Mystery Snail Not Coming Out of Shell? Here’s Why

Last Updated on August 21, 2022 by cmoarz

It’s not uncommon for Mystery Snails to retreat into their shells. It’s even less uncommon for them to stay there and refuse to come out, for a variety of reasons.

That’s why so many new snail owners ask this similar question: “Why is my Mystery Snail not coming out of its shell?” This article aims at providing you with some possible explanations.

Common Reasons Why Your Mystery Snail Won’t Come Out Of His shell

The snail is new to the aquarium and needs time to adjust.

This is the most common reason a mystery snail might not come out of its shell. Snails are very sensitive to even the slightest changes in their environment, and if it’s new to them they might need some time to get used to it.

Snails need an adjustment period to their new environment.

They don’t need to be acclimated as much as other fish would, But they still need some acclimation time.

The best way to acclimate a new snail to your tank is to allow self acclimation. Float it on a piece of styrofoam or plate with a bit of water inside of it. When the snail is ready to enter the water, it will do so on its own accord.

This is all especially true if you ordered your snail online. The way they ship snails is usually wrapped in a couple of layers of damp paper towels and placed inside a plastic container with air holes.

This is one of the safest ways to ship a snail, however, it’s also fairly stressful as you can imagine.

It’s also not uncommon for these boxes to go through a variety of weather conditions including extreme heat in the summer.

This will make it even more important for you to allow self acclimation and may make it so the snail will take a bit longer to come out of its shell as it cools down.

The snail is hiding from danger.

This one is probably less common, but if you have an aggressive fish in your tank (bettas, for example, can be aggressive to snail antenna) your snail may hide in its shell to protect itself.

In this case, waiting isn’t going to do much good. You’ll have to come up with some sort of solution, for example by creating a snail sanctuary where the snail can go if it feels threatened.

Or re-evaluate the tank ecosystem completely and maybe find a more suitable tank mate for the snails in another aquarium.

The snail is uncomfortable in its environment.

If the temp of the water in your tank is too high or low, if there are any sharp edges that may cut the snail’s foot, anything like that could be causing discomfort to your snail.

The colder the water is, the more time your snail may spend inside its shell. If the water temps are more towards room temperature, the snail will more likely come out of its shell.

If the water is too hot, the snail may attempt to leave the water and stick to the glass just above the waterline.

A good way to know if your snail is having issues on a sharp substrate is to see if they slime.

If there is a slime trail where they walk, it could be an indicator that the substrate is too rough to allow them to walk properly.

Some snails are more sensitive than others, so you may need to take extra care when selecting your substrate for the tank.

The snail is sick or injured.

If a snail is sick or injured, it might retreat inside its shell and not come out.

Some possible symptoms include: Loss of appetite, Sluggish behavior Clamped Tentacles Reddening of the foot area, Missing or broken shell pieces, receding foot trap door, etc.

Snails are usually pretty tough critters, but they get hurt too. In fact, the most common injuries are cracked shells damaged feet, and ripped tentacles.

They are also very susceptible to copper and other heavy metals, so be very careful what you add to their tank.

If a snail loses or breaks a shell piece, it can grow it back with new layers most of the time.

However, if the damage is too extensive, for example from an attack from another creature in the tank, it might not heal properly and you may need to repair it yourself. You can view this lovely video on how to do so:

The snail is sleeping.

Snails sleep too, and in fact, they can sleep for days at a time.

Sometimes a snail is just sleeping. This can happen if they are attached to the glass in one spot and don’t move for a long period of time, Or it could happen with them just laying on the substrate closed up.

It’s nothing to worry about. Just give them some time and once they wake up they will go about their snail business.


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!