Cuttlebone is a popular calcium supplement most pet parents give their beloved pets, especially bird owners. In addition, it is readily available and moderately priced, making it even more attractive for beginner hobbyists.
Previously, cuttlebones were only used to meet the calcium demands of pet birds like parakeets, but now it is a go-to choice among aquarists.
Aqua hobbyists who use cuttlebones for their turtle tanks claim that they have miraculously helped their shelled pets recover from shell cracks and accidents.
So, does this celebrated calcium source do the same wonders for snails?
Is Cuttlebone Good For Snails?
Yes, cuttlebones work great for snails as they need calcium for their overall development. However, unlike wild snails, captive ones do not have the luxury of getting calcium from the water. So, feeding cuttlebones to meet your snails’ calcium demands is the way forward.
Not all commercially available cuttlebones are 100% natural. Some manufacturers add synthetics to preserve them. So, how does one tell that a cuttlebone is all-natural?
It’s easy. It is a no-brainer that you should first look at the label on the package. Secondly, look for cracks and bits, often seen in a natural one.
So, do not feel disheartened if the cuttlebone you ordered online is already broken. Only the all-natural ones tend to break even with the slightest of impacts.
Composition Of Cuttlebone
Calcium carbonate is the major component found in cuttlebones. It accounts for about 85%. The second prominent component is carbohydrates which account for approximately 8.9%. The remaining is all protein.
So, you see, there’s a generous amount of calcium present in the cuttlebones. No wonder so many people recommend using them as a calcium supplement in snail tanks.
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Where Do You Get Cuttlebones?
Cuttlebone is the backbone of a cuttlefish, which falls under the cephalopods family. In summer and spring, they move towards shallow coastal waters, and during other seasons, they head back to deep waters.
But nowadays, people farm them commercially due to their growing popularity. So they are seldom fished out of the ocean.
Here’s one that I use for feeding my mystery snails:
How Do You Prepare Cuttlefish For Snails?
There’s not much you should do to prepare cuttlebones for snails. The only thing you need to be mindful of is the size of the cuttlebone and the tank. A small-sized cuttlebone will be enough for a 10-gallon tank.
Cuttlebones have empty chambers inside them, explaining why they float in water. Your snails will have a hard time attaching to a floating cuttlebone. So, you need to let them sink to the bottom first.
However, this can take time, a day or two. But you can speed up this process.
First, you need to boil the cuttlebones. This will soften them, and they will sink in a short period.
Some hobbyists put small gravels and decors over cuttlebones to hold them down at the tank’s bottom. After a couple of days, they will remain sunk when entirely soaked.
How Much Cuttlebone For Snails?
The amount of cuttlebone doesn’t depend upon your snail’s appetite or the number of snails. Instead, it depends on the tank size because too much cuttlebone can make the water alkaline, making the environment toxic. Preferably, a 4 to 6-inch cuttlebone is enough for a 10-gallon tank.
Snails aren’t like goldfish, who do not stop eating even when full. Your slimy pals will stop eating once they are full. So, you need not worry about your snails binging on these bones.
However, too much cuttlebone can mess up the tank’s water parameters, as I said earlier. It can cause ammonia spike, raise gH and pH levels, and ultimately make the tank inhospitable for all residents.
Also, keep an eye out for mold or biofilms growing over the cuttlebone. If you spot any, the cuttlebone has likely run out of calcium carbonate and has minimum contribution in supplying calcium to tanks’ denizens.
Can Snails Eat Floating Cuttlebone?
No, snails find it challenging to eat floating cuttlebone. They aren’t good swimmers and will find it daunting to attach themselves to a floating cuttlebone. Nonetheless, species like the mystery snails are found floating toward cuttlebones after they set their sight on the prized calcium source.
How Do You Sink A Floating Cuttlebone In A Snail Tank?
Boiling cuttlebone results in water absorption – thus, it increases density and causes it to sink. Or, you can press it with gravel or decors and let it absorb water for a couple of days. It will eventually sink.
How Do You Feed Land Snails Cuttlebone?
There’s no particular way to feed cuttlebones to your land snails. Some hobbyists toss them over and let the snails figure them out on their own. Or you can crush them into tiny bits, helping your snails nibble on them slowly with their radula.
You can place the cuttlebone near their feeding spot or all over the enclosure. Young ones usually venture into unchartered nooks and corners. So, you could try to break these bones into tiny bits and place them all over. This will allow your slimy friends to have easy access.
Is Cuttlebone Good For Garden Snails?
Like aquatic snails, garden snails need calcium sources for shell development. And cuttlebone is an excellent supplement to meet their calcium requirements.
You can either serve them whole or break them into tiny pieces. Usually, people boil them before serving their snails. But that is done when serving aquatic snails.
In aquariums, these bones do not sink quickly – thus, boiling is the only way to let them absorb water and cause them to sink.
As for land snails, you need not go through all this ordeal.
Can I Put Cuttlebone In My Fish Tank?
Yes, you can put cuttlebone in your fish tank. Fish, snails, and shrimps can benefit from having cuttlebone in their vicinity. It has been scientifically proven that fish require calcium for bone growth and egg development. Also, higher calcium levels in the tank promote fish’ longevity.
Can Mystery Snails Eat Cuttlebone?
Yes, mystery snails can eat cuttlebone. An unsoaked cuttlebone will float and make it difficult for mystery snails to hang onto. So, you need to boil it to have it sunk. Cuttlebones are an excellent source of calcium for all kinds of snails, including mystery snails.
Does Cuttlebone Raise pH?
Cuttlebones raise kH, which is a buffering capacity of water. A lower amount of kH means more occurrences of pH swings. And as cuttlebones have calcium carbonates in them, this increases kH and pH.
Although snails can handle up to 9 pH, a pH between 6.5 to 8 is deemed ideal. And when there are one too many cuttlebones in the tank, they raise the pH value – this increases the water alkalinity, making the tank inhospitable.
Will Cuttlebone Raise gH?
gH measures the amount of calcium and magnesium ions in water, and cuttlebones comprise 85% of calcium carbonate. So, cuttlebones in excess will definitely raise gH.
Although a higher gH level is less of a concern than pH spikes, it can still make the water toxic.
However, snails tend to thrive in hard waters. So, you need not worry much about rising gH levels in your snail tank.
Alternatives To Cuttlebones For Snails
Apart from serving cuttlebones to snails, there are other alternatives to fulfill your snails’ calcium demands. They are:
- Serve them calcium blocks
- Put crushed eggshells in the tank
- Add liquid calcium chloride
- Provide calcium-rich food
Cuttlebones for snails are alternatives to calcium blocks. In fact, they are even more popular than these blocks. The reason behind it is simple – we believe they are 100% natural (well, brands always make such claims).
The most important thing is whether your snails love them or not. In most cases, snails love them. And if yours haven’t been anywhere near these bones, give them some time.