If you notice snail eggs in your aquarium you might be happy, annoyed, or just curious.
Snails can often be viewed as pests for some but for others are considered a sign of a healthy aquarium.
Whatever side of the “glass” you’re on, we hope to help you understand a few things.
Here’s what you’ll learn;
- Where snails lay eggs
- What snail eggs look like for some of the most common species
- What do with the eggs if you want to remove them
- How to care for the eggs if you want them to hatch so you care for the baby snails
- And more…
Let’s get into it below.
Do All Aquarium Snails Lay Eggs?
Almost all aquarium snails continue their “proud genetic line” by way of eggs. Unlike fish eggs, they might or might not be a very welcome sight to you as an aquarist.
And that’s because, unlike pandas that haven’t taken reproduction and the propagation of their species seriously (despite humanity’s urging), freshwater snails are very generous about showering the world with their progeny.
That said, there are some things you need to know about the reproduction and egg-laying habits of snails:
- It’s almost impossible to sex most snail species until they start laying eggs.
- Some female snails can carry fertilized eggs for months and might lay them even if you don’t have a pair.
- Many female snails lay unfertilized eggs throughout their adult lives.
- Some hermaphroditic snails reproduce both sexually and asexually, i.e., they don’t need a partner to reproduce eggs (they have both male and female characteristics and can fertilize themselves).
- Not all aquarium snails can lay eggs while underwater.
- Some snail eggs/larvae require brackish conditions to become shelled snails, so they can’t “hatch” in freshwater conditions.
Aquarium snail egg business can get a bit fishy in a fish tank, especially considering that some eggs (or larvae) are very difficult to spot.
5 Snail Species: What Their Eggs Look Like & How Often They Lay Them
Even though it would be super cool to watch snails teleport to your aquarium, they rarely just pop into existence.
But it often happens that you suddenly spot snails in your aquarium, even if you didn’t put any in your aquarium.
The most common carriers of snail eggs are the aquarium plants.
Since snails are relatively hardy in nature, the eggs and the hatched baby snails might survive and thrive in your freshwater tank (unless they become a meal for your fish).
But when you actually keep snails in your tank, you need to know what their eggs look like and how often you might find them.
1. Apple and Mystery Snails
Mystery snails are one of the most common types of apple snails, and they are often confused with channel apple snails and island apple snails.
But it would be difficult to confuse mystery snail eggs. They tend to lay eggs above the waterline, often on a glass siding.
This is the reason why you need a lid on top of your tank with a mystery snail ready to lay eggs. The female might crawl out of the tank (if the waterline is too high) just to find a place above the waterline. They might also lay eggs on the lid.
These snails lay eggs in a clutch, which will look like a weird corn cob. A clutch of infertile eggs is colored and shaped differently than fertile.
Infertile eggs would be smaller in size and darker in color, they might give off a distinctive smell, and they would stain a paper towel (if you want to test it).
Fertile eggs, on the other hand, are color lighter (often milky pink), and individual eggs would seem bigger and fully formed. Apple snails are not asexual, so a pair would be needed for fertile eggs. But a lone female can lay infertile eggs.
Egg-Laying Frequency: This depends a lot on the water temperature and conditions. The warmer temperature might instigate frequent egg lying, while colder would do otherwise. One consistent frequency we found was every week.
When the female is ready to lay eggs, she might lay a clutch of them every three of four weeks. Then take two to three months in between, then start the cycle again. In some cases, Mystery snails have been known to lay eggs every day.
2. Ramshorn Snails
Ramshorn snails reproduce both ways, so you may get fertile eggs from alone or a couple of males as well. They lay eggs below the waterline and can lay them virtually anywhere (including on the shells of larger snails). These eggs would look like little brown clusters, protected under a tough jelly-like substance.
Each cluster contains somewhere around 12 eggs. The eggs are rarely (if ever) infertile, thanks to their hermaphroditic nature. The eggs are clear, so you can monitor the growth of individual snails within the egg under the jelly protection.
Egg-Laying Frequency: Ramshorn snails produce small egg clusters that are often hidden well. It’s probably one of the reasons why the most accurate information about Ramshorn snail’s egg-laying frequency can be summed up in two words: Quite often. They lay way too many eggs too often.
