Aquarium Snails

How Do Fish Tank Snails Reproduce?

Here are the 6 stages involved in the reproduction of aquarium snails. They can quickly breed in the aquarium as conditions are more favorable as compared to outside. 

How Do Fish Tank Snails Reproduce? The reproduction process of aquarium snails consists of 6 steps, from finding a tank mate to taking care of their young ones. Other steps include mating, laying eggs, gestation, and hatching. This whole process takes 3 weeks to 2 months.

Snails are prolific breeders, and their population rate varies according to their species, diet, tank conditions, and protection of their eggs and young ones.

It takes a few months to 2 years for new ones to reach maturity, depending upon the aquarium conditions and species.

How Do Fish Tank Snails Reproduce?

Aquarium snails belong to the group of freshwater snails known as gastropods. Commonly found species of snails in aquariums are Mystery Snails, Trumpet Snails, Ramshorn Snails, Bladder snails, Assassins, Apple, and Ponds Snails.

Most of the freshwater snails lay eggs to produce young ones. However, you will find unique species giving birth to live babies. Their hermaphrodite nature makes them easy to breed and multiply as they don’t have to find the opposite gender for the fertilization process.

This article will discuss all steps of the life cycle of snails, how to breed them in aquariums, and other related essential aspects of prime significance for snail pet rearers. 

Reproduction System in the aquarium snails

The reproduction system of freshwater and marine snails is richly versatile, varying from species to species, and changes with age in a few species. You can classify them into three categories according to their reproduction system’s anatomy and breeding mechanisms. They are

● Simultaneous Hermaphroditic

● Sequential Hermaphroditic

● Gonochoristic

Simultaneous Hermaphrodite Snails

These types have both male and female reproductive organs. They can act like a male, female or self fertilize themselves. Most species of aquarium snails belong to this group. However, they mate with each other. One individual acts as male while the other acts as female.

Reproductive organs of both males and females act as separate systems. 

Sequential Hermaphrodite Snails

They start their life as one gender and change it at later stages of life. Examples of such species you will find in the aquarium trade are Slipper snails or Limpets.

They start their life as males and change them into females at older ages. You will also observe that gender changes in some snails with the change of seasons.

Gonochoristic Snails

These snails have distinct gender for each individual. It can be either male or female. One of the common examples is Apple snails that need both females and males for their reproduction to be fruitful.

Reproductive Organs

Snails have similar organs involved in the reproduction process like other living organisms. Their position can vary in different species but mostly on the right side near their head. 

In Simultaneous Hermaphroditic snails, both male and female systems are present separately and act as independent units.

In Sequential Hermaphroditic snails, a duct helps them change their gender from male to female during different seasons of a year.

6 Steps of General Life Cycle of Freshwater Snails

Whether they belong to any of the groups mentioned above, Aquarium snails follow some general steps to reach successful breeding.

Despite being Hermaphrodite, self-fertilization acts are rare and are least successful in increasing their population in most species due to evolutionary changes. These steps include: 

Mating

Snails find their potential partners by using their sense of smell and taste. For this purpose, they use their upper and lower tentacles. 

In most snail species, due to the presence of both reproductive systems, any individual can act as a male or female. They move over each other by smelling and tasting as they don’t have a clear vision.

They fight to play a male part as the fertilization process takes place in the female body. Moreover, female snails have to lay eggs and take care of them afterward.

You will observe both snails firing love darts on each other to make the other snail’s body accept their male hormones.

The one with a powerful shot will be successful as a father. The second snail will end up as a mother. In this way, the successful mating process takes place.

You can see love darts in your snail’s body like a small needle the size of a nail, hidden near the reproductive organs.   

Laying Eggs

After successful mating, some snails lay their eggs by digging a hole in the tank substrate, on tank walls, or plant leaves.

Others like pond snails, Apple, and Mystery Snails lay on the water surface to save them from predators, and their eggs seem like long strings of transparent bubbles.  

They usually lay their eggs within 2 to 4 weeks of mating, depending upon the water temperature and species of snails.

You can observe their eggs by jelly-like clusters. Eggs are of white or transparent color and have a size ranging from 4-6mm. Their eggs can vary from one to a few hundred, even thousands depending upon their species and diet. 

Care for Their Eggs

Freshwater snails in your aquarium will not take care of their eggs. They lay their eggs at some safe or hidden place and leave them afterward. The only protection for eggs is a jelly-like substance that holds them together.

If you want the offspring from the eggs, you can keep those eggs in a separate, humid, and warm environment favorable conditions for successful hatching.

