Do Mystery Snails Take Care Of Their Eggs?

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When I first encountered a clutch of mystery snail eggs, I didn’t know what to do. I had no idea whether I should take care of them or if the parents would do that work. Luckily, over the years, I gained a lot of experience on this topic.

Mystery snails don’t take an active role in growing and caring for their eggs. Fortunately, unlike other species, they won’t eat or harm the eggs either. Generally, the eggs are self-sustaining and hatch on their own. 

As we move forward, I will elaborate on the relationship mystery snails have with their eggs, and discuss whether you should move the eggs to an incubator and raise them on your own.

Still curious? Feel free to check my complete guide on mystery snail eggs. There, I discussed how to care for the eggs, what their stages are, how to tell if they are fertilized, and much more

Do Mystery Snails Take Care Of Their Eggs?

Adult mystery snails don’t really take care of their eggs? The first subject we should approach is cannibalism, which isn’t unheard of among snails.

A study from Argentina (Universidad Nacional del Sur) found that a species of apple snails called Pomacea canaliculate wouldn’t hesitate to eat their own eggs.[1]

In fact, the practice is beneficial. Bruno Baur (Uppsala University) explored egg cannibalism in land snails, specifically Arianta Arbustorum.

He found that snails that survived on a diet consisting of unhatched eggs faired better than those that ate lettuce.[2]

Among the cannibals, 67 percent reached adulthood as opposed to the 38 percent from the lettuce group. 

Additionally, Baur found that Arianta Arbustorum snail hatchlings that ate unhatched snail eggs boasted a much higher wet weight than hatchlings that ate lettuce. Their shells also grew at a faster rate.[3]

Therefore, cannibalism among snails makes all the sense in the world. No one would blame mystery snails for snacking on their eggs. However, it is not prevalent for mystery snails to practice egg cannibalism.

That doesn’t make them great parents. Some snail species have a reputation for looking after their babies. One example is Solenosteira macrospira, the marine whelk. 

A team from the University of California was surprised to find that male snails from this species cared for their eggs without assistance from the female.[4]

In some cases, less than a dozen of the hundreds of eggs the male snail carried on his shell belonged to him. The majority originated from other males. 

Sadly, those attributes do not apply to male mystery snails. The creatures are not a threat to their offspring. However, they don’t care for the eggs either.

If anything, a female snail is more likely to knock a clutch into the water as she attempts to make room for a new cluster of eggs.

While the mystery snail seems callous, the creature’s attitude is not necessarily wrong. Mystery snail eggs don’t need help. 

As an aquarist, you don’t have to play a direct role in the hatching process unless you want to. Mystery snail eggs are self-sustaining. They don’t need anything from you or anyone else. 

Admittedly, you have to maintain a conducive environment. The wrong conditions will harm the eggs, preventing them from hatching in the first place.

However, if you have other creatures in the community tank, you don’t have a choice in the matter. You must maintain the appropriate parameters to keep the aquarium’s inhabitants happy. 

But you don’t have to change anything once the eggs arrive. If you leave them in peace, the eggs will gradually harden, changing color until the baby snails emerge two to three weeks later.

Mystery snail eggs at different growth stages.

How Do You Protect Mystery Snail Eggs?

Mystery snail eggs don’t require much care, and fortunately, their parents are not a threat. Your biggest concern is the conditions. The eggs need a warm, moist environment.

There’s a big difference between ‘Moist’ and ‘Wet.’ You can’t allow the clutch to fall in the water, as the embryos will drown. The parents are smart enough to lay these eggs above the waterline.

They attach the clutch to a hard surface, but their safety is not guaranteed. The eggs can still fall in the water for any number of reasons. 

For instance, they may become unstuck because of exposure to copious amounts of moisture. You may also knock the clutch down while cleaning. 

In an effort to nudge the eggs aside to make room for a new cluster, a female snail may send the first cluster down to its death. You can’t predict these outcomes. 

However, you can increase the clutch’s chances of remaining stuck on its surface by providing ample space above the waterline.

Reduce the water level by 3 or 4 inches. Give the creatures as much room as possible.

Once the eggs are secure on a hard surface, you can turn your attention to the parameters. The temperature is the most critical consideration. You should maintain a range of 68 to 84 degrees F.[5]

I also suggest keeping an eye on the lighting. Community tanks require artificial lighting. Aquarists are expected to create a regular day/night cycle for the aquarium’s inhabitants.

But lights generate heat, which is why people switch them off during hot summers. The lights can work in tandem with the ambient temperature to elevate the temperature in the water. 

This is a problem for snail eggs. As you now know, they need a warm and moist environment. Tanks with a lid are more likely to create this environment. But if the lighting is too bright, the eggs will dry out.

However, you don’t have to switch the lights off to combat this issue. You can safeguard the eggs by spraying them with water. Better yet, remove them from the tank.

Can I Separate Mystery Snail Eggs From Their Parents?

As mentioned above, mystery snails don’t take an active role in taking care of their eggs. The clutch usually hatches on its own.

For that reason, it is pretty common to see aquarists move the eggs to a dedicated incubator, such as a sealed plastic box.

Many aquarists choose this option because they don’t trust the clutch to remain above the waterline. They know that any number of factors can knock the cluster off its surface into the water.

Therefore, rather than losing an entire batch of eggs, they will transfer the clutch to a separate container. 

This sounds dangerous. After all, the purpose of keeping the clutch above the waterline is to maintain a warm and moist environment.

You can even install an air stone under the clutch to increase its chances of survival. However, it doesn’t take much to replicate those conditions in a separate container. 

All the snails need is a damp towel at the bottom. Some aquarists will place a second damp towel on the eggs. Others will keep the clutch on a sponge partly immersed in a bowl of water.

The method doesn’t matter. So long as the eggs have moist conditions, you can leave them alone. They will survive. This approach works because it protects the eggs from predators.

You can populate the tank with friendly creatures such as tetras, killifish, and guppies that can coexist with mystery snails.[6] However, at the end of the day, you can’t trust fish around mystery snail eggs.

The eggs are too small, and unfortunately, fish will eat whatever fits in their mouths. If they can reach the snail eggs, the fish will eat them. Placing the eggs in a separate container protects them from harm.

Pro tip: Wait at least 48 hours before moving the eggs to an incubator. Mystery snail eggs have different growth stages, and after two days, they enter stage 2, in which they are hard enough for a transfer.

What Is The Downside Of Using An Incubator?

If you choose to separate the eggs from their parents, you’re probably eager to raise those eggs. However, there is one main downside to placing the eggs in a different container. 

It requires you to remain active. Many fish owners prefer leaving the eggs in the main tank as it already features the conditions the eggs need.

As I discussed in another article, it can take two to three weeks for the eggs to hatch. That means that you need to remember to moisten the paper towel every couple of days.

Also, the embryos need air to survive. That requires you to open the box’s lid at least once a day. You can also punch some holes in the lid, but then you risk the eggs being dried out.

At the end of the day, if you have the time and patience, using an incubator is a better option. But if you’re busy at work and likely to forget to take care of the eggs, you can just leave the eggs in the main tank.

Mystery snail eggs that have been laid 3 inches above the water.

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If you find a clutch of mystery snail eggs in your tank, you can rest assured that the eggs have everything they need, which is a moist and warm environment.

The parents don’t take an active role in taking care of the eggs after laying them. The eggs are entirely self-sustaining and hatch on their own.

As opposed to other species, mystery snails aren’t likely to eat the eggs either. You can simply leave the eggs where they are and expect them to hatch within two to three weeks.