Apple snails are adorable and low-maintenance creatures that you can keep in a variety of aquarium settings. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have, these little critters are a pleasure to own!
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about apple snail care, as well as plenty of other helpful facts about these animals.
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The apple snail (Pomacea bridgesii) is a curious invertebrate with a reputation that precedes it. You can find these creatures at most local pet stores, where they’re usually sold young and small. But don’t let that initial size fool you. This snail species gets pretty big.
They’re an impressive tank addition that can have a demanding presence, a stark cry from other snail species.
The apple snail was native to the Amazon River Basin in South America. However, it’s a somewhat invasive species with wild populations around the globe. Whether you use them as a unique addition to your existing aquarium or you set up a snail-only habitat, this is a species with a lot to offer.
Color variations are plentiful with this snail species. You can get them with shells covered in gold, brown, pink, red, and more. Some even have stripes and multiple colors. The flesh is usually brown, white, or yellow, but there’s a lot of variety there, too.
The snail gets its fruit-inspired name from its shell. The apple snail has a round and surprisingly symmetric shell. Five or six whorls create that spherical shape and provide eye-catching detail.
This particular species has both lungs and gills. As a result, they can live out of the water. However, most prefer to stick in the water as much as possible.
Like other snails, apples also have a trapdoor called an operculum. When threatened, they’ll retreat into the shell and use the operculum to seal themselves in.
Apple snails have two tentacles. The first is by the eyestalks. Meanwhile, the other is by the mouth. Both tentacles play a big part in feeding, helping to guide food into the snail’s mouth.
Author Note: The two eyestalks are pretty interesting, too. If, for whatever reason, the apple snail loses one of its eyes, it can regenerate it!
Apple Snail Lifespan
Freshwater invertebrates usually don’t have a long lifespan, and the apple snail is no different. The typical apple snail lifespan is around two or three years. But, like always, there’s a chance they could die sooner (or live longer).
There are no guarantees with life expectancy, and the quality of care you provide is a significant influencing factor.
Here’s where the surprise of the apple snail comes in. When most aquarists purchase these critters, they’re a mere inch in diameter. But they grow larger quickly.
Adults can have shell diameters of up to six inches! For perspective, that’s about twice the size of a tennis ball! This means you need to make sure you have room in your aquarium if you want to care for them properly.
Author Note: It’s worth pointing out that apple snail size will differ depending on the variety you have, and not all of them get to the full six inches. For example, the Florida apple snail only gets three inches in diameter. It all depends on the kind you have.
Apple Snail Care
You’re in luck if you’re thinking about getting an apple snail or two for your aquarium. This creature is one of the easiest to care for! Highly adaptable and naturally low maintenance, they’re one of the best inverts for beginners.
Here are a few base apple snail care guidelines you should know.
Let’s start with tank size. These inverts need a good amount of space. Don’t make the mistake of thinking they can live in a bowl without any problems. Remember: They grow up fast and are reasonably active.
A general rule of thumb is to provide at least 2.5 gallons of space per snail. The best thing you can do is to house your snails in a tank that’s at least 10 gallons. You can upgrade as your needs change, and your snail gets bigger.
One of the reasons why apple snail care is so easy is the fact that these creatures are highly adaptable. They come from the slightly acidic waters of the Amazon Basin. However, they can quickly adjust to whatever freshwater conditions they’re in.
Like all snails, this species does prefer calcium-rich water. However, it’s not entirely necessary. Most aquarists will focus their attention on the needs of apple snail tank mates. Luckily, these critters don’t mind.
When setting up your apple snail habitat, keep these baselines in mind.
- Water temperature: 70 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (Aim for around 75 degrees)
- pH levels: 6.5 to 8.4 (Close to neutral)
- Water hardness: 6 to 12 DGH
Even though they’re adaptable, it’s still important to pay close attention to the water parameters. Invest in a reliable water test kit to keep an eye on the levels in your aquarium.
What To Put In Their Tank Habitat
Apple snails aren’t super picky about decorations, either. That said, there are recommendations you should heed to save you some headaches.
