How To Acclimate Snails In Freshwater? What Happens If You Don’t Acclimate?

Feb 6, 2022

How To Acclimate Snails In Freshwater?

Hardy is the word that best describes a snail’s character. Their ability to bounce back from surviving incorrect water parameters to recovering from complete shell damage is laudable. 

So, owing to their robust nature, can you just pick them up and toss them directly into the tank without acclimatizing?

I am sorry, but you can’t. As painstaking as it is, snails, too, need to go through acclimatization to survive and thrive in a new tank. 

To make the transition easy, let’s discuss how you can acclimatize your snails into freshwater.

How To Acclimate Snails In Freshwater?

You have to follow a series of steps to acclimate snails into freshwater safely. Here they are:

  • Bring snails home safely in a plastic bag
  • Let the bag float on the tank’s water
  • Remove ⅓ of water from the bag and replace it with tank water.
  • Wait for another 30 minutes
  • Repeat step 3 and 4 a couple of times
  • Untie the bag and put the snails in the tank

Let me explain in detail.

Bring Snails Home Safely In A Plastic Bag

Pet stores usually pack snails and fish in plastic bags. But sometimes, these bags cannot hold the weight of the water or get torn off by the slightest of scratches. 

And in my case, I have often found them leaking. This is why you should always ask for a double plastic bag. 

Also, make sure the bag is tightly tied. 

Treat the package like the fragile object that it is. 

Shaking too much can stress your snails. 

Let The Bag Float On The Tank’s Water

Do not put your snails directly into the tank. Instead, carefully place the plastic bag in such a way that it floats on the surface but doesn’t submerge completely. With the air inside the bag, it will float. 

Remove ⅓ of Water From The Bag

After crossing the 30 minutes mark, remove about ⅓ of water from the plastic bag. Do not pour that water into the tank. 

Now, replace the same amount of water with the tank water. Then, again, leave it for another 30 minutes. 

Repeat this process until the water in the bag mostly consists of tank water. 

Put The Snails Into The Tank

Now, untie the plastic bag and pick the snails gently with your hands. Put on gloves to prevent possible mutual transmission of any kind of pathogens. 

“Remember that snails are one of the top hosts for transmitting several kinds of parasitic worms – notably, the schistosomiasis parasites.”

Put only the snails into the aquarium, not the water. The water they came in can contain harmful pathogens from their previous habitat. So, it will be wise not to put the bag’s water into the tank.

As I mentioned earlier, snails carry a wide range of invasive pathogens which can harm the tank’s other residents. This is why if you have an extra tank, keep your snails quarantined for about two to three months before introducing them to the community tank. 

Freshwater snails can stay coiled up in the dormant stage for several days. This might give you a hunch that they didn’t survive the trip. 

But do not fall into despair that quickly. Instead, make sure you provide them with plenty of time to come out of their shell. 

You will eventually notice them moving around after a couple of days.

Follow Up On Their Condition

It is likely that newly introduced snails will not come out of their shells for a couple of days. Therefore, check again after a few days to ensure they are alive. 

After they show movement, check if they are positioned correctly. For example, some snails can flip themselves right back after falling on their back, while some can’t. 

And sometimes, even the ones that can flip themselves back up cannot do so when they are stressed. 

So, you have to check time and again to make sure they are doing alright. 

Although there are other “how to acclimate snails” recommendations from online sellers on the internet, I have been doing it this way. I haven’t had any issues following these steps, and I am confident this will work out for you, too.

Here is a circular from a popular online snail seller on how to acclimatize snails in a new tank:

“Important: Snails may go through shock during shipping and be closed when they arrive. You should give them plenty of time to come out of their shells and move around before deciding they didn’t make the trip. Ceriths may go dormant for up to 3 days.

You may find this to be different than the acclimation procedure you are used to carrying out. However, we now ask our customers to use this procedure because our snails and crabs live intertidally and can handle swings in ph/salinity without a problem.

However, what they can’t handle is toxic levels of ammonia. During the shipping process, ammonia levels in the shipping bags build, while the ph level goes down. As the ph goes down, the toxicity of ammonia also goes down. 

However, when your tank water with normal ph is introduced to the shipping bags, and the ph rises, so does the toxicity of the ammonia, and you will be poisoning the livestock. 

Please don’t do this and certainly never let livestock sit out in buckets with shipping water exposed to fresh air for a long period. We know of no surer way to kill your new arrivals.

 Any other method of acclimation voids the Alive Arrival Guarantee. It is an easy method of acclimation, and it works fine. Please follow it.”

You Might Also Like To Read:

How To Get A Snail Out Of Its Shell?

How Long Do Freshwater Snails Live?

How Do Freshwater Snails Kill Humans?

What Happens If You Don’t Acclimate Your Snails?

Sudden exposure to new water parameters, temperature, and habitat can stress snails. So, it is hard to tell the odds of survival. But I am sure it will be slim. 

You should know that even a snail that has gone through a complete acclimatization process will only show movement after a couple of days. 

Hence, it cannot be said with certainty that the unacclimatized snail will survive the new tank. 

But snails sold at pet stores now come in acclimatization bags, making it easy for them to habituate in a new tank. 

Final Words: How To Acclimate Snails Freshwater

I know many experienced snail keepers who do not follow any acclimatization process but their snails survive every time. But I do not fall under that category. 

I believe acclimatization shortens and eases a snail’s time to adapt to a new tank. Additionally, it is equally necessary to maintain correct water parameters, optimum temperature, and compatible tankmates.

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rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.