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Caresheet: Malaysian Trumpet Snails

July 3, 2016
malaysian trumpet snails

Malaysian trumpet snails are seen by many aquarists as ‘pest’ snails. While they do reproduce quickly, they are also great detritus feeders and help prevent compaction of your substrate by burrowing through it.

Keep reading for more information about Malaysian trumpet snail care, how they can be useful and how to prevent overpopulation.


Note: If you came here looking for a way to deal with a snail infestation that’s gotten out of hand, have a look at this article!


Tank size 1 gal (3.8L) minimum
Temperament Peaceful
Diet Omnivore
Temperature 64.5-86°F/18-30°C
pH 7-8

Name

Melanoides tuberculata (sometimes Melanoides tuberculatus), Malaysian trumpet snail, MTS, red-rimmed melania, Malaysian livebearing snail

Malaysian trumpet snail natural habitat

As the name suggests, Malaysian trumpet snails are naturally found in South-East Asia. They also occur in Africa and are an invasive species in other parts of the world.

Malaysian trumpet snail appearance

Malaysian trumpet snails are a relatively small snail species and usually grow to a maximum size of around 1 inch (2,5 cm). They have a light brown, cone shaped shell with rows of darker colored markings and a light grey body. Because they are livebearers and don’t lay eggs, their offspring look like small copies of the parent snails.

Malaysian trumpet snail requirements

As mentioned before, Malaysian trumpet snails occur as a pest species around the world. This means that, like many other small snail species, they don’t really have many requirements when it comes to their housing. You can keep them in almost any size tank or snail bowl as long as there is some filtration and no excessive amounts of ammonia or nitrite. The 3 gallon (11L) beverage dispenser tank pictured to the side is a great single-species home for a group of snails.

Temperature is not much of a problem either, as these snails will do well in anything between ~64-86 °F/18-30 °C and often even beyond that range. Even if you’re looking for a snail for a brackish up to full saltwater aquarium you don’t have to skip this species; they will thrive at almost any salinity.

The only real requirements Malaysian trumpet snails have are their preference for a sand substrate to burrow in and their need for relatively hard water with a higher pH. Like all snails, their shell will start to deteriorate when they’re kept in soft, acidic water for a longer time and this can eventually lead to their death.

Malaysian trumpet snail tankmates

Malaysian trumpet snails are a 100% peaceful species and they won’t eat live plants, which makes them safe for even the most peaceful (planted) aquarium and shrimp setup. Almost all fish and invertebrates make good tankmates for them, obviously with the exception of fish that require soft, acidic water and snail eating species like assassin snails and clown loaches.

Note: Malaysian trumpet snails do not make good food for puffer fish. Besides dwarf puffers, all species use their teeth to crack snail shells and many aquarists have reported the exceptionally hard and thick shell of the trumpet snail causing their puffer’s teeth to break. This can leave the puffer unable to eat.

Malaysian Trumpet SnailMalaysian trumpet snail diet

Because they are omnivores, Malaysian trumpet snails will usually feed on anything they come across, including but not limited to: (leftover) fish food, algae pellets, dead fish, dead plant matter and blanched vegetables. This makes them a great part of an aquarium clean up crew as well as a great indicator of overfeeding or under-cleaning.

If your Malaysian trumpet snail population suddenly seems to explode, you may be feeding too much or not vacuuming the gravel frequently enough. When the correct measures are taken, the population should eventually stabilize.

Malaysian trumpet snail behavior

Malaysian trumpet snails are mostly nocturnal and will spend most of the day burrowed in the substrate, although they do often make an appearance during feeding time. The time in the substrate is mostly spent digging around and searching for leftover foods and detritus, which can really help aeration.

Like most other snail species, Malaysian trumpet snails are extremely peaceful and usually shouldn’t outcompete other species, even small shrimp, for food.

Breeding Malaysian trumpet snails

Breeding Malaysian trumpet snails is not a difficult task at all. Setting up a special breeding tank is not necessary and no specific actions are required; the snails will do all the work and breed in almost any aquarium setup and water condition. If you want to speed up the breeding process, try feeding a little extra and you should see the population increasing in no time!

For more information about breeding snails (keeping in mind that Malaysian trumpet snails aren’t suitable food for most puffers), have a look at this article.

Buying Malaysian trumpet snails

When buying Malaysian trumpet snails in your local pet- or aquarium store, keep in mind that they may not always be active during the day. However, their operculum should not be closed, the shell should be intact and the snails should start moving around and burrowing into the substrate relatively quickly after buying.

When you buy Malaysian trumpet snails online, try to find a seller that uses quick shipping and make sure you’re home when they’re delivered. You can buy Malaysian trumpet snails online here.



We have Malaysian trumpet snails in our tropical community tank, and although the population occasionally gets slightly out of control due to feeding a bit too much, they’re effective helpers and quite fun to just watch during feeding time as well!


If you’re looking for more information about keeping Malaysian trumpet snails or if you want to share your own experience with them, leave a comment below. Happy snail keeping!

Cover photo: Melanoides tuberculata 2 by michalmanas


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