The first is the substrate. You could use gravel, but that material tends to cut up the snail’s feet. To avoid regular injuries and possible infections, use a softer substrate. Sand works just fine.
Plants can be an issue for apple snails. They cohabitate fine with fast-growing cultivars but have a knack for chewing down anything they can eat. That’s pretty much everything, so all your plants are fair game.
However, slow-growing varieties are the most affected. Apple snails often eat them so fast that they can’t grow.
For this reason, many aquarists use silk or plastic plants. They offer the same look without the risk of damage from the snail.
Beyond plants, you can add logs, climbing structures, and anything else the snail’s tank mates might need. Apple snails are active and will explore every inch of your tank.
Don’t forget about the lighting system. Apple snails need a full day/night cycle. They’re most active at night, but the light will keep their circadian rhythm in check.
Author Note: Make sure to get a strong lid! Apple snails prefer to live underwater, but they do have lungs. So, they could crawl out of your tank if you’re not careful. Be sure to cover that habitat up for safety.
Common Possible Diseases
This aquatic creature is surprisingly tough, but it’s not immune to health problems.
Like any other animal you keep in your aquarium, poor water quality is an issue you want to avoid. A spike in ammonia and nitrate levels could cause unnecessary stress on the snail.
In severe cases, snails will stop growing entirely to use their energy for reproduction. When that happens, the snail can suffer from shell injuries.
Thin and brittle shells are a common problem, too. They usually occur when the pH level is too low. The snail can tolerate some acidity, but a super-low pH will make the shell brittle enough to crack. The same goes for low calcium content.
To keep your apple snail healthy, monitor the water conditions and ensure they are in the acceptable range. Do your best to avoid any sudden changes. Seasoned aquarists also recommend replacing about 15 percent of the water weekly to keep ammonia and nitrates low.
Food & Diet
Apple snails have voracious appetites. Not only that, but they’re omnivores that will eat anything. Throughout the day, the snail moves around the tank to scavenge for food.
While they eat algae off glass and decor, don’t assume algae is enough to keep the snail healthy. In addition to algae, they eat decaying plant matter, healthy plants, and even dead fish.
Keep these creatures satiated with daily meals. They might eat every edible thing in your tank if you don’t. That could include other snails. Feeding prevents that and leaves enough behind for other scavenging tank mates. You can provide standard fish food, algae tablets, or fresh vegetables.
Other suitable foods to fill their diet include:
- Green beans
- Romaine lettuce
Behavior & Temperament
During the day, you can observe apple snails searching the tank for food. These snails are more active than you think and have no problem covering every possible surface in a day.
You don’t have to worry about violence or aggression with these creatures. They’re the epitome of docile and pay zero attention to other tank inhabitants nearby.
There aren’t any rigid restrictions about what kind of tank you can create with the apple snail. They get along with most animals. If issues do occur, it’s usually because of aggressor fish.
It’s wise to keep snail-eating species like cichlids and clown loaches away. However, a full-grown apple snail usually isn’t a match for bully fish. These inverts have tons of protection to stay safe.
The best tank mates are just as docile and uncaring. Good options include:
Even if apple snail breeding isn’t a priority to you, these critters will reproduce in captivity. It’s not a matter of “if.” It’s a matter of “when” and “how much?”
Apple snails reproduce quickly. They proliferate so fast that they often overwhelm enclosed systems. When that happens, the snails will take over, eat everything, and leave nothing behind for tank mates.
Breeding occurs when temperatures rise in the summer and food becomes plentiful. Males and females mate, and females usually store sperm for fertilization. They can keep it for months!
The snails usually lay eggs on the waterline, where they can stay moist without drowning in water. You can scrape them off, but that won’t do much to stop the population from growing. Females lay clutches every four to seven days.
Apple snail care is a piece of cake, it’s as simple as that. As long as you’re planning on spending the bare minimum amount of time ensuring that these critters are comfortable and have what they need, they should be just fine.
If you have any questions about apple snails that we didn’t address in this care guide, send them our way. We’ll help out as much as we can!