Mystery snails are wonderful creatures loved for their vibrant colors. They are great tank cleaners and can live peacefully with other pets. Mystery snail changing color is not uncommon and can indicate age or health issues.
In most cases, mystery snails may change color due to aging, diet, or poor water quality. Genetics can also influence color change in snails. Albino mystery snails, for example, have a genetic mutation that causes them to lack proper pigmentation.
While color changes in mystery snails may indicate age or health issues, other factors, such as behavior and tank conditions, should also be monitored to ensure the snail is healthy.
Here is a table showing the basic requirements for mystery snails.
|Tank size||2 snails per 5 gallon|
|Lighting||8-12 hours per day|
Why mystery snail is changing its color
The following are the main reasons why your mystery snail is turning white or simply changing its color to something you don’t like:
1. The nail is ailing
Healthy mystery snails are always vibrant; you can tell by their strong, colorful shells. A number of health issues can make your snail sick, including parasitic infections, physical trauma, and nutritional deficiencies.
Some common symptoms of illness in mystery snails include lethargy, loss of appetite, abnormal behavior like floating, discoloration, and shell damage or deformities. Treatment options may vary depending on the underlying cause of the illness.
If you suspect your snail is sick, you must talk to your veterinarian immediately. Improving the tank conditions and changing the snail’s diet and environment may also help improve its health.
2. Lack of calcium
Calcium plays an important role in the well-being of a snail. Their shells are typically made of calcium carbonate. This is where the snail seeks refuge when unwell or feeling threatened. Shell deformities, slow growth, and lethargy are some of the signs of calcium deficiency in mystery snails.
To boost calcium for mystery snails, provide them with cuttlebone and plenty of calcium-rich foods such as leafy greens. Maintaining water quality will also ensure that the snails are able to access the calcium they need for their growth and development.
3. Incondusive water pH
Mystery snails generally prefer a slightly alkaline and hard water environment. Soft water is low in minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium, and thus unsuitable for mystery snails. Acidic water will also erode the sail’s shell, weakening and discoloring it.
If your snail changes color, you may need to adjust your tank’s water hardness or pH levels. Do so gradually as you closely monitor the snail for signs of stress or sickness.
4. Toxins in water
A high level of potassium, copper, and CO2 in the water will erode the snail’s shell turning it white. Heavy metals in water are the main reason a mystery snail shell peels. Their high levels will also hinder the absorption of calcium.
These metals can be introduced to your tank by tap water, decorative stones, bacterial treatment, plant fertilizers, fish food, and medication. Copper, in particular, is very toxic to invertebrates and will surely kill snails.
Be very watchful when your snail is not moving or not getting out of the shell.
6. Direct sunlight
A closer look at mystery snails reveals that they love to feed in the dark. When you switch off the aquarium light, they become very active. The female also lays eggs in the dark. When they encounter sunlight, they try to hide or retract into their shells.
Snails need a moderate amount of sunlight to remain healthy. However, they will likely lose their pigmentation when overexposed to direct sunlight. It’s important to regulate the light they receive to help support their health and well-being.
7. Algae growth
Coralline algae are one type of algae that can grow on a snail’s shell. It comes in various colors like white and red.
Algae growing on the snail’s shell is not a problem, as most snails can carry it around. So, before freaking out about a snail changing color, check if algae are growing on its shell.
8. Old age
Younger mystery snails have more vibrant and distinct colors, while older snails may appear muted or faded. This means that mystery snails may change their color as they age. However, this happens at a gradual pace.
How to stop a mystery snail from changing color
When you notice your snail changes color, you should seek a solution because the problem could be fatal. After all, neglecting it could lead to death. Here are some steps you can take to remedy the situation.
Change the water regularly
Aquarium pets will release bioload that will foul up the water. This may spike the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Regular water changes are necessary to maintain good water quality.
Dirty water could also contain bacteria and chemicals that can affect the health of your mystery snail.
Using a water conditioner to treat your water might be the best solution if all the water is contaminated. It may help remove chlorine, chloramine, copper, and ammonia. It could also regulate the water’s hardness and keep the pH stable.
Improve water quality
Poor water quality will ail your mystery snails and cause their shells to erode and change color. Ensure you have a test kit to determine the water’s hardness and minerals. Add limestone, baking soda, or crushed coral to improve your water’s hardness if your water is soft.
You should also ensure the water pH ranges between 6.5 and 7.5 while the temperature is about 20 to 28°C. The water hardness should be maintained between 150 and 300 ppm. Also, ensure there is no copper, ammonia, or nitrate presence.
Provide a diet rich in calcium
Ensure your snails get enough calcium to build and maintain their shells. You can increase their calcium intake by providing cuttlebones. Additionally, regularly feed them vegetables like zucchini, kale, spinach, carrots, and cucumber.
Be sure to keep the recommended number of mystery snails per gallon (at most two snails per 5-gallon tank), as this can help sustain their dietary needs.
Unless your mystery snail has algae growing on its back, the shell changing color is a problem that should be addressed fast. Check the water parameters like temperature, pH, and toxicity and fix them as needed.
A calcium-rich diet should also be provided to help restore the snail’s vibrant colors. Be sure to change the water regularly and keep only 2 snails per 5 – 10-gallon tank. Contact your veterinary if your snail’s behaviors indicate illness.
- “Snails and Slugs,” J. A. Jackman, Professor, and Extension Entomologist
- Snail Feeding and Care: Petsnails. co. UK
- “Bioenergetics and habitat suitability models for the Chinese mystery snail,” University of Nebraska