Gestation Process

The gestation period of snails involves the development of embryos inside the eggs until hatching takes place. It takes from 1 week to 8 weeks.

The gestation process also varies according to the species and aquarium conditions like temperature and water quality parameters. Some have rapid growth, while others need more extended time.

Hatching

All the eggs laid won’t be able to reach the hatching stage. Successful hatching of eggs occurs if snails protect their eggs from predators and other unfavorable conditions.

You will observe the Snails’ larvae begin to come out of the eggshell by cracking it with an organ in their mouth called a radula. They will consume the eggshells with it. 

Baby snails are born with their protective shell that is softer. It becomes more rigid with time. 

You can also hatch the eggs by providing the desired temperature in an incubator. It is a technique used for the production of snails at the commercial level.

Species of Aquarium Snails Number of Eggs Hatching Period
Ramshorn Snails Round balls of eggs( 1-2 dozen eggs) 2-4 weeks
Mystery Snails Clutches of variable size (around 200-300 eggs) 2-5 weeks
Apple Snails Clutch containing 2000 eggs 2-3 weeks
Trumpet Snails Up to 70 live young snails N/A
Nerite Snails Capsules like clusters (30-100 eggs) 3-4 weeks (need brackish water)
Assassin Snails 01 egg per batch (around 20 eggs per breeding) 6-8 weeks

Care of Young Snails

Young snails initially consume the remaining of their eggshells and microalgae like phytoplankton and other bacterial growth in the water.

The diets rich in Calcium will also be a plus point for them to mature their shells. You can add blanched vegetables like Zucchini and Cucumber to their diet.

They can even eat other leafy vegetables like spinach and lettuce. Commercial fish foods like Spirulina pellets and other foods rich in protein can increase their growth.

Later on, they will start eating the waste food, algae, and other dead matter with their adult companions.  

Species of Snails Giving Birth to Alive Babies

Some snail species keep the fertilized eggs inside their body and give birth to live babies when they hatch their eggs. An example of this species is Trumpet Snails.

They give birth to multiple live babies per month in a single instance of breeding. These species have similar sexual groups like egg-laying ones. They can reproduce themselves by mating or self-fertilization.

Reproduction in Sequentially Hermaphroditic Snails

Breeding in such snails is carried by developing male hormones in one season and female ones later. Then they both meet in a duct inside the snail’s body for fertilization to take place. 

In some species of this group, aged and fat individuals are changed into females to mate with young males to produce loads of eggs.

Aquarists rarely use this type of snail in aquariums, and you will not be able to observe their reproduction. 

Species of Snails that are Prolific Breeders

Some species of snails are prolific breeders, and their population multiplies at a rapid pace. Examples of such species are pond snails and Ramshorn Snails.

It would help if you keep a check on them; otherwise, you will end up with your aquarium filled with these plant scavengers. The reasons for their uncontrolled population are their diet, their asexual reproduction, and they lay hundreds of eggs.

Useful Tips Regarding Reproduction of Aquarium Snails

● You can breed snails at home with ease in your aquarium by providing a suitable environment like quality water and giving plenty of food to eat.

● They will help you to fulfill the food requirements of other pets like fish in your aquarium. Some fish like puffers like to eat snails.

● Protect the snails’ eggs by removing them from the fish tank and hatching them in another container or incubator.

● Some species of snails can reproduce asexually. Therefore they can be bred with even a single snail.

● Feed them in the fish tank at night as they are active at night. In this way, they will get sufficient to eat when other pets are taking rest.

● Copper content, chlorine, ammonia, and nitrite level in the tank should be zero to protect the baby snails.

Is there any Method for Population Control of Snails?

Sometimes you don’t want a messy aquarium full of creeping snails. Therefore, you want to keep their population in check. Here are few suggestions to avoid the undesirable growth of snails in the tank.

● Keep one or two individuals of a snail species in the tank to avoid their mating chances. Despite being hermaphrodite, they like to reproduce their new ones by mating instead of self-fertilization due to evolutionary changes.

● Avoid species like pond snails and Ramshorn Snails that excessively reproduce. 

● Use species like Trumpet Snails, Assassin Snails, and Nerite Snails that are not prolific in terms of breeding.

● Remove the snail eggs from the tank before hatching takes place.

● Use any chemical like salt, bleach, or alum to get rid of excessive population.

● Don’t overfeed the snails. Limited diets can keep them away from reproducing themselves. 

Conclusion

I have added all the details about the reproduction in aquarium snails. The frequency of reproduction and number of eggs laid by snails depends on their diet and the quality of tank conditions.

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