Snail shells are made up of keratin – the same element that makes up nails and hair in humans. Although keratin mainly comprises protein, calcium is also an essential mineral responsible for maintaining the shell’s hardness.
This is why we often see boxes of calcium supplements stacked neatly on the shelves in pet stores. But are these sustenances that important or yet another marketing gimmick to trick you into splurging your hard-earned money on?
Let’s uncover the truth.
How Important Is Calcium For Snails?
Snail shells comprise 95 to 99% of calcium carbonate, an indispensable mineral for these gastropods. Furthermore, it helps repair cracks and fissures on the shells’ surfaces. Additional findings show that snails keep calcium reserves in times of need.
Besides the development of shells, calcium presence is also seen in the internal organs of snails – in the mantle epithelium, hemolymph, uterus, and several connective tissues.
A calcium flux occurs intermittently through the albumen gland, helping in egg formation.
Therefore, it is evidently clear that calcium is a crucial mineral in snails’ lifecycle.
It is essential to read up on how you can help your snails get the right amount of calcium they need.
But first, let’s make it clear – is it necessary to add calcium for snails?
Do I Need To Add Calcium For Snails?
Wild snails have their own unique ways of meeting calcium requirements from their environment. But the ones in captivity need your help. Therefore, you need to add calcium to your snails’ diet. Some hobbyists prefer mixing calcium in the water, whereas others serve them as blocks.
And if you are new to this hobby, you need to know that there are several ways you can provide calcium to your slimy friends.
How Do You Add Calcium To Snails?
Some of the popular methods to provide calcium to snails are:
- Serve Cuttlebones
- Keep Eggshells In The Tank
- Provide Calcium Blocks
- Add Liquid Calcium Chloride
- Give Calcium-rich Food
This is a popular method to meet your snails’ calcium demands. Not only does this work for gastropods, but it is also a desired way to supplement calcium to most pets that live inside a tank.
If you like to see the immediate effects of cuttlebones, you need to soften them first.
The easiest way is to boil them. As a result, the hard cuttlebone will turn doughy and mushy, making them soft enough to let your pets absorb calcium quickly.
But if you are in no hurry, you need not go through all this hassle. Eventually, the water will do its magic, and the bones will be soft enough for snails to binge on.
Here’s a cuttlebone from Emours, which is 100% natural. Your snails will definitely love them.
Keep Eggshells In The Tank
Eggshells are a natural alternative to calcium blocks. Compared to artificial calcium sources containing high concentrations of calcium sulfate, eggshells have over 95% of calcium carbonate, and the rest consists of proteins.
So, placing eggshells can be your DIY method to help supply calcium to your snails. Whatever sails your boat – you can either keep them whole or crush them.
However, there are a few things that you need to consider before you put eggshells in the tank.
Leaving them for more than a couple of days in water can create a foul odor. This is due to the ammonia spike caused by the rotting eggshells.
And if you remove them a day late, the foul odor can linger for a while. The smell will only go after you do a complete water change. And you already know how painstaking that will be.
Provide Calcium Blocks
These readily available concentrated calcium supplies are the best remedy for calcium-deprived snails. The reason why they work immediately is that they dissolve quickly.
However, this comes at a cost. For example, suppose you are housing snails alongside other quicker residents (definitely). In that case, your slimy pals will be the last to book a reservation.
So, it is likely that the blocks will be long gone before your snail reaches the feeding spot.
Therefore, I recommend getting larger pieces of calcium blocks instead of regular-sized ones.
And if you are using the regular-sized blocks, drop them near your snails’ hideouts. This will help them reach the feeding spot much quicker.
I give my snails this doctor turtle slow-release calcium blocks. Yes, it is safe for snails, too.
Add Liquid Calcium Chloride
It can surprise you, but snails do not need to consume calcium directly to meet their calcium needs. Their permeable skin helps them absorb calcium from water, too. In fact, wild snails opt for this method in their natural habitat.
Hence, adding liquid calcium chloride is an effective way of supplying calcium to snails.
However, like every other aquatic creature, snails can sense a drastic change in water, increasing their stress levels right away. So, you need to acclimate them gradually once you pour liquid calcium chloride into their tank.
You can perform a dripping procedure to help your snails acclimate to changed water parameters.
Apart from the risk of increased stress, prolonged use of liquid calcium chloride can also raise the water’s alkalinity. Consequently, this has a negative impact on every citizen sharing the habitat.
Give Calcium-Rich Food
There are certain foods that you can feed your snails to help meet the calcium demands. I will list them below.
- Turnip Greens
What Can I Feed My Snail For Calcium?
Calcium-rich foods like broccoli, kale, okra, spinach, turnip greens, peas, seaweeds, soybeans, collards, and eggshells are some produce that you can feed your snails to fulfill their calcium requirements.
How Do I Get Calcium In My Aquarium?
There are several ways you can increase the calcium levels in your tank. Some of the popular methods are:
- Keep corals
- Add cuttlebones
- Use calcium blocks
- Keep eggshells
- Add liquid calcium chloride
- Put wonder shells in the tank
How Do You Make Calcium Blocks For Snails?
Here’s a DIY recipe to make calcium blocks for snails:
- First, get mold and calcium powder from your nearby store. Make sure the powder doesn’t comprise any other ingredients.
- Mix them in a 1:5 ratio. For example, mix 1 tsp of the mold with 5 tsp of calcium powder in a beaker or a glass.
- Fill the glass up to a quarter with hot water. Hot water makes mixing easy.
- Stir the mixture till you get a slimy texture.
- Now, take the mixture out and pour it over ice cube trays.
- Tap on the sides of the trays to remove air bubbles.
- Keep it dried for about 24 hours.
- Once it is set, remove it gently so that you don’t break the biscuits.
- Voila, your calcium blocks are ready!
Here’s a video to help you make your own calcium blocks for snails.
Is Cuttlebone Good For Snails?
Yes, cuttlebones are good for snails. They are one of the go-to calcium sources for many aquarists.
How Do You Give Snails Egg Shells?
You can either crush them or keep them whole. Place them near your snails’ hideouts.
What Do Mystery Snails Eat For Calcium?
Mystery snails can eat calcium blocks, cuttlebones, kale, spinach, broccoli, okra, turnip greens, soybeans, peas, and eggshells to fulfill calcium requirements.
Can Garden Snails Eat Cuttlebone?
Yes, garden snails eat cuttlebones, but you need to soften them up first. Serving cuttlebones to terrestrial snails is different from offering them to aquatic gastropods. The cuttlebones get mushy after a while in the water, making it easier for snails to feed on them.
So, you need to boil the cuttlebones before giving them to your garden snails.
No matter how hard we try, we cannot precisely replicate snails’ natural living conditions. Thus, it is challenging to provide the necessary nutrients they get in the wild.
So, supplementing calcium is the only way to keep our little friends nourished.
Often beginners find it tricky to use chemicals like calcium chloride solutions to supplement calcium for their snails. So, if you are new to the hobby, I advise you to add cuttlebones or calcium cubes readily available for purchase.
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