The mystery snail is the most popular of aquarium snails. They are common to the pet trade being the aquatic snail of choice for most freshwater fish tanks.
The original browncolour form is also known as the apple snail. It has been selectively bred into a golden variety that is usually more common.
A mature mystery snails can be the size of a golf ball. They have a life expectancy of about two years so it is best to purchase smaller snails and let them grow.
When the golden mystery snail form is interbred with the original brown snails the resulting colour is often called tortoise shell. Black variants can also be purchased. In Australia these are the available colours but overseas further mutations have been developed. These ivory, blue, green and white mystery snails are not available because of the customs difficulties associated with importing snails into Australia.
Mystery snails are of tropical origin which should be taken into account if you keep them outdoors in a pond. They require the PH to stay above 7 for healthy shells.
In a perfect world these aquarium snails would exclusively prefer to eat excess fish food rather than aquatic plants. Unfortunately the mystery snail may devour aquatic plants as part of their diet also. Regular feeding can discourage these plant eating behaviours. Provide both spirulina pelletsand protein fish food for a balanced diet.
A mystery snail can also be useful for controlling algae. If there is no fish food available the snails will graze on algae film. Mystery snails have a rasping mouth that can clean hard surfaces; however they may not be of any use for eating hair algae.
This family of snails is different from other aquatic snails in its breeding habits. They are not hermaphrodites; they show both male and female individuals within the species. Males can be identified by looking for a penile sheath inside the shell. This houses the male reproductive organ. It can be harder to distinguish in smaller snails. If you hope to breed your mystery snails choose at least 6 individuals and the odds of buying both sexes will be favourable.
A well fed mystery snail will produce eggs regularly in temperatures over 28°C. Although a truly aquatic animal,mystery snails will leave the water to lay eggs. After climbing up the side of the tank or a bog plant, a mass of over 100 eggs is deposited. The cluster will be pink in colour resembling a wad of chewing gum.
Hatching occurs in two to three weeks. During the egg maturation time some outer eggs may perish if they dry out. If this happens patches of the cluster will look white and flaky. Humid conditions are favoured but if any condensation forms on the snail eggs the humidity is too high. In an aquarium a good balance can be achieved by using a lid and adjusting the air gap.
These mystery snails are being used in a fry tank to clean up excess food. Although they may eat fish eggs they will not try to attack the juvenile fish.
Family - Ampullariidae Size -Up to golf ball size Fish Origin - South America
Water - PH below 7 will etch and decay snail's shell Temperature - 16-30°C (Best at high 20's) Feeding - Algae pellets and some protein Sexing - Male mystery snail exhibit a penile sheath Breeding - Lays eggs above the water