Do Mystery Snails Eat Plants

Do Mystery Snails Eat Plants?

Mystery snails are invertebrates that do a stellar job cleaning your aquarium, making them a top pick for many aquarium enthusiasts. But a pressing question often comes to mind: Do Mystery Snails Eat Plants?

Mystery snails generally do not eat live plants in an aquarium. They primarily feed on algae, detritus, and blanched vegetables. While they may eat soft plants if they are extremely hungry and other food sources are scarce, keeping them well-fed usually ensures your plants stay intact.

Got your attention? Great! Keep reading to learn how to maintain a harmonious tank. We’ll dive into what mystery snails love eating and give pro tips to make both your snails and plants flourish. So, let’s get started!

What to Feed Mystery Snails?

What to Feed Mystery Snails

Caring for your mystery snails starts with understanding what they eat. Let’s find out what you can feed your mystery snails. 

a) Algae and Biofilm

Mystery snails love to eat algae and biofilm that can grow naturally on aquarium surfaces like glass, rocks, driftwood, and decorations. They use their radula, a tongue-like organ with tiny teeth, to scrape it off.

Caution! Too much algae and biofilm can also cause water quality issues. So keep them under control with regular water changes and maintenance.

b) Blanched Vegetables

Mystery snails also enjoy eating blanched vegetables like 

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Zucchini
  • Carrot
  • Lettuce
  • Canned green beans
  • Cucumber.

Boil the vegetables for a few minutes, and then cool them in cold water. This makes the vegetables softer and easier for the snails to digest. Then, cut them into small pieces and drop them into the tank.

c) Fish Food

Mystery snails can also eat fish food, such as flakes or pellets, as an occasional treat. Simply drop a few extra flakes into the bottom of the tank during your regular feeding time. 

Remember to remove any uneaten fish food after 24 hours to maintain good water quality. Excess food can decompose, creating harmful chemicals like ammonia and nitrites, which are detrimental to snails.

d) Algae Wafers

Algae wafers are specially formulated for invertebrates. These contain algae, spirulina, wheat germ, and other beneficial ingredients for mystery snails. 

Algae Wafers supplement the diet of mystery snails when there is not enough algae and biofilm in the tank. They can also help prevent mystery snails from eating live plants in the tank. 

e) Calcium Supplements

Calcium is essential for shell health. In the absence of sufficient natural calcium in the water, a calcium supplement can be added. Cuttlebone, often used for birds, can be placed in the tank as a calcium supplement.

Mystery Snail Diet Composition

Mystery Snail Diet Composition

Mystery snails are omnivorous animals, meaning they can eat both plant and animal matter. Here is an overview of the mystery snail diet composition:

  • Algae and Biofilm

Algae and biofilm make up about 50% of their diet. They are rich in calcium, which is essential for the shell health and growth of mystery snails. They also provide other nutrients and minerals, such as iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.

  • Blanched Vegetables

Blanched vegetables make up about 30% of their diet composition. Blanched vegetables are high in vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. They can boost the immune system and prevent diseases in mystery snails. 

These vegetables also provide some protein and carbohydrates needed for energy and reproduction. You can feed blanched vegetables to mystery snails every other day or twice a week.

  • Fish food

Fish food makes up about 10% of their diet composition. Fish food can provide mystery snails with protein and amino acids, which they need for their muscle development and reproduction. 

However, it can also contain high levels of phosphorus, which can cause shell erosion and deformity in snails. Moreover, fish food can include copper, which is toxic to snails. Therefore, feed your mystery snails only small amounts of fish food once or twice a week. Also, choose one that is copper-free.

  • Other foods

Mystery snails can also eat other foods occasionally, such as 

  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Insects
  • Worms
  • Shrimp pellets
  • Bloodworms

These foods make up about 10% of their diet composition. They can offer some extra protein and fat, which can enhance the growth and reproduction of mystery snails. 

Caution! Don’t feed your mystery snails these foods too often, as they can also cause digestive problems or obesity in snails. Only give these foods to your mystery snails as snacks once or twice a month.

Do Mystery Snails Eat Live Plants?

Mystery snails mainly eat algae and biofilm but can resort to live plants if food is scarce. They generally prefer softer plant matter and find most live plants too tough to digest. 

