Common Name: Apple Snail
Scientific Name: Ampullariidae family, including the genera Asolene, Felipponea, Marisa, Pomacea, Afropomus, Lanistes, Saulea, and Pila. For the sake of ease, this care sheet focuses on Pomacea bridgesii, the most common species of Apple Snail found in pet stores.
Also Known As: Mystery Snail, Inca Snail, often preceded by a color morph name.
Often Confused With: Pomacea bridgesii is sometimes confused with other species of apple snail, however the color of the eggs and shape of the shell are highly distinctive.
Description: Apple snails are among the largest aquatic snail species available in the pet trade, sometimes reaching a size similar to that of a golf ball with proper care. Most available in pet stores are under 1” in diameter. The shell is globeose as opposed to cone-like. Pomacea bridgesii will have flat shoulders and 90 degree sutures, with a slightly less pointed spine than some of the other species. The angle of the sutures decreases with the whorls closest to the peak of the shell. Coloration is highly variable, ranging from leucistic varieties such as the ivory and golden variations, to darker color morphs such as blue. The traditional, natural shell color is brown with banding.
Maximum Adult Size: Varies with species; most will only grow to 2-3” in diameter. One variety, Pomacea maculata, may reach 6” in diameter.
Area of Origin: Pomacea genus snails yield from South, Central, and southern North America. Other species come from areas such as Asia and Africa. They are found in freshwater only, typically in tropical or sub-tropical climates.
Lifespan: Lifespan is dependant on temperature; lower temps can yield lifespans in the area of 2+ years old; high tropical temperatures may result in lifespans of as little as one six months. Roughly one year is common.
Suggested Care Level: Easy, providing water conditions are suitable for the species.
Min/Max Tank Size: Use the inch per gallon rule based on the individual species, but be warned that these are high-waste species so under stocking may be best. P. bridgesii are good candidates for smaller community tanks, and a single specimen would likely survive in a well filtered 2.5g aquarium.
Temperature: Tropical and sub-tropical temperatures are best; 65-75 degrees is the ideal range, though survival is possible in temps of up to 85 degrees. Be forewarned that warmer temperatures will shorten lifespan.
pH: pH should be neutral to slightly base; acid corrodes the shell.
Hardness: Harder water is needed for these species; if there is insufficient calcium in the water, calcium must be supplemented via a powder or a cuttlebone/oyster shell. Water with a high copper content is deadly to snails, so if you are known to have water with a great deal of metals, use a water conditioner that will detoxify these compounds.
Salinity: Salinity should be kept to a bare minimum and only very slowly added in low concentrations in an already dissolved form. If you need to salt to treat a disease in the tank, snails should be removed first.
Current: Although apple snails can survive in stagnant, low-oxygen water, streaming, well-oxygenated water is preferable. In poorly filtered tank, they will likely degrade water quality rapidly due to waste output.
Diet: Though primarily herbivorous, apple snails are active scavengers. Their diet should thus consist primarily of vegetation, but may also include higher protein foods such as blood worms. A sinking herbivore or omnivore pellet may be used as the staple, and boiled leafy green vegetables are a great source of calcium. Cucumbers make a suitable treat. It is important to not to force the snails to rely on algae as a primary food source; most are actually poor algae consumers and will starve or eat aquarium plants with insufficient food sources. A flat surface or gravel-lacking area should be provided for feeding as food that sinks between the gravel cracks may be inaccessible to snails.
Temperament: Community. Apple Snails are peaceful and non-threatening. They may scavenge sick and dying fish, however, so keep out of hospital tanks.
Suggested tank mates: Apple snails are compatible with most aquarium species that share their temperature, hardness, and pH needs. However, many scavenging loach species are known to eat apple snails out of their shells. Common goldfish also have a propensity for consuming this species, so use caution when housing with larger fish. Watch for nipping; the antennae are attractive to many carnivorous species. Cichlids and apple snails do not mix; cichlids can crack and destroy the shell with ease.
The best way to sex an apple snail is to roll the snail onto its back out of water. It will eventually emerge from its shell, at which point the male should have a visible penile sheath near the upper right portion of mantle cavity. The male should also have a more rounded shell aperture, but unless you have several snails for comparison, this is a poor method.
Apple snails produce sexually and are oviparous. If you have both genders residing in your tank, breeding is inevitable, as apple snails are prolific breeders. Thankfully, the eggs are very visible and easy to recognize, and are laid above the water level, which makes removal simple. However, if you wish to breed, you should leave at least two-six inches of space between the water line and the lid. A humid environment should be maintained above water through a glass lid. Breeding is encouraged by higher temperatures and plenty of quality foods, so an abundance of pellet and fresh foods should be offered to a breeding colony.
Eggs are laid in clutches that range in color from a very pale pink or green to a deep raspberry hue. P. bridgesii lays pale pink eggs, another easy way of identifying the species of your snail. Most are pale and gelatinous upon laying, then harden and develop color. Individual eggs are tiny (only a couple of mm in diameter), but the length of the egg case may be several inches long. Unless optimal humidity is maintained, only the eggs in the core are likely to hatch.
Hatching should occur in 2-4 weeks, influenced heavily by temperature. If humidity is insufficient, assistance in hatching may be required. If no hatching occurs after four weeks, the eggs are likely infertile (females will lay eggs regardless of if they have been fertilized). It is normal to see a high death rate in the first few weeks; feed the same diet as you would adults and consider confinement in an algae-rich container as small snails have trouble breaching differences between feeding sites. If you do move the snails to a separate container, however, be sure to use at least 1/3 water from the original tank, and allow the water to age for a minimum of 2 weeks.