Every aquarium hobbyist wishes for their pets to thrive in good health. Any signs of ill health are definitely worrisome. While snails are hardy tank pets, they are not immune to infections. So, what does it mean when a snail’s shell starts turning white?
A snail shell turning white can mean calcium deficiency, tank toxins, acidic corrosion, old age, or sickness. Ignoring these signs can harm your snail’s health. Test water quality, monitor the snail, and take prompt action, such as adjusting water parameters, adding calcium, and cleaning the tank.
In this article, I will examine the causes of shell discoloration in snails and provide remedies. I will discuss the primary reasons behind shell whitening and offer valuable insights into maintaining healthy snail shells.
What Factors Make Snail Shells Turn White?
Low Calcium Concentrations
A snail’s shell primarily comprises calcium carbonate with a thin outer protein layer. Throughout their lives, snails require an ample supply of calcium to develop and repair their shells.
When a shell begins to turn white, it is likely due to insufficient calcium concentrations in the tank, resulting in the snail not receiving enough calcium for proper shell formation.
To address this, you should add calcium supplements to increase the availability of calcium in the water.
I recommend using the Weco Wonder Shell Natural Minerals blend, which provides high concentrations of calcium, magnesium, and other essential minerals for optimal shell growth. Add these artificial calcium shells to the water, and your snails will consume them.
For a more natural remedy, you can also consider adding cuttlebone and eggshells to your tank.
Low Water pH and Water Softness
Snails are adversely affected by acidic and soft water, as it can corrode, erode, and discolor their shells. If you notice large white patches on your snail’s shell, it may indicate a decrease in pH and the tank becoming acidic.
Freshwater snails thrive in slightly alkaline and hard water conditions. An ideal pH range of 7-8 and a hardness of 70-90 ppm of calcium promote proper shell growth. It is crucial to regularly monitor the pH and hardness levels of your water to ensure they remain within the appropriate range.
I recommend the API GH & KH Freshwater Aquarium Test Kit as a reliable tool for testing water pH and hardness, providing accurate and quick results.
Recommended Reading: Do Snails Lower pH?
If you find that your pH and hardness levels are imbalanced, I recommend using the API PROPER Freshwater Aquarium pH Stabilizer. This effective chemical stabilizer swiftly adjusts your tank’s pH while releasing small amounts of minerals to slightly increase hardness. It is user-friendly and provides rapid results within minutes.
Another remedy to reduce acidity in your tank is to check and monitor the CO2 concentrations and organic acid levels. A CO2 regulator like the INKBIRDPLUS Aquarium CO2 Regulator can help maintain stable CO2 levels. This regulator is equipped with multiple gauges for monitoring and adjusting CO2 fluctuations, and its professional dual-cylinder design minimizes the risk of leakage for safety purposes.
I recommend using the MICROBE-LIFT NITEH04 Nite-Out II Tank Cleaner to address ammonia and nitric acid spikes in the tank. This cleaner is a blend of live bacteria that rapidly reduces ammonia and nitrite levels in your tank. It is safe for both aquatic animals and plants while also enhancing the tank’s biofilter.
High Concentrations of Hard Metals
The following hard metals are detrimental to snails:
It is crucial to maintain nil or negligible concentrations of these metals to safeguard your snails. The accumulation of these metals on a snail’s shell can lead to whitening and pose a significant threat to their normal activities, including cutaneous respiration and breathing.
I recommend the Seachem 2 Pack of Cuprisorb Heavy Metal Remover to address this issue. This neutralizer swiftly removes traces of all hard metals from your tank. It is particularly effective for emergencies requiring the removal of heavy metals. Also, it helps in pH adjustment to neutral levels.
Recommended Reading: 4 Best Snail-Safe Aquarium Antibacterial Medications
Age or Ill Health
It is well-known that old age and ill health can cause a snail’s shell to turn white. As a snail ages, its shell naturally undergoes discoloration, mainly due to erosion.
Additionally, parasitic, fungal, and bacterial infections affecting the snail’s internal organs can disrupt its metabolism. When a snail is unwell, all processes, including calcium assimilation, slow down, leading to shell discoloration.
Algae can sometimes grow on a snail’s shell, appearing as branched white patches. Algae thrive on the shell due to the high calcium, CO2, and ammonia concentrations in the snail’s environment. It is not uncommon to find such algal growth on rocks and tank decorations.
To address these algal blooms, products like API AlgaeFix can be beneficial. API AlgaeFix is specifically formulated to quickly halt algae growth while optimizing tank water parameters. Importantly, this product does not interfere with water parameters in any way.
A snail shell turning white often indicates a significant issue. It can result from:
- Poor tank parameters.
- The snail’s ill health.
- A high concentration of toxins in the tank.
- Old age.
When you observe white patches on the shell, you must promptly test your water parameters and make necessary adjustments. Additionally, closely monitor the snail itself as there may be an underlying infection.
By maintaining proper tank conditions and providing appropriate care for your snails, you can minimize the risk of shell health deterioration and whitening.