Mystery Snails & Bettas: Can They Live Together? (Explained)

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Keeping bettas is surely fun. But a time comes when you are compelled to add more tankmates for your betta. And that’s when you think about keeping mystery snails and bettas.

In most cases, mystery snails and bettas can live together. However, some bettas can be very aggressive and territorial and peck at the antennae of your mystery snails and cause them harm. So it is crucial to monitor the combination and take adequate precautions.

Read on till the end as I share with you all the essential information you need to know to keep these species together.

Can Mystery Snails And Bettas Live Together?

In general, mystery snails can live with bettas because they need almost similar tank conditions. But the main challenge with keeping mystery snails with betta is their long antennas. The bettas can get curious about them or might consider them as food. 

Mystery Snail Crawling On The Fish Tank Glass

What’s the purpose of antennas in snails? Those long projections from your snail’s head are termed antennae or tentacles.[1] The snails use them to detect smells and orientation and sometimes have eye spots.

So definitely, if you find a betta constantly nipping at your mystery snail antenna, it would be wise to separate them sooner to prevent further damage.

Suppose the betta is only occasionally after your mystery snails, not harming them much. In that case, you can also wait and watch for a couple of days (close monitoring is necessary, and be ready to separate if necessary during this time). 

If you are lucky enough, the betta may start to ignore the mystery snails altogether and live with them without any issues.

Can Bettas Eat Mystery Snails?

Although bettas can typically eat snails if they want, mystery snails are usually safe from them because of their big size. However, the aggressive bettas can harm mystery snails by nipping at their exposed antennae.

Bettas are natural carnivores; in the wild, they rely on small insects, invertebrates, and sometimes even tiny fish. So they can eat snails. 

But mystery snails are almost comparable to the size of the betta fish itself.

Mystery Snail And Betta Fish Side By Side

Mystery snails are one of the largest snails in the freshwater aquarium hobby. They can grow as big as 2 inches or more in diameter. 

And typically, betta fish don’t grow more than 3 inches. So, we can conclude that mystery snails can grow almost comparable to the size of the betta.

And the snail-eating behavior of bettas applies more often to baby snails than adult and big snails. So generally, you won’t need to worry about the betta, eating the mystery snail.

It is important to remember that betta fish tend to have different personalities.[2] Some betta would like to eat snails, while others would eat only when they aren’t fed enough. Moreover, some bettas may not even show interest in eating the snail. 

So it really depends on the nature of your betta and how reactive it is towards the mystery snails. Therefore, monitoring the mystery snail and betta combination becomes important.

Can Mystery Snails Eat Bettas?

Suppose you have been keeping a lovely betta for quite some time. And suddenly, you introduce one of the largest freshwater snails in the tank; it is likely to be worried about the betta as well.

As a general rule, mystery snails won’t eat bettas, especially if they are alive and moving around normally. However, like any other aquarium snail, mystery snails may munch on a betta if it’s sick and motionless, especially when the fish is dead.

Mystery snails typically act as cleaners in your aquarium. They work hard to clear away the algae from glass, tank decorations, and plants. 

Moreover, they also eat hair algae. After all, mystery snails are a popular hobby because of the colors and the practical advantages you get.

Apart from algae and biofilm in the tank, they also consume the following things:

  • Blanched Vegetables (like Kale, Spinach, Zucchini, and Cucumber)
  • Algae Wafers
  • Fish or Invertebrate Pellets

They can clean up the tank by consuming leftover fish food, dead fish, dead vegetation, and dead shrimp. 

But eating a live and healthy betta moving around in the tank is not likely to become the food of the mystery snail. So once again, there is nothing to panic about this issue!

Mystery Snails And Bettas: Conditions To Live Together

Conditions:Mystery Snail:Betta Fish:
Temperature20°C – 28°C (68°F – 82.4°F)23.89°C – 26.67°C (75°F – 80°F)
pH6.5 – 7.56.5 – 8
General Hardness150 – 300 ppm70 – 300 ppm
Water PreferenceModerately MovingCalm
Minimum Tank Size5 Gallons3 Gallons

As you can see in the above table, both mystery snails and bettas need almost similar tank conditions. 

Mystery snails are mostly peaceful and prefer living in calm aquatic conditions. They don’t have any particular organs to hurt your bettas or other tank mates. 

They only have an operculum and a shell for protection. So, whenever they sense a threat, they just go back inside their shell and close their trap door, known as the operculum.

The mystery snails are slow-moving in nature and spend most of their dwelling at the bottom of the tank munching on detritus, leftovers, and algae.

