Rabbit snails also known as Tylomelania snails can be a great addition to your betta tank.
I am a biologist with a passion for aquariums and freshwater fish.
This article will explore what you need to know to care for these animals in your aquarium, including:
- Their origin
- Their natural habitat
- How to create a suitable environment for them
- Rabbit snail reproduction
- Rabbit snail appearance
- And more!
Let’s get into it
Rabbit Snails in a Nutshell
Popular name: Rabbit Snails, Elephant Snails
Scientific name: Tylomelania spp.
Size: Up to three inches long
Life Span: Unconfirmed, roughly three years
Diet: Detritus and algae; bottom-feeder pellets
Minimum Tank Size: At least 20 gallons.
Tank Set Up: A planted tank with soft, malleable substrate.
Water Parameters: 7.0-8.0 pH; 71 to 82°F (22°C-28°C)
Compatibility: Peaceful, can coexist with most peaceful fish, including Bettas.
Care Level: Beginner
Natural Habitat And Origin
Rabbit snails are native to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, where they live in freshwater rivers and streams.
Several species of Tylomelania live in large lakes like Lake Poso and others in the Malili complex (Matano, Mahalona, Towuti, Lontoa, and Masapi), as well as some adjacent streams.
These lakes are unique, differentiating themselves from other large continental lakes. They have clear and transparent waters, with a low level of organic matter.
This basin contains the bodies of water with the world’s highest concentration of iron. The water temperature varies between 27ºC and 31ºC, and the pH ranges from 7.5 (some places in Poso) to 8.5 (Matano). The water hardness is low.
Rabbit snails (Tylomelania spp.) have a high degree of endemism, with many species only occurring in highly restricted geographic areas. It may be only one cape, or an island in a specific lake.
They also have a high degree of syntopy (when several species of the same genus coexist in the same region), with up to seven species co-inhabiting the same ecological niche.
Some researchers call them “Darwinian snails” as they represent a model for studying evolution, speciation, and adaptive radiation.
Rabbit Snail Appearance
Rabbit snails are large and colorful, with a spiral-shaped shell that reaches two to three inches (5 to 8 centimeters) in length.
They’re called rabbit snails due to their long, mobile antennae that resemble rabbit ears. Its body is gray or light brown with black or brown spots.
Taxonomically, they belong to the family Pachychilidae and the genus Tylomelania, which contains many species.
Rabbit Snail Behavior
Rabbit snails are active both during the day and at night. They’re slow moving animals,, spending hours feeding in the same place.
Juveniles are more active than adults who can spend days motionless in the same place. They don’t like excessive lighting, hiding in more shaded locations.
As mentioned, each species is quite specialized to its habitat; some will spend a good part of their time walking on the glass (species that naturally live on rocky substrates), while others will remain at the bottom, being able to partially bury themselves.
They’re long-lived animals, based on the large shells of some species, but there’s no objective information on age at sexual maturity or life expectancy. Rabbit snails are peaceful animals and can coexist with other fish and invertebrate species in a community aquarium.
These snails mainly feed on algae and detritus. They can also eat live plants when hungry (which happens easily when the tank is overpopulated).
These snails won’t get out of the water but will climb plants and other surfaces to reach food. It’s vital to note that rabbit snails are vulnerable to predators such as pufferfish.
Rabbit Snail Tank Setup
To create an ideal environment for rabbit snails, pay special attention to the choice of plants and substrate for the aquarium. Some plants can be toxic or difficult for snails to digest.
The substrate must be soft and consistent to allow the snails to burrow and move.
Rabbit snails are not known to be particularly harmful to plants, but that doesn’t mean they won’t eat plants when hungry or when there are too many snails in the tank. If you want to grow plants in your tank with rabbit snails, there are some options that work well.
Floating plants, like water lettuce, are great choices for tanks with rabbit snails, as they provide a place for them to hide and feed, and also create shaded areas in the tank. Floating plants also help absorb excess nutrients from the water and improve water quality.
Other plants that are good for tanks with rabbit slugs include Java moss, Anubias, and Cryptocoryne. These plants are hardy and not easily damaged by snails.
Some plants, such as Java Fern, are not recommended for tanks with rabbit snails. These plants can be easily damaged by these snails and therefore should be avoided or placed where snails cannot reach them.
Ensure your plants are healthy and disease free before adding them to your rabbit snail tank. Introducing diseased plants can lead to health problems in your snails and other aquarium inhabitants.
