How Do Aquarium Snails Reproduce (& How To Breed Them)

Last Updated on 2023-08-30

If you’ve ever had a freshwater aquarium, you’ve probably had some little snails living in it. Despite their low profile, these creatures engage in a fascinating mating ritual. Snails kept as aquarium inhabitants can either reproduce asexually by laying eggs or sexually by giving birth to new snails. The snail population in a tank can quickly multiply through either method, necessitating the removal of some of the snails.

It’s important to know how aquarium snails reproduce and how quickly they can multiply before adding them to an aquarium. Keep this in mind the next time you notice some tiny snails hitchhiking on your aquarium plants: these shelled critters are more than meets the eye.

How Do Aquarium Snails Reproduce?

Snails in aquariums can reproduce sexually or asexually, depending on the species. Snails kept as pets can reproduce in one of two ways: they can either lay eggs that develop into new snails, or they can give birth to new snails alive. Numerous species of snails kept in aquariums are capable of reproducing without the help of a male.

Let’s examine the reproductive processes of snails that lay eggs and livebearers in greater detail.

Producing Eggs

The freshwater snail’s females produce a clutch of eggs, which are typically laid on the underside of leaves or just above the water line. A single female can lay up to 600 eggs in a single clutch.   Snails of the freshwater variety can potentially produce offspring all through the year in tropical regions. It takes about three weeks for the eggs to hatch, though it can happen sooner in warmer temperatures. Snails hatching from their eggs can immediately begin feeding on algae and exploring their environment.

Giving Birth

The viviparidae family of freshwater snails produces fully developed offspring. The female snail has a special cavity in her body where she stores her eggs after fertilization. The snails’ offspring develop and feed inside their mother’s body after hatching from eggs. When the baby snails have grown to about 1/4 inch in length and eaten all of their mother’s stored nutrients, they emerge by crawling out of her body cavity. 

How To Breed Aquarium Snails

Most aquarium owners would probably think it’s absurd to breed snails on purpose. After all, most of us find them to be a bothersome invasive species. However, snails are a delicacy for some of the aquarium inhabitants. Considering the expense of constantly replacing your snail population, a snail breeding tank could be a practical solution. If you want to know how to breed snails successfully for your aquarium, read on!

Here are some things to keep in mind when breeding aquarium snails:

  • Be sure you have everything you need to raise the baby snails. This means getting a new terrarium and being ready to give the task a little more time and attention than usual.
  • Get your facts straight about mating. As hermaphrodites, most snails have both male and female reproductive organs. Regardless of the time of year, snails can start reproducing again about six weeks after laying eggs. When female snails reproduce, they can produce anywhere from 30 to 140 eggs at once, which equates to almost 480 baby snails in a single year.
  • Be sure the snail’s habitat is in good shape. Soil moisture levels should be quite high and at least 2 inches (5.1 cm) deep (if they lay eggs outside of the water). You should get soil from a local store, but make sure it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals like pesticides or fertilizer. 
  • Meet their basic requirements. They can see and they can eat, so it’s important to give them the resources they need to thrive. 
  • Snails are classified as omnivores, meaning they consume both plant and animal matter. Generally most of the food in the tank should be enough, but you can also include algae wafers to the tank as well, to make sure they’re definitely getting enough food.
  • Make sure they have some foliage to play in. Put some hiding places in the tank, and if your snails lay eggs outside the tank, mist the area daily with a water sprayer. Put down some leaves or sphagnum moss and make sure it’s all wet.
  • The next step is to wait for the snails to “mate,” or impregnate each other. It takes a week or two for them to lay eggs after they’ve been fertilized. The actual hatching process can take anywhere from a week to four weeks, depending on the species. Depending on the species, some snails lay their eggs all at once while others disperse them over a larger area.
  • Observe the process as the eggs develop. Some species’ eggs will begin to hatch in as little as one week, while others may take up to four weeks or longer, depending on their genes and environmental factors like soil and air temperature. It has been observed that species with a longer gestation period tend to have a greater variation in the rate at which their eggs hatch (perhaps 4 weeks).