3. Malaysian Trumpet Snails
Malaysian Trumpet Snails are commonly considered “pests” by hobbyists and are also called Malaysian “Livebearing” snails. This name should tell you that they are one of the few aquarium snails that produce live young and not eggs. They can give birth to as many as 70 young ones at one time.
Egg-Laying Frequency: If there is enough food and the parameters are right, they reproduce quite often (one of the reasons they are considered pests). This is ironically one of the ways to control their population, i.e., controlling the food and parameters.
They breed both sexually as well as the Parthenogenetic way. This means that a female can produce clones of herself without a male for fertilization.
4. Assassin Snails
This snail with a cool name is also a discerning egg layer. It lays eggs on hard surfaces (leaves, driftwood, rocks, etc.), and on the right surface, the egg looks like a translucent (and colorless) sunny-side-up egg. The egg itself is yellowish, and it’s covered and protected under a translucent layer that’s often rectangular.
Egg-Laying Frequency: Assassin snails lay one egg at a time, and in one clutch, they usually lay between one to four eggs. They are not clumped together in a bunch but are nearby. They typically lay a clutch of eggs once per month. Since the babies take time to grow up, your tank won’t be overrun by assassin snails.
5. Nerite Snails
Nerite snail eggs and freshwater aquariums are not a match made in heaven (or a pet store). Nerite snails are survivors, and they thrive in both fresh and marine water. But they can’t reproduce in freshwater.
These eggs actually look like eggs that we are used to seeing, i.e., white and aptly shaped, but they are quite small, and in an aquarium, they look like little white dots. You might not even see them unless they are laid on a dark surface. Technically, the white dots you see are not eggs at all but protective capsules that have between 30 and 100 actual eggs inside.
But these eggs don’t hatch in freshwater. The larvae need brackish water to take the next development step, and even if they do hatch in freshwater (which rarely happens), the larvae inside don’t survive.
Egg-Laying Frequency: Nerites need both a male and a female for fertilization, and if there is ample food, they might lay eggs quite frequently. One person reported that with a very low food supply, they got between three and nine eggs a month. But with more food, you can push the number quite high.
Images Of Snail Eggs
Related: Click here to see more images of Freshwater Snail Eggs on our Pinterest board.
Where Do Snails Lay Their Eggs & How Do You Find Them
Snails lay eggs in all kinds of usual and unusual places, and it varies from species to species.
- If you have mystery snails or another type of apple snail, you will almost always find them above the waterline. If there are more than two or three inches between the waterline and the top of the aquarium, then you will find snail eggs on the glass. It’s technically a snail egg sac, and you might also find it under the lid (if the waterline is too high).
- Ramshorn snails are not picky about where they leave their progeny and lay eggs practically everywhere. These eggs are easy to find because they are clustered together and covered under a jelly-like substance.
- Since Malaysian Trumpet Snails are livebearers, they carry their young in brood-pouches within their bodies and release them when they get old enough. You can’t find eggs, only young, which can easily overpopulate your tank.
- Assassin snails lay their eggs on hard surfaces. You’d find their eggs on décor, glass, driftwood, rock, leaves, and they really like to lay at the base of some aquarium plants, making them difficult to find. One thing to note, though, is that these snails like to lay eggs nearby one another. So if you find one, the chances are that more would be in close proximity.
- Though driftwood seems to be their favorite, Nerite Snails are known to lay their eggs everywhere, including rocks and décor. The eggs are easier to find on dark surfaces and difficult on areas where they blend in with the background.
How To Take Care Of Snail Eggs – What You Should Do If You Find Eggs?
If you have decided to take care of the next generation of snails in your aquarium, there are a few things you can do:
- Since Nerite snail eggs can’t hatch in freshwater, you need to remove them to an established/newly created brackish tank. You can’t pull the egg capsule away to remove the whole object (if possible).
- Warm water is beneficial for the faster development of almost all snail eggs, including Nerite. They also prefer hard water.
- Mystery snails lay eggs above the waterline because their eggs need to stay moist, not wet, so keep the water line low. If you want to remove them to another container (in case they are in danger of being submerged), make sure you keep them adequately moist. Gently nudge the egg sac from where it sticks to the surface, don’t pry it off.
- Assassin snail eggs require hard water and a pH of 7 or 8. Other than that, they would be fine.
- Like assassin snail eggs, Ramshorn snail eggs are also covered under a gelatinous mass and are quite well protected. The eggs will be fine in a condition where their parents are thriving.
