How to set up Your Aquarium for Mystery Snails

What you need to take care of these aquatic cuties!

  • ๐ก๐ž๐š๐ญ๐ž๐ซ: I use this heater for my 40 gallon aquarium “EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater 100W.” Smaller aquariums can use smaller wattage heaters. Note that ALL heaters you get online are NOT accurate. It’s nice to get a cheapo thermometer to check. My heater is set at 83F and my tank is 76F. Annoying but not a big deal. The reason you need a heater is because it gets too cold here during the winter for the snails to live happy lives! In the summer, you technically don’t need a heater BUT, when the water is warmer, the snails are more active and more fun to watch! Optimal temps are between 68-84F.
  • ๐Ÿ๐ŸŽ ๐ ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ๐จ๐ง ๐š๐ช๐ฎ๐š๐ซ๐ข๐ฎ๐ฆ: Yes, you can go smaller. This is just the easiest size to take care of. Why? You don’t have to clean it as often! Always buy a NEW tank! Tanks that have been used can contain bad bacteria and the eggs of assassin snails. Assassin snails will eat mystery snails(!!) and they’re REALLY hard to get rid of! I like the brand Aqueon from Petsmart. It’s cheap and hardy.
  • ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ฅ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ: It’s always better to get a filter that’s rated for a tank that’s bigger than yours. Again, bigger filter, you clean less! My tank is ~45gal and my filter is rated for 50-75 gallons. Iike this brand “MarineLand Penguin 350 Power Filter 50 – 75 Gallon Aquarium, 350 GPH
  • ๐ฉ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ข๐Ÿ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐š๐ญ๐ž๐ซ: This one you can’t substitute or do without. The water in our area will 100% kill baby snails. BUT, if you add a few drops of this “Fluval Water Conditioner for Aquariums” then all the bad stuff is neutralized and your snails are safe. Don’t skip this step ever! I have, and it’s bad news!
  • ๐Ÿ๐จ๐จ๐: You can technically make your own snail food or try out different veggies to see what they like. I don’t have time for all that so I just buy calcium chips and snail cookies from A bag of each will last you more than a year! You also need to buy some frozen mysis shrimp from petsmart. Snails need some meat in their diet, especially as they’re growing! One packet will last you about two months or longer.
  • ๐œ๐ฅ๐ž๐š๐ง๐ข๐ง๐ : I have 25 snails so I clean my tank once a week. It takes me about 15 minutes and I use the water to water my houseplants. (It makes them VERY happy!) You can get something super simple like $13 “Luigi’s Aquarium/Fish Tank Siphon and Gravel Cleaner” to clean your tank. I splurged and got “AQQA Aquarium Gravel Cleaner Siphon Kit,6 in 1 Electric Automatic Removable Vacuum Water Changer” It’s $35, but it makes cleaning the tank SO fast and EASY. If you don’t mind spending an extra 20 bucks, I’d recommend it!
  • ๐ก๐ž๐š๐ฅ๐ญ๐ก: You will need the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. It will last you years. I’m still using my original one! Don’t buy anything else… they’re useless and won’t give you accurate results. Once the tank is established, I like to check my water once a week. Luckily, the snails have a habit of telling you when something is wrong… you’ll see them lined up at the top of the waterline! Then you know you need to check and see what’s up.

SIDE NOTE: If you want to keep plants, you’ll need to buy an aquarium light. Do NOT keep the light on at all times. Fish and snails need to sleep. It’s very bad to keep them in the light all the time. I recommend light for no more than 8 hours a day or you’ll get algae growth.

Photo Credit: theaquariumkeeper2

How to Decorate Your Aquarium

Decorating your tank!

Decorating your tank is SO much fun… especially if kids get involved. You can go wild with decorating! Decorations are also important because it gives your good bacteria a place to grow when you’re setting up your tank. Just keep these tips in mind:

No metal. Metal will start to degrade and can release harmful chemicals into the water. Baby snails and fish are especially sensitive to changes, and this could kill them.

