Do Mystery Snails Eat Plants? Safe For A Planted Tank?

Last Updated on January 2, 2022 by cmoarz

Do mystery snails eat plants? Are they safe for my planted tanks or will they destroy all my hard work? These are common questions people have when they decide to bring these helpful little guys into their aquarium.

Mystery Snails (Pomacea bridgesii) may readily eat fish food, but in the wild, they feed on algae, aquatic vegetation, and even dead animals that sink to the bottom. They can also be fed vegetable matter such as spinach or lettuce, broccoli, and just about any other vegetable.

As scavengers, they will eat just about anything they can sink their teeth into, Except live plants. In fact, They won’t eat a live plant at all.

So do mystery snails eat plants? No, They avoid live plants but they will eat dead ones. But does that mean they are safe for your planted aquarium? Well… It’s complicated.

Do Mystery Snails Destroy Plants?

While mystery snails won’t eat your live plants on purpose, that doesn’t mean they can’t damage them. These guys can get pretty big and often bend and break delicate plants like guppy grass or rotala from crawling over them

At times, completely by accident, they may also bite off stems and leaves while grazing the algae off the plants. But the damage usually isn’t that extensive.

But for the most part, they are safe for planted tanks and are actively encouraged.

One of these friendly snails can make a ten-gallon or twenty-gallon aquarium look alive in no time while also helping to keep algae down.

Do Mystery Snails Need Live Plants?

While technically mystery snails don’t need live plants to survive, assuming they are being fed a proper diet, they will benefit greatly from them.

They are mainly herbivores so they feed on algae, dead plant material, and other slowly decaying organic matter.

Having a sterile aquarium isn’t healthy for the snail in the long run, especially if they are confined to a small space.

You want to create the most natural environment possible for your snail, and that includes a lot of plants, rocks and things to climb on, you should give them a home that practically overflows with stuff to crawl on.

Why Is My Snail Eating My Plants?

If your mystery snail is eating plants, then it’s probably not a true mystery snail, but instead an apple snail (pomacea canaliculata, or pomacea haustrum).

It can be hard to tell the difference, especially with goldens, but true mystery snails won’t bite plants. Apple snails will outgrow their mystery snail cousins by leaps and bounds, becoming the size of a baseball or, aptly named, apple, while mystery snails will stay the size of a golf ball.

Apple snails are notorious for eating plants and tank crashing. This little guy can grow up to 6 inches, so they are much larger than the mystery snail and you definitely won’t want to add one in with your planted tank.

And when I tell you that, you can take that to the bank and cash it. I’ve attempted to integrate an apple snail into a planted tank. I even attempted to train it not to eat the plants.

A futile effort on my part that ended up in a tank full of broken-off half-eaten plants which eventually turned into a desert.


Owner of and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!