Rabbit Snails are a unique freshwater species that turn a lot of heads. With their long shell and interesting face, these critters will add a different feel to your tank.
They’re also quite easy to care for and will lend a helping hand in cleaning your aquarium!
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about Rabbit Snail care. You’ll learn about their diet, habitat, lifespan, and even the breeding process!
Table of Contents
Rabbit Snails (Tylomelania) are a relatively new freshwater invertebrate to grace the fish-keeping community. They were first introduced to the market around 2007. Thus, they’re still quite rare. However, those that are lucky enough to own them usually have nothing but good things to say.
They’re unique snails with some distinct personalities. Naturally inquisitive, these snails are not shy and can be seen meandering tanks at all hours of the day!
Also known as the Elephant Snail (some even call them the Bunny Snail), these critters originally come from Sulawesi, Indonesia. Technically speaking, the term “Rabbit Snail” refers to a larger genus of freshwater snails. There are several individual species available. Though, most of their care requirements are the same.
Regardless of the type of Rabbit Snail you get, it’s important to provide the best care possible. With good water conditions and a healthy diet, these snails can continue to grow and reach their full potential.
In captivity, the average Rabbit Snail lifespan has been observed to be somewhere between 1 and 3 years.
Like any other creature you put in your tank, the snails’ life expectancy can vary based on their quality of life. Some specimen have even been able to live past 3 years in optimal conditions.
They are particularly sensitive to high ammonia and nitrate levels. A poorly maintained aquarium can cause unnecessary stress that shortens their lifespan significantly, so make sure to stay on top of water conditions!
Author Note: If you do see your snail lying on the bottom of the tank motionless, wait a bit before you get concerned. These snails are known to go through random bouts of rest. During this time, they may retreat into their shell.
As we mentioned earlier, there are several types of Rabbit Snails available. Typically, they’re named after specific coloration of their shells or body. For example, there are Black Rabbit Snails, Red Rabbit Snails, and so on.
Generally, all Rabbit Snails have similar physical characteristics. The primary difference comes down to color.
These snails do have a distinct look compared to other types of freshwater snails. They’re aptly named “Rabbit Snails” because of their rabbit-like facial features. On top of their head, you’ll see two drooping antennae, which give off the appearance of long rabbit ears.
That’s not all, though. Their faces are elongated as well. Their mouths face downward, which helps when they feed on detritus in the substrate.
While many snails have smooth and gelatinous skin, that’s not the case with the Rabbit Snail. Their body and face are quite wrinkled. Pair that will the downturned mouth and it’s no wonder these snails have the Elephant Snail nickname.
The shell of the Rabbit Snail is one of the coolest features. Like their body, it can come in a wide range of colors. You’ll often see dark-colored shells covered in brown or black. Spotted varieties are available as well.
The shape is long, spiraled, and conical. Think of a unicorn horn! The shell is significantly longer than other species, ending at a fine point. The aperture of the shell is oval-shaped.
On top of the snail, you can observe individual grooves spiraling around the entire shell. Though, the groove can become shallower towards the tip as the snail ages. This is often caused by corrosion and physical damage.
On their oval-shaped opening, there’s a small operculum. This is a trap door that the snail uses for defense purposes. Unfortunately, it only covered a portion of the aperture.
The typical size of a Rabbit Snail is 3-5 inches long when fully grown. When you first buy them, they’ll be closer to 2 inches in length.
These creatures have a rather fast growth rate even in captivity. It won’t take long for them to reach their maximum size!
Rabbit Snail Care
Rabbit Snails care shouldn’t pose much of a challenge (even if you’re a beginner). They are easy-going creatures that do just fine in stable environments.
That said, there are some important care guidelines to follow. Snails require some specific water conditions to truly thrive. A lackluster environment could lead to stress, disease, and shell damage.
The recommended minimum tank size for Rabbit Snails is 30 gallons. Tanks of this size will give these snails plenty of room to roam and grow.
This species can get pretty big compared to other popular snail species. Because of this, they won’t do well in a tiny tank. While a decent number of aquarists choose to keep these snails in a 20-gallon tank, we recommend giving them a little extra room.
Author Note: A larger tank will also make it harder for you to accidentally overpopulate your tank! These snails are sensitive to ammonia and nitrate levels, so having a congested tank could do more harm than good.
One of the most important elements of Rabbit Snail care is maintaining the right water parameters. These snails need water that’s more on the alkaline side of the pH spectrum. Otherwise, their shells could experience corrosion or erosion.
This is actually pretty common with Rabbit Snails. It’s most evident on the tips of the conical shell. While it usually doesn’t pose a serious health problem, a damaged shell offers less protection (more on this later).
Generally, Rabbit Snails prefer water temperature that’s on the warmer side as well. They can adapt to cooler environments, but they may not reproduce.
These snails also tend to be less active when the temperature isn’t to their liking. Here are some important parameters to follow that can keep your Rabbit Snails in good shape:
- Water temperature: 68°F to 86°F (around 74 to 76 degrees is ideal)
- pH levels: 7.3 to 8.5
- Water hardness: 2 to 15 dKH
If you’ve recently introduced your snails to a new tank, run some extra water tests to make sure the water is suitable for them. Once things are stable you can reduce the frequency of these tests.
