Why Do Snails Shells Turn White? {Top 8 Reasons Why Explained}

Are you noticing that your snail’s shell is turning pale or whitening? Is this a sign of doom or can it restore its original shell color? In this article, we’ll find out why snail shells turn white.

Why Do Snails Shells Turn White? A calcium deficiency causes snail shells to turn white. Likewise,  pH levels dipping below 7.0 creates an acidic environment that contributes to deteriorating, thinner or whiter snail shells. 

Why Is My Snail’s Shell Turning White?

There are many reasons why a snail’s shell turns white. We instantly resort to checking the water quality and specifically pH levels to make sure the water isn’t too acidic. The answer could be much more diverse. Here are 8 possible reasons:

  1. Health deterioration
  2. Your snail is getting old
  3. Not enough light exposure
  4. Calcium deficiency 
  5. pH is too low
  6. High CO2 and potassium
  7. Coralline algae concentrations on its shell
  8. Exposure to Copper

1. Health Deterioration

Unhealthy snails will show it with their shells. If your snail is not finding enough food to eat or the water quality is off, you will notice its shell deteriorating as well or turning whiter. Look for other signs including:

  • stress
  • bullying
  • no movement
  • excessive hiding
  • not eating

If there are other bottom feeders or tank cleaners that create an overcrowded substrate, your snail may retreat and deteriorate as a result.

2. Old Age

Many snails turn white when they age. The shell could be eroding or thinning out. Some live to about a year in age and others can make it up to 3 years depending on the species and tank conditions.

3. Not Enough Light

We try not to expose our tanks to direct light that impacts the ecosystem, algae blooms and overall health of our aquatic life. The Vitamin D3 absorption rates decrease in shaded tanks which indirectly causes your snail’s shell to lose color. Try out a UV light to increase light exposure and see if this help restore their color.

4. Calcium Deficiency

Usually the top answer to why snail shells turn white rests on a lack of calcium. Growth, maintenance, color and strength of the shell depends on calcium. Baby snails are much more dependent on calcium to prevent shell whitening and erosion.

5. pH Too Low

Snails like harder water that is not acidic. Soft water eats into the shell or causes discoloration. Try to maintain a pH balance between 7.0-8.0 to prevent this from happening.

6. High CO2 and Potassium

High potassium and Co2 levels prevent or decrease the ability for your snail to absorb the calcium in the water. You might make more effort to increase calcium, but come up short without any shell improvement.

7. Coralline Algae

Coralline algae can create a white crust on the shell of your snail. Your snail may not have changed color. You might be seeing this algae crust formation on the shell instead.

8. Exposure to Copper

Copper can arrive from stones, medications or even tap water. It can build up and whiten a snail’s shell as a result. Filter out the tap water before water changes if you suspect copper in your water pipes.

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How Do I Treat Snails that Turn White?

If your snail has grown old, it will not be possible to restore its color. The time may come to say goodbye. In most cases, you can intervene and help restore the color of your snail’s shell. Try the following suggestions:

  • More water changes.
  • Increase the amount of calcium.
  • Make the water harder.
  • Eliminate copper.
  • Condition the water.

Increase Water Changes

Snails may turn white from large water changes. Instead, focus on 5-25% water changes every week and do so gradually. 1 gallon of water per hour will help keep your snail relaxed and help it restore its own health back to normal.

More Calcium

How do you add more calcium to a tank? There are multiple sources of calcium that will help your deprived snail to strengthen and restore its shell color. You can try the following:

  • Liquid calcium in a bottle
  • Powdered cuttlebone
  • Limestone 
  • Powdered oyster shells
  • Eggshells

Increase Water Hardness

Restore the pH balance above 7.0 for better water conditions. Soft water is not your snail’s friend. Crushed coral or increasing calcium helps to restore harder water.

Get Rid of Copper

Test your water for copper. Some water pipes contain copper and must be filtered first. Perform water changes with copper-free water that isn’t directly from the tap. Fish medications may also contain copper. Use a quarantine tank to treat any ill fish with copper based medication.

Water Conditioner

A water conditioner could help remove copper and also chlorine, chloramine and ammonia. Baking soda also helps to condition the water to restore the pH balance.

Why Is My Snail Losing Color?

More often than not, the simple thing to do is to add calcium in the water. Your snail is not getting enough calcium. You can do so in many ways including liquid calcium or even eggshells.

Ensure that your tank’s pH balance remains on the harder side. Snails detest soft and acidic water. Keep the pH between 7.0-8.0.

Can A Snail Regrow Its Shell?

Yes. Your snail can repair and regrow its deteriorating shell with more calcium and protein. It naturally secretes it and absorbs it from the tank’s water.

The same way we can regrow our nails, a snail can regrow its shell. Focus on creating a better pH balance with harder water, more calcium and make sure your snail has plenty of food sources from algae, plant debris, or drop some extra sinking food for them to eat.


We hope your snail’s shell recovers and restores its color. Sometimes we can allow them to rest, hide and relax instead of trying all of the tips in this article at the same time.

Gradual water changes, adding calcium and checking pH levels are a good starting point to help your snail turn its shell from white back into its previous state.


Thanks for visiting HelpUsFish.com and we hope to see you again for another article on Snails or any other aquatic life that interests you. 

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.

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