Betta Fish and Mystery Snails: Can They Live Together?

We know that male Betta fish are very aggressive toward males of their own species and to other long-finned fish. But what about Betta fish and Mystery Snails? Can they live together?

If you have an itch to add a tank mate to your Betta habitat, then read on for some important information on adding Mystery Snails to your Betta habitat. 

mystery snail

Mystery Snail Fast Facts

  • Species: Pomacea bridgesii
  • Size: 2 plus inches
  • Lifespan: 1 year
  • pH: 7.0 to 7.5
  • Temperature: 68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Tank Size: Minimum 5 gallons (for a single snail)

What is a Mystery Snail?

The Mystery Snail is one of (if not) the most popular snails in the aquatic world. These industrious critters come in a wide range of colors (gold, black, blue, purple, albino, and ivory white) and will grow up to 2 inches (sometimes more) in diameter. 

They are excellent at keeping algae at bay and will slurp up excess food and waste on the substrate and aquarium walls. Unlike those small snails that hang around eating your live plants, the Mystery Snail will not disturb your foliage (unless it runs out of food).

Pro Tip: Be sure to keep your Mystery Snail well-fed by using algae wafers, fish food, or blanched zucchini, kale, cucumber, and spinach. 

Like the Betta fish, Mystery Snails can also breathe air from the surface of your aquarium. They do this with a special tube that extends from the front of their body. When they need a breath of fresh air, they will stick the tube above the surface of the water and wave it back and forth. 

Even though you won’t find your Mystery Snail “zooming” around your tank, it will become quite active when it is feeding and exploring. 

Tank Recommendations For Betta & Mystery Snail

For your Betta and Mystery Snail to happily cohabitate, your tank should be at least 10 gallons; however, the bigger the better. Small tanks (5 gallons) can quickly become overloaded with waste which can turn the water toxic. Plus, not all Bettas will accept the presence of a Mystery Snail in a tiny enclosure. 

Like the Betta, the Mystery Snail likes the temperature between 68 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH between 7.0 and 7.5. A regular day and night cycle is also recommended for both these aquatic pets. 

When choosing substrate and aquarium decorations, remember that the Mystery Snail’s body is very delicate, so avoid anything sharp or pointed that could catch on or slice your snail’s soft body.

Pro Tip: Use plenty of aquatic plants to give your Betta a place to establish territory and for your Mystery Snail to hide and destress, 

Adding a Mystery Snail to the Betta Tank

Once your Betta tank is well-established, adding a Mystery Snail is fairly easy. 

  1. Acclimate your snail to the water temperature and “elements” by floating the carry-home bag on top of the water for fifteen minutes. 
  2. Carefully open the bag and slowly add the tank water to the bag. 
  3. Let it sit for ten minutes.
  4. Remove the bag and gently scoop out the snail using a fishnet or your hand.
  5. Place the snail into your Betta tank, making sure it is rightside-up.

Keep a close eye on your Mystery Snail. It should become active within a couple of hours. Snails that remain motionless for long periods or float upside-down may be dead.

To find out, remove the snail and sniff it. Is there a foul or pungent odor? Then your snail has succumbed and you will want to remove it from the aquarium.

Pro Tip: Mystery Snails have been known to escape. Keep a lid on the aquarium and/or lower the water level if you have a Snail-Houdini on your hands. If you find your snail outside the tank, acclimate it back ASAP to prevent its demise. 

When Can’t Betta Fish and Mystery Snails Live Together?

Like us, Bettas have different personalities. Some male Bettas are fine with Mystery Snails, while others cannot tolerate them in their habitat. 

How do you know curiosity from combative behavior?

Normal Betta’s behavior is to investigate anything new or unusual on his home turf. Your Betta may flare at your Mystery Snail, appear to be “sniffing” it, poke it or even knock it down as it makes its way across the glass. If your Betta does this then swims away without further incident, he is just showing this “intruder” who owns the territory. 

This type of Betta behavior is normal and he may sniff, poke, and knock down your Mystery Snail for a couple of days until he realizes it’s not a threat. 

However, if your Betta is a bully, then you may have a problem.

Some aquarists complain of their Betta repeatedly attacking their Mystery Snail resulting in the tearing off of one of the eyestalks and harassing the snail until it completely shuts itself away in its shell.

If your Betta indulges in this behavior, then relocate your Mystery Snail to another tank. Chances are, your Betta will never accept this interloper which will result in the eventual death of the snail. 

Tips on Betta Fish & Mystery Snails Living Together in Harmony

Male Bettas are very territorial, so be sure to have plenty of foliage, and aquarium ornaments in place before you add a Mystery Snail to your tank. This allows your Betta to stake out his region.

Larger aquariums will be more difficult for your Betta to “patrol.” Use at least 10-gallons if you want to add a Mystery Snail to your tank. 

Well-fed Bettas are happy fishies. Be sure to keep your Betta full, to avoid him trying to make a meal of your Mystery Snail. 

If your Betta has suddenly taken to picking on your Mystery Snail, change up the decorations. Sometimes mixing up his territory will put the two tank mates back on an even playing field. 

Some Betta owners also recommend using a ping-pong ball. Bettas will divert their attention to the floating object. However, only leave the ball in for a couple of days. Bettas will continue to try to eject the ball, which can stress them out. 

Bettas will snack on small snails, so when choosing a Mystery Snail, get the biggest one possible. 

How to Choose a Mystery Snail

When choosing a healthy Mystery Snail for your Betta buddy look for signs of good health. These include a strong shell without cracks or pitting, a snail that is actively moving in the tank, and already cohabitating with other fish. 

You will also want to closely examine the Mystery Snail to ensure that there is no damage to its eyestalks, body, or operculum (acts like a trap door and helps prevent the snail from drying up in poor conditions). 

Final Thoughts

Betta fish and Mystery Snails can sometimes cohabitate peacefully in a 10 gallon (or more) aquarium. To help the friendship along, be sure to have plenty of foliage and aquarium decorations in place to help your Betta establish territory and for your snail to hide amongst.

If your Betta is more than curious about the Mystery Snail, then you may need to relocate the snail to ease its stress and to also keep it alive.

Some Bettas will finally realize the Mystery Snail is not a threat and will either ignore it or become somewhat friendly to it. The first day is crucial to having a Mystery Snail in your Betta’s tank, so be sure to keep a close eye on what transpires between the two aquatic pets then act accordingly.