Rabbit Snails: Care Tips, Breeding Advice, and Lifespan

Rabbit Snails Care Tips

Rabbit Snails: Care Tips, Breeding Advice, and Lifespan

Scientific research has greatly expanded the range of snail species that can be bred in captivity, coinciding with the popularity of snail-keeping as a hobby. Among the recent additions is the rabbit snail, which joined the aquatic community in the late 2000s.

Rabbit snails’ diet includes algae, decaying food remnants, and deceased tank mates. They are not known to consume live plants except Java ferns. With proper care, the snails can live up to 3 years in captivity, reaching sizes of up to 3 inches (8 cm) in diameter and 3-5 inches (8-13 cm) in length.

The rest of this guide provides valuable insights to help you care for your rabbit snails effectively. Whether you’re a hobbyist or dealing with rabbit snail control issues, this guide is suitable for you.

Rabbit Snail Habitat and Origin

As mentioned earlier, rabbit snails (Tylomelania Gemmifera) are a relatively new addition to the aquarium community, introduced in 2007-2008.

These snails, also known as elephant snails, are native to Sulawesi, Indonesia. Currently, there are around 50 known species of rabbit snails.

The most common ones include:

  • The orange and yellow Poso rabbit snail (Tylomelania zemis): endemic to Lake Poso in Sulawesi. They have bright orange or yellow bodies with a blend of dark and brown shades in their shells. The yellow Poso snail differs from the orange Poso snail only in body color.
  • The gold rabbit snail (Tylomelania gemmifera): characterized by a deep golden-yellow body and a black or dark brown shell.
  • The white spotted rabbit snail (Tylomelania patriarchalis): features a black body covered in tiny white polka dots. Their shells display a blend of red, brown, and white colors.
  • The chocolate rabbit snail (Tylomelania perfecta): has a chocolate-brown body and a sand-colored pointed shell.
  • A rare black rabbit snail (name unknown): has a thin, slender body and a matching black shell.

Additionally, spotted variations of these snail species exist, including:

  • Yellow-spotted
  • Gold-spotted
  • White-spotted

Ongoing research continues to expand the species portfolio.

In their natural habitat, rabbit snails can be found in the warm freshwater lake systems of Poso and Malili. They thrive in slow-moving, dimly lit water, actively foraging for food.

Rabbit Snail Appearance and Size

Rabbit Snail Appearance and Size
Image Source: Himadi Aquatics

The rabbit snail is characterized by its muscular ventral foot that extends from the shell. It has long tentacles resembling rabbit ears and a snout resembling an elephant’s trunk, which explains its namesake.

The snail’s shell is an inverted spiral cone resembling an upside-down unicorn. A distinctive groove runs along the right side of its soft body, playing a significant role in the snail’s breeding process.

The rabbit snail is considered a large snail, growing to a size of up to 3 inches (8 cm) in diameter and 5 inches (13 cm) in length under ideal tank conditions. However, there are also mini varieties of rabbit snails that reach a maximum length of 2 inches (5 cm).

Buying Rabbit Snails

Buying Rabbit Snails

When purchasing rabbit snails, it’s important to note that they are a relatively new species. As a result, there may be variations in common names based on color. However, this should not be a problem since, in most cases, the color lures buyers to specific species of rabbit snails.

Consider acquiring the Family of (6) Assorted Rabbit Snails 1-2″ from Amazon, which includes a total of six rabbit snails: three Poso orange and three yellow snails. Prior to purchase, conduct thorough research on snails and ensure that your aquarium meets the necessary conditions for their survival.

Unlike other snail species, rabbit snails are known for their high activity levels, which adds to their appeal.

