Malaysian trumpet snails, or MTS, are popular aquarium inhabitants because they’re easy to care for and clean up algae and detritus. They can be a great addition to your betta tank.
As an experienced biologist, aquarist, and fish breeder, I’ve encountered many species, and MTS are still some of my favorites. I’m excited to share my knowledge and expertise about these snails.
This article provides a comprehensive guide to caring for Malaysian Trumpet snails and will talk about their:
- Natural habitat
- Tank setup
- And more!
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced aquarist, this guide will give you everything you need to keep these fascinating snails healthy and thriving in your aquarium.
Popular name: Malaysian Trumpet snails
Scientific name: Melanoides tuberculata
Size: Up to 1-inch long
Life Span: Up to 2 years
Diet: Detritus, algae, and leftover fish food
Minimum Tank Size: At least 5 gallons.
Tank Set Up: Malaysian Trumpet snails require a tank with plants and a substrate that contains minerals. This provides them with a suitable environment to burrow and hide in.
Water Parameters: 7.0-8.0 pH; 72-82°F
Compatibility: Peaceful creatures that can coexist with many animals, including Betta fish. Avoid aggressive or predatory companions.
Care Level: Beginner
What Are Malaysian Trumpet Snails?
Malaysian Trumpet Snails also called Turret Snails are a freshwater species native to Southeast Asia, specifically Malaysia and Thailand. They were introduced to the aquarium trade in the 1980s, and rapidly became popular thanks to their ability to clean tanks and control algae.
The Malaysian Trumpet Snail, also known as Melanoides tuberculata, is a freshwater snail species in the family Thiaridae. It was first described by a German naturalist named Johann Friedrich Gmelin in 1774.
From a taxonomic standpoint, the Malaysian Trumpet Snail belongs to:
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Mollusca
- Class: Gastropoda
- Order: Neotaenioglossa
- Superfamily: Cerithioidea
- Family: Thiaridae
- Genus: Melanoides
- Species: tuberculata
Malaysian Trumpet Snail Appearance
The Malaysian Trumpet snail (MTS) is a small freshwater snail that reaches up to an inch in length. It has a distinctive, spiral-shaped shell that can vary in color from light brown to dark brown.
The shell’s shape is visually appealing but also serves a purpose in the snail’s survival. A small opening at the bottom of the shell is used for respiration while the snail is buried in the substrate.
It also has a long pointed apex at the top, which usually points towards the snail’s rear end. The shell’s conical shape protects the snail from predators and makes it easier to burrow into the substrate.
One of the Malaysian Trumpet Snail’s most distinctive features is the long, thin antennae that protrude from its head. It uses them to detect food and to gather other sensory information from its surroundings.
Another notable feature is the muscular foot, which the snail uses to move around.
Distinguishing Trumpet Snails from Similar Species
It’s worth noting that several other species may resemble the Malaysian Trumpet Snail.
The Trumpet Snail’s shell has several rounded bumps, distinguishing it from similar species. Its body is also elongated and covered in small bristles.
The spirals on their shells twist to the right, setting them apart from species, like the Ramshorn snail, Planorbidae spp., which has a more disc-shaped shell.
The Trapdoor Snail, Viviparus georgianus shares some similarities with the Trumpet Snail. However, they can be distinguished from the Malaysian Trumpet Snail by the shape of their shells and the absence of bumps.
The Horned Nerite Snail (Clithon spp.) also looks similar, but its shell is more rounded and lacks the elongated, trumpet-like shape.
Anentome helena, another similar species, also has a cone-shaped shell but the spirals twist to the left.
Natural Habitat And Origin
Malaysian Trumpet Snails come from Southeast Asia, specifically Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
They can be found in freshwater streams, rivers, and ponds with warm, soft water that’s slightly acidic (6.5 to 7.5 pH). Although they can adapt to different water conditions, they prefer water that isn’t too hard.
In their natural habitat, Malaysian Trumpet Snails burrow into the substrate, hide during the day, and come out at night to look for food. For this reason, they prefer habitats with soft substrates, usually sand.
They usually live in lakes, streams, and other bodies of water where plenty of rocks and driftwood provide additional hiding places. In areas with a strong current, the snails attach themselves to objects such as rocks and plants to avoid being swept away.
MTS prefer areas with lots of vegetation, which provides both food and cover from predators.
