Can Mystery Snails Live Out of Water? What to Know

Mystery snails are known to crawl out of their tanks, especially if the conditions in the tank are not suitable for them. This might put them at great risk of drying out and dying. So how long can mystery snails live out of water?

Mystery snails rely on water for breathing, moving, and staying hydrated. They are not adapted to living out of water for extended periods and may quickly become dehydrated and die if they stay out of water for more than 24 hours.

Apart from drying out, there are more dangers when a mystery snail escapes a tank. The snail might get injured by sharp objects or encounter a predator animal. If your mystery snail is not moving, then it’s likely dead or severely injured.

The United States and Canada have strict policies that forbid aquarists from releasing snails into the wild. You’ll be contravening these policies if your mystery snail can escape and reach a nearby water source like a stream.

Why mystery snails escape the tank

Mystery snails can escape the tank for several reasons, including;

1. To lay eggs

A female mystery snail will only lay her eggs above the waterline. Survival of mystery snail eggs in water is very minimal. Therefore, if the tank has water filled to capacity, she will definitely escape the tank, trying to find an alternative place to lay her eggs.

2. Hostile tank mates

Mystery snails are peaceful creatures and can co-exist with any aquatic creature. They do not have means of attacking other animals or defending themselves. They will only retreat to their shells and close the trapdoor when attacked. Therefore if the attack persists, they might try to leave the tank.

3. Insufficient food

Although mystery snails are little creatures, they feed a lot. Apart from feeding on algae, they also like vegetables like kale, spinach, lettuce, and cucumber. Therefore, if you forget to feed them, they can escape the tank in an attempt to find food.

However, mystery snails can overeat and become overweight if you don’t regulate their feeding.

4. Improper water quality

Mystery snails are sensitive to water hardness, pH and temperature. A change in these parameters may cause the snail to retreat to its shell, float on the water’s surface, or escape the tank. Regularly check for ammonia, nitrate, and copper levels in the water.

5. Overcrowding in the tank

Mystery snails are active creatures and should not be kept in a small overcrowded tank. The snails won’t have enough algae and space to explore when the tank is small. This may force them to escape trying to find a conducive place.

6. Tank lid left open

The tank lid should be closed at all times because if left open and the mystery snail is trying to get out for the above reasons, it will find an easy escape route.

How to stop mystery snails from escaping

The only way to stop mystery snails from escaping the tank is by providing an appropriate environment for them to thrive.

1. Remove hostile tankmates

Before adding mystery snails to the tank, ensure you know the type of tankmates they can live with. Some types of fish and assassin snails can attack and kill mystery snails. Move predator snails and bigger fish to a different tank.

2. Improve tank conditions

Keep the recommended number of mystery snails per gallon, at most two in a five-gallon tank. Get a bigger tank if you intend to add fish or other aquarium pets. Leave enough surface above the waterline for the female mystery snail to lay her eggs.

3. Improve water quality

Always have a test kit to test the water in the tank. Ensure the temperatures are between 20 – 28°C. Water hardness should be between 150 and 300 ppm, and the pH between 6.5 and 7.5.

Also, check for ammonia, nitrate, and potassium levels and maintain them at the required level. Ensure you do not feed your aquarium pets with food that has copper because it is toxic to snails. Copper poisoning will kill mystery snails within a short period.

To improve the water quality, you can change the water regularly and use a water conditioner.

4. Provide sufficient food

Always ensure there is enough food in the tank. If there is not enough algae and biofilm in the tank, provide alternative food like lettuce, kale, spinach, cabbage, cucumber, and carrots. You can also feed them with algae wafers, fish flakes, and pellets.

Ensure you feed them with sufficient calcium. Calcium deficiency will make mystery snails develop thin and weaker shells that will break easily. Baby snails will also not grow appropriately.

5. Seal the lid

Keep the tank’s lid closed all the time and any other loophole the mystery snail can use to escape. Generally, It is important to provide a suitable habitat for the snails and to keep the water conditions optimal to prevent them from crawling out of the tank.


A mystery snail will likely escape the tank if the conditions are stressful. However, their survival out of water is very minimal. Providing them with sufficient food, proper water conditions, enough space per the recommended tank size, and always sealing the lid will ensure they do not escape.


  2. Carolina Teacher Resources: Aquatic Freshwater Snails

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