Can Aquarium Snails Live Out of Water?

Can Aquarium Snails Live Out of Water?

Here are 11 facts that explain how aquarium snails can live outside the water. Snails need suitable conditions in their surroundings. Otherwise, they would end up in their dormant state or dried up due to the sunlight.  

Can Aquarium Snails Live Out of Water? Aquarium snails can survive outside the water tank if they fulfill essential requirements for their living, including respiration, the moisture level of their body, and safety from predators like birds or physical damage caused by human beings’ movement. However, how long snails survive outside water entirely depends upon how quickly their body depletes out of water.

Can Aquarium Snails Live Out of Water?

Snails belong to a group of aquatic organisms having hardy nature and no specific requirement for their diet. Snails can survive both on land and water owing to some evolutionary changes like the development of lungs.

Moreover, they have a protective shell with a sealing mechanism to undergo hibernation in winters or estivation in summers for years to withstand unfavorable surrounding conditions. Therefore they can survive some of the harshest periods of their life by modifying their living style.

Moisture, Air, and Self Protection are the three most essential factors to keep the snails alive. Therefore, if aquarium snails move out of the tank for various reasons like laying eggs or unfeasible tank conditions, their survival depends on fulfilling these conditions. We will briefly discuss these factors one by one.

Snails have lungs

Breathing air to maintain the supply of oxygenated blood for all body parts is a lifeline for all living organisms. The same is also true for snails. Snails that live in the water use gills for respiration, contrary to the land ones that use lungs.

Owing to the process of evolution, most species of snails also have developed lungs. It is for to survive on the land due to the shrinking of their primitive habitat water.

Therefore, those species of freshwater snails having lungs or siphoning tubes can survive for a longer duration as they can breathe air. Examples of these species are Ramshorn snails, Mystery Snails, and pond snails. 

Snails have gills and many of them have very little chance of survival outside the tank until or unless they find another water body to breathe through gills. Examples are mud snails, nerites and faucet snails, or Bithynia.

Moisture helps snails live outside the tank

Moisture prevents snails’ bodies from drying up and forming their slime. Slime is necessary for their movement, and also they cover their entire body and shell opening with it to protect them during adverse situations.

Aquarium snails can survive outside the tank as far as their bodies are moist. When they dry up, they are dead. Therefore, they must hide them under the shade or dark places away from sunlight. They can also find other water places to ensure their lives. Moreover, they need to drink water to survive.

Food requirements

Food is not a big problem for snails as they can eat plant leaves, waste food particles, algae, and dead organic matter. They can also obtain some portion of their water requirement by eating green plants’ leaves. Furthermore, they have lesser food requirements and can live for weeks, even months, without food. 

However, the lack of essential nutrients can force them to live an inactive or estivating life. Therefore, they will ultimately require food items for their active growth and better living.

Safety from predators

In aquariums or fish tanks, fish are the only potential predators for snails. In the outside environment, they can become fodder for birds, some mammals, and reptiles. 

Therefore, they need to be extra cautious. Snails are safe till they come in the sight of any predator. Consequently, they need to hide or camouflage themselves in some plants or rocks to be safer. It is necessary for their safety and elongation of their lives.

Chances of survival for smaller snails are higher in this scenario as they are less likely to be detected by the predators than fatter and larger ones. 

Favorable Environment

Blazing hot or too cold weather conditions force the snails to hide or seal themselves inside their shells. Appropriate conditions for freshwater snails are a dark, cool and humid environment.

They need about 90% relative humidity and temperature around 60℉ for their ideal growth. There are fewer chances of finding such optimal conditions outside the aquariums. 

Safety from physical damage

In the aquarium, snails are safe from physical damage due to human beings’ movement or other moving objects like vehicles. While outside the tank, human beings can crush them under their feet. Some car or heavy moving object can also end their life.

This factor further reduces the probability of their life if they live outside the safe environment of aquariums. 

Size and Age of Snail

Aquarium snails having larger sizes have more chances of their survival as compared to smaller ones. It is related to the high moisture content of their body.

Moreover, adults can also live longer outside the tank environment as compared to younger ones.

How much time can aquarium snails survive outside the tank?

As discussed above, snails’ survival duration outside the fish tank depends on various conditions and environmental factors. 

Some of them like respiration, moisturization of their body, and protection from predators are crucial. In the absence of any of them, they may not survive for more than a few hours.

While other less stringent conditions are their food requirements, larger size, and age, if they cannot meet these conditions, they can survive for a longer duration, even for months. Research has shown that some species of snails can keep them alive without food for eight months.

Hibernation-like conditions can keep them alive for years but in a dormant state. They cannot be able to live an active life as is in the aquariums. 

Why do snails leave the tank?

All species of snails don’t like to come out of the tank. Only a few species like mystery snails prefer to lay their eggs outside the water. However, they soon return to the tank after laying eggs. You can prevent them from leaving the tank by covering the tank and putting them in a separate container to lay eggs.

Other reasons for snails leaving the tank and living outside the aquariums can be bad water conditions like high pollution, high ammonia, and nitrate levels or harassed by other pets like fish. 


Snails can survive outside the tank if they find favorable conditions necessary for their life. Their survival period can vary from a few hours to years, depending upon the circumstances they face out of the aquariums. Furthermore, it also depends on their living style, whether it is active or a dormant state.

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