride.
How To Breed Mystery Snails
So you want to breed mystery snails? Here’s some tips to make the process go more smoothly.
Picking Your Snails
As with any kind of animal breeding, you will want to be selective of the parents unless you are okay with getting random results.
Gendering Your Snails
To breed mystery snails, you need to have both male and females. You may be wondering how to sex mystery snails. It can be hard and mistakes are common. With this said, if you are not picky, the easiest way to breed is simply by homing multiple snails in a tank.
Sexing With Reproductive Organs
If you want to sex your snails manually, you will need to look under the hood of their shell. Don’t attempt to pry the snails operculum open because this will harm your snail. Instead, hold it by the shell for a few minutes, and it will come out on its own.
The males will have a long tube near their head, similar-looking to their siphon. The females will have a hole in the same location.
Because it can be so difficult to gender snails this way, some breeders have found other useful methods.
Sexing With Colors
When the snails are ready to breed, the coloration of their shell spiral may change. Females will become a darker color while the males will stay light. This is only noticeable in snails that are light to start. This method also won’t work on snails not ready to breed.
Sexing By Mating Behaviors
To breed, the male mystery snail will need to mount the female. The easiest way to determine which snail is male is by placing a bunch of snails together and waiting to see which snails climb on top of the others. With this said, just because a snail is on the bottom does not mean it’s female. Males will try to mate with other males.
Mystery snails don’t need much help to mate, but there are things you can do to expedite the process.
One of the best ways to encourage your mystery snails to breed is by keeping them well fed. Snails that are well fed are more likely to mate. Clutches of eggs will also be larger when the parents are well fed.
Some of the best foods to feed mystery snails to encourage mating are algae wafers and leafy greens. Also make sure that you pick greens that are rich in calcium and protein to keep them healthy and happy.
To read more on what to feed mystery snails, read our guide here.
If you plan to encourage breeding by overfeeding, you will need to be careful about completing extra aquarium cleanings. Extra food will create more waste and degrade the water quality.
Mystery snails are most likely to mate when the temperature in the tank is higher. They tend to be happiest around 74 degrees Fahrenheit, but anywhere between 73 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
If your tank is lower than that temperature to begin with, make sure to raise the temperature slowly. If you do it too quickly, you can stress them out.
How Often Do Mystery Snails Lay Eggs?
Whether or not mystery snails decide to mate depends on a number of factors.
As with most animals, mystery snails will breed when they are happiest. Happiness for mystery snails means they’re well fed and warm.
Under the right conditions, mystery snails can lay eggs about once every single week.
How Many Eggs Do Mystery Snails Lay?
When mystery snails breed, they can produce hundreds of offspring. In a single clutch, a mystery snail can lay 50-200 eggs at one time.
One thing to keep in mind when breeding mystery snails is that the eggs won’t always be fertile. Just like birds that can lay eggs when they haven’t mated, so can mystery snails. Fortunately, these eggs are fairly simple to identify so that you can know whether to prepare for baby snails or not.
If the eggs aren’t fertile, they will be smaller than usual and likely will smell. If you are still unsure whether the eggs are fertile, all you need to do is wait a few weeks. After about three to four weeks, fertile eggs will begin to develop small, dark dots within their centers. Infertile eggs will not have these developing snails.
Alternatively, fertilized eggs will look rounder and more gelatinous. Overall, they will simply appear healthier and more egg-like. As the snails develop within the eggs, the eggs themselves will begin to turn white. As the eggs develop, a small black dot will appear inside the egg indicating that a snail is growing.
After two to four weeks of growing, the eggs will begin to hatch. Baby mystery snails look just like their parents, but naturally, they appear much smaller. Mystery snails are only 2.4mm long when they hatch.
How To Hatch Mystery Snail Eggs
Now that your snails have laid their eggs you may be wondering, “how do I go about hatching mystery snail eggs?”
Interestingly, although mystery snails are an aquatic species, too much moisture will kill their eggs. Because of this, mystery snail eggs are very easy to identify because they are laid outside of water. The snails will crawl above the water line and lay their eggs inside a cocoon on the side of the aquarium.
Do not attempt to touch or move the clutch of eggs for the first few days. They are very fragile and it doesn’t take much to crush them. After a few days, they will be sturdy enough to be gently moved to another location such as an incubator.
Many breeders move their eggs to a hatching tank to keep them safe from fish or other predators. If there are none in the tank, it is safer to simply leave the eggs where they are.
Mystery snail eggs can take between two and four weeks to hatch, but the exact amount of time depends on certain factors. Eggs that are laid in an environment with warmer waters are more likely to hatch sooner.
Breeding mystery snails is not a difficult process. If you have the right conditions, they will happily copulate over and over. Before you decide to breed your snails, make sure you know what to do with the babies. You can end up with hundreds of young snails, and it can be overwhelming if you don’t have a plan.
If you are ready to breed, you now know what to do. Keep them warm, fed, and housed in a clean tank. Take these steps and you will have baby snails in no time.
Interested in zebra snails too? Read our full article to know exactly what zebra snails eat.