The substrate for rabbit snails should be soft and fine-grained. This is important so they can bury themselves comfortably without getting hurt.
The substrate must also be inert, maintaining a stable pH and hardness. Some standard substrate options are sand, fine gravel, and aquarium-specific substrate. Remember to wash and clean the substrate before placing it in the aquarium, to remove any dirt or residue.
Rabbit snails are sensitive to changes in water parameters, so it’s essential to keep pH, nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, and water temperature levels at proper levels.
The ideal pH is between 7.0 and 8.0, and the water temperature should be between 71 and 82°F (22°C-28°C).
It’s vital to test the water regularly to ensure that these parameters are always within optimal levels.
It’s also essential to ensure that the aquarium is cycled and has the right filtration. A good corner or sponge filter should be sufficient, along with regular water maintenance.
Be sure to monitor ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in the aquarium water, as high levels of these compounds can harm snails and other aquarium inhabitants. Regular water testing can help ensure these levels are within proper parameters.
Finally, it’s crucial to observe your snails regularly to ensure they’re happy and healthy. If you notice any signs of illness or stress, like cracked or broken shells, poor appetite, or abnormal behavior, take immediate action to correct the problem. It’s best to seek the help of a veterinarian or expert.
If you follow these guidelines, you can provide a safe and healthy environment for your rabbit snails to thrive in your aquarium.
Rabbit Snail Breeding
The way Rabbit snails breed is one of their most striking characteristics. They reproduce asexually, but with internal fertilization.
Rabbit snails are considered ovoviviparous animals with a uterine pregnancy. The uterus is formed by modifying the reproductive structure (called the pallial oviduct) in the form of a uterine pouch, where the eggs and embryos are retained and developed.
The offspring within this structure is enveloped in a large volume of nutritive material, with no transfer of nutrients from the mother to the embryo.
This characteristic indicates that these gastropods are ovoviviparous, rather than viviparous.
These snails don’t have a breeding season, producing offspring continuously throughout the year. Gestation is considered to be quite long (four to six weeks), with each pregnant female carrying relatively few (usually only one or two) young snails.
These young rabbit snails are born with large sizes, and well-formed shells with multiple spirals. The egg capsule is spherical and made of a thin translucent white membrane, which ruptures and dissolves quickly.
You shouldn’t keep these snails with other species in the genus Tylomenia, as they hybridize easily. There are numerous reports of crosses between different species, both in nature and in aquariums. It’s not yet known whether these offspring are fertile or not.
Rabbit Snail Compatibility With Betta
The Rabbit Snail is a popular snail in many aquariums. It has a beautiful, unique appearance, which adds an interesting touch to any aquarium. Rabbit Snails are also great for joining the aquarium clean-up team, keeping it free of algae and leftover food.
Before adding Rabbit Snails to your aquarium, consider their compatibility with other fish. These snails are compatible with most fish from the tropics, that require the same basic water parameters.
Betta fish are one of the most popular companion choices for rabbit snails. Although Bettas are known for their territoriality, they’re peaceful and live well alongside rabbit snails.
Always keep these snails with fish that are equally peaceful, small in size, and won’t see them as a snack. Some excellent rabbit snail companions include Guppies, Danios, Rasboras, and Corydoras.
Avoid large, aggressive fish, as well as those that feed on snails, like puffers and large cichlids.
Where Do You Get Rabbit Snails In The USA?
If you’re looking for a Rabbit Snail for your aquarium, there are numerous types and colors to choose from.
You can easily find Rabbit Snails for sale at pet stores or your local fish store. Many people also breed and sell Rabbit Snails, so you may find a Rabbit Snail breeder in your area.
Please check your state’s legislation. Allthough it may not be illegal to keep or breed Rabbit Snails in the United States, some regions may have unique regulations. Please only purchase snails from licensed, certified breeders and sellers.
These snails are considered a highly invasive species, which is why (in addition to being unethical) it’s illegal to release Rabbit Snails into the wild. Before getting them, make sure you have everything you need to care for your Rabbit Snail in a responsible and lasting way.
It’s vital to point out that, just like other snails, Rabbit Snails need a significant amount of magnesium in their diet. It’s best to supplement the diet with specific supplements for water snails.
Remember that Rabbit Snails are a little more susceptible to disease than other snails, so providing a healthy environment with the right temperature and pH is vital to ensure your Rabbit Snail reaches its maximum lifespan.
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.