No Spongebob-themed stuff. I know! It’s a bummer. But lots of aquarium forums are reporting that there are a lot of Spongebob decorations made of toxic materials… and those toxins have wiped out entire aquariums causing heartache and the loss of hundreds (if not thousands!) of dollars.

No random plants. Plants can carry bad bacteria and assassin snails. I like purchasing aquatic plants from an online store called Wet Plants. Of course, nothing is guaranteed, but I’ve purchased several times and never had a problem! They also have great customer service. If a plant dies really quickly, they’ll send you a new one. You can use fishing string or crazy glue to tie/glue plants to rocks to hold them in place. If you’re using glue, do NOT glue the stem. Only glue a single root. Plants are great because they act like a second filter and make your tank healthier!

No new snails or fish without quarantine. This isn’t a decoration recommendation, but it’s still important. I’ve had my snails long enough that I know they don’t have a fungus or parasite problem. If you get new snails/fish from a different source, make sure to quarantine them in a separate tank to prevent the spread of disease!

Substrate. You don’t need rocks or pebbles on the bottom of your tank! It’s actually easier to clean your tank without it. Of course, if you want to, you can add it! I would recommend something that’s not too sharp so it doesn’t hurt the snails.

Plastic decoration: You can use toys as decorations! Just crazy glue rocks to the bottom to keep them from floating. Make sure the toys are relatively new. (Nothing from when we were growing up!) Newer toys that are made for kids (or, better yet, infants) are less likely to contain any chemicals that might leech into the water and hurt the snails. (No paper, cloth, stuff that will get icky)

Wood decorations: Lots of people love using drift wood in their tanks! But don’t just use wood you got outside. Buy wood that’s specifically made for aquariums. If you REALLY want to use your own wood, Google how to clean it properly. I believe it needs to be boiled for a long while.

Air stone: If there’s enough surface agitation, it’s not necessary to keep your snails and fish healthy, but it IS fun to watch the snails float and play in the bubbles!

Photo credit: JadonBarnes

How to Cycle a Tank

How to “cycle” your tank
Hi! This is going to be a quick guide so let me know if you have questions. Why do we need to cycle the tank? Basically, your snails will poop and cause the ammonia levels to increase in your tank. Once the ammonia gets too high, the snails die. BUT, if you add beneficial bacteria, the bacteria turns the ammonia into nitrites and then into nitrates, which are safe for snails.

How do we cycle? People used to take goldfish or dead fish and throw them in an uncycled tank to get that ammonia and build up the good bacteria. We won’t do that because it hurts the goldfish, it’s not super accurate and dead fish smell REALLY BAD when they’re rotting.
Instead, buy “Dr. Timโ€™s Aquatics Ammonium Chloride Aquarium Treatment for Fishless Cycling” and the testing kit I recommended “API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-Test Freshwater Aquarium Water Master Test Kit” and some beneficial bacteria “Fluval Cycle Biological Enhancer, Aquarium Water Treatment”
Follow the directions on the Dr. Tim’s bottle and on the Fluval bottle. You’re going to add ammonia and beneficial bacteria and test the ammonia levels in your water the next day. When you can put in ammonia and 24 hours later it’s been eaten by the bacteria and isn’t showing up on your test, your tank is cycled and you can add snails! During the process, keep your filter running but don’t add carbon filtration or UV light (<–some filters come with that).

How long does this take? When I cycled my tank, it took three weeks. SO LONG. What I didn’t have was filter media from an already established aquarium! That filter media is the BEST source of good bacteria. So ask me or someone else on this group for some filter media, and it will be so much easier!

Extra credit: Sometimes your tank can get a little wonky. Maybe you forgot to clean it or a snail died in it and the ammonia levels spiked. BUT you’re busy and you don’t have time to clean. That’s why I like to have this on-hand “API AMMO-LOCK Ammonia detoxifier.” It’ll make your tank safe for 24 hours and buy you some time before you have to clean it. (Only use this for emergencies because snails deserve to have a clean home!)
Photo Credit: HuyPhan2602