This small, beautiful apple snail from South America is extremely easy to care for making it a great choice for many aquarists. It’s also part of a small handful of aquarium species that will happily munch on hydra.
How warm do they like it?
They’ll be most comfortable in water between 25-29C. The snails can survive cold temperatures for a short period of time by retracting into their shells completely and remaining inactive.
How do I keep their shells healthy?
As with all snails, they prefer harder water which helps their shells grow well and to prevent shell erosion. They will do well in tanks with pH of at least 7. If your water isn’t that hard or you have lots of animals with calcium requirements, you can add crushed coral or cuttlefish bone as a supplement.
How many of them can I have?
These snails typically only grow to about 3cm. Although small, they have a large appetite and can produce a lot of waste so 1 snail per 10-15 litres is ideal. They aren’t particularly social - they’ll happily live alone or in large colonies.
What substrate do they like best?
Spixi snails like to dig and hide in the substrate occasionally. They typically do this when resting for a longer period or when stressed. Sand, soil or fine gravel substrates are the best choices for them to dig into.
A snail digging in to the substrate. These snails don't dig very deep, just far enough to cover the opening of their shell.
Who do they get along with?
These snails are very peaceful and won’t bother other tankmates, even those smaller than itself, provided they are well fed. They are great in snail/shrimp only tanks and peaceful community fish tanks.
And who should I avoid housing them with?
Housing them with more aggressive fish species like bettas or cichlids should be done with caution. Even if they can’t kill the snails, they often bully and bite off the snails antennae, leading to excessive stress. Bullied snails will hide away all day and only come out at night. Snail-eating species like puffers, loaches and crayfish should also be avoided.
And what about plants? I heard they eat them.
Spixis do like to eat soft plants like many floating plants, mosses or small carpeting plants. Even well fed snails will nibble on soft plants. They are unable to eat harder leaved plants though so plants like java fern or anubias will be left alone.
What do they eat then?
Almost anything! Feeding spixi snails is always fun as they eat anything that’s soft enough for them to cut through. This makes them a great clean-up crew for uneaten fish food that sinks to the bottom. They will happily gobble up flakes, pellets, algae tabs and frozen worms.
They have a relatively large appetite and really appreciate being fed a variety of blanched vegetables. Anything with high protein and calcium content is particularly good. Some of the best and easiest foods to feed include:
Peas and corn (fresh or frozen)
A snail feeding on a piece of broccoli.
Anything else in my fridge they would enjoy?
Yes, they also enjoy fruit. You can occasionally treat them to any you might have in your fridge. Just remember bacteria love feeding on the sugars in fruit so only give very little at a time. Some good and and readily available options are:
I remember something about munching on hydra. Is this true?
Absolutely, it’s definitely not their favourite food in the world but they do actively eat hydra they come across. Very well fed snails may ignore hydra as they have much better food to feast on. You can try reducing their food for a bit and see if they munch on the hydra. It’s not unusual to eradicate an entire tank of hydra after adding a few spixi snails.
Ok so they’re warm and well fed. Will they make babies?
Quite possible, they’re not terribly demanding when it comes to breeding. Temperatures need to be on the warmer side, at least 27C and the snails need to be very well fed. Spixi snails have distinct males and females and require a pair of both sexes to reproduce.
A new clutch of eggs several hours old. You can see the embryo as a white dot.
A 7 day old clutch of eggs. You can see the baby snails inside the eggs by now.
How do I tell if I have males and females?
It’s pretty hard. Females tend to be a little bigger but there’s no easy way to distinguish between sexes. Typically you’ll need a few of these together and hope you have both sexes present.
Where will they lay their eggs?
Females will find a flat surface underwater to lay eggs on - usually on the sides of the aquarium, on the underside of larger leaved plants or on rocks. A clutch typically has between 15-25 eggs and starts off an opaque white, resembling little pearls. As the snail develops, it begins to eat the contents of the egg and it will become increasingly transparent. You can typically see the baby snails after a week and they will begin to hatch in 2-3 weeks.
The babies are tiny! How do I raise them?
Baby snails start off life very small so they’re quite vulnerable early on. To improve survival rate, if you have a reasonably well planted tank, having the clutch hatch amongst the plants helps a lot. It will give them cover and protects them from getting damaged. Alternatively you can use a breeder box to contain them but you’ll need to ensure water quality stays good in there. They will be able to eat anything an adult snail eats, just in tiny amounts. Softer, more powdery foods like peas are particularly good for them.
I’m sold, where can I get one?
Sadly they may be hard to source. In the US, apple snails are banned from crossing interstate borders so you’ll need to find a local seller. They are not part of the apple snail ban in the EU but most stores don’t understand this and instead blanket ban selling apple snails. Germany remains a stronghold in Europe for invertebrates if you can find a store that will ship to you.
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