If you’ve ever observed Spike-topped Apple Snails in a tank, you’d know why many refer to them as Mystery Snails. They are intriguing and unpredictable.
Today’s article will take the mystery out of caring for these gastropods because this guide will provide you with all the information you need to maintain Pomacea bridgesii.
Learn all about their physical characteristics, natural habitats, diet, and tank setup. As well as common health issues, and some fun facts about this unique species.
|Common Name||Mystery Snail, Spike-topped Apple Snail|
|Scientific Name||Pomacea bridgesii|
|Use||Cleaning, Aerating Soil, Pets|
|Adult Size||up tp 3 in|
|Breeding Type||Egg Layer|
|Minimum Tank Size||5 Gallons|
What Are Mystery Snails?
Pomacea bridgesii is a member of the Ampullariidae family and is commonly referred to as Mystery Snails and Spike-topped Apple Snails.
Spike-topped apple snails are endemic to tropical and subtropical South America and get their common name from the spiky protuberances on their shell.
Their other common name “Mystery Snail” comes from the fact that they are known to disappear and reappear in different parts of an aquarium.
What Do Mystery Snails Look Like?
Pomacea bridgesii is an oval-shaped mollusk with a pointed top and a flat bottom.
They have a range of colors, from yellow, green, brown, or red. They can get quite large, some growing up to 3” in size.
They have two pairs of antennae, one of which is longer and used to help them navigate their habitat.
It also has several tentacles around its mouth which it uses to search for food.
The Spike-topped Apple Snail has a thick and hard shell, providing it with protection from predators.
The shell also allows it to float on the water’s surface, which can come in handy when they are looking for food.
They also have a pair of well-developed eyes that are useful for distinguishing different threats in their environment.
Benefits Of Using Mystery Snails
Using Mystery Snails in your vivarium can bring a host of benefits.
They are a great source of natural biological filtration, as they consume both algae and decaying matter.
They also play a key role in the balance of the aquarium’s ecosystem, as they help to keep the water quality healthy and stable.
As they are relatively peaceful in nature, Pomacea bridgesii can make an ideal companion for any fish or reptile that you have in your enclosure.
Mystery Snail Facts
The Spike-topped Apple Snail is a freshwater species native to Central and South America.
They are typically bright orange and/or yellow in color and can grow several inches in length.
They are omnivores and feed on algae, detritus, and aquatic plants. They do best in warm waters and are relatively peaceful.
Breeding in captivity is possible but requires specific water conditions. If those conditions are consistently ideal, the female snail can lay several clutches of eggs per year.
Mystery Snails are native to the Amazonian River system that runs throughout South America.
They are typically found in slow-moving, shallow freshwater lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands.
These snails have a large range that stretches from Argentina to Uruguay, Paraguay, south and central parts of Brazil, as well as parts of Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Jamaica.
In the wild, Spike-topped Apple Snails prefer a tropical climate and temperatures of between 75 to 86°F.
They thrive in thickly vegetative areas with lots of plant life and long roots that they can use to feed and climb on.
They can also survive in low-oxygen environments that are commonly found at the bottom of deep waters.
They like the warm, slow-flowing temperatures of their natural habitats, which explains why they make great aquarium pets.
In their natural habitat, Mystery Snails are scavengers, consuming a variety of aquatic plants and vegetation, including algae, and dead or decaying matter.
They are also known to consume tiny invertebrates and occasionally small fish.
When it comes to their protein intake, in their natural habitat they mostly consume decomposed animal matter, decomposing plants, microorganisms, and brine shrimp.
Another interesting feeding habit of the Mystery Snail is that they sometimes eat their own shells and will chew on the outer layer to obtain the minerals from their shell.
Spike-topped Apple Snails are known for being quite docile with humans and other animals.
They’re generally not aggressive, and won’t bite unless they feel threatened.
Pomacea bridgesii tend to shy away from bright lights and quick movements, and will quickly retreat back into their shells if scared.
The spikes on the shell can be sharp and can injure the handler if not handled with care.
The snails usually do not mind having their shells touched or handled, but be careful not to cause them any distress or injury.
Due to their docile nature, Mystery Snails are usually quite happy to cohabitate with other fish and snails.
However, if they feel overly crowded they may become territorial and attack their tank mates.
Therefore, it’s important to provide plenty of hiding spaces in the aquarium to ensure everyone feels safe and secure.
The lifespan of Mystery Snails can vary between 1 and 2 years. Generally, larger aquatic snails tend to live longer.
The life cycle of a Spike-topped Apple Snail consists of four distinct phases: egg, juvenile, and adult.
Before they reach the reproductive phase they must first grow in size and produce a hard shell.
Once they reach the reproductive phase, female Apple Snails lay dozens of yellow eggs above the water line.
The eggs will hatch within 2 weeks and the juvenile snails will drop into the water.
After a few months, they start to produce a hard shell and will become sexually mature and reach the adult stage after about a year.
At this time the breeding cycle can start all over again.
Pomacea bridgesii typically reproduce in the spring and summer months when the water is warmer.
In order for mating to occur, males need to unsuccessfully attempt to fertilize multiple females before successfully fertilizing one.
