How to tell if a Mystery Snail is Dead?

Mystery Snails are beautiful creatures that are quite popular for their bright colors.

Not just that!

They provide many practical benefits as well!

But! How much do you really know about them?

How to tell if a Mystery Snail is Dead? The behavior of the snail will help ensure if it’s dead or not. If the snail is floating in the water more than usual, is upside down, motionless, or has come out of its shell; then, the snail is most probably dead.

Keep on reading to find out more.

Dead Mystery Snail

In order to make sure that your snail is dead, examine its behavior. Snails can be slow creatures, but that does not mean that they do not move at all. If your snail seems to remain still for a long period of time than the critter is most probably dead.

Snails are attached permanently with their shells, and they may reach a long way out to move or to feed, but they never get out of the shell completely. And if you find a shell without a snail, then the snail is most likely dead. Even when the snail dies, it takes a while for the body of the snail to decay enough for the shell to detach.

Dead snails tend to give off a rather pungent and strong odor. If this unbearable smell is present in your tank, then your snail is dead, and you should immediately remove it from the tank using a fishnet.

If your snail seems to not move for a long period of time and there is no odor, then pick up the critter and examine its body. Search for the trapdoor on the body of the snail. If the trapdoor remains shut then, that means that the snail is alive, but if it’s open, then your snail is dead.

If you have a young snail or one with a thin shell, then you might even be able to see a heartbeat. Hold up the snail to the light and check whether you can see the heartbeat.

The Lifespan of Mystery Snails

A mystery snail can usually live as long as about a year. Their lifespan does really depend on the water conditions; the snail might live longer if it’s being provided with everything that it needs in order to stay healthy. Just remember that it’s not normal for a mystery snail to die right after being introduced into a new tank, this should act as an indicator that there is something wrong with the water parameters in the tank or it could just be the stress of being transported from the store.

Why Do Snails Die?

Snails are rather sensitive creatures, and any major changes in the levels of ammonia, nitrates, or nitrites in the tank can cause them to die.

Another parameter that snails need to live in is hardness. Snails are able to survive in hard water that contains calcium easily. Calcium helps the shells of the snails to become strong and hard. If the snail is unable to get the amount of calcium it needs, then the shells turn white and begin to erode, hence killing the snail in the process.

Mystery Snail Care

Keeping your mystery snail alive can actually be a little trickier than you think.

The way you add your snail to the tank can also put stress on the creature. The best way to place the mystery snail into the aquarium is right side up on the bottom of the tank, in contrast to just dropping the poo animal anywhere and letting it land how it lands.

Mystery Snails that are complete upside down have a hard time getting back into the right position when coming out of their shells. A Mystery Snail will proceed by opening its operculum and then extending its feet to reach any hard surface such as substrate or gravel. The issue here is that if the poor snail is unable to reach a hard surface, then it cannot turn itself right up, and if too much time passes, then the poor creature may wound up dead.

Snails that lay partially on their sides tend to survive, but the best thing you can do for your snail is to place the slimy animal upright at the bottom of the tank.

Filter intakes are another issue that revolves around Mystery Snails. In order to get more edible matter, Mystery snails tend to get easily drawn to a strong filter. During which they get their head stuck in between the slots. This causes the snail to go into stress, and its trapped body and head can also swell up to make the matters even worse. Between the being stuck and the draw of the water, the snail is unlikely to survive and does eventually die.

Trying to set the snail loose from the filter slots can actually complicate matters more and injure the poor fella. The only thing you can do at that point is to switch off the filter and hope that the snail is able to wiggle its head out of the slots. It’s better to be safe than sorry and just opt for a sponge filter in order to nip this issue in the bud.


Food is actually one of the biggest needs of your Mystery Snail, and you need to make sure that your pet gets high-quality food in adequate amounts. If your snail does not get the food its needs to stay healthy, it will go hungry, and if you over-feed your snail, the water quality will deteriorate.

Mystery Snails are expert cleaners, and so they are happy with consuming the algae present on the sides of the tank. You should only give your Mystery snail as much food as it can devour in less than three minutes, any more will result in over-feeding.

In addition to the algae, Mystery snails like a diet that consists of blanched vegetables. You could feed them zucchini, carrots, shelled peas, and iceberg lettuce. Boil all these vegetables for about two minutes and then allow them to cool. Cut small pieces of the vegetables and provide a small amount to your Mystery snails every morning. If there is still some food left after 12 hours, do not add more. Remove the uneaten food after about a day. This helps to keep the tank clean.

