Most aquarium owners hesitate to keep snails in their tanks because these animals tend to breed profusely. However, mystery snails are different. They do not usually overrun a tank. Now, you may wonder why mystery snails do not end up being pests, like other snails. For this, you should gain a better understanding of their breeding process. So, how do mystery snails mate?
Since mystery snails are not hermaphrodites, they can breed only when a male and female snail mate. During mating, the male firmly attaches itself to the female and fertilizes her. The female then lays viable eggs above the waterline after a few days. The eggs then hatch in two to four weeks.
Let’s talk about this in detail now.
How Are Mystery Snails Different From Most Aquarium Snails?
Mystery snails (Pomacea bridgesii) are peaceful herbivorous invertebrates. They look beautiful with long tentacles, attractive markings on the shell, and lovely colors.
Mystery snails have both gills and lungs to breathe. These animals use sensory tentacles to find their way around. In the wild, these animals feed on dead and decaying algae and plant matter.
Another important feature is the presence of the operculum. It is a protective flap on the shell that acts as a door. In the presence of danger, mystery snails retreat into their shells and shut their operculum. It seals the animal away from danger.
Now, if we look at their behavioral traits, mystery snails are peaceful creatures. They get along with other tank inmates. Mystery snails do not attack fish. They are in fact vulnerable to attacks by large fish like goldfish.
How Big Do Mystery Snails Get?
Baby mystery snails are just 2.4 mm long at birth. They look just like miniature versions of the adults at birth. They achieve their final size based on the quality of food and water parameters of their surroundings.
You can keep your mystery snail fat and happy by feeding it algae and healthy green vegetables twice or thrice a week. They will not grow well if they are not properly fed. Mystery snails can become very big when fed well and may end up becoming 1.5 to 2 inches long.
Overfeeding will encourage mystery snails to breed more frequently. The clutches will also contain more eggs. This may improve your chances of having baby snails if you are keen on breeding them.
However, overfeeding will also cause the snails to eliminate more waste into the tank water. It can affect the overall water quality adversely. So, you will need stronger and more frequent cleaning mechanisms in place to maintain the tank hygiene and water quality.
Recommended Further Reading:
- What Do Aquarium Snails Eat? (The Complete Guide)
- Do Aquarium Snails Escape? (Why And How To Stop Them)
- Here’s Why Aquarium Snails Float + How To Stop Their Floating
Important Facts About Mystery Snail Breeding
Most pest snails are hermaphrodites. It means that these animals will have both male and female reproductive organs. So, they have a higher chance of breeding.
When such snails mate, both the mating animals become fertilized and lay viable eggs. It explains why snail populations quickly get out of control.
However, mystery snails are not hermaphrodites. A mystery snail will have only male or female reproductive organs, not both. So, if you are looking to breed mystery snails, you should have one of each.
Mystery snails must mate to produce offspring. During the mating process, the male will climb onto the female. After establishing contact, he inserts a reproductive sheath into the shell of the female. The snails remain like this for several hours, during which they are firmly attached together. Copulation takes place, and the male mystery snail fertilizes the female snail. After the mating process, the female is ready to lay eggs.
Interestingly, mystery snails will only lay eggs above the waterline. When the female is ready to lay eggs, she climbs to the water surface and lays a clutch of eggs in a cocoon. The eggs are very fragile and easily crushed. They will hatch into baby snails after two to four weeks.
Now, if you are not keen on breeding mystery snails, simply raise the water level to just below the lid of the tank. Since the female does not have access to a dry area above the waterline, she will refrain from laying eggs.
However, if she can find a space unaffected by water, she will lay the eggs. It could be under the hood or on the filter. So, you should still be alert to find an egg clutch before it hatches. Since the eggs take a good two to four weeks to hatch, you will have plenty of time to spot and remove them.
How Old Do Mystery Snails Have To Be To Mate?
Mystery snails usually live for a year. It is not possible to exactly specify when these animals become sexually mature. However, most mystery snails can reproduce by the time they reach a quarter of their final size.
You can encourage breeding by slightly raising the temperature of the tank and offering food that is rich in calcium and protein. The better the food, the more eggs the snails are likely to lay.