There is one thing to keep in mind regarding these snails – they are great at escaping! You keep them in a tank, and they will easily find the way out of it.

So because of their adventurous nature, it is crucial to have a secure fish tank lid.

The natural habitat of mystery snails is the Amazon River Basin in South America. 

In the wild, they scavenge for plant matter in different water bodies like rivers, ponds, and swamps. So adding plants to the tank is quite important, and it can make them feel at home.

Here are some of the suitable plants you can include in the tank:

  • Java Moss
  • Anubias
  • Bolbitis
  • Hornworts

And the great thing is that bettas also love plants in the aquarium, specifically the live ones. So adding plants to your tank, you can’t go wrong 🙂

Regarding the substrate, you can select something hard that provides enough resistance for them to move easily at the tank bottom. For instance, sand, pebbles, and gravel are the best options. (Avoid too rough materials, though, as that may damage their body)

Do I Need To Acclimate Mystery Snails Before Adding Them To Betta Tank?

Mystery snails are usually hardy and can withstand a range of water conditions. So they probably won’t pass away even if you put them straight into the tank. That said, it is a good idea to acclimate them to reduce the stress related to water parameter changes

Here’s How To Acclimate Mystery Snails In A Betta Tank:

Two Mystery Snails In A Planted Tank

Drip Acclimation Method:

  • Put the mystery snails in a jug and slowly drip new water
  • Wait for around 30 mins, or until the jug is filled with about ½ new water.
  • Once you finish this, just take the snails out of the bag and put them inside the tank.
  • Don’t add the mixed water from the jug, as it can have unwanted items.

Float Acclimation Method:

  • The floating acclimation method is quite simpler than drip acclimation. 
  • First, take the bag with mystery snails and let it float on the tank. 
  • Then, let the bag float until the temperature of the water comes into an equilibrium state.
  • As a rule of thumb, that would take about 30 minutes.
  • So once the temperature matching is done and snails are given enough time to float in the tank, take the mystery snails out of the bag and put them inside the tank.
  • Be sure not to pour the water from the bag back into the tank.

Author’s Note: The drip acclimation is recommended, but it is also okay to go with the basic temperature acclimation as your snails would likely do well.

How To Make Bettas Used To With The Snails?

Since we are about to keep the mystery snails with bettas, we need to let the bettas get used to them. If you just put the snails straight into the tank, sometimes the betta won’t accept the new friend and will just chase them.

So what’s the solution? Well, you can put the betta fish in a separate breeder box and float it in the same tank for about a couple of days to let the betta get used to them.

A breeder box is simply a container to hold the eggs, small babies, or even sick fish while they are supposed to be isolated. 

So you can keep your betta fish in the breeder box and let it float in the tank. Your betta could see the mystery snails roaming and crawling around in the tank all over. Thus, when you put it back into the tank, chances are it won’t bother the snails much.

If you are looking to get a breeder box, I recommend this breeder box for your tank (available on Amazon)

Of Course, this is not a sure shot method and may or may not work. But still, you can try it out, especially if you are sure your betta has quite an aggressive temperament.

What Is The Best Snail To Keep With Bettas?

A Nerite Snail On A Plant Leaf In Planted Aquarium

The best snails to keep with bettas are the nerite snails. Unlike mystery snails, their body parts don’t remain too exposed from their shell. In other words, they mostly move around in the tank, remaining beneath their shells.

Moreover, they are one of the best algae-eating snails in the hobby. So if you are worried about algae in your tank, you can put aside the thought of algae after adding nerite snails. 

Mystery snails occasionally go after algae, but you can’t consider them your main cleaning crew, especially if your tank often gets a lot of algae. 

Pond and ramshorn snails also eat algae. But the problem with them is their fast breeding rate and chances of overrunning your tank. 

On the other hand, nerite snails are quite efficient in eating away the algae in your tank. 

And the interesting thing is though they can breed in the freshwater tank, the eggs generally don’t hatch because the larvae need brackish water to live. Thus, they won’t overpopulate your tank.

You can check some of the best collections of nerite snails here (on Amazon).

If enough algae is not present in the tank, you can supplement the diet of nerite with blanched vegetables (like kale and zucchini) or algae wafers.

Read: How Many Nerite Snails You Can Keep Per Gallon?

Final Thoughts

In short, mystery snails can live with bettas, but proper monitoring is necessary. If the bettas get used to your mystery snails, they likely won’t bother them; thus, the combination can go well. But if you notice repetitive aggression from the betta, separating them is a good idea. 

So that’s it; I hope you got a complete picture of what to expect while keeping bettas and mystery snails together. Please share this article if you found it helpful. Thanks, and happy fishkeeping!

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