Is my mystery snail sick? What’s wrong with my pet? These questions and similar ones pop up in your head when you find your pet’s shell peeling. You want to proffer solutions to this problem and, at the same time, avoid a future occurrence.
In this article, you will learn about what is wrong with your pet when their shell peels off, how to prevent this problem, and what you can do to help them heal.
So read on to find out about Mystery Snail shell peeling.
What are Mystery Snails?
Another name for them is the Topped Apple snails. They survive in freshwater – thanks to the gills and operculum they possess. They are also known as Pomacea bridgesii and are members of the Ampullariidae family of Mollusks. Mystery snails are native to freshwater regions of South America. They have an amazing sense of smell which makes them rush after food as it drops into their tanks.
The term Mystery is added to their name because their females lay eggs above water while living underwater. These eggs hatch on their own to produce young snails that seem to appear mysteriously.
Watching Mystery snails feed on algae wafers, fish pellets, or another diet they love is an amazing sight. Their shells add to their beauty. It is usually brown, sometimes creamy white, or with a stripe of light or dark brown. Little wonder why some people keep them as pets.
However, you can find that your pet is losing its shell, which can be worrisome. There are several possible reasons for this, and these reasons are discussed below.
Mystery Snail Shell Peeling- What’s Wrong With My Pet?
Mystery snails do not normally peel their shell. In fact, no snail species do. The shells grow as they become bigger in size, and they live in their shells all their lives.
So, it is okay to be worried if you find something unusual like peeling happening to your snail. If you find your snail losing its shell or a part of the shell peeling off, here are some of the possible reasons for this occurrence:
1) Your Pet is Feeding on its Shell
Your pet has an exoskeleton – a thick shell that requires a lot of calcium to sustain and grow. When they are fed with diets that contain less calcium for a while, they turn around to feed on their shells as a supplement. So the culprit for the shell peeling that your pet is experiencing could be your pet itself.
2) Calcium Deficiency and Accident
Another reason your Mystery snail shell appears peeling could be that it got broken by accident.
Young mystery snails have softer shells that harden with the consumption of high amounts of calcium. Less calcium consumption means softer shells. So, as your pet moves around, these soft shells can peel or break when they collide with small rocks, woods, fish, or other materials in the aquarium.
3) Acidic Tank
Your tank water’s pH level could also be the reason its shell is peeling. It may actually be dissolving at a slow pace.
When the pH level of the water in their tank is acidic, it dissolves your pet’s shell. This happens gradually for a while, such that you only notice this happening when they have lost a significant portion of their shells. You will often find their shell color turns pale.
Now, shell peeling is not the only problem that your pet experiences in acidic water. They also struggle to resist infections as well.
Sometimes, hobbyists can be under the illusion that the shells of their snails are peeling. Mystery snail shells have lines that may appear as cracks when viewed from certain angles in your aquarium.
The nature of the tank decoration might make their shell appear smooth and deteriorating. Also, the type of lighting system of the aquarium could cause this illusion in you.
5) The Age of the Snail
On reaching a certain age of maturity, female mystery snails begin to produce eggs for reproduction. This takes priority over shell growth as most of the nutrients it ingests, go into egg production, and gradually, its shell becomes softer.
The problem with softer shells is that they can easily get peeled off or broken by accident. When the period of egg production lapses, your pet will begin to grow its shell again.
However, the damaged parts will remain as the shell begins to grow anew, making it look like it is peeling.
6) Lower Temperatures
When the tank temperature is low, your pet’s shell can get damaged and appear to be peeling off. Sometimes, environmental conditions may affect the look of your snail shell, but this does not automatically mean that your snail’s health will be affected.
The average tank temperature for freshwater snails like mystery snails is between 68°F and 82°F.
How to Prevent Mystery Snail Shell Peeling Problems
Although there are some ways to correct the problem of a peeling shell, it is important to understand that as responsible pet owners, prevention is always better than cure.
Here are some tips to prevent Mystery snail shell peeling problems in your aquarium.
1) Introduce Calcium Supplements in their Diet
Adding calcium to their diet will improve the hardness of their shell and save them from getting damaged as your pet moves around the tank. You may need a calcium test kit to check the calcium levels regularly to keep them at the appropriate level.
You can feed them cuttlebones as a calcium supplement or drop DreamsDealSG Tourmaline balls into your aquarium water as calcium supplements. These will also help maintain a stable pH level of the tank water.
2) Monitor the Tank pH Level
Monitoring the tank pH level is important to avoid a situation where your pet’s tank water becomes acidic. The appropriate pH level for your pet’s tank is between 7.5 and 8.5. You can raise the pH by adding a spoonful of baking soda to the tank water when the pH is low.
But you want to do so gradually and regularly check so that you do not go beyond the recommended range and make the tank water too alkaline for your snails to survive in them.
3) Choose appropriate Tank Mates
Big or aggressive fish are not appropriate tank mates for your pet. Mystery snails are docile and move slowly around the tank. Aggressive fish can easily collide with them forcefully, resulting in shell damage when they hit rocks or other hard decorations in the tank.
4) Ensure Adequate Feeding
A hungry mystery snail can feed on its shell. Also, inadequate nutrients in its diet can reduce the shell growth of your pet. An adequate diet for your pet includes kale, fish pellets, algae wafers, cucumbers, and calcium-rich foods.
5) Use A Long Tank Instead of A Deep Tank
The usual practice in the hobby is using a deep tank, especially when you want to keep a community tank with many algae eaters. While many of these cleaning crew critters may do great in deep tanks, deep tanks are not usually the best for Mystery snails.
When you use a deep tank, you increase the depth from which your snail will fall. It would be best to use a long and shallow tank. This will give your snail enough room to roam.
But more importantly, because they are not falling from a more dangerous height, the chances of damaging their shells when they fall off the wall and hit rocks are greatly reduced.
6) Avoid Hard Tank Decorations
Hard decorative items in tanks are some of the main reasons for damaged and peeling Mystery snail shells. Mystery snails, and many other freshwater snails, climb a lot. So they often fall back into the tank.
Having decorative items like ceramic plates, natural rocks, and other solid ornaments in the tank increases the chances of shell damage. When your snails fall off and hit these hard decorative items repeatedly, the shells will become pretty damaged over time, and this will lead to peeling. At other times, this can also lead to more severe health issues.
So it would be best to avoid solid materials that can damage the snail’s shell if the snails fall on them. But wood decorations are great because they will get spongy enough to do little to no harm in such a humid environment.
How To Help Your Snail If Its Shell is Broken
Normally, the snail will recover if the water parameters are optimal and feed on food with the high calcium content.
However, you can also add calcium supplements to the tank to help them recover faster, especially for gravid Mystery snails.
If the situation is such that the snail must be isolated for special attention or because the aggressive tank mates are a threat to its speedy recovery, you want to move it to a quarantine tank where you can better monitor its health.
In addition, you want to put all the preventive measures above to use.
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