Do Aquarium Snails Sleep? (How Long + Sleeping Vs Dead Snail)

Image of a sleeping snail

Snails are intelligent, sneaky, and fascinating creatures. There are many exciting things about snails that surprises all of us. One of them is their complex and unique sleep pattern. So, do aquarium snails sleep?

Yes, aquarium snails do sleep. They sleep on and off for 2 to 3 days and for about 13 hours or more at a time. Once the snails are awake, they remain active for the next 30 hours until they need to repeat the sleep process. Disruption of sleep has no significant impact on their health.

The unique sleeping pattern of snails distinguishes them from other animals. So, if you have a snail filled aquarium, it is important to understand their sleep pattern. Let’s dive deeper into what makes a snail’s sleeping pattern different from other animals.

The Uniques Sleeping Pattern Of Snails – How Long Do Aquarium Snails Sleep?

A snail’s sleep differs from other inhabitants of the water. Most fish and animals are diurnal, meaning they sleep during the night and are awake once the sun rises. However, snails are an exception.

Snails do not follow a daily sleep schedule. Instead, their sleep cycle lasts for 2-3 days. Research has shown that snails sleep for over 13 hours in small bouts. After this duration, snails remain awake and active for the next 30 hours. After 30 hours, they again feel the need to sleep.

However, if snails lose their sleep for some reason, they remain active and carry on their daily activities until the next set of sleep bouts. The best thing is that sleep deprivation has zero or minimal effect on the aquarium snails’ health.

Also, aquarium snails sleep anywhere in the tank. Once they are accustomed to their aquarium surroundings, snails sleep on the plants, tank decorations, aquarium glass, or in the substrate.

Snails are comfortable climbing up the tank. So, you may even find your aquarium snails asleep on the walls of the tank. They secrete a sticky mucus that helps them to climb the tank surfaces. The mucus also helps the snails to hold the place firmly on which they sleep.

Besides, the sticky mucus plays a vital role in allowing the snails to sleep in awkward positions for many hours.

The sleeping pattern of snails is unique. However, you will be more surprised to know that snails can actually sleep for three years. So, let’s understand when do snails prefer to sleep that long.

Recommended Further Reading:

Can Snails Sleep For Three Years?

As you just saw, snails follow a different sleeping pattern compared to other animals. However, snails can sleep for a very long time when they hibernate. During hibernation, snails can sleep for as long as three years.

Hibernation is very common in animals. It mainly takes place during winter when the climate is freezing. Snails hibernate in the harsh winter weather to protect themselves from freezing temperatures and because food becomes scarce.

Snails usually do not have to find a suitable place for hibernation. Their shell itself is a safe place. Snails hibernate inside their shells and cover themselves with a thick layer of mucus. This dormancy phase protects the snails from the turmoil they face in the chilly winter.

This sleep phase can last for as long as three years, and ends only when the environment is safe and the conditions become suitable for them to thrive. Snails then come out of their hibernation to embrace the environment once again.

Winter alone does not pose a threat to snails’ existence. They are also vulnerable to hot conditions.

During arid conditions in summer, snails coil inside their shells as the temperature soars. They then produce a thick layer of mucous that protects them from extreme hot conditions. This process is called Estivation.

Estivation is equally essential for snails to thrive as they need moisture to survive. Without moisture, snails start perishing in the unbearable high temperatures.

Snails don’t always sleep for three years in their mucus. When the climate becomes favorable, snails come out of hibernation and start following their routine sleeping schedule.

Hibernation and Estivation only happen in wild snails when the climate is not favorable. In a home aquarium where the habitat is safe and favorable, aquarium snails do not go into hibernation. They follow their regular sleep routine.

How To Tell If A Snail Is Asleep?

Since snails are nocturnal, they are usually active during the night. Also, since snails are slow-moving creatures, you may find it difficult to notice their movement in the tank.

Unlike humans, snails do not have eyelids to close while they are sleeping. So, it becomes all the more challenging to determine whether the aquarium snails are sleeping or not.

Given below are some simple ways to know if snails are sleeping:

  • Once asleep, aquarium snails will relax their feet.
  • They will withdraw their tentacles while sleeping.
  • Their shells will hang away from their body slightly.
  • Aquarium snails will remain still and not show any movement for many hours at a time.

Related Further Reading:

How To Tell If A Snail Is Sleeping Or Dead?

Snails sleep for long hours in the same position. There is no movement at all when they are sleeping. So, sometimes it becomes difficult to determine whether your aquarium snails are sleeping or dead.

Moreover, to make things complicated, you may often find your snails floating at the top of the tank. Floating is often considered an indicator that a creature is dead. However, in the case of snails, floating may sometimes be purposeful or due to some reason.

Given below are various ways to determine if a snail is dead:

  • If the shell is empty and there is no snail inside it, the aquarium snail is dead.
  • If the snail does not show any movement or reflexes after removing it from the tank water, it is probably dead.
  • You can also check the trap door of the snail’s shell. If the door is shut, it is probably alive. However, if it is open, then the snail is dead.
  • A dead snail will have a foul smell coming out from its shell.

If you find your aquarium snail dead, you need to remove it from the aquarium immediately. Leaving a dead snail in the aquarium may lead to the spread of diseases.

Okay! So far, we have been saying that a snail’s sleep differs from other animals. Let’s now see how it differs.

How Does A Snail’s Sleep Pattern Differs From Other Animals?

Humans and most of the other animals have sleep patterns resembling the pattern of the sun. The day and night cycle significantly impacts biological functions such as sleep and appetite in most animals.

However, snails are an exception to this. The sleeping pattern of snails is very different from that of other animals. Snails sleep on and off for 2 to 3 days in bouts of 13 hours or more at a time. Once snails are awake from their slumber, they remain active for the next 30 hours and then sleep again for the next 13 to 15 hours.

This means that unlike humans and most animals, the snails’ sleep cycle extends beyond the sun’s 24-hour cycle. Besides, even if you disturb a snail in its sleep, it will have little or no impact on its health or energy levels.

Interesting Further Reading:

Related Questions

Do snails sleep upside down? Snails do not need a specific place to rest. They can sleep anywhere. In a home aquarium, you may find snails sleeping sideways, upside down on a wall, or on any surface they feel comfortable. Snails rest on surfaces for long periods with a firm grip by secreting sticky mucous. In the wild, snails usually sleep upside down when the ground conditions are not suitable. It may be due to extreme hot or cold weather or when there is a life threat. In such conditions, you may find snails sleeping upside down by clinging onto the leaf of a tree. Sleeping upside down does not mean that the snails will be upside down on their shell with the body exposed. It means that they climb on a leaf and hang upside down to be comfortable and safe.

Do mystery snails sleep? Mystery snails can sleep anywhere in the tank. They do not have a specific place or time to sleep. Just like other snails, mystery snails also sleep for around 13 hours in several small bouts. After this, these snails are active for the next 30 hours. Even if their sleep is disrupted, it hardly makes any difference. Mystery snails carry on their activities as usual until their next set of sleep bouts.

Do nerite snails sleep? Just like other snail species, nerite snails also sleep. Nerite snails’ sleep lasts for 2 to 3 days. They usually have bursts of sleep over a 13-14 hour sleep window. Following the sleep period, nerite snails become active for about 30 hours. Nerite snails squeeze into their shells while resting or sleeping without exposing their eyes and antenna, and without closing the operculum. While sleeping, they stay still on the aquarium glass or the substrate.