Malaysian Trumpet Snails (MTS) in the Home Aquarium

Quick Stats

Minimum Tank Size: 1 Gallon
Care Level: Very Easy
Water Conditions: PH 6.8-8 and Soft to Very Hard
Temperature: 65-77 F (18-25C)
Maximum Size: 1.5 inches (3.8cm)

The Malaysian trumpet snail (MTS) or red-rimmed melania (Melanoides Tuberculata) is often alternatively praised and cursed by freshwater aquarium enthusiasts. On the one hand, this small snail will devour algae, eat excess food, and keep sand substrates well aerated. But if the snails are overfed, they will turn into a plague of biblical proportions, and completely overrun a tank.

Originally found throughout Southern Asia and Africa, the Malaysian trumpet snail has been introduced into countless water systems through escapes or careless releases into the wild. In fact, most Malaysian trumpet snails are accidentally introduced into fish tanks, by hitch-hiking on plants or aquarium decorations.

Housing

Malaysian trumpet snails will thrive in nearly any size aquarium, as long it is heated in any northern climate. The snails are incredibly hardy, and will even survive in tanks with dwarf puffer fish, as their heavily armored shells and burrowing behavior keep them safe. (Some of the more intelligent puffers will figure out how to eat them, which is quite impressive to watch.)

Any filtration will do for a tank containing Malaysian trumpet snails, and should instead be tailored to the fish inhabitants of the tank. Even in large numbers, MTS have an extremely small bio-load and shouldn’t put any undue strain on the filtration.

Feeding

Malaysian trumpet snails don’t require any special feeding, and will happily eat any leftover food in the aquarium. They will also consume large amounts of algae, and will help to keep the aquarium’s glass and plants clean.

If you want to supplement their diet, they will eat any plant based fish food, and will swarm any leafy vegetables or zucchini medallions. This is a handy process of collecting them, if you want to remove some of the snails from the tank. Simply allow them to accumulate on the vegetable and remove it from the tank in the morning, before you turn the lights on. But be sure to humanely euthanize the snails – the best way is to put them in a closed plastic bag, and freeze them in the freezer.

Breeding

The Malaysian trumpet snail reproduces asexually, and is similar to live-bearing fish, in that it gestates eggs internally in a brood pouch, and then produces tiny, perfectly formed baby snails. The amount of offspring produced varies based on the size of the snail, but usually 1-64 babies are stored in the brood pouch.

Nothing special is required to trigger breeding in Malaysian trumpet snails, and just a handful of snails can quickly colonize even the largest aquarium. If the population starts to get out of control, then it usually means that you are over-feeding the fish in the aquarium. Just reduce the amount of food given for a short period of time, and the population of snails will usually stabilize.

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