Rabbit Snail Care Guide: Tank Requirements, Feeding, Tankmates & More
Written by: Tammy (@aquarist_tl) and Team Buce Plant
Looking to add something truly unique to your planted aquarium? These brightly colored, long-snouted, curious, and active snails would be a perfect choice.
Rabbit Snails (Tylomelania Gemmifera) are an eye-catching addition to any peaceful community tank. Compared to other freshwater aquarium snails, they are quite active, entertaining to watch, and display bright orange and yellow colors. If you’re interested in introducing Rabbit Snails to your aquarium, this guide will answer all of your Rabbit Snail questions on proper care and more:
- All About Rabbit Snails
- What is the minimum tank size for Rabbit Snails?
- What equipment do I need for a Rabbit Snail tank?
- What hardscape/substrate is best for Rabbit Snails?
- What are the ideal water parameters for Rabbit Snails?
- What should I feed my Rabbit Snails?
- Rabbit Snail Tankmates
- Rabbit Snail Breeding
More About Rabbit Snails
They sport a long cone-shaped shell that closely resembles the commonly encountered Malaysian Trumpet Snail. They have two lengthy antennae that look like 'rabbit ears,' and snouts that resemble that of an elephant's, hence their quirky trade names (Rabbit Snail or Elephant Snail.) Most of the ones we see in the aquarium hobby originate from the lakes of Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Rabbit Snails come in a variety of different colors and sizes. The variations we typically see include Orange Poso, Golden Rabbit Snails, Chocolate Rabbit Snails, and Yellow Rabbit Snails. They can live up to 3 years or more in captivity, making them the perfect long-time critters for your planted tanks.
Rabbit Snails can grow up to 3 inches while Mini Rabbit Snails usually max out around 1.5 inches in length. It's important to note that Rabbit Snails grow as they age, and small size is an indication of a young snail, not poor health.
Rabbit Snail Care Requirements
What is the minimum tank size for Rabbit Snails?
Since these snails can grow to be quite large, it is recommended that they be kept in a 20-gallon aquarium or larger. If space is an issue, an individual or a pair can do fine in a 10-gallon tank as long as it’s properly maintained. The absolute minimum tank size is 3-5 gallons for one, but it's important to note that snails produce a large amount of waste that adds to the tank's bioload.
The smaller the tank and the more snails you keep, then the more maintenance will be necessary to keep your snails happy and healthy.
Rabbit Snails love exploring their environment, so bigger-sized tanks would better suit their adventurous spirits. The UNS 75P, UNS 90L, and UNS 75S would make great tank choices for housing Rabbit Snails!
- Note: You may want to keep a tight-fitting lid on freshwater aquariums housing Rabbit Snails. They do have the ability to crawl out of the water and escape the tank, and their curious nature can result in them exploring outside of the tank.
What equipment do I need for a Rabbit Snail tank?
If you do decide to pair your snails with live aquarium plants, make sure to have a suitable LED light to help them thrive in the tank. Arguably, a planted tank would be the optimal environment for your snails. Aquarists must pay special attention to nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels, especially when keeping livestock in their tank.
Thankfully, aquatic plants provide a natural and effective solution: acting as biofilters by absorbing ammonia and nitrates from the water column for their nourishment! By keeping up with regular tank maintenance and introducing these leafy friends into your setup, you'll be able to maintain healthy parameters whilst creating an even prettier aquascape for your Rabbit Snails to thrive in.
As with most freshwater tanks, an aquarium filter will be needed to keep the water clean. This can be a canister filter, hang-on-back filter, or sponge filter. If you’re an experienced aquarist, you can use enough aquatic plants as your filter! Plants are arguably the best type of filtration for an aquarium as they will naturally clean the water as they grow. Fast-growing plants like Ludwigia, Hydrocotyle, or Bacopa are perfect for this method because they quickly suck up excess nutrients.
- To learn more about filterless planted aquariums, check out The Walstad Method Tank Guide.
Depending on where you live, a heater may be necessary to keep Rabbit Snails. They can handle temperatures between 70F and 84F. However, warmer water temperatures are preferred. If your area drops lower than 70F, definitely consider adding a heater into the aquarium to keep them happy!
What hardscape/substrate is best for Rabbit Snails?
When it comes to aquarium substrate, Rabbit Snails will do best with sand, aquasoil, or smooth gravel (like mixed river gravel.) Because Rabbit Snails have long snout-like faces that help them burrow through the substrate as they look for food, they prefer substrate that's on the finer side.