Related Further Reading:
- Do Aquarium Snails Eat Plants? (Which Snails Don’t Eat Plants?)
- Do Aquarium Snails Sleep? (How Long + Sleeping Vs Dead Snail)
- Are Aquarium Snails Dangerous To Humans, Plants, Fish, Etc.?
How Often Do Mystery Snails Mate?
Mystery snails tend to mate very often. Adult snails are very fond of mating, which explains why males will even attempt to mount other males. Additionally, a single mating session will leave the female snail enough sperm to fertilize multiple batches of eggs.
During mating, the male will crawl along the female’s shell till it is over the right shoulder. It will then proceed with inserting its sheath into the female reproductive tract.
If your mystery snails seem to be mating too frequently, you may want to separate them. The females can get hurt by over mating.
How Long Do Mystery Snails Mate?
A single mating session of mystery snails can last anywhere between one hour to six hours. The pair will be firmly attached during this time, and copulation will take place.
Interestingly, the female mystery snail will usually continue with her activities even while mating is in progress. She will continue to feed and move around during this time. You can even lift the pair out of the water during copulation, and they will be unaffected.
How Long After Mating Do Mystery Snails Lay Eggs?
Mystery snails can take several hours to complete mating. Once the eggs are fertilized, the female is ready to lay them in a day or two.
She lays a clutch of eggs within a cocoon above the waterline or on a dry surface. The eggs look like gelatinous blobs. As the baby snails develop within the eggs, they turn white. A black discoloration within the eggs indicates the presence of viable baby snails.
After two to four weeks, the eggs hatch into baby snails that look like miniature versions of their parents.
Related Further Reading:
- How Do Aquarium Snails Reproduce? (Sexually Or Asexually)
- Can Aquarium Snails Live In A Pond? (Snails Safe To Keep In Ponds)
- Why Do Aquarium Snails Die? (11 Main Reasons)
How Often Do Mystery Snails Lay Eggs?
The frequency with which mystery snails lay eggs depends on various factors. Snails tend to breed faster when they are well-fed. Mystery snails will also breed faster at higher water temperatures.
When the conditions are ideal, mystery snails lay eggs at least three to four times a year. A single mating session will provide enough sperm for the female to lay several clutches of fertile eggs.
How Many Eggs Do Mystery Snails Lay?
Mystery snails lay large clutches of fifty to two hundred eggs. Since too much moisture will cause the eggs to rot, the mother snail finds a dry location to lay them.
When the conditions are right, most of the eggs hatch into baby snails. So, you can end up with more snails than you can manage.
Do Mystery Snails Lay Unfertilized Eggs?
Not all clutches of eggs laid by mystery snails are fertile. Females will lay unfertilized eggs when they haven’t mated. However, these eggs will not hatch.
An infertile clutch of eggs will usually have small, poorly formed eggs. It will smell odd. If there are no dark spots in the eggs after three to four weeks, it usually indicates that the eggs are not fertile. You can get rid of this clutch at this stage.
Interesting Further Reading:
- Should Aquarium Water Be Hard Or Soft? (Alter Water Hardness)
- Why Do Aquarium Plants Melt? (5 Ways To Avoid Plant Melt)
- Can Aquarium Snails Kill Fish? (Freshwater, Mystery, Assassin Snails)
- Can Aquarium Snails See? (How + What Affects Their Vision?)
How Do Golden Mystery Snails Mate?
Golden mystery snails are characterized by their cheery golden color and shiny white bodies.
Once golden mystery snails reach sexual maturity, they do not need any external triggers to mate. They will start looking for partners of the opposite sex.
The male golden mystery snail is usually smaller than the female. During mating, it will climb over the female’s shell and hold it with his foot. Once the male is in the right position, it will find the female aperture and insert his sheath into it. The mating process can last for several hours, during which the female snail will move around as usual. However, both the animals will be attached for the entire duration.
After mating, the animals naturally separate. The eggs develop within the fertilized female, and she will be ready to lay them in a few days. Once the eggs properly develop within the female, she will climb above the water line and lay the eggs in a dry spot.