When selecting rabbit snails, consider the following:

  • Opt for those actively moving around the tank or attached to hard surfaces. These active snails indicate good health and vitality.
  • Steer clear of rabbit snails that are floating upside down or laying motionless at the bottom of the tank, as these could be signs of potential health issues.
  • Another important consideration when buying rabbit snails is the health of their shells. A healthy shell is indicative of overall well-being. Therefore, inspect the shells for any cracks, pits, or discoloration. Such issues may suggest calcium deficiency or prolonged exposure to toxic water, which can negatively affect the snail’s health.
  • Keep in mind that the size of rabbit snails increases as they grow. Choosing a smaller-sized snail can indicate a younger individual, while a larger size suggests a more mature snail.
  • Consider your preferences and the tank’s capacity when deciding on the size of the snails you want to purchase.

Rabbit Snail Average Lifespan

A rabbit snail can live for 2-3 years under normal care conditions. However, with diligent care, their lifespan can be extended up to 4 years.

It’s important to note that the rabbit snail’s lifespan is significantly shortened under sub-par water conditions, often not even reaching its second birthday.

Additionally, these snails have a relatively slow growth rate, reaching their maximum size at around 1.5 years.

Rabbit Snail Care

Caring for a rabbit snail is similar to caring for other snail species, and there are no unconventional care requirements for them.

Related Reading: Will Tap Water Kill Snails?

Tank Size and Substratum

One common mistake among hobbyists keeping rabbit snails is overcrowding their tanks, often forgetting that these are large-sized snails that can grow up to 3 inches (8 cm) in diameter.

Overpopulation can lead to difficulty maintaining cleanliness and adequate feeding for the snails. It is recommended to have a minimum tank size of 10 gallons (38 liters) for a single rabbit snail.

Therefore, small or nano-sized aquariums and general fish tanks are unsuitable for housing these snails.

I recommend a 25-gallon tank for housing two rabbit snails, and if you plan to keep them with fish or other tank creatures, a minimum tank size of 30 gallons is advised. The Tetra Glass Rectangular Aquarium from Amazon is a suitable option for hobbyists interested in keeping rabbit snails.

The ideal substrate for your rabbit snail tank is fine sand or aqua soil, as these snails love to burrow into the tank floor. Coarse sand or gravel should be avoided as they can harm the snail while burrowing.

Adding one or two average-sized stones can provide a nice spot for the snails to relax and scavenge for algae. It’s important to note that a bare tank is unsuitable for keeping rabbit snails.

Related Reading: Can You Use Repti Calcium for Snails?

The rabbit snail prefers dimly lit environments, making it a good idea to add adequate healthy plants to the tank. These plants can provide shade and hiding places for the snails.

Although well-fed rabbit snails generally do not eat aquatic plants, except for java ferns, they have been observed to enjoy feeding on decaying plant material such as leaves.

Some ideal plants for a rabbit snail tank with stronger leaves include the following:

These plants are commonly available in most pet stores. However, it’s important not to overcrowd the tank with dense vegetation, as the large size of rabbit snails may hinder their navigation.

Water Parameters

Rabbit snails thrive in warmer water, with an ideal temperature range of 68°F to 84°F (20°C-29°C). However, temperatures closer to 84°F (29°C) are preferred as the metabolism of these large snails tends to slow down as temperatures drop towards 68°F (29°C).

They also prefer hard and alkaline water, with a recommended hardness of 2 to 15 and a pH range of 7.3 to 8.2.

Since rabbit snails prefer dimly lit environments, it may take some time for snails collected from the wild to adjust to bright tank lights. Given their large size, rabbit snails have a substantial bioload, requiring mature aquariums with established nitrogen cycles.

Related Reading: Do Snails Increase Bioload?

To ensure sufficient oxygen levels, it is advisable to add an aerator or bubbler when keeping multiple snails in a tank.

Temperature68 to 84°F (preferably closer to 84°F)
Hardness2 to 15
pH7.3 to 8.2

Feeding and Diet

Rabbit snails are omnivores that primarily feed on algae. They have a voracious appetite for all algae, but they also require a balanced diet that includes plant and animal foods.