Their native range includes a range of aquatic plants, such as:
- Water Wisteria
These plants provide both shelter and food. For example, Cabomba has fine, feathery leaves that the snails love to graze on. Anacharis and Hornwort have long, thin stems that provide ideal hiding places.
Malaysian Trumpet Snails play a vital role in controlling algae growth, both in captivity and in the wild. In turn, they provide a food source for larger aquatic animals. When setting up their aquarium, incorporating aquatic plants can help create a natural and comfortable environment for them.
Malaysian Trumpet snails are hermaphrodites, possessing both male and female reproductive organs. However, they can’t self-fertilize, so they need a partner to breed.
During the mating process, the snails stretch their bodies toward each other and exchange sperm packets, containing both male and female gametes.
Once fertilization occurs, the snail lays up to 100 eggs which it buries in a cocoon in the substrate or attaches to the aquarium wall. The eggs hatch after a few weeks, and the baby snails emerge.
These snails can reproduce rapidly in a suitable environment. However, you can slow their breeding rate by controlling the tank’s conditions. For instance, reducing the water temperature or changing the pH level can help slow their breeding.
Although Malaysian Trumpet snails can reproduce quickly, they’re not pest species like some other snails. They tend to reproduce only as much as their available food supply permits. If you don’t overfeed them, they should autoregulate their population.
If you want to breed Malaysian Trumpet snails, give them a suitable environment and plenty of food. You’ll soon have a thriving population in your tank. However, avoid overstocking your tank, as too many snails can cause water quality problems and other issues.
Malaysian Trumpet Snail Behavior
Malaysian Trumpet Snails are peaceful nocturnal animals that prefer to burrow in the substrate during the day.
They exhibit a unique behavior of burying themselves in the substrate and then popping up to the surface to breathe air. This behavior is fascinating to observe and can add interest to any aquarium. They’re capable of surviving in low-oxygen environments, thanks to this ability to breathe atmospheric air.
They’re not usually escape artists and generally stay within the confines of the aquarium. However, if the water quality is poor or they feel threatened, they may try to escape.
MTS aren’t particularly fast swimmers, making them easy prey for larger fish. However, their spiral shell offers some protection, and they can retreat into their shells if threatened.
Trumpet Snail Shell Growth Adaptations
One interesting fact about Malaysian Trumpet snails is that they have a unique ability to respond to changes in the water’s calcium levels.
When calcium levels decrease, the snails develop thicker shells. Conversely, when calcium levels increase, the snails develop thinner shells.
This adaptation is essential for the snail’s survival, as their shells serve as protection against predators and environmental stressors. Interestingly, it has also made the Malaysian Trumpet snail an excellent bioindicator for some scientific studies.
Bioindicators are species used to monitor changes in the environment, and this snail’s sensitivity to calcium levels makes them an excellent candidate.
Additionally, the Malaysian Trumpet snail’s shell has potential applications in materials science. Researchers are interested in the snail’s ability to create complex shell structures, which could potentially be used in developing new materials with advanced properties.
Malaysian Trumpet Snail Tank Setup
As a Malaysian Trumpet snail enthusiast, I always strive to give these amazing creatures the best environment.
Setting up a tank for your Malaysian Trumpet snails can be an exciting and fulfilling experience. However, it’s important to ensure that you meet all their needs.
It’s worthwhile to provide an environment that’s as close to their natural habitat as possible.
Malaysian Trumpet snails can adapt to different types of aquariums, but they thrive in tanks that resemble their native habitat.
Let’s take a closer look.
Plants and Decor
Live plants are an essential component in Malaysian Trumpet snail tanks, as they provide a more natural environment and a source of food. Snails eat decaying plant matter but may uproot or damage delicate plants.
I recommend using hardy plants, like Java Fern and Anubias. The plants provide a source of food and help to reduce the accumulation of nitrates, which can be harmful to your snails.
Plants also offer a natural aesthetic and serve as a place for snails to lay their eggs. These snails are active climbers, so providing hiding places and structures for the snails to climb on is essential.
Suitable options include driftwood, rocks, and PVC pipes.
Malaysian Trumpet snails prefer a soft substrate that they can burrow into.
Fine sand or gravel are suitable choices but avoid sharp or rough substrates that can harm the snail’s soft body.