If everything goes according to plan, you’ll see little transparent “blobs” with tiny specks inside appearing all over your container. You should be pleased to know that these are snail eggs, which will develop into baby snails in due time. 

How Can You Tell If A Snail Is Pregnant?

Knowing whether your pet snail is pregnant may not seem like a life-or-death situation, but it can actually be important information for proper care. The next time you spot one of these slimy friends in your tank, take a closer look at their genital tube. If it’s filled with what looks like small, sticky, transparent balls, congratulations – you have yourself a pregnant snail!  

Another indication of pregnancy in certain species is burying themselves in the substrate. In live-bearing species, the eggs hatch inside the mother’s body and continue to develop until they are ready to come out into the world. So next time you’re wondering if your snail is pregnant, just take a peek at their genital area! It’s really that simple.

How Many Eggs Do Aquarium Snails Lay?

Eggs laid by freshwater snails reflect the wide variety of these creatures. Each size category, from the smallest to the largest, can have a relatively small variation. Depending on the species, the frequency with which they reproduce (sexually or asexually), the density of their nest, and other factors, the average number of eggs that a mature female of many species lays is somewhere between 300 and 500.

Don’t disturb the new nest for a few days after the eggs have been laid, though you should still check on your snail at least once a day and preferably more frequently. Snails found in freshwater thrive in environments that mimic their natural habitats and typically speed up rather quickly once they’re no longer in danger. In the end, they are just trying to ensure their own survival. 

When the eggs hatch, the snails will grow quickly, so you may want to check on them several times a day. Don’t bother them in this way unless absolutely necessary; it’s best to wait until after they’ve finished building their new shell.

What Do Baby Aquarium Snails Look Like?

Ever wonder why aquarium snails look like miniature versions of their parents? The answer lies in their baby snail shells. Despite whether they hatch from eggs or are born, baby snails always arrive in the world armed with a shell – though it’s not quite as solid and rigid as you might expect. Made of soft tissue, the shell begins to harden as the nematodes munch on calcium-rich foods. 

Before you know it, these babies have transformed into iconic tank inhabitants, ready to clean up algae and excrete fertilizer for your plants. So next time you see a baby snail clinging to its parent’s shell, just remember that it won’t be long before the little junior is following in mom or dad’s footsteps.

What Snails Will Not Reproduce In A Freshwater Aquarium?

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance pet, a freshwater snail may be the perfect option for you. These creatures are interesting to watch and easy to care for – as long as you don’t want them to reproduce! Many people don’t realize that some snails cannot reproduce in freshwater aquariums. Here are a few!

Horned Nerite 

The many beautiful colors and patterns found in horned nerite snails make them fascinating aquarium inhabitants. These snails, like many others in the Neritidae family that are kept as aquarium favorites, prefer brackish water for reproduction but can survive in freshwater. These snails are ideal for aquascapes because they are non-aggressive and don’t eat real plants.

Zebra Nerite 

The Zebra Nerite Snail is unable to reproduce in freshwater environments. The Zebra Nerite Snail is unable to reproduce anywhere other than in brackish or salty water. It is physically impossible to rear young in freshwater, and doing so presents a significant challenge in brackish water.

Devil Spike Snails

The name may sound frightening, but these snails pose no danger. The only exception would be if you were a plant. These snails, unlike the majority of their article counterparts, are herbivorous. Therefore, they should not be placed in an aquarium with live plants. However, these snails can only reproduce in brackish water, which is why they are so uncommon in saltwater aquariums.

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How Fast Do Aquarium Snails Reproduce?

You may have had the bad luck to see your tank get overrun by snails almost overnight and wondered how they got in there in the first place. While snails can be a great addition to an aquarium, it’s important to know how many you can expect them to produce before you bring any home.

How quickly do snails in an aquarium have babies? Depending on the species, a snail can lay anywhere from five to six hundred eggs at once. There is a range of time from one to five weeks for eggs to hatch, but the average is two weeks. Different species of snails have different egg-laying habits; for example, the Ramshorn snails in your tank might only lay ten eggs at a time. Some snail species, such as the Mystery snail, can produce up to 600 eggs at once.

The rate of snail reproduction is affected by a number of factors.

