Mystery Snails CAN Live with Goldfish! (+ 3 Reasons They’re Awesome)

UPDATE: I no longer recommend keeping mystery snails with goldfish 🙁 While they can coexist, they produce a ton of waste and spike the bacteria count in the water. I recognize there are still folks who keep them with no problems, but my personal preference is to keep them separate.

I think I’m in love.

I’ve found my new favorite aquarium pet, and I just can’t take my eyes off of them.

My goldfish are even getting jealous!

What am I talking about?

Mystery snails.

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Rating 5 100%

Yep, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…

Don’t keep any other fish but goldfish with your goldfish (here’s why)!

But good news:

That doesn’t include invertebrates 😉

Like you, I was concerned about their compatibility.

“Won’t my goldies EAT a snail faster than you can say ‘escargot?'”

Not to mention, my goldfish are huge. We’re talking 8″ + huge Orandas.

Everyone agreed, no way a snail would last more than a couple of days in there.  It would be an expensive goldfish meal. Because the shipping cost was more than the actual snails.

Well,  I took the plunge, and months later – they’re all doing great 🙂

Just What is a Mystery Snail?

Also known as apple snails, mystery snails are a larger variety of aquarium snails that grow to be about the size of a golf-ball.

What makes them really unique from many other snails is their colors.

They come in a variety of colors, including blue, ivory, gold (yellow), purple, and albino with brown shell. I’m partial to the blue ones, which have a blue shell and a black body.

Unlike some snails, they aren’t asexual. You need a male and a female to breed them.

When it comes time for them to reproduce, they lay their egg sacks (called clutches) above the waterline.

If you want to hatch them, be sure to relocate the sack so your goldies won’t devour the tiny babies! :O

So, what makes these little guys so awesome?

1. Mystery Snails are Absolutely, Positively Adorable!

Just look at that face.

How can you resist that?

And that beautiful shell… exquisite.

It’s amazing that they actually do have personalities all their own!

2. They are Peaceful and can be Kept with Goldfish

I’ve watched my goldfish interact with my snails (all about a dime to nickle size) now for a long time, and am happy to say they get along great.

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It’s true:

Initially a goldfish will probably mistake them for a chunk of gel food and give them some firm nibbles, but the snail tucks back in the shell and the goldfish, realizing this hard object isn’t edible, moves on in search for grub.

Snail reemerges after a bit.

It takes a bit of time for a goldfish to learn that they can’t eat a snail, but they do seem to come to a point where they ignore them.

Now, my snails only tuck in their shells when my clumsy water puppies blow by them during their feeding frenzy, sometimes knocking them off of whatever they were stuck to. 🙂

I find snails really add so much interest and biodiversity to any aquarium.

Plus, they play an important role in the tank’s ecosystem…

3. They Eat That Pesky Algae on Glass and Plants

This is one of the main reasons I got snails.

Something had to be done about that unsightly brown algae mixed with green spots of algae all over the floor and walls of the tank.

But algae eating suckerfish are out of the question.

They can do so much damage to goldfish… plus they get to be way bigger than most people realize.

When a snail eats, it might seem like nothing is happening.

You see their mouth open and close on the glass, but they are so slow that it’s hard to tell that they are really doing anything.

After a bit, you will start to see “snail tracks” in the algae.

I will add this disclosure, that my algae problem isn’t 100% gone. But it is definitely much better after introducing snails.

In my case, one wasn’t enough – I needed a crew of snails to get to work on my big tank!

Here’s what you need to know if you want to add mystery snails to your aquarium:

Taking Care of a Mystery Snail

Copper

One thing that’s really important to know is that mystery snails are highly sensitive to levels of copper in aquarium water. That’s why they use copper in medications designed to kill off pest snails.

If you have had your water tested for copper and nothing has turned up, you should be good.

But if you have traceable levels of copper (or if you aren’t sure), you’ll want to make sure you get something to take that out.

I use Cuprisorb copper absorbing packets, a product from Seachem (makers of Prime water conditioner).

This keeps snails and fish protected and gives me priceless peace of mind.

Calcium

Calcium is very important to shell health. Without it, the shell can start flaking or deteriorating.

I actually bought a cuttlebone calcium tablet to put in the water.

For some reason, my snails won’t touch it!

They have to eat the calcium for it to help, so it is recommended to mix powdered calcium carbonate into their food (6000 mg per cup) or feed a calcium rich food for invertebrates.

I also make sure to provide lots of spinach (which my goldfish also love) for them to eat, which is high in calcium.

Food

What do you feed your mystery snail?

They eat algae, as well as uneaten food and waste at the bottom of the tank.

For the algae-infested tank, this may be enough. In my case my snails are growing like crazy and I only make efforts to feed my goldfish.

