How Do Aquarium Snails Reproduce? (Sexually Or Asexually)

Image of an aquarium snail ready to reproduce

Aquarium snails are fascinating creatures that liven up an aquarium with their lovely colors. These interesting animals also do a good job of keeping the tank clean. However, some aquarium snails tend to overpopulate and overwhelm a tank. Fortunately, a general understanding of how these creatures reproduce and precautions to control their population will help to prevent snail infestations. So, how do aquarium snails reproduce?

Depending on the snail species, aquarium snails reproduce either asexually or sexually. Aquarium snails may either lay eggs that hatch into baby snails or give birth to a live offspring. Many aquarium snail species can reproduce on their own as they have male as well as female reproductive organs.

Let’s talk about this in greater detail now.

Different Ways In Which Snails Reproduce

Let us take a closer look at how egg-laying snails and livebearers reproduce.

Egg-Laying Snails

Most aquarium snails reproduce by laying eggs. As soon as these snails achieve sexual maturity, they begin mating. Once the snail finds a suitable partner, it will establish contact by using a structure called love darts. This is followed by copulation and fertilized eggs inside the female body.

When it is time to lay the eggs, the female snail finds a suitable place. It can be above the waterline, on the underside of leaves, or other surfaces of the tank. Snail eggs resemble sticky jelly clusters.

After two to four weeks, the eggs hatch into baby snails. Baby snails are born with soft shells and look like miniature versions of adult snails.

Livebearer Snails

Some snails, like the Malaysian burrowing snail, give birth to their offspring. However, their mating process is just like that of egg-laying snails.

The only difference is that the eggs do not hatch outside the body of the snail. Instead, the animal gives birth to live offspring at the end of the incubation period.

The baby snails are born with soft shells and resemble adult snails.

Recommended Further Reading:

Can Aquarium Snails Reproduce Asexually?

Many aquarium snail varieties are hermaphrodites. It means they possess both male and female reproductive organs. These creatures can produce offspring through asexual and sexual modes.

Some hermaphrodite snails must mate to produce young ones. Others, like the Malaysian trumpet snail, reproduce asexually. In asexual reproduction, the snails can fertilize themselves and produce viable eggs. Some hermaphrodite snails, like the bladder snail, reproduce both asexually and sexually.

During the mating process of hermaphrodite snails, gamete transfer occurs in both directions. So, both snails are fertilized and produce viable eggs. A single mating session will thus result in two broods of eggs.

Such snails will usually mate and lay eggs multiple times a year. It is why snail populations often get out of control in aquariums.

Can A Single Snail Reproduce?

Hermaphrodite snails, like the bladder snails, can reproduce by themselves. So, in the absence of a suitable mate, these creatures will fertilize themselves.

Meanwhile, some aquarium snails like the apple snail are not hermaphrodites. So, there should be both a male and a female for fertilization. Surprisingly, a female may lay fertile eggs even when there are no males around. However, it is because these animals can store sperm for a long time. So, just one mating session will provide enough sperm for several batches of viable eggs.

How Quickly Do Aquarium Snails Reproduce?

Snails are fast-breeding animals. They also produce offspring in large numbers, and most baby snails are viable.

Snails that give birth to live babies usually reproduce less frequently than those that lay eggs. Livebearers also have fewer babies than those that lay eggs.

When the tank conditions are favorable, both livebearers and egg-laying snails bloom or reproduce in large numbers. The presence of excess food can trigger such population explosion of snails.

How Often Do Aquarium Snails Lay Eggs?

Once aquarium snails reach sexual maturity, they mate with alarming frequency. So, aquarium snails tend to lay eggs multiple times a year. When the environmental conditions are optimal, they will lay more eggs. The mating process can last for 2 to 12 hours, depending on the species.

In the case of hermaphrodites, the transfer of sperm is reciprocal. So, both the animals produce eggs. Meanwhile, in the case of snails that need both males and females for fertilization, there is a unilateral transfer of sperm during copulation.

Related Further Reading:

How Many Eggs Do Freshwater Snails Lay?

