Why Is My Mystery Snail Floating? Is It Dead?

Mystery snails are one of the most popular snail additions to freshwater tanks. Mystery snail, otherwise called spike-topped apple snail, is a freshwater snail that has gills, an operculum, and an aquatic gastropod mollusc. It also has a structurally complex eye placed at the tip of a cephalic eyestalk.

Mystery snail floating in a tank does not mean it is dead. Mystery snails in the tank may float because of several reasons, including; trapped air in the lungs, unsuitable water condition, and presence of film in the tank. Consequently, we can say floating is not usually a sign that your snail has passed out.

Why Is My Mystery Snail Floating Dead

Mystery snails mostly stroll around at the base of a tank or moving at the surfaces of the container. It then becomes a cause for concern if mystery snail is floating in the tank.

Mystery snails might love to climb up the surface of your tank, catch fun with your plants, feed on certain algae, and fall from high places in the tank. But floating, unlike these other activities, does not seem to be reasonable, and it deserves a little attention. You can find your mystery snail floating for several reasons that you must learn about in case of the future.

Possible Reasons Why Mystery Snail Is Floating

It is good you have a basic idea about why you can find your snail floating in the tank. If mystery snail floating does not usually mean the death of the snail, what then does it mean? Below are the significant reasons you would possibly find your mystery snail floating.

  • Trapped Air In The Lungs: Mystery snail is a bit notorious and reckless when it comes to closing up their lungs. Consequently, a bit of air gets trapped inside, and they imitate the principle of a balloon. Once the air gets stuck, they rise to the surface of the water and start floating. This floating will only last as long as there is trapped air in the lungs. Once they open up and lose the air, they will fall back to the base of the tank.
  • Presence Of Film In The Tank:Some milky films appear at the surface of some freshwater aquariums as a result of inadequate surface agitation or some harmless bacteria. These two conditions permit plant protein and remnant food particles to join together and form a film. This film is, however, not harmful to the members of your tanks, and some snails like the mystery snail love to munch on it. Therefore, they find their way to the top of the tank, floating upside down while munching the film. However, you can get rid of this film by adding air stone, using a paper towel, or increasing the filter in your tank.
  • Bad Water Quality: if mystery snail is not very comfortable with the water conditions of the tank, they can float in protest. They can also attempt to climb out of the shell as part of their survival instinct. The primary factors that make mystery snails uncomfortable with tank water are nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia levels. You can check the level of the parameters by only using a strip. Likewise, you can regulate it and bring it down to an average level by changing at least 20% of the water each day until it returns to the average level.

How To Know The Actual Reason Your Mystery Snail Is Floating

Knowing the exact reason why your mystery snail is floating around the top of your tank requires a bit of inspection and attention. Identifying the primary reason why your mystery snail is floating will certainly guide you on the next line of action.

The first thing you should do is to pick up the snail and check if it is opened or closed inside the shell. If it is tightly closed, then you can be sure it is not dead. After this, you can then check for other possible reasons like checking the surface for the presence of the film. You can also carefully observe the mouth of the snail to see if it is munching up something.

Likewise, you can use strips and other suitable methods to check for the water conditions of the tank. Once you can figure out the exact reason that is responsible for the floating, then you should choose the best way to fix the problem.

How To Tell If Your Mystery Snail Is Dead

Mystery snails can act inactive in the tank for days, but this does not ultimately translate to the fact that it is dead. You still need to carry out some close examinations before concluding if your mystery snail is dead or not. If you suspect that your snail is dead, you need to carry out some confirmation tests.

Remove the snail from the water. Examine the positioning of the body in the shell. If the body of the snail is no longer held firmly to its shell; or if the snail hangs out of its shell, and does not move, it means it is dead. You can also confirm this by touching the sensitive part of the snail and observe its reaction.

Likewise, you can examine the trapdoor of the snail. If the trapdoor is tightly closed, it means the snail is still alive and vice versa. You can also hold the snail shell in front of bright light like a flashlight. Inspect the heartbeat to know if the snail is still alive or not.

Finally, if you have been observing the snail for days, then you can try the smell test. Remove the mystery snail from the tank and locate the opening near the shell. Carefully perceive its shell. If the shell smells foul or rotten, it means the snail is dead.


It is usual for mystery snails to move around the base of freshwater tanks, have fun with aquarium plants, and climb the surfaces of the container. But it is not entirely normal to find them floating at the top of the tank.

Several factors can trigger mystery snail floating, but it does not usually mean it is dead. You can carry out a manual inspection to ascertain the significant reason why it is flowing. You can also observe if the snail is dead or not. It is best to evacuate dead snails from your tank because they can foul the water.



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