During the courtship process, males will wave their eyestalks around the female and make a series of clicks with their siphons.
Fertilization then occurs when the female releases her eggs and the male releases sperm.
Eggs are typically laid on rocks, wood, or plants in large clumps that contain up to 150 eggs.
Each egg is around a few millimeters in size and starts out white before turning an amber color when they get close to hatching.
Within 1-2 weeks, the eggs will hatch and the baby snails will emerge.
The young snails will reach full size within 6 months and are capable of reproduction after one full year.
Where To Find Mystery Snails
Finding Spike-topped Apple Snails can be tricky as they are not widely available.
However, they are commonly found in South America, so if you are able to travel, you may be able to find a few in their natural habitat.
These snails thrive in slow-moving streams or in swamps, so you will need to keep your eyes peeled.
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of traveling and hunting, you can easily purchase them from a breeder or from an online pet store.
Before buying, make sure to do your research into the breeder or store to ensure that the snails are of good quality.
Before you decide to purchase your Mystery Snail, consider how big of a tank and equipment you need, and if you are able to provide adequate care for the snail.
Mystery Snail Care
Pomacea bridgesii requires a specific aquarium environment and specialized care.
The tank should be set up to replicate the snail’s natural habitat, with companionships with compatible species, a varied diet, and the necessary equipment and water quality checks.
Regularly monitor for common health issues like shell and slime layer problems, and parasites.
With the right care and maintenance, your Spike-topped Apple Snail can live happily and healthily for many years.
Mystery Snails require an adequate amount of space and comfortable water conditions in order to thrive in an aquarium.
The ideal tank for this snail is a tropical fish tank of no less than 5 gallons with soft, slightly acidic to neutral pH (6.5 to 8.5) and hardness levels between 8 and 12 dGH.
The temperature of the tank should be kept between 75 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
Additionally, the water should be changed regularly and any unintentional changes in the pH or temperature should be monitored and corrected as needed.
What Do Mystery Snails Eat?
Feeding your Mystery Snail is an important part of keeping them healthy.
In the wild, these snails feed on a variety of plants and materials, such as dead plants and small insects.
In captivity, they can eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and commercially-prepared pellets. Here are some ideas of things you can feed them:
Fruits & Vegetables:
- Green Beans
Commercially Prepared Pellets:
- Aquatic Snail Pellets
- Crustacean Pellets
- Algae Pellets
- Shrimp Pellets
To feed your Spike-topped Apple Snail, simply drop 2-3 pellets into the tank or lay a slice of soft fruit like banana onto the tank’s bottom.
You should feed your snail once a day, making sure to remove any uneaten food after one hour.
This will ensure the water quality of your tank is not affected by rotting food.
If you’re more of an avid hobbyist like myself, be sure to check out my ultimate DIY aquatic snail food guide. I give a more in-depth explanation of the best foods and my favorite recipe.
Best Tankmates For Mystery Snails
When setting up your tank to accommodate a Pomacea bridgesii, it’s essential to carefully consider the types of tankmates you decide to keep.
The great news is, this species is considered to be a very peaceful snail and they are nonaggressive towards other creatures.
When selecting a tankmate for your Spike-topped Apple Snail, it’s important to keep in mind any potential aggression that may come from the other aquatic animals.
Some good compatible tankmates for the Mystery Snail include other peaceful snails such as Nerite, Rabbit, and Trumpet Snails. Cory Catfish make great tankmates, and small shrimp-like Amano and Red Cherry are suitable as well.
It’s important to note that while some small peaceful fish such as neon or cardinal tetra, rasbora hets, or zebra danios may be potential companions, they should still be approached with caution, as some of these popular fish have been known to be nippy or aggressive towards snails.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about caring for Pomacea bridgesii the Mystery Snail.
With the right tank set-up, diet, and companionships, you’ll have your pet snail happy and doing disappearing acts in no time.
Don’t forget to research the common health issues, and keep a watchful eye on their water quality.
Thanks for reading, and happy aquascaping!
Frequently Asked Questions
Mystery snails are generally easy to keep alive with proper care and maintenance.
They require suitable water conditions, adequate food, and a clean tank to thrive.
Spike topped apple snails can grow to be up to 5 inches in diameter, though they typically grow to be a bit smaller than this.
Yes, mystery snails are excellent tank cleaners, as they can help eat algae, and they enjoy picking through the substrate in search of food.
Yes, the Pomacea Bridgesii species can be an invasive species that can have a detrimental effect on its environment. Therefore, it is important to be mindful when introducing them into any natural body of water.
To prevent apple snails from spreading, do not release them into the wild, keep them in a secure tank, do not flush them down the toilet, be aware of the laws and regulations in your area, and report sightings to local wildlife or environmental agencies.
Yes, mystery snails can be a great addition to your tank as they are great scavengers and algae eaters, and require minimal maintenance.
They are also peaceful and easy to care for, making them ideal for any beginner hobbyist.
The average lifespan of a mystery snail is around 1–3 years.
The main disadvantage of apple snails is that they can become invasive and rapidly reproduce in their environment. Additionally, they have voracious appetites and can quickly overrun a tank in the absence of proper care.