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Mystery snails are popular for their stunning colors and algae control in fish aquariums. If you are planning to bring home these low-maintenance pets, the first thing you should know about is their diet. What do mystery snails eat, and how to feed them?
Mystery snails should be fed blanched, calcium-rich vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, cucumbers, zucchini, peas, etc. Weekly, you can treat them with copper-free algae wafers, fish pellets, or flakes. Dry fish food and blanched veggies are the chief components of the mystery snails diet.
Below we have shared recipes for making calcium-rich snello mix, a homemade snail food that makes up for a complete, healthy diet. Everything you want to know about feeding mystery snails, such as their nutritional requirement, how much to feed, or how often, is covered in this article.
Best Mystery Snails Diet
Mystery snails, like most freshwater snails, are omnivores. They aren’t picky eaters and will munch on almost anything – algae, biofilm, decaying plant matter, and leftover food. As opportunistic scavengers, mystery snails can also eat dead fish, shrimp, or shellfish, especially when they are in need of protein.
Leftovers found at the bottom of the tank may not necessarily make up for the food and nutrients snails require. Therefore, they need to be fed.
Mystery snails enjoy feasting on lightly blanched vegetables. You can feed them collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower leaves, peeled zucchini, cucumber, green beans, carrots, kale, romaine, celery, or other high-calcium vegetables.
Preferably, mystery snails should be given a varied diet of algae or veggie wafers, fish pellets or flakes, and freshly blanched vegetables.
NOTE: When feeding any dry food (flakes, pellets, wafers, or sticks) to your snails, make sure to check the ingredients. Many budget brands contain copper sulfate, which is harmful to snails and should be avoided.
Nutritional Requirements for Mystery Snails
For many hobbyists, knowing which food to feed is not enough. They want to know about the nutritional requirements to understand why certain foods are recommended and what purpose they fulfill in the diet.
It allows hobbyists to optimize their snail’s diet as required. This is always a better approach than blindly following a diet of certain food items suggested on the internet.
Calcium for Healthy Shells
Do you know that 99% of a snail’s shell is made of calcium carbonate?
A steady supply of calcium is not only crucial for shell development but also helps regulate the snail’s internal pH. This is why a calcium-rich diet is a must for snails.
Protein for Egg Production
Even if you are new to snail keeping, you are probably already aware of the importance of calcium in snail food. However, the protein requirement for snails is often overlooked and less talked about.
Snails need protein for optimal growth rate and egg production in adults. Occasionally feeding fish flakes or other dry foods should fulfill the required protein in your mystery snails diet.
How To Make Homemade Mystery Snail Food: DIY Snello
Snello, in simple terms, is snail jello, a healthy and nutritious snack for aquatic snails. Due to the added calcium and higher quality ingredients, many snail breeders prefer homemade snello mix over store-bought food.
Below we have shared a basic snello recipe for mystery snails that don’t require many ingredients and is easy to make.
Calcium-rich Snello Mix
This recipe will use a combination of veggies, fruits, a protein source, and calcium supplements.
- For fruits, take one slice of pear, one slice of apple, half a banana, and one frozen strawberry.
- For veggies, take 3-4 green beans, half a carrot, a one-inch slice of zucchini, a small amount of broccoli, and a half-inch slice of sweet potato.
- For protein, add frozen bloodworms. Preferably, use the Hikari brand.
- And for supplements, we will add calcium carbonate powder and organic spirulina powder.
NOTE: Any vegetables or fruits that are suitable for mystery snails to eat can be included in a snello mix.
Once you are ready, the first step is to blanch the vegetables. The best way is to stream the veggies as it helps preserve healthy nutrients, whereas boiling can deplete nutrients.
It will hardly take 8-10 minutes for the veggies to soften. After that, drain the water and put vegetables in the ice-cold water.
Next, toss the veggies and fruits into a blender with 4-5 cubes of defrosted bloodworms. Add one tablespoon each of calcium carbonate and spirulina powder and blend it well. Pour the paste into a pot and add one packet of gelatine powder.
Transfer the pot to a stove on medium heat and stir until the jello is completely dissolved. After you have obtained the required consistency, take a baking tray covered with plastic food wrap, and pour the smoothie over it.
Spread it evenly over the surface and tap the tray several times to release air bubbles. Wait for the jello to cool down, then place it in a fridge for a couple of hours.
Once the jello is set, cut it into small cubical shapes and put them into a container. To prevent the jello from clumping together, you can use wax paper to separate each layer.
And that is it! Store the snello in a freezer to use for months to feed your mystery snails.
How Much and How Often to Feed Mystery Snails?
There are no hard-and-fast rules for how often you should feed your snails. Some hobbyists prefer to feed everybody, while others do it 3-4x a week.
As long as you have a set routine, any feeding frequency/method is acceptable.
In no time, your snails will become accustomed to your feeding routine.
Mystery snails are not fussy about what they eat and will nibble on almost anything they may come across in the aquarium. It could be unwanted debris, algae, biofilm, dead vegetation, or leftover fish food.
When you have these secondary food sources available in your tank, it is not necessary to feed your snails every day. You can choose to feed them on alternate days, and they would be fine.
To determine the right amount of food you should give your mystery snails, you must go through a trial and error process.
For instance, if it’s your first-day feeding mystery snails, drop one algae wafer in front of the aquarium or more veggies than you think is adequate. Snails can feed from minutes to hours, so come up the next day and see how much they have consumed overnight.
