Chocolate rabbit snail

Rabbit Snail Care, Food, Tank Setup, Breeding, Purchasing

Rabbit snails are some of the most fascinating mollusks in the fishkeeping hobby. Their unique appearance and captivating behavior make these versatile scavengers a welcome addition to any peaceful tank.

What’s more, rabbit snails are relatively easy to care for in a tropical tank. They like warm water, slow flow at the bottom, decent hardness, pH above 7.0, plenty of food, and no bullies. With a lifespan of about three years, they need plenty of space too, as they continue growing all their lives.

Rabbit snails are sturdy — for snails, anyway — and don’t have any sicknesses specific to them.

Let’s try to take a look under the shell of these fascinating crawlers!

Rabbit Snails Anatomy and Behavior

Rabbit snails get their name from the derpy, adorable way they move. They drag themselves in jerky motions, resembling the jumping of rabbits.

They are also known as elephant snails because of their trunk-like mouth and wrinkly skin. What’s more, they can become quite large, as they grow all their lives. With enough food, space, and calcium supplies, they can grow over 10 centimeters or 4 inches.

  • Common names — Rabbit snail, elephant snail, or poso snail, as they come from the Lake Poso in Indonesia
  • Species name — Tylomelania gemmifera is the Latin name of the golden rabbit snail; the other subspecies are also the genus Tylomenia but their family differs
  • Size — 8-10 centimeters or 3-4 inches; there are smaller variations as well
  • Lifespan — 1.5-3 year
  • Origin — Indonesia

Just like rabbits, the snails come in different colors and shell variations. In the hobby, only mystery snails and nerites come close to the diversity of the rabbit snail species.

Their shells are elongated, with pointy tips, straight or whorly. The shells can be a single color or a few hues. The bodies are either one color or sprinkled with dots that make them particularly pretty.

The most popular in the hobby are:

  • Gold-spotted rabbit snails — Dark body with golden specks, brown or black shells
  • White-spotted rabbit snails — Dark body with white dots, brown or white shells
  • Golden rabbit snail — Yellow body, black or dark brown shells
  • Chocolate rabbit snail (or chocolate poso) — Brown-to-black body, smooth brown shell, usually a lighter hue
  • Orange rabbit snail — Bright orange body, shell in brown, black. Or grey

There are more variations, and you can cross-breed different elephant snail subspecies to create your own “signature” snails.

Rabbit snails are active both in the daytime and once the lights are out. And while they rummage through sandy substrates, they don’t burrow into them like Malaysian trumpet snails. Hobbyists sometimes confuse the two species, but MTS are smaller and darker, and almost exclusively nocturnal.

Rabbit snails have an operculum or “trapdoor” to shut their shells well.

Rabbit Snail Water Parameters and Tank Setup

One of the many reasons why elephant snails are excellent for tropical community tanks is the fact they prefer warm water. Here are the basic water parameters for them to thrive and grow large:

  • pH — 7.1-8.5
  • KH — 5-20
  • GH — 5-15
  • Temperature — 23°C-28°C or 72°F-82°F
  • Preferred substrate — Sand; they can live in gravel too, but they love rummaging through the sand
  • Lighting — Medium light is ideal but even strong lights don’t bother them much

Like most freshwater snails, the poso rabbit snails like their water hard. Minerals keep them healthy and calcium fortifies their shells to grow strong.

Due to their size, rabbit snails will feel more comfortable in larger tanks. 80 liters or 20 gallons will do, for starters.

Calcium in the Water Column

Adding calcium to the water column is beneficial for all snails. Calcium supplements or eggshells work well enough if administered regularly.

Crushed coral also helps over time, while a cuttlebone is fine for smaller tanks.

Rabbit Snail Tankmates

Rabbit snails are very peaceful critters. Any community tank with non-aggressive fish will suit them, but yoyo loaches, cichlids, and other species that like to nibble on the snails’ antennae will make their lives miserable.

Large elephant snails can coexist with an assassin snail too, but smaller ones will be eaten.

Rabbit snails can live with bettas, guppies, mollies, gouramis, danios, tetras, and many other warm-loving, calm tropical fish.

Shrimps are one of the best tankmates for rabbit snails. They love cleaning the shell and the body of the snail and also its poop.

Rabbit Snail Food

Rabbit snails are omnivores that like to rummage around for food. They sift through the sand and nibble on algae and decaying plants. Generally, they won’t touch healthy plants unless they are Java fern – a plant that comes from their homeland of Indonesia.

Algae wafers, spirulina-rich food, flakes, and protein will provide diverse nutrition to a rabbit snail. Vegetables like zucchini, cucumber, or lettuce also are among their favorites.

Like many other snails, elephant snails must be fed regularly. They scavenge around the tank all the time, but they need plenty of calories, so make sure to give them food 3-4 times a week, at least.

Their size and inefficient digestive system dictate the rules of the game.

Rabbit Snail Poop

Despite growing larger than mystery snails, the poso rabbit snails don’t poop as much. What’s more, if you have shrimps, they will consume most of the snails’ poop because it is a good source of infusoria.

Rabbit Snail Lifespan and Growth Rate

Rabbit snails can live over three years in a tank. That makes them longevity champions in the hobby. For comparison, mystery snails rarely surpass 18 months, with their typical lifespan stretching around 12 months.

Nerite snails also can live for three years or more, but they aren’t as sturdy as rabbit snails.

Rabbit snails grow throughout their lives and reach maturity when they are around 4-5 centimeters or 2 inches in size. It takes months to get there, rather than weeks.

And while that makes them harder to reproduce, it also ensures you won’t have to deal with an aquarium overrun with snails.

Rabbit Snails Breeding

Rabbit snails have fixed sex, so you will need a male and female to produce offspring. The thing is that there is no way of distinguishing between males and females, so a generous dose of luck is involved in the process of mating them.

Procuring several elephant snails increases the chances of getting different sexes.

Other than that, supplying them with enough food, regularly, is enough to trigger their reproductive instincts.

Rabbit snails are live-bearers and the pregnant female gives birth to fully-formed baby snails. Usually, a baby is born every 10-14 days. Sometimes, there can be two baby snails at the same time.

The baby poso snails eat the same food as their parents. Keep them away from large fish for the first few weeks of their lives, otherwise they may be eaten.

Compared to most other snail species, rabbit snails reproduce considerably slower. That makes a prized asset and guarantees no explosions of snails in your tank.

It is possible to breed elephant snails from different subspecies.

Rabbit Snail Sicknesses

Rabbit snails are quite sturdy (for a snail) and don’t have many species-specific ailments. One thing to keep an eye for is parasites that can dwell in their elongated shells, but that’s a very rare occurrence, especially among snails bred in captivity.

However, no snail is immune to a lack of calcium and minerals. A broken or cracked shell is a sign of a serious issue and must be remedied immediately. Crushed coral and calcium supplements are the fastest way to provide what is lacking.

The operculum also needs protein. Make sure to feed the rabbit snail protein-rich foods once a week.

While generally active, rabbit snails will spend some days closed in their shells. As long as their operculum is tightly shut, they live. If you have any doubts, though, you can lift the snail and smell it. The stench of a dead snail is unmistakable.

When Buying Rabbit Snails

Rabbit snails are relatively rare and more expensive. Nerites and mystery snails will win any popularity contest by a country mile.

When buying a new rabbit snail, examine its shell carefully. It should be free of cracks or nicks. If you can, spend some time in the fish store to observe how active the snail is.

Other than that, consider buying a few rabbit snails together if you want to breed them and have the necessary space. If not, even a single rabbit snail, given the proper care and diet, will brighten up your tank with its unique personality and looks.

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