Sand would probably be the best option for these snails since the fineness of sand makes it soft to glide on and easy to sift through. Aquarium soil would also be okay since it is usually smooth and round. The only substrate you should avoid is sharp gravel as the snails could easily injure themselves when moving or burrowing through it.
Adding in natural driftwood and rocks/stones would give Rabbit Snails more surfaces to explore! Algae and biofilm may grow on these surfaces, providing the snails with something to munch on. Additionally, particular stones can help adjust the water parameters to the ideal parameters of Rabbit Snails (more info on this below.) Rocks like Seiryu Stone, Elephant Skin Stone, and Mountain Stone contain calcium carbonate, meaning they can increase the hardness and pH of the water.
What are the ideal water parameters for Rabbit Snails?
Rabbit Snails offer an ideal community tank option: they are content in warmer conditions with hard water full of beneficial minerals. This provides the perfect environment for strong shell growth, making dietary supplements like Calcium a great way to ensure these little critters remain happy and healthy!
Overall, Rabbit snails are known to be hardy and thrive in a wide range of water conditions, and are quite easy to care for. However, it's best to only add your snails to your tank after it's been properly cycled. Do your best to keep Ammonia and Nitrite levels at 0 ppm, and Nitrate levels <20 ppm.
However, like other aquatic snails, Rabbit Snails will thrive in hard alkaline water in the 8.2 to 8.4 range. Harder water means there are more minerals in it, most notably, calcium. Snails need calcium to help their shells stay healthy and strong. A lack of calcium in the water will make their shells soft and easy to break.
You can maintain hardness and a higher pH in the water by adding in stones (Seiryu stone is a popular example) made of carbonate calcium. Another option would be to add crushed coral or crushed oyster shells into the aquarium filter. You may also feed calcium supplements to give your snails the calcium they need.
- For more information, check out the article How to Adjust Water Hardness in the Aquarium
General Rabbit Snail Aquarium Conditions:
Water Temperature: 70 - 84F
Aquarium pH: 7.2 to 8.5
Water Hardness: 2 to 15 dKH
What should I feed my Rabbit Snail?
Rabbit Snails are detritivores, meaning their diet consists of decomposing organic materials like decaying aquatic plants, fish waste, and rotting fish food. They would make a great addition to an aquarium’s clean-up crew! They help out the aquarium by further breaking down these organic materials, making it easier for plants to absorb nutrition from them. Rabbit Snails are algae eaters and may graze on biofilm as well, which can help keep the surfaces of the aquarium or hardscape clean.
Although they can eat detritus, they should be supplemented with actual food to keep them at peak health. Food great for Rabbit Snails can include sinking pellets, algae wafers, fish flakes, and even blanched vegetables like zucchini, lettuce, and spinach.
- Note: Rabbit Snails are not known for eating aquatic plants (with the exception of Java Ferns.)
Tankmates for Rabbit Snails
In general, Rabbit snails can be kept with most small aquatic livestock that is peaceful and does well in community tanks. These can include small Tetras, Rasboras, and Japanese Rice Fish. Livebearers like Guppies and Platies can thrive with them as well because they also prefer hard alkaline water. Bottom-dwellers like Corydoras and Otocinlus would be friendly with these snails too.
However, the best tankmates for Rabbit Snails would probably be other aquatic snails (excluding Assassin Snails) or freshwater shrimp. Mystery snails, pond snails, Nerite snails are all great tankmates for your Rabbit Snails. With these more docile and slow-moving tankmates, Rabbit Snails are less likely to get outcompeted for food.
Fish/invertebrates that you should definitely avoid are Pufferfish, Loaches, Goldfish, Crabs, and Crayfish. They will try to make escargot out of your Rabbit Snails.
Reproduction/Rabbit Snail Breeding
Unlike pest snails, Rabbit Snails do not reproduce at a rapid rate. One reason for this is that they cannot reproduce asexually-- there needs to be both male and female present in the aquarium to breed.
Rabbit Snails reach sexual maturity after around 1 year. Their reproductive rate is also quite slow compared to other aquatic snails, typically laying every 4-6 weeks if conditions are right. Rabbit Snails will release a small white egg sack that usually contains one or two baby snails. Once these babies exit the sack, they’re ready to explore their environment for food.
If you're considering adding a friendly helper to your tank, Rabbit Snails would make an entertaining and unique addition to your aquarium! They can benefit the tank’s ecosystem by further breaking down decaying organics. Their burrowing will help stir up the substrate. In contrast to other aquatic snails, you do not have to worry about being overrun with them since they reproduce slowly.
To get started with your own, check out our Rabbit Snails here.
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