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How to Hatch Mystery Snail Eggs: Step-by-Step Guide 2021

Nicole Cosgrove

If you’ve been keeping mystery snails for just about any period of time, you’ve probably spotted at least one clutch of eggs, if not multiple. Mystery snail females can hold sperm for at least 9 months, so a female that mates at the pet store or the breeder’s facility can decide to lay eggs one day. It’s not uncommon for people to wonder where a mysterious clutch of eggs came from because they have one mystery snail. If you’ve seen one of those pink egg clutches in your tank, keep reading for more info on hatching your mystery snail eggs.

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Understanding the Process

Mystery snail_Michael Strobel_Pixabay
Image Credit: Michael Strobel, Pixabay

Not only can female mystery snails hold onto biological material for months, but once they decide to start laying those eggs, they will likely lay multiple clutches. Females will hold off on laying eggs until they feel the environment is just right. This means, once you’ve got a female settled into a tank with healthy parameters, she may surprise you.

It’s a common misconception that mystery snails are hermaphroditic, meaning they can change their sex or that they can both fertilize eggs and lay eggs, and that they can reproduce asexually, or without a mate. However, mystery snails are dioecious, which means that males and females are distinct and cannot change. What this means for you is that if you’ve only got one mystery snail and she’s laid a few clutches of eggs, it’s unlikely she’ll lay more in the future without a mate.

What Am I Looking For?

Mystery snail egg_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

Mystery snail egg clutches are a soft pink color and tend to be somewhat long and narrow. They lay their eggs above the waterline and it’s usually recommended that you leave 4 inches of space above the waterline at the top of the tank. If there is not enough space, it’s not uncommon for mystery snails to escape the tank to lay eggs in unusual places like the underside of the tank hood, inside filters, on walls, and even on electrical cords. Give your female mystery snail a safe, secure place she can go to lay her eggs, even if you don’t intend to hatch the clutch. This will create a low-stress environment for her.

How to Hatch Mystery Snail Eggs: Option 1
  • Create space: Provide open space above the waterline for your female to lay her eggs. Mystery snail eggs require humidity and warmth to hatch, which makes upper tank walls and underneath rims excellent locations for clutches. Female mystery snails prefer to lay eggs under the cover of darkness, so you may wake up to an egg clutch without seeing her laying it. They can have multiple egg clutches from one mating event.
  • Leave the eggs alone: Don’t touch the clutch! When the eggs are first laid, they are soft and have a jelly-like consistency. If you attempt to touch or move the clutch, you may damage it. After 24-48 hours, the clutch will fully harden. It should stay in the place it is laid unless it’s too damp, like the underside of a tank hood, in which case the clutch may come loose. If you notice the clutch loosening its grip, you’ll want to pursue hatching Option 2. Mystery snail eggs will drown if they fall into the water for more than a few minutes.
  • Monitor closely: Now, you wait. Watch the clutch as it develops. You should notice the clutch darkening over time. Keep an eye out for noticeable parasites or fuzzy mold. These are indicators that your clutch is likely infertile or should not be hatched. It can take 1-5 weeks for a clutch to hatch, so just keep an eye on things.
  • Watch for darkening: When your clutch begins to look dark and moldy, it’s likely almost ready to hatch. Fuzzy mold is not an indicator of a healthy clutch, but the clutch will begin to turn from pink to a moldy-looking pinkish-brown color. Once the snails begin to hatch, they will naturally go towards water. If you have concerns about the clutch and you feel it’s nearing hatching, you can gently hatch the clutch yourself. Be very gentle! Newly hatched mystery snails are only about the size of the head of a pin. They usually will begin moving around quickly after hatching.
  • Care for the hatchlings: Whether your hatchlings are in a breeder box or a tank, it’s a good idea to leave the remainder of the clutch with them. They will not eat much the first few days of life, but they will eat the clutch to absorb the calcium from it. After the first few days, your hatchlings will begin eating other foods and should be provided the same diet you feed your adult mystery snails. Snello, snail food, calcium supplementation, and blanched or steamed veggies are all good options to help your hatchlings grow well.
Image Credit: Piqsels
How to Hatch Mystery Snail Eggs: Option 2
  • Create space: Like step 1 above, create plenty of space for your mystery snail to feel like she can safely lay her eggs. Avoid stressing her or changing too many things in the tank during this time.
  • Leave the eggs alone: Once she lays her eggs, don’t touch them for 24-48 hours, even if you’re intending to move the clutch to hatch it. If you attempt to do anything with the clutch too early, you will smash the clutch if it hasn’t hardened.
  • Prepare an incubation box: While you’re waiting for the clutch to be ready to move, prepare your incubation box. The easiest way to do this is to use a plastic container with a secure lid or a zip-top bag as the base for your incubation container. When the egg clutch is ready to be moved, you will need to place damp paper towels in the container. These paper towels should not be wet. Squeeze them out well so they are just damp.
  • Carefully move the eggs: Once the eggs have had a couple of days to solidify, you can remove them from the surface they were laid on. You can do this by gently holding it between your fingers and wiggling until the clutch comes loose. This can be difficult to do without damaging the clutch, though. You can also use a credit card, razor blade, or other smooth, flat surface by gently wedging it underneath the clutch and slowly working the clutch loose. Be prepared to catch the clutch! If it drops in the water, pull it out as quickly as possible. Move the clutch to the incubation container and lay it on top of the damp paper towels. Then, seal the container. The container should be placed somewhere it will stay humid and warm. The easiest thing to do is to float it in your tank, but you can move it wherever you’d like as long as it stays humid and warm.
  • Monitor closely: Every day, you should open the incubation box and check the clutch. This will also allow airflow into the container to prevent mold and mildew and help oxygenate the eggs. You only need to open the container long enough to gently examine the egg clutch, then close it back up. You want to avoid doing anything that will significantly alter the moist, warm environment of the incubation box.
  • Watch for darkening: Keep an eye on the clutch for the darkened, “moldy” appearance that indicates the eggs are nearing hatching. If you feel the eggs will hatch within a matter of hours or days, it’s a good idea to begin checking the clutch a couple of times per day. Once the babies begin to hatch, they’ll need to be moved to water. They will survive for a time out of water, but you don’t want to risk them going multiple hours without getting into the water.
  • Care for the hatchlings: Once your hatchlings begin to hatch, you can move them to the tank you’ll be growing them out in. You can help the eggs hatch to speed things along so none of the hatchlings accidentally get left behind in the incubation container. At this point, all of the snails that are going to develop will have developed, so helping them hatch will not harm them.
Mystery snail eggs_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

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In Conclusion

Hatching your own mystery snail eggs is a multi-step process, but it isn’t difficult. Just make sure you know exactly what you’re going to do with all the hatchlings once they are large enough. Sometimes, aquarium stores will buy them, or you can sell them to friends or online, but you may end up with more snails than you can handle if you don’t have a plan ahead of time. Your hatchlings will grow noticeably every week and within 2-4 months, they should be large enough to go to new homes. Once they reach the size of a nickel to a quarter, they are old enough to begin breeding.

Looking for more information on mystery snails? Try:


Featured Image Credit: Adam_Nau37, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.