The number of eggs in each batch will depend on the species and the environmental conditions. A cluster of eggs can have anywhere between 5 and 600 eggs.

When the snails are overfed, they will reproduce even faster. Most of the eggs will be viable and hatch into live young ones.

How Long Do Snail Eggs Take To Hatch?

The gestation period will vary from one species to another. The environmental conditions also affect what happens to the larvae within the shell.

Snail eggs typically hatch within two to four weeks. Some eggs will hatch as quickly as within a day. Others can take up to four weeks to hatch.

How Long Are Snails Pregnant For?

You can find out whether a snail is pregnant by observing her genital tube. It will be full of eggs if the snail is pregnant. The eggs will look like sticky transparent balls attached to the tube.

Some live-bearing snails will bury themselves in the substrate when they are pregnant. The eggs will hatch within the mother’s body and develop inside till they are ready to emerge.

What Do Baby Aquarium Snails Look Like?

Aquarium snails look like miniature versions of their parents. Baby snails appear with shells, irrespective of whether they hatch from an egg or their mothers give birth to them.

Baby snail shells are not hard and rigid. It is instead formed of soft tissue. The shell begins to harden as the snails grow and feed on calcium-rich food.

Related Further Reading:

Which Aquarium Snails Don’t Reproduce?

Nerite snails are one of the most popular aquarium snails. They are largely sought after because these snails do an excellent job of cleaning up a tank. Additionally, they do not overrun freshwater tanks.

Nerite snail larvae can only survive in brackish water. In freshwater tanks, female Nerite snails will lay eggs. However, the larvae will not develop as the salinity level of the water in a freshwater aquarium is not suitable for their survival. If you wish to breed Nerite snails, transfer the eggs into a brackish water setup.

Can Nerite Snails Reproduce Asexually?

Most snails can reproduce asexually. However, Nerite snails are an exception. These snails are distinct when it comes to their breeding methods.

Nerite snails cannot produce viable offspring unless they exist in pairs.

Interestingly, the breeding of Nerite snails is like that of fish. The female produces eggs for the male to fertilize. A single Nerite snail will be unable to perform both tasks. However, female Nerite snails will still lay unfertilized eggs if there are no males around to fertilize them.

These eggs will be unable to develop in freshwater. You should transfer them into brackish water if you wish to breed these animals.

How Do Pond Snails Reproduce?

Pond snails are hermaphrodites. They can reproduce asexually and sexually. Adult pond snails perform the functions of both males and females. They can donate and receive sperm from other pond snails.

Additionally, pond snails can store sperm for a long time and use it to produce young ones in the absence of a suitable mate. Pond snails are egg-laying animals. They lay their fertilized eggs below the waterline.

Pond snails are prolific breeders. They produce large masses of eggs each time. The eggs look like jelly masses, which later develop into baby snails with soft shells.

Pond snail eggs will hatch within two weeks of being laid. Since most of the eggs develop into viable babies, pond snails can quickly overwhelm your tank.

Interesting Further Reading:

How To Control Aquarium Snail Infestations?

One snail in a tank can give rise to tens and hundreds of baby snails. So, within no time, your aquarium can end up being infested with snails. If you let these animals breed continuously, they will destroy the ecological balance of the tank and burden the resources.

To control snail infestations in your tank, use the following methods:

  • Chemical Solutions: Different chemical solutions are available to kill snails. However, they can adversely affect the delicate balance of the aquarium. These chemicals can also kill other invertebrates and poison the water. They will destroy the nitrifying bacteria in the tank. Hence, it is not recommended.
  • Use Snail-Eating Fish: Pufferfish and yo-yo loaches will feed on snails and keep their population under control.
  • The Lettuce Method: This is a manual way of getting rid of snails where you place a decaying piece of lettuce in the tank. The snails will be drawn to the plant matter. You can simply pick it out and discard it with the snails in the morning.
  • Prevention: Prevent snails from making their way into the tank by soaking live plants in saltwater before adding to the tank. You can also quarantine them in a separate tank for a week to eliminate any hitchhiker snails or eggs.
  • Assassin Snails: Assassin snails will eat other snails and help to control their population from growing too quickly.