If your tank doesn’t have much algae or uneaten food, you will definitely want to make sure you give them access to veggies like spinach and zucchini (there’s many more).

They also need a staple to consume their calcium with.

With lots of food and good water conditions, you will probably see lots of new shell growth as your snail gets bigger!

Temperature

Interestingly enough, these snails do great living in the same temperatures as goldfish.

They can be more sensitive to sudden changes in temperature, so be sure not to shock them when doing water changes or moving them around.

Read This Before Getting Your Snail

Even though you can find mystery snails pretty inexpensively at chain pet stores, I made sure not to get mine there.

There is too much chance of infecting your goldfish with disease (all too prevalent in those places).

Instead, I purchased them online from a reputable company and had them shipped to my door.

Plus, it is easier to find the more exotic color varieties 🙂

This seller is professional and sometimes throws in an extra snail.

Now it’s Your Turn

Have you ever tried keeping goldfish with snails?

I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

Drop me a line 🙂

5 100% from 18 ratings
Rating 5 100%
2018-09-21T21:30:33+00:00

35 Comments

  1. Lisa July 27, 2017 at 2:27 am - Reply

    Cool! I only have a small horned nerite in my aquarium right now, but I’d love to get a much bigger snail at some point. Did you quarantine your snail? If so, what kind of quarantine process did you do to make sure it didn’t bring any unwanted hitchhikers into your tank? 🙂

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish July 30, 2017 at 12:03 am - Reply

      Actually I did quarantine them for about 2 weeks in a 5 gallon bucket with a filter. Not because I had to, but because of a tank overhaul. 🙂 I didn’t use any kind of treatments on them, because I got them from a trusted source. I think the main thing is not making sure they stay in different water for a while if you opt to quarantine. 🙂

  2. Jennifer August 7, 2017 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    I love my mystery! He is my favorite pet right now. People think I’m crazy when I say he’s cute, but I’m glad you agree 🙂 Do you think they get lonely, being as they breed in pairs? I originally had a pair, one male and one female, but the female died. He mostly seems fine, but sometimes seems bored or restless (he actually climbed out the back of the tank last week, and climbed into the filter the week before that.) Also, I am considering getting an assassin snail to deal with a pest snail problem. Are mysteries in much danger from an assassin snail?

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish August 9, 2017 at 8:15 pm - Reply

      They are so adorable, aren’t they? Assassins do eat other snails, but I’m not sure if they would bother a mystery. It probably depends on the size, but if it was me I would probably not risk it. Would hate to look in and see the poor thing getting eaten alive :O

  3. Tim August 27, 2017 at 7:49 am - Reply

    Which snails would you consider pest snails?

    Rating: 4
  4. To snail or not to snail? October 10, 2017 at 12:19 am - Reply

    Mystery snails sound great! But do they need spinach? Sounds like a dirty tank in the making….😕 I would love them but don’t want to hurt shells so should I get them at all?
    Another concern is that I don’t have much algae in my tank…….

    Rating: 4.5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish October 22, 2017 at 11:15 pm - Reply

      You can give them lettuce, spinach, zucchini… they love it, and it doesn’t mess up the tank if you do regular water changes. 🙂 Algae is an added benefit but they can live fine with veggies.

      • To snail or not to snail? November 5, 2017 at 1:05 am - Reply

        Thanks! Very helpul as alway! ☺🐠

        Rating: 5
  5. mohammad mahdi jalali November 3, 2017 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    hi
    please write an article about keeping pleco with goldfish
    thank you for this great website

    Rating: 4
  6. guest January 8, 2018 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    will get a mystery snail after my tank has algae because just got a new one and veggies would be a bit of a hassle. maybe some spinach a week. thank you for the amazing everything. this website is my holy grail

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish January 9, 2018 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      So happy to hear you like the site 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! Mystery snails are a lot of fun.

  7. Alexis January 16, 2018 at 8:16 am - Reply

    This was great! I want to get a snail for my tank which only has one gold fish in it. I wasn’t sure what to get, but all this info helped so much!

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish January 22, 2018 at 12:52 am - Reply

      Glad to hear it helped, Alexis! Thanks for stopping by 😀

  8. Jennie Larson January 27, 2018 at 5:08 am - Reply

    How many would a person need for ten gallon tank? Thanks so much for all the helpful advise, because of you I have managed to keep my fish alive for over a year. Never has thais ever happened to me!!