How Long Does It Take For Snail Eggs To Hatch
Snail egg hatching timeline is different for different species.
Some are happy to come out in a few weeks, while others take their time (probably contemplating their life choices).
Temperature plays an important role in reducing the time it takes for a snail egg to hatch.
Here are a few typically timelines:
- Mystery Snail: Two to three weeks.
- Ramshorn Snail: Two to five weeks.
- Assassin Snails: Anywhere between three weeks to eight months.
- Nerite Snails: (In brackish water) 20 to 25 days
How To Remove Snail Eggs From Your Aquarium Before They Hatch
If you’ve decided to get rid of the snail eggs to ensure that your tank isn’t run over, there are a few (violent and non-violent) methods.
Humanely dispose of them: While the actual removal process might not be very “humane,” because in some cases, you need a sharp razor to scrape them off, the disposal can be. One way is to freeze them off. Another is to squash the eggs as soon as you find them (better than squashing the full snail).
Use them for feeding: This is a more pragmatic approach. Assassin snails might eat many snail eggs (but not the Nerite snail eggs. Fish like clown loaches might also love to feast on snail eggs. But there are also many other loaches that eat snails as well as other fish.
Pluck Them Off: If there are mystery snail eggs above the waterline, you can just pluck them off.
Scrap Off Individually: Use a new razor blade (not an old one washed with soap) and scrape off the eggs one by one. It would be difficult to do on driftwood, and you might have to shave some of the wood to get the egg.
Related: Disposing of snail eggs is one thing but what about dead snails. Before you remove adult or even baby snails you’ll need to be sure they are dead. If you’re not sure then check out our helpful article on how to tell if a snail is dead.
Baby snails, especially if they are from the pest category, are not the little bundles of joy you want to see in your tank. Still, if you want to keep them, you need to identify and care for them.
What Do Baby Snails Look Like
Baby Nerite Snails: The recently hatched baby Nerite will look like small larvae without a shell.
Baby Mystery Snails: Baby mystery snails are a colorless version of the adults, with two distinct antennas and a translucent shell. The color they are going to start appearing after three days.
Baby Trumpet Snails: Baby Malaysian Trumpet snails have the same twisted shell as adults have, but it’s almost translucent, and you can see the body of the snail moving inside. They are about 1.5 to 2.0 mm in length. The underside (which sticks to the glass) is usually a rectangular patch.
Baby Assassin Snails: A baby assassin snail looks a lot like a Malaysian Trumpet baby, except that its shell has well-defined stripe patterns. It would also prefer to hide in the substrate instead of “walking the land (glass surface” like a Trumpet.
Baby Ramshorn Snails: Baby Ramshorn are easy to identify and gorgeous. They have the characteristic Nautilus shell pattern, but the shell is translucent.
Caring For The Baby Snails In Your Aquarium
Baby Nerite Snails: Make sure the pH is above 7, and there is plenty of algae, so they don’t have to move far away to feed. Make sure there is a sponge filter, so they don’t get sucked in. If you wish to move baby nerite snails to the freshwater tank, make sure to take the time to acclimate them.
Baby Mystery Snails: Baby mystery snails will pop down to the water once they are old enough and probably into the mouth of a fish so keep the fish away for a while. They typically eat whatever their parents do.
Baby Trumpet Snails: For the most part, they can take care of themselves. Just make sure there is plenty of food to support the population.
Baby Assassin Snails: Keep the temperature between 74 to 82 degrees. Keep a sand substrate because they like to bury themselves as soon as they hatch and stay there until they are mature. Since they are a carnivore, they would prefer the appropriate diet, and you can’t leave them at the mercy of algae.
Baby Ramshorn Snails: Baby Ramshorn like to eat algae like their parents, so make sure there is enough of eat (ideally around them) to feed on.
Snails are hardy creatures, and if the conditions are right for them (which is a significantly broader spectrum compared to fish), they are likely to lay eggs.
As a lot of them can reproduce without a pair, you can get a population going with just one healthy snail.
You might not want “pest” snails overcrowding your tank (unless you want them to become fish food), but it can be nice to have a small population of baby snails growing and reaching maturity.
So just in case, keep a separate tank ready to either remove the fish or snail eggs if you want to see a thriving juvenile population of aquarium snails growing under your supervision.