Adding a layer of organic matter, such as crushed leaves, can also benefit the snails as it provides a source of food and hiding places for them.
It’s worth noting that a substrate that’s high in calcium can help the snails maintain their shell thickness.
Malaysian Trumpet Snails prefer soft, slightly acidic water that contains few contaminants. Maintaining proper water parameters is crucial to the health of your Malaysian Trumpet snails.
The recommended pH range is between 7.0 and 8.0, and the temperature should be kept between 72°F and 82°F.
Use a corner filter or sponge filter to cycle the water and keep it clean. You should also perform a 25% water change once a week.
Ammonia and nitrite levels should always be at 0 ppm, and nitrate levels should be kept below 40 ppm.
It’s essential to avoid using any chemicals or medications, as they could harm your Trumpet snails. When introducing new snails to your tank, it’s best to quarantine them for two weeks before adding them to the aquarium. This will help prevent the spread of diseases or parasites.
A Note About Magnesium
Malaysian Trumpet snails have high magnesium requirements to maintain healthy shell growth. If the water in your tank lacks magnesium, you may notice that your snails’ shells are pitted or have holes. To address this issue, you can add magnesium sulfate to your tank water or use a specialized snail shell supplement.
Trumpet snails are algae-eaters that help keep the tank clean, but they also scavenge for other types of food. You can supplement their diet with fish flakes, algae wafers, and blanched vegetables.
Malaysian Trumpet Snail Compatibility With Betta Fish
Malaysian Trumpet snails are generally peaceful, so it’s important to avoid keeping them with aggressive tank mates like large cichlids, loaches, and pufferfish.
One popular fish species that many aquarium hobbyists enjoy keeping with Malaysian Trumpet snails is the Betta fish.
Bettas are known for their vibrant colors and flowing fins, but they can be quite aggressive toward other fish. Nevertheless, Bettas get along with snails due to the snails’ docile nature.
Overall, Malaysian Trumpet snails are compatible with many fish species and can be an excellent addition to any aquarium. However, it’s essential to research and select tank mates carefully to ensure a harmonious and healthy aquatic environment for all inhabitants.
Most small, peaceful fish like tetras, guppies, and rasboras will make good companions for your trumpet snails.
Where To Buy Malaysian Trumpet Snails In The US
Malaysian Trumpet snails are a popular and readily available species.
Local fish stores and aquarium specialty stores are excellent places to look for Malaysian Trumpet snails. They’ll often have a variety of sizes and quantities are often available for purchase.
Alternatively, purchasing Malaysian Trumpet snails online from reputable retailers like Amazon, eBay, and Aquatic Arts can give you access to a wider selection.
When purchasing Malaysian Trumpet snails, it’s essential to ensure that the snails are healthy. Look for snails that are active and moving, with a firm shell and no visible signs of damage or illness.
Malaysian Trumpet snails are prolific breeders, and you may have a sudden population explosion. If you’re not looking to breed the snails, I’d recommended starting with a small group of snails to prevent overpopulation.
Bear in mind that some pet stores may offer to take back excess snails if you find yourself with too many.
Federally, it’s legal to own Malaysian Trumpet Snails in the United States. However, some states restrict the import and sale of certain snail species, including the Malaysian Trumpet snail. Remember to check your state’s regulations before buying these snails.
It’s illegal to release any non-native species, including the Malaysian Trumpet snail, into the wild in the US. Some states consider these snails an invasive species, and you should never release them into local waterways.
Breeding and selling the Malaysian Trumpet Snail isn’t necessarily illegal. However, ensure that you have the necessary permits and licenses required in your area (if any).
You should also ensure that you only obtain snails from reputable sources.
Keeping Malaysian Trumpet snails can be a fun and rewarding experience for hobbyists of all levels. They’re easy to care for, don’t have many requirements, and demonstrate a host of interesting behaviors.
If you buy these snails, remember to buy from verified sources, and always have a backup plan for all the snail babies.
If you have a question we haven’t answered, feel free to contact us or drop a comment below. We’d love to hear more about your experiences with this species.
About the author
Hi, I am Marcelo.
I am fascinated with researching and writing about fish.
I have a degree in biology (herpetologist) and animal science (zootechnics) specializing in ornamental fish and South American biotopes.
You can find the articles I wrote here.