Why Do Aquarium Snails Bury Themselves?

Why Do Aquarium Snails Bury Themselves?

If your aquarium snails are burring themselves, then you should find the main cause of this problem. Here are the 11 main reasons that explain this behavior in snails.

Why Do Aquarium Snails Bury Themselves? Aquarium snails bury themselves as a habitual activity, to rest at night, laying their eggs in the soil, self-protection from predators, and due to poor tank conditions like low water quality and sudden temperature changes.

Why Do Aquarium Snails Bury Themselves?

Aquarium snails are a part of all fish and other community tanks that are beneficial as tank cleaning agents to eat waste food particles and other degrading organic matter.

Most species of freshwater snails like to dig sand or gravel substrate on the tank floor. It is their regular activity to search for food, to take rest, or for some other reasons.

There are multiple reasons for aquarium snails doing this activity in the tank. Its causes vary from species to species and according to the internal conditions of the tank. We will briefly discuss these reasons one by one.

Snails bury themselves to take a rest

Freshwater snails are tiny organisms that need dark and moist places to hide and keep them happy. They like to hide under tank substrate, rocks, or wooden logs. It makes them relaxed. They can rest in these isolated and dark places for their perfect resting position.

We can provide plenty of places like rocks, wooden logs, sand, and gravel substrate so that snails can bury themselves to fulfill their rest requirement to keep them calm and happy.

Most species of their species are nocturnal, it means they are active during the night. Therefore, they bury themselves during day time to take a rest. 

To hide from bright sunlight

Aquarium snails don’t like bright sunlight. They look for dark or shady places if excessive sunlight falls on the aquarium.

Therefore, they can bury themselves to avoid it and save themselves from moisture loss. Research about freshwater snails’ behavior in the light shows their increased activity rate in the dark than in the bright.

This behavior represents their avoidance of daylight. Therefore, they hide themselves during day time and come out at night or when you turn off the aquarium lights.

To hide from Predators

Snails often share aquariums with other large aquatic animals like fish and shrimps. Some of them are aggressive, very active swimmers and predators. 

If any fish or other pets in the tank try to bite or threaten the snails, they dig a hole in the substrate with their foot. They also lock their shells and hide them for days or even months. 

This activity is a simple self-protection technique for some time to go off the scene from the threat location.

Therefore, whenever your aquarium snail hides, look for the reason to check whether any other pet in the aquarium is causing stress. That phenomenon occurs during day times when fish are active in the tank for food and nibble on snails.

Don’t keep snails with nocturnal fish as they are also active at night. They can harm the snails at that time.

Unfavorable Water Conditions

Most species of freshwater snails can survive a wide range of water conditions. However, there are a few optimal parameters for their active growth.

In case of unfavorable water conditions like too much pollution or the presence of harmful chemicals, they respond by hiding themselves and closing their shell openings until favorable conditions prevail at the aquarium.

If you observe any strange behavior of snails or their self burial, check the tank’s water quality parameters. It is necessary for other pets like fish to avoid any harm.

Another reason can be insufficient water levels as they do this outside the aquarium to protect their moist level by burying themselves.

A Habitual Activity for Fun

As already discussed, freshwater snail species like a dark, quiet environment for their survival. In their natural habitat, it is possible due to plenty of rocks, sand, and vegetation. 

In an aquarium, they bury themselves just as a habitual activity to mimic their natural habitat. It is also helpful to avoid other pets in the tank.

To Protect Themselves from Unfavorable Environment

An unfavorable environment means the too high or too low temperature in the tank. If the water temperature falls during the winter season, rises during summer, or due to malfunctioning of aquarium heater, snails tend to bury them to protect themselves from the harshness of these unfavorable conditions.

A case study from Japan shows that the self burial of snails increases their chances of survival. It is due to protection from environmental stresses and desiccation.

Aquarium snails bury themselves to lay eggs

Snails lay their eggs in the soil by digging a burrow in the substrate with their foot. This hole is usually 1-2 inches deep to accommodate the snail. They remain there until the egg-laying process completes. 

Laying eggs in the burrow protects them from drying and also from other pets that can nibble on those eggs.   

Looking for Food

Their diet consists of dead organic matter, waste food, and algae in the aquarium. They try to move underneath gravel or sand substrate to look for something worth eating.

Therefore, this digging burrows in the soil can be due to reasons to find food items and waste products in the bottom of the tank.  

Lack of food in the tank forces them to bury themselves. It is an auto mechanism in their body to hibernate to preserve their energy. During hibernation, their heartbeat and other body function reduce to a minimum level, they can stay in this state for years.  

Do all Aquarium Snails Bury themselves?

Burying themselves is a protective tool for land snails to preserve their moisture level during dry and unfavorable environmental conditions.

However, freshwater or aquarium snails also go underneath the soil for various reasons like to lay eggs, looking for food, and hide from fish.

Some of the popular species of aquarium snails that bury themselves are Trumpet Snails, Mystery Snails, Apple snails, Nerite Snails, and Balck Devil Snail.

Is there any Advantage of Snails Burying Themselves?

By digging the substrate in the bottom of the tank, snails aerate the sand and loosen it. It will facilitate plant growth by oxygen reaching their roots. 

Another advantage is underneath cleaning of the gravel and sand substrate from leftover food particles and algae spots that otherwise are not possible to reach. It is also imperative to ensure the safety of snails and their eggs from adversaries in the tank.

Disadvantages of the buried snail or digging

During burying or substrate digging, they can damage the plant roots or eat them in this process. Moreover, if they remain hidden under sand, their purpose of adding to the aquarium vanishes.


Self Burial is a natural habit of freshwater snails. They use it for various purposes like searching for food, self-protection from predators, sleeping and laying eggs.

Next time you see your snails burying it under the substrate. No need to worry as it is normal because they are doing it for some purpose.

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