In addition to foraging for food on the tank floor and consuming decaying plant matter, these snails have been observed to eat deceased tank mates.

Due to their large size and high food requirements, relying solely on foraging may not nourish rabbit snails sufficiently. Therefore, it is important to supplement their diet with daily meal treats.

Recommended dietary treats for rabbit snails include:     

  • Sinking algae wafers    
  • Spirulina pellets    
  • Blanched vegetables such as kale, spinach, and carrots    
  • Protein pellets (especially for breeding populations) 

Providing various food options ensures that the snails receive the nutrients for their growth and overall health.

Suitable Tank Mates

Rabbit snails thrive best when housed with peaceful and non-aggressive fish and vertebrates. Given their active nature and propensity for exploration, avoid placing them with aggressive tank mates that may pose a threat.

Here are some suitable tank mates for rabbit snails:     

  • Non-aggressive aquatic snails such as Ramshorn, Nerite, and Mystery snails.    
  • Small, non-aggressive fish like tetras, rasboras, gouramis, and danios.    
  • Freshwater invertebrates, including Amano shrimp, ghost shrimp, and Cherry shrimp.

However, it is important to note that certain tank mates should be avoided due to their aggressive or semi-aggressive nature.

These include:

  • Assassin snails
  • Crayfish
  • Loaches
  • Goldfish
  • Betta fish

Rabbit Snail Breeding

Rabbit snails have unique characteristics when it comes to breeding. They are gonochoric, viviparous, and monomorphic.

Being gonochoric means that individual snails are of different sexes, unlike hermaphrodite snails that possess both male and female sexual organs.

Viviparous reproduction is observed in rabbit snails, meaning they give birth to live young rather than laying eggs. A female snail carries a fertilized embryo in the brood sac, giving birth to one offspring at a time.

Regarding morphology, rabbit snails are monomorphic, lacking distinguishing features between males and females aside from their sex organs.

To increase the chances of successful mating, it is recommended to place 3-6 snails in a tank, increasing the likelihood of a male and female encounter. These factors make breeding rabbit snails challenging, as visually distinguishing between males and females based on physical characteristics alone is impossible.

The reproductive cycle of rabbit snails takes approximately 4-6 weeks to complete, after which a single young rabbit snail is added to the tank.

On average, a baby rabbit snail measures about 0.2 inches (4 mm) in length. It is also not uncommon for twins or triplets to emerge, although they originate from the same embryo sac.

Behavior and Temperament

Rabbit snails are highly active and inquisitive, constantly exploring the tank day and night. Unlike many other snail species, they are not shy and can often be seen roaming in open areas.

Despite their activity, they tend to focus on their own tasks and pay little attention to other tank mates. When threatened, they retreat into their shells until the danger passes.

Common Problems

The main concern with rabbit snails is the presence of leeches, which often accompany imported snails. These leeches can be difficult to detect until it becomes a serious issue.

However, rabbit snails are generally hardy and not prone to common fish diseases. It is important to be cautious with fish disease medications, as many of them contain copper, which is harmful to rabbit snails.

Related Reading: Can Snails Get Fish TB?

Closing Remarks

If you are considering adding rabbit snails to your tank, many rabbit snail owners express great satisfaction with their algae-clearing abilities and low maintenance requirements.

However, I do not recommend introducing rabbit snails to new tanks due to their high bioload. If you are new to keeping snails, it is advisable to take the time to establish and mature your tank before considering these fascinating creatures.

Most experienced hobbyists are eager to add more of these amazing critters to their collections. I am always open to suggestions for improving my snail guides and welcome any feedback you may have.



  • Paul Odoteh

    Paul Odoteh is an established writer and editor with nearly 10 years of experience in writing and editing. He holds a bachelor's degree in IT and has written for numerous publications and individuals. Currently, Odoteh is dedicated to expanding his blog, SnailPedia.com, which was inspired by his passion for owning an aquarium.

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