Mystery snails are very docile and can live peacefully with other aquarium pets like betta fish, tetras, shrimps, mollies, and danios. However, due to their small size, slow pace, and lack of proper support mechanisms, mystery snails will stick together when mating, seeking a ride or trying to obtain food.
Mystery snails are usually vulnerable to attack from other bigger pets like Goldfish, Oscars, or Cichlids. They only retreat to their shells and shut the operculum when threatened, and they will only come out when they feel safe.
Keeping snails alone in their aquarium or with safe tankmates is important. Adding hiding places and vegetation can help them feel safe and comfortable.
Why are my mystery snails stuck together?
Contrary to what most people believe, sticking together does not mean the mystery snails are fighting. Below is a detailed explanation of why your mystery snails are stuck together.
Mystery snails are not hermaphrodites, and for reproduction to occur, the male mystery snail needs to fertilize the eggs of a female mystery snail.
The female will later lay eggs above the waterline, hatching in about two to three weeks. However, it is not easy to tell the gender of mystery snails.
Fertilization occurs when a male mystery snail climbs onto the female and inserts its male reproductive organ into the female reproductive organ. The male will release sperms which will fertilize the eggs.
The male is firmly attached to the female during the fertilization process and will only get down when the fertilization is done. The mating period can last between two to twelve hours. Interestingly, the female mystery snail usually continues feeding and moving around unbothered.
In an attempt to mate, a male mystery snail may climb on another male mystery snail. This is because mystery snails are oblivious to the surroundings and cannot tell the gender of the other mystery snail.
Females do not mount on others for mating purposes, but maybe while looking for food or getting a ride. Sometimes, the climbed-on snail will try to shake off the one on top, and you can mistake this for fighting.
2. Getting a ride
Snails are generally lazy and move slowly, but some mystery snails win the trophy. They will climb onto another to get around the tank or get to some food. The smaller mystery snails will mostly climb on the bigger ones for a free ride.
Funny enough, you can get many mystery snails stuck together, forming a snail train. However fun this seems, smaller mystery snails may risk falling off or being crushed as they joyride.
On the other hand, If your snail isn’t moving or coming out of its shell at all, you might want to check the conditions of your tank. Immobility usually points to poor water conditions.
3. Looking for food
Mystery snails have a very strong sense of smell. When one mystery snail moves around to feed on algae and biofilm, some food remains might get stuck on its shell. Other snails will definitely mount on it to reach the food stuck on the shell.
How do you know snails are mating?
During mating, the male mystery snail will crawl onto the back of the female and position itself over the right shoulder of the female, where its reproductive organ is located. The attachment can last between two and twelve hours.
However, during ‘other times,’ it will attach itself to any other position, not necessarily where the reproductive organ is located.
Mating is a regular occurrence, and as long as you have kept together male and female mystery snails, it will happen. If you want to increase the flock of your mystery snails, you should consider keeping more females than males.
Although mystery snails are peaceful and can hardly hurt other aquarium mates, conflict can arise when you keep more male than female mystery snails. Each male will want to mount to do fertilization, and when one ‘climbs’ before, the others may try to get it off to get their chance.
Further, when there are more male mystery snails than females, the males keep chasing the female for their turn to mount. Excessive mating will harm the female and can even result in death.
What to do when snails stick together
Unless you have too many males mating with your female mystery snail, there is no reason why you should separate stuck mystery snails. Pulling them apart when mating could cause severe damage to their reproductive organs.
Instead of separating them when in the act, you can wait till they are finished and put them in different tanks to prevent future mating. Be sure to keep the recommended number of mystery snails per gallon.
If you are concerned that the snails are stuck together for too long, you can gently push them apart with a clean and soft tool, such as a plastic spoon. However, it is important to be gentle and not harm the snails or damage their shells.
If you do not want baby mystery snails, use other methods to control breeding. It is possible to limit the female from laying eggs by filling the tank with water to ensure no place to lay her eggs (female mystery snails only lay eggs above the waterline).
You can also wait for her to lay eggs, then sieve and crush them before hatching.
Mystery snails getting stuck together does not mean they are fighting, but most likely, they might be mating. However, they could also get a free ride around the aquarium or feed. When doing this, do not attempt to separate them, as it can harm them or disrupt their playtime.
- UCSB Scienceline: How do snails reproduce
- Raising Snails: A publication of the US Department of Agriculture by Rebecca Thompson and Sheldon Cheney
- WikiHow: How to Breed a Pet Snail