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How Long Do Aquarium Snails Live In Your Home Aquarium?

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Aquarium snails are one of the simplest pets to care for in your home aquarium. There are several different species of snails that can be housed in an aquarium with varying lifespans depending on the species and conditions of the tank.

Aquarium snails typically live between 3-10 years on average. This greatly depends on the particular species of snail and their environment. Some snails that would typically live a year or two, can end up living longer without threat in a tank.

While snails can make a great beginner pet for a child, or even a simple pet to add to your tank for cleanliness reasons, there are a few things to know before bringing one home. 

Aquatic Snail Lifespan

When we think of snails, we are typically thinking of land snails that are outside, but there is a big difference in lifespan between a land snail, and one you would find in an aquarium. 

Land snails are typically an annual snail (meaning they only live for one year and pass away). However, there are instances where they can live up to 10 years old if they are not threatened in the wild. Experts say that the larger the snail, the longer the lifespan.

Aquarium snails tend to live a bit longer since they are protected in a tank with proper food and parameters. With that being said, each species of aquarium snail is different. The following table shows a few of the most popular choices for a freshwater aquarium snail and their estimated lifespan:

  Snail SpeciesAverage Lifespan
Nerite Snail2-3 years
Assassin Snail2 years
Trumpet Snail1 years
Gold Inca Snail1-4 years
Ramshorn Snail1 year
Rabbit Snail3 years
Mystery Snail4 years
Ivory Snail1 year

Again this is an average, and the snails can live for much longer if they are not under threat. The most common aggressors in a tank with snails are crabs, crayfish, cichlids, and loaches. If they are placed with these fish, they will most likely end up dead very quickly. 

What do aquarium snails eat?

Aquarium snails are an awesome addition to any tank because they are natural born cleaners. They will eat dead plants, the leftover fish food at the bottom of the tank, algae, and even dead fish. They are overall an extra filter for your tank. 

Of course, you can also feed them other things as well to keep them entertained. Adding duckweed, water lettuce, non-acidic fruits, shrimp pellets, algae wafers, or vegetables can be a great additive for snails. Just do research pertaining to the fish in your tank as well. What is great for snails, may not be best for the other fish.

There are also a few snails that are carnivorous. For instance, the assassin snail is a common aquarium snail that should never be placed with other species of snail (hence the name). They are known to eat fish eggs, small brine shrimp, and blood worms.

Macro shot of assassin snail in aquarium. Anentome helena

Types of Aquarium Snails

There are a multitude of different snails that can be housed in a home aquarium. The most common are listed above, but there are different varieties of each. Nerite snails are popular, with the most common varieties being the Zebra Nerite Snails, Tiger Nerite Snails, and Horned Nerite Snails. 

There are also mystery snails, apple snails, rabbit snails, black devil snails, Japanese trapdoor snails, and even pond snails that some people will put in their home aquarium. 

Can a dead snail kill fish?

Yes, a dead aquarium snail can kill fish. This is because the dead snail will radiate ammonia which is detrimental for fish. If you have multiple snails in your tank, the ammonia can kill them as well. This is why it is crucial to remove the dead snail as soon as you notice it.

With this being said, there are a few key things to watch out for when trying to determine if your snail is dead. The first is smelling the shell. If you tank the snail out of the tank, you would be able to smell a putrid smell coming off of the shell. 

Another way to tell if your snail is dead is if the body is hanging out of the shell with no movement. Finally, some snails will float to the surface of the tank when they have passed on. If your snail is stuck on the glass wall of your tank and hasn’t moved in a few days, it is not dead. 

How long do garden snails live?

Garden snails typically live much longer than aquarium snails, which is why some people will catch them and keep them as pets.

When left in the wild, garden snails can live up to an astounding 25 years. They can live even longer if kept in captivity with everything they need, as long as it resembles that of their natural habitat. 

How long do snails live without food?

Aquarium snails can go without food for about 2 weeks in captivity. This is because they solely rely on humans to put their food source in the tank for them, so are overall codependent. They will feed on the remaining food left in the tank or algae, but when that runs out they are stuck in one place.

With that being said, snails that remain outdoors can live even longer without food. This is because they can typically go into a state of aestivation. Aestivation is when the snail can “shut-down” in a dry location (which an aquarium snail can’t do), seal themselves to a surface, and go into hibernation.

During this time, a snail can go unfed for a maximum of eight months. Of course, when out of this state they will eat everything they can to make up for this time. Eight months is also the absolute maximum and this hibernation state typically lasts for a lesser amount of time.

How long do mystery snails live?

While mystery snails may be fun to add to your aquarium, they typically do not have a very long lifespan. The average lifespan for a mystery snail is only one year, but they can live for a bit longer if they are in the proper environment for them. 

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