How Do Mystery Snails Mate?

Mystery snails lack hermaphrodite characteristics. Thus, they only reproduce by mating with another snail of the opposite sex.  The male will cling to the female and fertilize her while they mate. 

After a few days, the female lays eggs that will develop into adults. The eggs should hatch in the next two to five weeks. 

Mystery Snails v/s Aquarium Snails

Mystery snails, also known as Pomacea bridgesii, are placid herbivorous invertebrates. Their lengthy tentacles, colorful patterns, and intricate shell designs make them a sight to behold.

Mystery snails can breathe using either gills or lungs. These creatures are able to navigate using sensory tentacles. The snails get their nutrition from decomposing algae and plants in the outdoors.

Furthermore, mystery snails have an operculum, which is another notable distinction. It is a sturdy cover that swings open and shuts like a door on the outer casing. When threatened, mystery snails hide inside their shells and close their operculum. This serves as protection against external dangers. 

As mentioned, mystery snails are fairly peaceful, and get along nicely with their tank mates. Not only do they not attack fish, but they are often targeted by goldfish and other large fish species.  

How to Determine if a Mystery Snail is a Male or a Female?

Some theories have been put forth about the differences between the male and female shell shapes. The penial complex may cause the male shell to have a more pronounced lip. However, this is still unproven.

One major distinction, though, is visible in the mantle cavity beneath the exterior. A male mystery snail can be identified by the presence of a penial complex. If the penial complex is not present, the mystery snail is a female. 

To determine this, take a snail that has been kept outside of the water and flip it over. If you were to blow a bit of air on the snail, it would try to stretch out and turn around. Once it stretches, you will be able to see the penis sheath within the cavity. 

How Often Do Mystery Snails Mate?

If given the chance, mystery snails generally mate multiple times. Male mystery snails can be so eager to mate that they will sometimes climb up on other male snails to do so. Another interesting fact is that after just one mating session, the female snails can be left with enough sperm to fertilize a very large number of eggs.

If you detect the females and males mating too frequently, it is recommended that you separate them. This is because repeated attempts at copulation can cause harm to the females.

How Long Do Mystery Snails Mate?

A single mating session can last as long as six hours. During this time, the male and the female are firmly attached to one another. While this is happening, you can move them to a new location without interrupting the copulation.

In fact, during this phase, the female snail is still able to feed and go about its normal activities. If you own golden mystery snails, you should know that mating can begin at any time without any outside triggers. When they reach adulthood, they start actively seeking mates.

At What Age Can Mystery Snails Start Breeding?

The average lifespan of a mystery snail is one year. The time at which these animals reach sexual maturity cannot be told with precision. However, in general, a mystery snail will attain reproductive ability by the time it reaches around 25% of its full size. 

You can get your mystery snails to start reproducing by giving them a little extra heat. Other than that, you should feed them a diet high in protein and calcium. If the snails are well-fed, they are likely to lay more eggs. 

What is the Ratio of Male to Female Mystery Snails?

There are roughly as many male mystery snails as female, or a sex ratio of 0.5. This is often genetically defined, and some egg masses may only produce one kind. 

One egg mass may generate exclusively male mystery snails, while another may produce only females. Sex may be determined by a set of genes that interact in a certain way.

How Long After Mating Will the Mystery Snail Lay Eggs?

As mentioned, the mating process can last several hours.  The female prepares to lay the eggs within a couple of days after they have been fertilized. She buries a nest of eggs in a cocoon either on land or over water. The eggs resemble blobs of jelly.

As baby snails form within these eggs, they begin to turn white. The presence of viable baby snails is indicated by a black discoloration in the eggs. 

Approximately two to five weeks later, the eggs will have developed into little snails. These snails will look just like their parents.

How to Breed Mystery Snails?

Step 1 – Preparing the Snails

You need to feed a balanced, calcium-rich diet to get the snails in the best possible breeding shape.  Snails can get the protein and calcium they require from blanched vegetables like spinach and zucchini, homemade snello, algae wafers, and calcium supplements. 

If you want to give your snails a special treat and a boost of protein, thaw out some daphnia, bloodworms, or other frozen meals.

Step 2 – Increasing the Temperature

Check if your tank water temperature is not already above 73 degrees Fahrenheit. If not, you should gradually increase it over several days to get it to that level. Once done, get the snails inside the tank. 

Mystery snails can tolerate water temperatures as high as 78 degrees Fahrenheit when breeding. However, you probably won’t need to get it quite that warm.

Step 3 – Lowering the Waterline

The egg-laying site for mystery snails is normally above the waterline. A height of around 4 inches is ideal. 

The water level in the tank should be lowered to give the snail a safe place to lay her eggs. As the developing embryos cannot survive submersion, the egg clutch should always be kept above water. 

Females tend to forgo laying eggs if there is not enough space in the tank. However, if your female does manage to find a way out, you may find clutches around the tank wall.  

Step 4 – Monitor for Breeding

When breeding, the male snail will mount the female for up to 3-4 hours. This activity is necessary for reproduction, and may happen several times weekly or even daily. 

It is essential to watch out for excessive breeding. We emphasize this because it is not uncommon for male snails to over-breed the females. This often causes the female to die from stress. 

If you see the male mounting the female snail multiple times a day, move him to a bachelor tank for a while. During this time, your female can take a break and enjoy some alone time.

Step 5 – Monitoring for Clutches

Since females prefer laying their eggs in darkness, it is highly improbable that you will actually spot her in the act. Assess the tank every day – preferably in the morning –to check for any egg clutches. 

Check around the corners of the rim, behind the filters, and even on the lid of the tank. This is because females can get fairly creative with their clutch-laying spots. 

How to Care for the Clutch?

  1. If Possible, Let it Be

In most cases, the clutch is best left in its current position. This is because it is likely already receiving enough warmth and humidity where it is. 

  1. Place it somewhere Safe

You may have to relocate the clutch if it is:

  • Vulnerable to predators (in a goldfish tank, for example). 
  • In an undesirable location (on the tank wall, for example). 

You shouldn’t touch the clutch for at least two days after it’s been laid. At first, the clutch will have a jelly-like texture. However, it will soon start solidifying, at which point you will be able to move it elsewhere. 

Put the clutch somewhere out of reach of predators, children, and other pets. Also, make sure it is not in danger of being knocked into the water. 

  1. Maintain Humidity

The eggs of a mystery snail require continuous warmth and humidity. One way to ensure this is by storing the eggs inside a plastic container or Ziploc bag on a moist paper towel. 

Properly seal the container before placing it into the tank. This will ensure that the container does not allow water inside. 

Wrapping Up

Mystery snails can lay anywhere from 40 to 120 eggs at a time. Naturally, this translates to a lot of snail babies. Hence, be ready to store or place them somewhere secure. 

If you wish to prevent reproduction, you should raise the aquarium water level to its very top. This way, the females will have nowhere to safely deposit their eggs.  

We hope this guide helped you understand more about mystery snails and how they mate. 

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