Setting Up The Inside Of Their Tank
Rabbit Snails aren’t particularly picky when it comes to their surroundings. They’re able to stay healthy in all kinds of habitats. However, they do prefer natural environments that closely mimic their habitat in the wild.
The water in Indonesia where these snails can be found are very lush. Thus, the substrate is often littered with rotting vegetation. Having something similar in your tank is always preferred.
Starting at the bottom of the tank, utilize fine sand substrate. These snails do like to burrow. They’ll often bury their entire bodies and leave nothing but their heads popping out!
Sand will make burrowing much easier. It’s safer for the snails compared to something like gravel.
Throughout your tank, we recommend planting a wide variety of plants. You can use any plant you want (even some floating ones). The snails will feed on any leaves that fall off. Typically, you don’t have to worry about snails chowing down on living plants.
However, you’ll want to avoid using Java Fern.
Rabbit Snails have been known to eat Java Fern plants. However, this usually only occurs if the snail isn’t well-fed. If they’re getting enough nutrients elsewhere, they won’t pay any attention to your plants.
Moving onto equipment, it’s important to invest in a durable lid and a good filtration system. Rabbit Snails can easily climb up the side of the tank walls and make their way out. So, having a secure lid for your tank is a must.
As for filtration, you need to invest in a system that can efficiently cycle the water to remove ammonia and nitrates. Another important thing to consider is the inlet tube. Rabbit Snails have been known to get stuck on powerful tubes.
Luckily, this is a pretty easy fix. You can prevent injury by simply covering the tube with a sponge prefilter. It reduces suction power without affecting the performance of the filter.
Common Possible Diseases
Rabbit Snails can’t get common fish diseases, which is a good thing. While they can carry the diseases, they aren’t going to get sick with them directly.
However, that doesn’t mean that these creatures are immune to illness.
One of the most common health conditions you need to be wary of is leeches. Leeches can invade the shell and feed on the snail’s body. If you’re not careful, leeches can infiltrate the tank, breed, and spread to other creatures!
This issue is most common with imported snails that are captured in the wild. You can do your part to prevent leech infestations by placing the snail in some salty water for about 15 minutes. If there are still leeches attached, you can kill them off by touching them with an alcohol-soaked cotton pad.
Author Note: It’s very important to be wary of fish medications. Most of these contain copper, which is extremely toxic to Rabbit Snails. If you need to treat your fish, make sure to quarantine your them or remove your snails beforehand.
Food & Diet
Rabbit Snails will spend their day looking for food throughout the tank. They can eat algae off the glass, chow down on any aquarium algae growing on decorations, and even eat detritus in the substrate.
In fact, they made our list of the best aquarium algae eaters.
However, you should not rely on algae and plant matter to keep your snail healthy. They like snacks like algae wafers and sinking pellets designed for bottom feeders. You can also provide blanched vegetables like spinach or broccoli.
When you’re searching for foods, look for options that are rich in calcium. This will strengthen the shell and help keep your snails in good shape.
Behavior & Temperament
These snails are calm and get along with any peaceful fish or invertebrate. They tend to stick to themselves and pay no attention to other creatures in the tank.
With that being said, we wouldn’t consider them shy. The opposite in fact!
While other snails species are known to stay hidden most of the time, Rabbit Snails are quite active. They love to explore the tank and won’t hesitate to roam in open areas.
You won’t have any problems pairing Rabbit Snails with other fish or invertebrates. As long as the tank mates are peaceful and non-aggressive, you shouldn’t encounter any problems.
Avoid any species that are capable of hurting or killing these snails. This includes most Cichlids and crayfish especially. Even many types of Goldfish can do harm to Rabbit Snails, so it’s best to stay away from them as well.
The best tank mates for Rabbit Snails will be other snails and gentle shrimp. Here are some good species to consider:
- Various Tetras (try the Congo or Rummy Nose)
- Honey Gourami
- Ghost Shrimp
- Pearl Gourami
- Celestial Pearl Danio
- Sparkling Gourami
- Ramshorn Snail
- Dwarf Gourami
- Amano Shrimp
There are plenty of other species that are compatible with the Elephant Snail. As long as they’re reasonably small, not aggressive, and don’t see snails as a source of food you should be alright!
Rabbit Snail Breeding
Snails are notorious for quickly overpopulating tanks, but Rabbit Snail breeding tends to be a bit different. They tend to spawn slowly.
In most cases, they will only have a couple of babies at once! This makes it a lot easier to manage the population compared to snails that lay a ton of eggs.
Rabbit Snails are more likely to breed when the waters are warm. The male will typically provide a ball of sperm to the female. She may then hold onto it until she’s ready to have her babies.
When that time comes, it’s truly an interesting thing to witness. The snail will lay a gelatinous egg that looks like a small pearl. Shortly after that pearl-like egg is laid, a baby snail will emerge. Most often, only a single snail will come out.
The baby will look like a miniature version of the adults. It has a small fully formed shell and is already ready for food after birth. The baby will start scavenging for food almost immediately.
Now You’re Ready
Since you’re familiar with all the aspects of Rabbit Snail care, it’s time for you to get some!
These are some of the most interesting and unique freshwater snails you can find. Over the years we’ve heard from countless owners who absolutely love their Elephant Snails, and plan on keeping some for quite a while.
If you have any neat photos or tips you’d like us to consider, drop us a line via our contact page (or on social media). We’re always on the lookout for ways to make our care guides better!