I think I’m in love. I’ve found my new favorite aquarium pet, and I just can’t take my eyes off of them. My goldfish are even getting jealous!
What am I talking about? Mystery snails. Yep, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Don’t keep algae-eating plecos with your goldfish (here’s why)!
But good news: That doesn’t include invertebrates. Like you, I was concerned about their compatibility.
“Won’t my goldies EAT a snail faster than you can say ‘escargot?'” Not to mention, my goldfish are huge. We’re talking 8″ + huge Orandas.
Everyone agreed, no way a snail would last more than a couple of days in there. It would be an expensive goldfish meal. Because the shipping cost was more than the actual snails.
Well, I took the plunge, and months later – they’re all doing great.
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Just What is a Mystery Snail?
Also known as apple snails, mystery snails are a larger variety of aquarium snails you can keep with goldfish that grow to be about the size of a golf ball.
What makes them really unique from many other snails is their colors.
Unlike some snails, they aren’t asexual. You need a male and a female to breed them.
When it comes time for them to reproduce, they lay their egg sacks (called clutches) above the waterline.
If you want to hatch them, be sure to relocate the sack so your goldies won’t devour the tiny babies!
So, what makes these little guys so awesome?
1. Mystery Snails are Absolutely, Positively Adorable!
Just look at that face.
How can you resist that?
And that beautiful shell… exquisite.
It’s amazing that they actually do have personalities all their own!
Related Post: Ramshorn Snail Guide
2. They are Peaceful and Can be Kept with Goldfish
I’ve watched my goldfish interact with my snails (all about a dime to nickle size) now for a long time, and am happy to say they get along great.
Initially a goldfish will probably mistake them for a chunk of gel food and give them some firm nibbles, but the snail tucks back in the shell and the goldfish, realizing this hard object isn’t edible, moves on in search for grub.
Snail reemerges after a bit.
It takes a bit of time for a goldfish to learn that they can’t eat a snail, but they do seem to come to a point where they ignore them.
Now, my snails only tuck in their shells when my clumsy water puppies blow by them during their feeding frenzy, sometimes knocking them off of whatever they were stuck to.
I find snails really add so much interest and biodiversity to any aquarium.
Plus, they play an important role in the tank’s ecosystem…
3. They Eat That Pesky Algae on Glass and Plants
This is one of the main reasons I got snails.
Something had to be done about that unsightly brown algae mixed with green spots of algae all over the floor and walls of the tank.
But algae eating suckerfish are out of the question.
They can do so much damage to goldfish… plus they get to be way bigger than most people realize.
When a snail eats, it might seem like nothing is happening.
You see their mouth open and close on the glass, but they are so slow that it’s hard to tell that they are really doing anything.
After a bit, you will start to see “snail tracks” in the algae.
I will add this disclosure, that my algae problem isn’t 100% gone. But it is definitely much better after introducing snails.
In my case, one wasn’t enough – I needed a crew of snails to get to work on my big tank!
Here’s what you need to know if you want to add mystery snails to your aquarium:
Taking Care of a Mystery Snail
One thing that’s really important to know is that mystery snails are highly sensitive to levels of copper in aquarium water. That’s why they use copper in medications designed to kill off pest snails.
If you have had your water tested for copper and nothing has turned up, you should be good.
But if you have traceable levels of copper (or if you aren’t sure), you’ll want to make sure you get something to take that out.
I’ve since switched to using this water conditioner that removes copper.
This keeps snails and fish protected and gives me priceless peace of mind.
Calcium is very important to shell health. Without it, the shell can start flaking or deteriorating.
I actually bought a cuttlebone calcium tablet to put in the water.
For some reason, my snails won’t touch it!
They have to eat the calcium for it to help, so it is recommended to mix powdered calcium carbonate into their food (6000 mg per cup) or feed a calcium-rich food for invertebrates (this one is my favorite).
I also make sure to provide lots of spinach (which my goldfish also love) for them to eat, which is high in calcium.
What do you feed your mystery snail?
They eat algae, as well as uneaten food and waste at the bottom of the tank.
For the algae-infested tank, this may be enough. In my case, my snails are growing like crazy and I only make efforts to feed my goldfish.
If your tank doesn’t have much algae or uneaten food, you will definitely want to make sure you give them access to veggies like spinach and zucchini (there’s many more).
They also need a staple to consume their calcium with.
With lots of food and good water conditions, you will probably see lots of new shell growth as your snail gets bigger!
Interestingly enough, these snails do great living in the same temperatures as goldfish.
They can be more sensitive to sudden changes in temperature, so be sure not to shock them when doing water changes or moving them around.
Read This Before Getting Your Snail
Even though you can find mystery snails pretty inexpensively at chain pet stores, I made sure not to get mine there.
There is too much chance of infecting your goldfish with disease (all too prevalent in those places). Instead, I purchased them online from a reputable company and had them shipped to my door. Plus, it is easier to find the more exotic color varieties.
This seller is professional and sometimes throws in an extra snail.
Now It’s Your Turn
Have you ever tried keeping goldfish with snails?
I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.