provided some basic needs are met.
All freshwater snails’ shells are produced by calcium carbonate, and
quite a bit of it. In soft water, not only will these snails be unable
to grow, but they’ll slowly dissolve. They need hard water, with the
addition of calcium carbonate as needed. For most of us, this simply
means regular water changes. Additionally, they like to eat, and they
need a constant supply of quality vegetable foods, including spirulina
tablets and fresh vegetables. Think of them as plecos with shells.
Mystery snails are remarkably easy to breed. They are not
hermaphrodites, so you’ll need both a male and a female. Since
they’re not easy to sex, simply start with a bunch of them, and
you’ll probably have males and females in the mix. Interestingly,
they lay their eggs above the water line in a brightly colored,
Mystery snails are also known as South American apple snails.
Unfortunately, they are often placed in ponds, where they quickly
reproduce and then wander out, making them incredibly invasive in
a number of regions, and controlled in several municipalities as well.
The various nerite snails, particularly the olive nerite (Neritina
reclivata and other related species), have made a huge impact on
the aquarium hobby. These are, honestly, fairly ugly snails. They’re
pebble-shaped and plain brown, perhaps with some striping, and
reach about 1½ inches ( 4 cm) in length. They’re found in marine
and brackish waters along the Gulf Coast of the United States, where
they’re often abundant. Despite being marine snails, they will enter
freshwater and thrive there. The only thing they won’t do is breed.
They require estuary conditions to successfully breed. While they’ll
lay eggs constantly in a freshwater tank, they simply do not hatch
(although there are some reports of them hatching in very hard
water). Meanwhile, the snails will constantly roam the aquarium,
grazing algae from every available surface. They eat an incredibly
wide range of algae and mostly leave plants alone, making them a
great addition to a planted tank.
In addition to the olive nerite, dozens of other species of nerite
have been introduced. The tiger nerite (N. natalensis) is one of my
personal favorites. About the same size as the olive nerite, these snails
are bright yellow with black stripes. This pattern may be spotted, and
the stripes may even make a Morse-code pattern.
Also frequently encountered is the much smaller horned nerite
(Clithon corona), sometimes called the corona snail, particularly
when the horns have broken off. This snail is bright yellow with some
black striping. Projecting from the black stripes are several horns,
which can be almost as long as the entire length of the snail, about
¾ inches ( 2 cm). The horns are fragile, and care should be taken to
avoid breaking them, as they don’t grow back.
One of my favorite nerites is the Batman nerite (Neripteron
tahitensis). These are very differently shaped snails in that they’re
quite flat and roughly oval, with two lobes at the head. When one
crawls along the glass, it makes a little silhouette that looks kind of
like a Batman symbol. You have to squint and use your imagination,
Golden mystery snail (Pomacea bridgesii ).
Mystery snails lay their eggs in a pink-colored mass above the
Tiger nerite snail (Neritina natalensis ).