Many aquarists have different reactions when they see snail eggs in their aquarium. Some want them out right away, some are curious, some want to keep them, and many aren’t sure what they’re looking at.
This resource will teach you everything you need to know about freshwater snail eggs. It covers where to find them, what they look like, and what you can do with them.
What do snail eggs look like?
Snail eggs are as varied in appearance as the adults! Each species of freshwater snail lays unique eggs that are distinct and identifiable. So what exactly the eggs look like will depend entirely on the species of snail you have.
That said, you’ll know you’re looking at snail eggs when you see them.
These inverts lay tiny eggs in small groups. Some species can produce single eggs, but most will lay several at a time. The eggs usually remain contained in a protective gelatinous sac.
The color of the eggs will depend on the species. Some are vibrant blue or pink. However, most are white or cream in color. They are also semi-transparent and appear to have a jelly-like texture.
If the eggs are fertilized and partially developed, you may see small black or brown spots. Snail eggs tend to darken over time as the tiny snail embryo inside grows. Unfertilized eggs, however, will maintain their appearance before turning sour.
Where do snails usually lay their eggs?
This is where things can get complicated! Many freshwater aquarists note that snails appear without any warning signs. These aquatic creatures have the ability to hide their eggs in some of the most overlooked places.
Snails do not exhibit too many parental instincts. However, they make sure that the eggs are protected and in an environment conducive to their growth and survival.
One of the most common places you will find snail eggs is under plant leaves. Snails prefer larger, broad-leaved plants, but may also lay eggs on smaller floating plants or dense grasses.
Snails and their eggs are famous hitchhikers in the fishing world. This is how unwanted infestations happen! If you ever end up with snails in your tank without buying them, they probably came as eggs on plants you added to your aquarium!
This is why it is important to quarantine plants before introducing them to your aquarium.
Sometimes you can also find eggs on decorative items. Snails may choose to lay eggs on driftwood, rocks, plastic decorations, or even the smooth surface of glass.
Author’s Note: Some species of freshwater snails have the ability to breathe atmospheric air and live on land. These species tend to find a happy medium for their eggs, laying them in those few inches of open space between the rim of the tank and the surface of the water. There, the eggs can remain moist without submerging.
Since most aquarists rarely remove the cap completely, these often go unnoticed.
what can you do with eggs
You have a few ways to deal with snail eggs once you find them. The relationship between snails and aquarists is controversial. On the one hand, you have those who welcome these mollusks while others absolutely despise them.
The right choice for you depends entirely on your personal preferences, the needs of your tank, and the safety of your aquarium inhabitants. Here are some ways to tackle snail eggs.
1. Save them
If you are looking for a hands-off approach, you can keep the eggs and let them hatch naturally.
Freshwater snail eggs are quite self-sufficient. You do not need to do anything to encourage hatching. The sac that covers the eggs will do much of the heavy lifting, providing the protection and nutrients they need. Let the eggs be!
Having snails in your tank can be quite beneficial. This is why you see so many exotic species sold in pet stores!
Snails are part of the elusive «cleanup crew.» They help collect debris and plant debris that would otherwise ruin water conditions. Not only that, but they spend their days as fantastic algae eaters that eat whatever accumulates in the closed environment.
Like plecos and shrimp, they can serve a valuable and practical purpose. While they won’t replace your filtration system, these critters can do a lot to reduce your cleanup chores.
If you have a chronic algae problem, why not let those young snails take care of the problem? They can make quick work of algae buildup, making the problem more manageable. Now, you may need to supplement your meal with seaweed wafers and vegetables. But the ongoing algae cleanup is well worth the extra work.
Author’s Note: Keep in mind that snails are prolific breeders. It doesn’t take long for a single clutch of snail eggs to develop into a severe infestation. The population can explode quite quickly. If you are not taking steps to control the rate at which your snails reproduce, you could be facing a serious snail problem in the future.
2. Use them to feed certain fish
If you have snail-loving fish species, you can create a pretty reliable food source.
Some species of fish thrive on a diet of snails rich in protein and calcium. Pufferfish need to crunch on those hard shells to keep their teeth in good shape.
It’s not just the balloon that can eat snails and their eggs. Some other fish with an appetite for these mollusks include:
Author’s Note: There is also a species of snail that will eat other snails! These are known as assassin snails.
You can provide the eggs to these fish directly. Alternatively, you can let them hatch first. Some of the above fish will only eat baby snails which are easier to digest.
Some freshwater aquarists like to take things even further by creating a separate snail hatchery. If you see the nest of eggs, you can move them to a quarantine tank where they can continuously hatch and reproduce. Thanks to its fast breeding cycle, you can have a continuous food supply that does not require much maintenance.
Even if you let the eggs hatch in the original tank, you may still see your fish consuming young snails from time to time. These species of fish are wonderful for controlling the snail population and preventing excessive infestations.
3. Dispose of them before they hatch
The last option for dealing with snail eggs is to get rid of them.
It is perfectly reasonable not to want snails in your freshwater aquarium. For many aquarists, these creatures are nothing more than a nuisance.
A growing population of snails is not just a cosmetic problem. Snails produce bioburden like any other tank inhabitant. By itself, the contribution of a single snail to the accumulation of debris is quite insignificant. But what happens when there are hundreds of snails in the aquarium?
Suddenly, a population out of control is no small problem.
Too many snails can quickly raise ammonia and nitrate levels in the water, killing healthy fish and creating a toxic environment.
If you want to avoid this risk altogether, physically remove the snail eggs and dispose of them humanely.
For eggs stuck to glass, you can use a utility knife to gently remove the sac. The protective sacs are sticky and can be a bit stubborn. Forceful removal can result in a rupture, which could spread the eggs inward and make removal difficult.
Take care when removing snail eggs from the aquarium to avoid complicated complications.
The most humane way to dispose of eggs is to put them in the freezer for a few hours. The cold will stop development, allowing you to throw them in the trash or compost. Alternatively, you can pop or crush the eggs and let whatever fish you have gobble up the remains.
Are you worried about snails hitchhiking on new plants? There are many ways to treat plants before adding them to your main tank.
Quarantine all plants in a closed tank. You should also visibly inspect them to remove any remaining eggs.
Author’s Note: As an added safety measure, you can also submerge the plant. There are many commercial and homemade sauces available to remove eggs from plants and prevent unwanted problems with snails.
How long does it take for snail eggs to hatch?
The gestation period of the eggs varies from one species to another. Not only that, but environmental conditions can also speed up or slow down the process.
At the lower end of the timeline scale, you may see the eggs hatch in as little as two weeks. Some species, however, can take up to eight months!
Some snails can also retain fertilized eggs for several weeks before laying them. As a result, there is no way to guarantee a hatching timeline.
When it comes to water conditions, temperature, pH levels, and hardness all come into play. Generally, warmer temperatures can reduce the incubation period. A few degrees can go a long way with sensitive eggs.
The same goes for pH and hardness. Some snails prefer hard water and alkaline environments. Eggs will still hatch in other conditions, but pristine parameters will drastically reduce development time.
Snail eggs in a freshwater aquarium don’t have to be the end of the world. Dealing with them is much easier once you know the above information!
If you are still unsure about the status of the snail eggs you have in your tank, we are always happy to help. Send us his questions!