Are Aquarium Snails Nocturnal? (Mystery, Nerite, Pond Snails, Etc.)

Image of a sleeping snail

Have you ever wondered why the snails in your aquarium always seem to be inactive and sluggish? Well, you will be surprised if you check on them at night. Most aquarium snails are slow and go through long hours of inactivity. They stay still through the day, mostly because much of their sleep takes place during this time. So, are aquarium snails nocturnal?

Yes, freshwater and saltwater snails are nocturnal creatures. Although snails do not have a typical 24-hour sleep cycle like humans and other animals, they tend to minimize their daytime activity as much as possible. They will instead come out at night to do the tasks that others do during the day.

The sleeping habits of snails are unusual and interesting. These tiny creatures can sleep anywhere and in any position. Additionally, their sleep cycle lasts for 2 to 3 days. Read on to learn more about the sleeping habits of these fascinating creatures.

How Do Snails Sleep?

The behavior patterns of aquarium snails vary from species to species. Some snails are active and socialize. Others are quiet and mind their own business.

However, when it comes to their sleeping habits, almost all snails are nocturnal creatures. It means that they are more active at night than during the day.

Now, here’s something interesting! Did you know that there are aquarium snails that mysteriously appear out of nowhere only at night?

These snails bury themselves in the aquarium substrate during the day. Hence, they are not visible. However, once the lights are off, they climb out of their hiding place and get busy.

Snails have a sleeping cycle that lasts for 2-3 days. Interestingly, they do not sleep for half of the cycle and stay awake as we do. Instead, they sleep in small bouts for the first 12 to 13 hours. They are then active for the remaining 30 hours.

Snails are not affected much if their sleep cycle is occasionally disrupted. They are naturally designed to hold up and stay active until their next sleeping bout.

How Does A Sleeping Snail Look?

When snails sleep, they usually relax their feet and tentacles. This causes the shell to hang loosely.

Snails also use a sticky mucus layer to hold the surface on which they sleep. They do not bother with keeping their shells upright while they sleep.

So, don’t be worried if you see them lying still with their shells sideways or upside down. They are most likely sleeping and not dead.

Recommended Further Reading:

Do Freshwater Snails Sleep?

Most of the snails in home aquariums are freshwater snails. Their sleeping habits are similar to how the same species would behave in the wild.

Freshwater snails sleep for a long time and then become active for an even longer duration. These animals typically sleep for twelve hours at a time. Most of this sleep happens during the day. Once they get their required sleep, they can go without sleep for almost thirty continuous hours.

While sleeping, snails either cling to a surface of the tank, bury into the substrate, or float in the water. A floating snail may look like it is dead. To confirm that it is still alive, you can take it out of the water and inspect it. If the shell is empty or there is a foul smell, the snail is most likely dead. However, if it is heavy and the opening is shut, the snail is alive and probably sleeping.

In the wild, freshwater snails hibernate when the weather becomes cold, and it is difficult to find food. Hibernation means that they have a long period of inactivity that extends for several months. This long sleep allows them to conserve their fat reserves and stay alive until the weather becomes favorable, and they can find food again.

In an indoor setting, freshwater snails do not have to hibernate. Since the temperature is regulated and they have access to food, they can be active throughout the year.

Are Mystery Snails Nocturnal?

Mystery snails are very popular in aquariums. These beautiful creatures do a great job of cleaning up the tank and adding vibrant colors to the setting.

Many fish tank owners like to keep mystery snails in their aquariums because they control the growth of algae. In planted tanks, they eat dried and decaying leaves and improve the water quality.

Like most snails, mystery snails are nocturnal. They move around the tank at night to find food. Unfortunately, these creatures are vulnerable to attacks from other tank inhabitants as they are slow and defenseless. Hence, do not keep them with fish that are active at night.

If the fish bully the snail, it can end up being stressed or hurt.

Related Further Reading:

Are Nerite Snails Nocturnal?

Nerite snails come from brackish environments. They can live in both freshwater and marine water settings.

Similar to other snails, Nerite snails are also nocturnal. They have a long sleep/wake cycle of nearly 45 hours. They need almost 15 hours of sleep at a time, after which they stay awake.

Although nerite snails prefer to hang around the bottom of the tank, they may come to the top of the tank during their sleep/wake cycles.

Are Pond Snails Nocturnal?

Pond snails are larger than most freshwater snails that are seen in home aquariums. They have a distinct brown color and peppered shell. These snails may be kept in large community tanks.

When they are kept in small numbers, pond snails help to keep the aquarium clean by eating algae and other dead plant matter. However, they tend to overpopulate and turn into a menace. So, it is important to keep their population under check, or they can destroy the balance of the aquatic ecosystem.

Pond snails are nocturnal and rest for several hours at a stretch, and have a long sleep-wake cycle. During the rest period, they are slow and lethargic. They take longer to respond even when their appetites are stimulated during their rest period.

While sleeping, pond snails partially extend their tentacles and relax their foot. Their shells will hang away from their bodies and look like they are empty.

Interesting Further Reading:

Do Trumpet Snails Sleep?

Trumpet snails are notorious for how quickly they proliferate in aquatic ecosystems. Many owners hardly realize the presence of trumpet snails in their aquarium because of how well they hide.

Trumpet snails sleep by burrowing into the substrate and concealing themselves during the day. So, if you observe your aquarium during the day, you may fail to see them. However, once the lights are out, these snails crawl out of their hiding places. They roam around the tank looking for food during the night.

So, if you switch on your night light, you may be taken aback by the many tiny trumpet snails that occupy your tank. These nocturnal creatures will be all over the walls and return below the ground to rest when the sun rises.

Having trumpet snails can be a good thing for clearing up algae and other waste plant matter in a tank. Their burrowing action creates air pockets that are beneficial for rooted plants. However, these creatures can quickly overpopulate and overwhelm a tank.

Their tendency to proliferate is higher when food is abundant. You may also have to resort to strict population control measures if their population keeps on increasing. One option that works is to bring in an assassin snail.