Related Article: How to Choose the Perfect Spot for Your Aquarium?

Water Parameters

If you are using tap water to fill up your tank, then make sure that it’s treated. Tap water contains chemicals such as chlorine that can be very harmful to snails. In order to prosper, snails need to live neutral pH waters. Just use a pH testing kit to make sure that the water in your tank is the right pH. Snails are very sensitive creatures, and any fluctuations in the pH of the water can be deadly for them.

Clean Environment

If you want your snail to stay healthy, then you need to provide it with a clean environment. Every creature deserves to live in a clean tank. If you leave your tank unattended, your snail will most likely not be able to survive. Snails do live off the algae in your tank, but that does not mean that you should never clean it.

Make it a habit to check your tank every once in a while to make sure that none of the snails are dead. Go ahead and use a fish net to remove any dead creatures from your fish tank as decaying organisms can make the tank dirty. Water changes are also very important; make sure that you change the water in your tank on a regular basis.

Tank Conditions and Water Parameters

  • Tank pH: 7.0-7.5
  • Hardness and Minerals: Hard with Calcium
  • Water Temperature: 68- 82 Degrees Fahrenheit
  • Lighting: Normal Lighting

In order to keep your Mystery Snails from dying, the best thing you can do is keep the temperature as well as the pH level of the tank constant. Fluctuations in water parameters can stress out the snail and cause them to eventually die.

Mystery Snails thrive in oxygen-rich, clear, moderately moving water with a neutral pH. It is difficult for them to adapt to tanks that have cloudy or murky water.

Mystery snails thrive in water that is rich in calcium and on the harder side. Also, make sure that the levels of Nitrite and Ammonia in your tank are at 0 ppm.

Mystery Snail Care Issues

Tank limitations are super important when it comes to Mystery Snail care. Tank limitations include water volume and surface area. Most people tend to add lots of mystery snails into the tank at the same time in order to vamp up the cleaning process. There is no doubt that Mystery Snails do an amazing job cleaning up your tank, but that also means that they create a ton of bio-load just like other living organisms. Mystery snails aren’t that different than other tank inhabitants; they feed and also produce lots of waste.

When getting a Mystery Snail, make sure that you have a tank that is large enough to hold enough water that supports the needs of the snail. Just like most snails, a Mystery Snail can prosper in a small established tank that can hold up to 5 to 10 gallons of water. Mystery Snails also fare well in large established tanks as well.

Another issue with Mystery Snails is that they are serial escape artists. They are brilliant at finding ways to leave the tank. If you have more than one snail, then it’s best to keep track of them and count them once in a while in order to make sure that they are all there. Mystery snails that try to escape end up injuring themselves when they fall from the tank. Just make sure that your tank is covered, so that there isn’t a way for the mystery snail to get out.

Symptoms of an Unhealthy Mystery Snail

If the shell of the Mystery snail is cracked or excessively pitted, then that means that the Mystery Snail is unhealthy. This poor shell appearance can also be due to the snail being in acidic water for a long time, causing the shell to dissolve and weaken.

Following are indicators of a healthy snail:

  • A clean shell
  • Active movement in the water
  • A healthy appetite
  • Evenly distributed/Consistent coloring


How long can mystery snails live out of water?

Mystery snails can live for hours or even days outside of water. This is because these snails are air-breathing snails; in the wild, they tend to hide under mud in order to keep themselves cool and moist.

How big is the shell of Mystery Snails?

If kept in a tank, the shell size of Mystery Snails can be about two inches in diameter. There can be snails that have much smaller as well as much larger shells, but two inches is by far the most common size.

Are Mystery Snails slow?

Contrary to popular belief, Mystery Snails aren’t really that slow. They can climb very quickly across the glass of the tank. They can easily climb to the top of the tank and then let go, to rapidly fall down to the bottom of the aquarium.

Are Mystery Snails aggressive?

Mystery Snails are calm, non-aggressive, and docile in nature, and they are rather peaceful tank mates. They are quite social as well.

Why are Mystery snails called Mystery snails?

The reason Mystery snails are called mystery snails is because in the spring months they give birth to their offsprings, which are fully developed snails which suddenly and mysteriously appear.

Can I hold my Mystery snail?

Yes, you can hold your Mystery Snail, and don’t worry, it won’t bite. Mystery Snails can survive out of the water, just don’t try to grab the snail, let the snail glide across your hand. Don’t just pull the snail of the tank, place your hand in the tank, and the snail will come and investigate you.

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