However, some aquatic plant species are exceptionally tender or have high water content, which may tempt mystery snails to eat them. These include plants such as 

  • Cabomba
  • Hornwort
  • Elodea
  • Duckweed
  • Water lettuce 
  • Water hyacinth
  • Water sprite
  • Java moss 
  • Riccia

Snail-Safe Plant Selection

To keep snails in your aquarium, you need to select snail-safe plants for your snail home:

  1. Avoid Plants with Alkaloids

Some plants have alkaloids that are poisonous to snails. These can cause paralysis, convulsions, or death in snails. Some common plants with alkaloids are 

  • Tobacco
  • Coffee
  • Poppy
  • Cinchona
  • Nightshade
  1. Avoid Soft and Tender Plants

Avoid plants with soft, tender leaves, such as Cabomba or Elodea. If you have these plants in your tank and notice your mystery snails eating them, remove them or replace them with more snail-resistant plants. For example

  • Java fern
  • Anubias
  • Amazon sword
  • Crypts
  • Dwarf Sagittaria
  • Dwarf chain sword 
  • Dwarf water lily
  • Ludwigia 

These plants are usually too tough or bitter for mystery snails to eat. 

Do Mystery Snails Eat Fish Poop?

Mystery snails are detritivores, meaning they’ll eat dead or decaying material in the tank. Fish waste falls into that category. It isn’t the primary diet for mystery snails but an incidental snack. 

Relying solely on fish poop to feed your mystery snails isn’t a great idea. It lacks essential nutrients like calcium, which is crucial for shell health. So, while they can eat it, it’s not enough to keep them healthy.

Read also: Will Assassin Snails Kill Nerite Snails: Learn All About It Here!

Monitoring Snail Behavior and Plant Health

How do you monitor the behavior of your mystery snails and the health of your plants to ensure they coexist peacefully? Here are some pointers.

  • Check for Snail Activity

First, observe your snails’ behavior. Are they active? Are they grazing on algae or eating the food you provide? Active snails are usually well-fed snails, and well-fed snails are less likely to snack on your plants.

  • Inspect Your Plants

Take a good look at your plants at least once a week. Are the leaves intact? Yellow or translucent leaves could be a sign your snails are sampling your plants. If you notice this, consider changing the food supply or moving to harder plant types.

  • Water Quality Matters

Remember to check the water quality. Both snails and plants need clean water to thrive. Poor water quality can stress your plants, making them more susceptible to damage. Regular water changes can keep everyone happy.

Expert Tips for Keeping Mystery Snails and Plants Together

Want to keep both your mystery snails and plants happy in the same tank? Here are some expert tips to make it work.

  • Keep a Steady Food Supply

Always keep enough food for your snails. If snails get too hungry, they might start snacking on your plants. Keep a regular feeding schedule with a good mix of algae wafers and veggies. This helps divert their attention away from your plants.

  • Pick the Right Plants

Choose hardy plants like Java fern and Anubias. They are less tempting for mystery snails to munch on.

  • Keep a Snail-to-Plant Ratio

Too many snails can mean trouble for your plants. If you’ve got a separate room for snails, consider rehoming some or adjusting the food supply. 

Conversely, overloading your tank with plants might not leave enough room for your snails to roam freely. Find a balance that works for your specific setup.

Watch this video: Mystery Snail Care 

Do Nerite Snails Eat Plants?

Nerite snails are another popular choice for aquarium lovers. They add a splash of color and are great at keeping your tank clean. But do they eat plants? 

In short, no. Nerite snails are algae eaters. They love to scrape algae off tank walls, rocks, and decorations. Your aquatic plants are pretty much safe when Nerites are around. So, no need to worry.

Do Rabbit Snails Eat Plants?

Generally, no. Rabbit snails prefer to eat detritus, algae, and leftover food. They’re usually too busy digging in the substrate or exploring the tank to pay much attention to your plants. That said, always ensure they have enough food so they’re not tempted to take a bite out of your greenery.

Do Apple Snails Eat Plants?

Apple snails, or Pomacea, are less plant-friendly than Nerite or mystery snails. In fact, they are known for being destructive to plants. They can and will eat softer aquatic plants if given the chance. 

If you have apple snails and want to keep plants in your tank, go for hard-leaved plants that are less appealing to them. And, as always, keep them well-fed with appropriate snail food.

FAQs about Do Mystery Snails Eat Plants

1.Will snails eat my plants in the aquarium?

It depends on the type of snail. Mystery and nerite snails are generally safe, while apple snails are likelier to munch on your plants.

2.What plants do apple snails not eat?

Apple snails tend to avoid hard-leaved plants like Java fern and Anubias.

3.What kills mystery snails?

Poor water quality, low calcium levels, and exposure to copper-based medications can be fatal to mystery snails.

4.Will snails eat plant roots?

Generally, snails are more interested in leaves than roots. However, if they’re starving, they might go for the roots, but this is rare.


So, the question “Do Mystery Snails Eat Plants?” doesn’t have to be a cause for concern. Mystery snails do not usually eat live plants in the aquarium unless they are starving or the plants are very soft and tender. 

To prevent your mystery snails from eating your live plants, you should provide enough algae and biofilm in the tank or supplement their diet with fish food and blanched vegetables regularly. Also, avoid keeping very tender or high-water-content plants in your tank or replace them with more snail-resistant plants.