  • Which species of snail
  • Methods of reproduction in snails kept in aquariums
  • Your current aquarium inhabitants

Examine these factors and the means of controlling the aquarium snail population in your tank in the event of an invasion or to prevent an invasion from occurring.

What To Do With Baby Snails

When aquarists discover snail eggs, their reactions can vary widely. Many people don’t know what they’re looking at, while others want them out immediately, others are curious, and a few people actually want to keep them.

The best option for you is the one that takes into account your preferences, the specifics of your aquarium, and the well-being of its inhabitants. Here’s how to deal with baby snails:

Let Them Hatch

If you’d prefer not to intervene in the hatching process, the eggs can be kept and allowed to develop on their own. There is no need to take any action to hasten the hatching process. The eggs’ protective sac will also serve as a source of nourishment. Put the eggs back where they belong!

You Can Use Them to Feed Some Fish

Having fish species that consume snails can provide a steady supply of food. Snails are a great source of protein and calcium, which is why they are a popular food for some fish. Sucking on those tough shells helps pufferfish maintain healthy teeth.

Get Rid of Them Before They Can Reproduce

Disposal is the only other option for dealing with snail eggsIt makes perfect sense to avoid having snails in a freshwater tank. Many people who keep aquariums view these creatures as nothing more than a nuisance.

You can easily recognize snail eggs; the challenge is capturing them before they hatch and take over your aquarium. Snails are a common component of freshwater systems, and they play a beneficial role in cleaning up debris and algae, so their presence is not cause for alarm. You can feed them to your other livestock or humanely dispose of them if you don’t want any more snails in your tank.


Can Aquarium Snails Reproduce On Their Own?

Many species of freshwater snails have both sexes. That is to say, they are capable of reproducing on their own without the aid of a mate snail because they have both sperm and eggs. Some species, like apple snails, need a male and a female to reproduce.

How Long Does It Take For Snail Eggs To Hatch?

The incubation period for snail eggs is roughly two weeks to four weeks. However, many freshwater snail eggs hatch in only 7-21 days (though some species can take up to a year or more). It’s important to keep a close eye on your snail during this time, as the embryos might still be too small to see without using a powerful microscope.

Do Snail Eggs Need To Be In Water?

If you want the snail’s eggs to hatch, you’ll need to keep them submerged in water, where they were laid. For species that do so, it’s essential that the eggs stay under the surface of the water while they develop.

How Long Does It Take For Mystery Snail Eggs To Hatch?

The average time for a Mystery snail egg to hatch is two to three weeks. The clutch will enlarge, and the color will shift. When they are close to hatching, the surface will appear white or very light, and you will notice dark spots underneath the surface; these are your snailbies.

How Long Does It Take For Ramshorn Snail Eggs To Hatch?

The incubation period for Ramshorn eggs is between two and five weeks, depending on the tank temperature. Snails have a mostly white appearance when they first hatch, but their colors gradually emerge after a few weeks.

How Long Does It Take For Zebra Nerite Snail Eggs To Hatch?

It is necessary to place a pair of Nerite snails in an aquarium with brackish water and allow them to mate in order to hatch the snails’ eggs. Baby snails can also hatch in freshwater, but they are so underdeveloped that they don’t survive long. It takes about 20–25 days for eggs to hatch into larvae after they’ve been laid.

How Long Does It Take For Apple Snail Eggs To Hatch?

The average time for an Apple snail egg to hatch is 2-3 weeks. The color of the clutch will shift as they mature. As the eggs get close to hatching, they’ll have a very pale or white exterior, and you’ll be able to spot the snails beneath the surface.

How Long Does It Take For Assassin Snail Eggs To Hatch?

It is known that assassin snails can reproduce in captivity. Females only lay between one and four eggs at a time, so reproduction is slow. The eggs are nearly invisible and can take anywhere from 8 to 9 weeks to hatch, depending on the temperature.


Whether you’re a snail fan or a snail hater, aquarium snails are something that most fish keepers and aquarists will encounter at some point. While a few of these creatures could be considered pests, many others would be wonderful additions to community tanks and planted aquariums. We hope this guide is useful whether you want to increase the snail population in your tank or get rid of the snails you already have. 

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