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They say Mystery snails only eat decaying plant matter. However, there have been many instances where Mystery snails are caught red-handed nibbling on live plants. So how do you ensure that these freshwater snails will not ruin your planted aquarium?
If you are planning to add Mystery snails to your planted tank, this article is for you. In the following sections, we will find out how plant-safe Mystery snails are and the likelihood of them devouring your live plants.
Are Mystery Snails Safe for Planted Aquariums?
Mystery snails, under normal circumstances, will not eat healthy plants. If you find your Mystery snails nibbling on plants, they might be severely underfed or are eating the melting or dying parts of the plant.
Since it requires more energy to chew on fresh plants, Mystery snails prefer sticking to dead plant matter, which is comparatively softer and easier to eat.
Why May Mystery Snails Eat Plants?
When someone says their Mystery snails are devouring their plants, there is one of the following possibilities to be found:
Mystery Snails Are Starving
This one is self-explanatory.
If your Mystery snails are starving and have no food options available to them, as a last resort, they will choose to chow down on healthy plants.
Plants Are Dying
Mystery snails are exceptional at sensing dying plants. They will know it before you do.
As soon as the leaves in the aquarium start melting, Mystery snails will start chewing on them. So inspect your plants and see if you can find brown leaves.
If you do, rest assured that your snails are only helping you get rid of the dead plantation and causing no harm to the healthy flora.
They Aren’t Mystery Snails
Now, if you argue that your Mystery snails are neither starving nor the plants in the tank are dying, but they are still destroying the plantation. It strongly indicates the snails you got in your aquarium aren’t actual Mystery snails.
You might have brought home Apple snails.
Apple Snails Vs. Mystery Snails
Apple snails are another one of the freshwater snails and are very often mistaken for Mystery snails.
Technically, the Mystery snail belongs to the Apple snail family. Despite the similarities in their appearances, these two are opposite at most when it comes to eating habits.
Apple snails are voracious plant eaters, while, as we know, Mystery snails prefer decaying plants.
There are many species of snails that are sold as Mystery snails. Pomacea Bridgesii, commonly known as spike-topped Apple snails, are best suited for planted tanks.
The plant-gobbling Apple snails do not come in colors that Mysteries do. Most hobbyists who have faced the “Mystery snails eating plants” issue had snails of brown or dull yellowy shades. They are notorious for eating aquatic plants.
If you want regular, plant-safe Mystery snails, stick to blue, ivory, black, or gold.
How To Stop Mystery Snails From Eating Plants?
The best way to keep snails off your plants is to keep them well-fed with a varied diet.
You can feed Mystery snails blanched vegetables, algae wafers, fish flakes, or shrimp pellets.
Mystery snails are known for eating decaying plants, but sometimes they can nibble on healthy plants, especially if they are exceptionally tender. In those cases, a steady diet will keep them distracted from snacking off plants.
Depending on the availability of food sources available in the tank, such as algae, biofilm, or uneaten fish food (reaching down to the bottom), you may have to feed your snails daily for every alternate day.
Many people make the mistake of not feeding their snails, thinking they would feed off leftover fish food, and end up starving the snails, which often result in them going after plants.
Also, if your Mystery snails are eating small parts of leaves here and there and are not on a steady diet of plants, there is nothing to worry about. Just make sure they are well-fed, and your planted aquarium will continue to flourish.
Do Mystery Snails Eat Algae?
Algae is a large part of the Mystery snail’s diet. In particular, they love devouring hair algae.
Snails can easily cut through the algae using radula, a tongue with thousands of microscopic teeth.
Mystery snails are opportunistic scavengers and will feed on anything available to them in the tank that is easier to eat, whether it’s a decaying fish or a dead plant.
Do Mystery snails eat plants?
Mystery snails seldom show any interest in eating healthy plants and prefer sticking to dead leaves unless they are starving.
Will mystery snails eat plant roots?
Mystery snails may not eat plant roots, but they may pull up shallow-rooted plants. This destruction is often unintentional, but it can be irritating at times. To ensure your plants stay put, collect some smooth river rocks and pile them around the plant.
We hope with all the information presented above, it’s crystal-clear to you know that Mystery snails do not eat plants as long as they are well-fed.
When you see a Mystery snail heavily feeding on a fresh plant, know it’s a plant-gobbling Apple snail.