Understanding Bladder Snail Characteristics, Behavior, and Lifestyle
Bladder Snails are a very interesting snail species. Put a few in an aquarium and watch them multiply into dozens within a few weeks. They make quite an impression thanks to their incredible breeding speed. What makes them unique and different from other snail species is the fact that their shells spiral to the left. In contrast, most snails are righties, with their shells spiral out into a clockwise direction.
Moreover, Bladder Snails can also shake off any crawling organisms that may be hitching a ride on their back. That’s why you will often notice Bladder Snails violently shaking in aquariums. Aquarists have also noticed Bladder Snails taking in air and floating in the tank occasionally. This behavior is more common in tanks with sponge filters.
Let’s take a detailed look at the lifestyle and behavior of this notorious oddball.
Bladder Snail Characteristics and General Information
- Class: Gastropoda
- Family: Physidae
- SubTypes: Moss Bladder Snail (Aplexahypnorum)
- Relatives: Physellaheterostropha, Physellagyrina
- Size: About ½ inch overall
- Average lifespan: 2 years
- Preferred habitat: Freshwater, with pH 7-8 (Can tolerate acidic deoxygenated water)
- Suitable Temperature: 64-84 degrees Fahrenheit
- Regular Diet: Algae and decaying plants
- General Temperament: Peaceful
These snails have a very visually eye-catching appearance. Their hard shells are thin and translucent. It’s so transparent that you can even see the flesh through the shell. Their shells are slightly yellowish with distinct gold splashes. On the other hand, their body is gray in color with black or purple markings.
Furthermore, their mantle, which forms the outer wall of the body, is rather colorful, with bright yellowish and orange circles all across. The shell also has a very unique shape with a well-defined tip and egg-like appearance. Its signature spiral is made of 4 to 5 whorls that move in the anti-clockwise direction.
Then there are thread-like tentacles that peek out from under the snail’s shell. These tentacles are sensory organs and contain the eyes. You can see the eyes of Bladder Snails in the form of tiny black spots. Their overall color is dark with a slight mix of grey, purple and black patterns.
Unlike other freshwater snails, Bladder snails do not retreat into their shells and close them with a cover upon sensing danger. This is because they have no lid. Instead, they start shaking violently to get rid of any predator. Moreover, they can also swim upside down on the surface of the water and breath air. When they sense danger, they quickly expel all the air and submerge in water. They cannot dig in the ground, though. They can only crawl through the water at a fairly rapid speed (for a snail).
A good and healthy Bladder Snail lives on average for 2 years. But, of course, their life expectancy depends on suitable living conditions. For instance, they thrive in dirty aquariums as it provides more feeding opportunities. Therefore, Bladder Snails in such environments live longer and breed more often.
The average size of a Bladder Snail is half an inch. However, some can grow as big as 0.6 inches. Although they are a pretty small organism, they do stress up the resources of the aquarium. They can have a serious impact on the overall bio-load. So much so that a big cluster of Bladder Snails can exert as much toll on your aquarium as a big fish.
Bladder Snail Care
Blimey! Do you want to care for these tiny resilient critters? While most aquarists want to remove these organisms from their aquarium, taking care of them is pretty easy. They don’t ask much from you to flourish.
We have written this section of the article from the perspective of their care. However, you can still use this information to eradicate these invertebrates if you want. Whatever your end goals may be, knowing their basic needs will help you achieve your preferred results.
Food and Regular Diet
Bladder Snails aren’t very picky about their food. And perhaps that’s a good thing because they are always relentlessly munching on whatever they can get their hands on. Mostly they prefer to feed on decaying plant matter and won’t touch any healthy or thriving ones. So, if you want to increase their population, give them lots of natural food resources, i.e., natural plants that may decay over time, some driftwood that can accumulate their favorite algae, and some other decaying organic matter. Overall, if your aquarium has multiple food sources, it will thrive in its environment.
Side note: Too much food can also be trouble. This is because in such a case Bladder Snail population will skyrocket, putting a burden on your aquarium’s bioload.