If you find leftovers, try giving them a little less next time. If it’s all eaten, add a little more food. Repeat the process, and eventually, you will figure out the appetite of your mystery snails.
NOTE: Do not leave any uneaten food in the tank for more than 24 hours. Otherwise, it will ruin the water quality as it rots over time.
How To Feed Your Mystery Snails?
Snails have an acute sense of smell. As soon as you drop food in the tank, you will find them rushing towards it.
Vegetables you give to snails should be blanched. Blanching involves boiling veggies for 2-3 minutes and then dipping them into iced water to stop cooking, thus preserving the nutrients.
Blanched vegetables sink quickly, reaching the bottom of the tank, and are easy for our little shelled friends to eat.
Wafers should be fed in smaller pieces. If you put a large chunk into a tank, there is a chance that it may dissolve in the water and creates a ‘wafer-mush’ before our tiny pets can eat it.
Supplement Feeding Calcium
Snails are dependent on food and water hardness to fulfill their calcium requirement.
Instead of entirely relying on blanched veggies, many professional snail breeders prefer to add a calcium supplement to their tanks.
As it helps maintain a steady supply of calcium, you can rest assured that your mystery snails aren’t lacking the essential nutrient they need for optimal shell growth.
Calcium can be provided in various forms, including:
- Aquarium-grade cuttlebones (recommended)
- Turtle-shaped calcium blocks
- Oyster grit
- Ground coral
- Liquid additives
- Crushed eggshells (least advised)
You can find these calcium supplements readily available in most pet stores.
The recommended amount of calcium for freshwater snails is 70-90 mg per liter of water.
NOTE: Excessive amounts of calcium in the aquarium water can do more harm than good. It will give rise to scaling, thus increasing the frequency at which filters are cleaned. One must be thoughtful when adding calcium supplements to their tanks.
Why Are Mystery Snails Eating Live Plants?
Mystery snails prefer chowing down on decaying plants because dead plant tissue is softer and easier to eat.
They do not commonly bother themselves with live plants; however, if they are doing so, there can be many possibilities for that behavior.
- If your mystery snails are starving to death, as a last resort, they will choose to eat live plants for their survival.
- Mystery snails may sometimes nibble on plants that are exceptionally tender, such as soft floaters like Salvinia minima.
- The live plant you think is eaten by mystery snails could be dying or melting leaves. You should thank them for saving you from the hassle of trimming dead vegetation.
- You mistakenly brought home apple snails instead of mystery snails.
There is no need to worry unless your mystery snails are on a steady diet of live plants. All you have to do is make sure they are well fed.
What Not To Feed Mystery Snails
For snail keepers, having a firm understanding of the type of food to avoid is as important as knowing what to feed.
Following is a list of items that are considered toxic, not for only mystery snails but all types of snails.
- Dairy products
- Foods that contain sugar or salt
- Anything in the onion and garlic family
- Processed starch such as wheat, rice, pasta, bread, etc
- High-acidity or citrus fruits such as pineapple, orange, or lemon
- Vegetables that are high in oxalates such as Parsley, Spinach, Rhubarb, etc
- Fish food containing copper sulfate in the ingredients
Why Is Mystery Snail Not Eating
If your snail isn’t touching food and it seems like it’s on a hunger strike, there can be various reasons behind that.
Snails may not eat for a few days during a growth spurt, after a big protein meal, or when they are stressed due to changes in surroundings and need some time to settle.
There is also a chance that your mystery snail has newly discovered some alternate food source in the bottom of the tank which you aren’t aware of yet.
What you can do is, try varieties in the food you feed to your snail. If the problem persists, it can be a sign of bad health, requiring you to consult a vet or professional mystery snails breeder for possible diagnosis.
What is the lifespan of mystery snails?
In captivity, an average lifespan of a mystery snail is 1-2 years. How long a snail may live depends on its diet and water quality.
How long can mystery snails go without food?
Mystery snails can go eight days or more without eating. If your aquarium has fish and plants, snails can sustain them on vegetation and waste for 2-4 weeks.
Can you overfeed mystery snails?
Most snails will stop eating when they are full and come back later. However, mystery snails tend to devour almost anything (of course, eatable) they find in the aquarium for much of their waking hours.
There is not much you can control besides putting the right amount of food in your tank and removing the uneaten parts after every meal.
What to do when your fish aren’t leaving anything for the snails to eat?
- Most freshwater fish aren’t plant-eaters; they won’t touch the blanched greens.
- Mystery snails are nocturnal creatures. You should try feeding them at night because that’s when they are active and move around in search of food. Don’t worry about your fish, they will be sleeping when the lights are off.
What to feed mystery snail babies?
Mystery snail babies will eat the same food as adults. They, too, need a calcium-rich diet.
What does a lack of calcium in snails looks like?
Calcium deficiency in snails can lead to deformed shells, thin shells, or stunt growth.
How to make mystery snails shell grow faster?
For the optimal growth of your mystery snails, provide them with:
- A balanced diet with a steady supply of calcium and occasional protein
- Maintain good water quality by keeping the tank less-crowded, using effective filtration, and carrying out 25% water changes every two weeks.
- Maintain a constant water temperature between 75-86°F
Mystery snails aren’t fussy eaters, which makes these tiny shelled creatures easy-to-feed pets.
A simple diet of high-calcium blanched veggies supported by a weekly treat of algae wafers, flakes, or other dry foods (for protein) is all you need to raise mystery snails.