    Rating: 4.5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish January 28, 2018 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      It depends on if you have fish in it or not, the bioload, etc. 2.5 gallons is recommended per snail 🙂 Glad you are having success with your fish!! 😀

  9. Julia March 2, 2018 at 4:46 am - Reply

    Thanks for the info! We’ve had multiple goldfish with mystery snails for a few months now and they seem to coexist nicely. We’ve lost a couple initial snails and just lost another one tonight. 🙁 Relocated it to another tank to make sure it’s really dead but the signs are there. Now we’re thinking the last living snail is lonely as he just went over to check on the other one right before we took him out. They were inseparable. I was debating about getting more mysteries but feel more confident after reading your post. i will however get a calcium test kit as I have noticed their shells have been peeling around the edges. Thanks again for sharing!

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish March 4, 2018 at 11:07 pm - Reply

      It’s best if you can feed them the calcium rather than put it in the water 🙂 Check your copper levels too.

  10. Sandy April 21, 2018 at 11:50 am - Reply

    I tried snail gel food and the fish got to it before any snail did finding it impossible to get food and calcium to my mystery snails. I have large oranda goldfish in a 70gal tank. Can anyone help me find a way to feed my mystery snails? Thanks

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish April 21, 2018 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      I’d provide lots of spinach in the tank, they will probably find it and the fish aren’t crazy over it until it gets soft 🙂 Hope that helps.

  11. Savannah May 8, 2018 at 2:57 am - Reply

    I was thinking of getting one for my gild fish. Would one be lonely? I don’t have much algee but have a few live plants, would the snail eat that? Also wondering if sand would bother it, I have a few river rocks in the bottom of my tank, but mostly sand.
    Thanks for the helpful post 😄

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish May 13, 2018 at 11:08 pm - Reply

      I don’t think it would be lonely but that’s just me 🙂

  12. Rachel May 8, 2018 at 5:47 am - Reply

    Hi Pure Goldfish. I love your site. And also have your book which I am often referring to. Recently one of my two goldies Ginger passed away. Very upsetting. She was about 8 years old. I am hoping Pepper will last much longer knowing their lifespan is such. But I am hesitant about getting another goldfish as I believe she will have a better chance of staying healthy in her 60 litre tank. However I am also worried about loneliness + boredom. So I am excited at the idea of a Mystery Snail! I actually saw some recently in the local pet store + thought they were so stunning but would only buy from a trusted source. Could you recommend any keepers in Australia? Kindest, Rachel 🙂

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish May 13, 2018 at 11:10 pm - Reply

      Hi Rachel, glad you like the site and book! Actually I’m unfamiliar with Australian suppliers but you might do a Google search or check large online shopping websites. Just be sure to quarantine them for 2 weeks first 🙂

  13. Oni May 31, 2018 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    I have a ranchu, would a gold Inca snails be able to survive in the same tank. I have a 15l tank but I am looking to upgrade to a 30l tank. Would the ranchu nip at the snail ? I have also heard that you can feed the snails cucumber, is this true? This page was a great help and gave me so much needed info. Thanks

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish June 3, 2018 at 11:01 pm - Reply

      It might, so provide lots of hiding spots. Cucumber is great for snails!

  14. Kim S August 7, 2018 at 1:36 am - Reply

    I recently got mystery snails to put in my goldfish tank. I am concerned they may not get enough food since the goldfish eat anything I put in the tank. Would it be crazy to put the snails in a floating tank to feed them so there is not competition with the goldfish? I do have a Java Fern and an Anubis plant in my tank (which the goldfish have munched on) but the plants are pretty new. I want to make sure the snails get a varied diet besides the algae on the tank. Any thoughts or tips would be helpful! Thanks!

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish August 12, 2018 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      Some people use cucumber because goldfish leave the skins behind but the snails eat them.

  15. CASSANDRA CLINTON August 16, 2018 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    I was concerned my goldfish might nibble the antennae off of the snails. Are the snails able to retract quickly enough if threatened? I’d love to add some beautiful mystery snails or nerite as cleaners, but I have a 4 inch and 1 inch fantail and they nibble anything they can catch!

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish August 24, 2018 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      Sometimes they do get nibbled off. The snails learn to tuck them in when the fish swim by.

  16. Linda October 29, 2018 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    I have one of my mystery snails that crawled out of the tank and fell on the floor, is this normal? Or should I think my cat got it,? I do have a lid and it doesn’t seem like the cat could get it. He is alive, but there is a missing piece of shell and his body is exposed. Will this kill him? Can I do anything for him? Also, my egg casing just hatched today! Lots of white babies. Now to figure out what to do with them all. Thanks for your site, it is amazing!

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish October 29, 2018 at 5:14 pm - Reply

      They crawl out yes. You might be able to patch the shell. 🙂

  17. Jalen November 10, 2018 at 4:32 am - Reply

    I have one mystery snail right now but I have a 20 gallon tank with 2 comets do I need more snails?

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish November 11, 2018 at 11:13 pm - Reply

      One is probably fine if your algae is under control, they do add to the waste load of the tank.

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