Bladder Snails have no tank size preference. They can survive in tiny as well as massive tanks with hundreds of other creatures. Because of their tiny size, they are very adaptive and can adapt well to any environment. However, adding any organism into an aquarium will have a bioload that can impact the condition of water and the overall ecosystem. The same holds true in the case of Bladder Snails. As they can multiply in numbers quite easily, we suggest keeping them in larger tanks to decrease their bio-load.
Suitable Water Parameters
Bladder Snails don’t really have hard and fast rules for water parameters. They are super adaptive and can live well in a variety of living conditions. For instance, when Bladder Snails live in the wild, they even thrive in sewage waste.
Nevertheless, they like to generally live in warm waters with little or no water flow and remain undemanding mostly. Therefore, you can focus on other organisms in your aquarium. As a general rule, follow these water parameters if you want to grow their population:
- Water pH levels: 7 to 8
- Temperature: 64 to 84F
- Hardness: 12 – 18 dGH
Common Possible Diseases
When it comes to diseases in Bladder Snails, most aquarists don’t worry about that. This is because their population increase can take care of that. However, Bladder Snails can succumb to all the illnesses common among mollusks. For instance, fungal, bacterial, and even parasitic infections. In some severe cases, their shell, which is already pretty thin, takes the damage.
But, these infections are rare. Bladder Snails can shake microorganisms off their shells in most cases if they feel an infestation is upon them. You should also check tank conditions to avoid creating a bad environment. As with any other invertebrate, the key to avoid diseases is to maintain a healthy tank environment.
Keep checking water parameters regularly and perform quality checks every few weeks to keep the nitrate and ammonia levels to a minimum.
Compatible Tank Mates
Bladder Snails can co-exist with any freshwater species. But, the concept of best tank mates for them is different when we talk about tank mates for other species. This is because their best tank mates are predators. If you house them with natural predators, their population remains in check. It ensures that you never have to face a situation where Bladder Snail populations get out of your control.
So housing them with natural predators is the common course of action for most people. Such as:
Overall, Bladder Snails are very tiny peaceful creatures. They improve the living conditions and wellbeing of the aquarium by eating all the scraps and decaying matter. Nevertheless, you need a proactive approach to keep their numbers in check. They can multiply within weeks if the food is available in excess. So, aquarists add a predator to the tank. Be mindful though, adding a fish into a setup can be problematic because of their aggressive behavior towards other inhabitants. Plus, you shouldn’t add too many predators as they can decimate the entire Bladder Snail population. That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do Bladder Snails eat plants?
Well, there’s no single yes or no answer to this question. It depends on the type of environment you put them into. If your aquarium is well controlled with no food scraps and algae, then your snail will eat the soft or decaying plant leaves. However, it is a very rare phenomenon. Overall, Bladder Snails are very benign scavengers. Keeping them in a controlled population will not munch on plants and mainly focus on keeping the biome clean.
Are Bladder Snails Asexual?
Yes, like most invertebrates, Bladder Snails are asexual. They have both male and female reproductive sexual organs. Still, they usually choose to behave either as one or the other. The mating pattern for Bladder Snails is also very typical unless they find themselves alone. In that case, they start breeding on their own.
How to control Bladder Snail infestation in my tank?
There are three ways you can control the infestation
- Add a predator to the tank (we mentioned a few above)
- Don’t feed your fish too much as excess feed creates fish waste which makes the tank a haven for Bladder Snail
- Don’t change water inconsistently as inconsistent water changes create waste build-up, providing a suitable environment for Bladder Snails.
How long does it take for a bladder snail to grow?
Usually, a bladder snail takes anywhere from 28 to 42 days to mature. Females can mature before that period.
Are bladder snails bad?
Not at all. They are harmless little creatures who eat algae and keep your aquarium neat and clean. Just don’t overfeed them.
Will bladder snails escape my tank?
Not at all. They usually stay inside the tank just fine.
Do bladder snails need a heater?
Not at all. They do exceptionally well at regular room temperature. Therefore, if your tank isn’t having any huge temperature fluctuations, bladder snails wouldn’t need a heater.
Do Bladder Snails eat fish poop?
No. That’s not true at all. Bladder Snails are just like other cleaning crew fish. They do not eat fish poop. Instead they feed on algae and other decaying plants.