Caresheet: Black devil snail | Faunus ater




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Tired of searching for an aquarium snail that doesn’t produce babies by the hundreds? Nervous about Sulawesi snail care requirements?

The solution is here. Faunus ater, also known as the black devil snail, is a large aquarium snail that doesn’t reproduce in freshwater. Also, it looks awesome! The ideal choice if you’re looking for an interesting aquarium snail that won’t overrun your tank with offspring and is easy to care for. 

Keep reading for everything you need to know about Faunus ater care and keeping this black devil snail in your own aquarium.

Minimum tank size10 gallons/38 L
Temperature71-77 °F/21.5-25 °C


Faunus ater, black devil snail, black Faunus, lava snail

Faunus ater natural habitat

The Faunus ater snail is naturally found in the Western Indo-Pacific region, where it inhabits a wide range of islands. It can be found in all types of waters, including estuaries which can range from fully freshwater to mid-end brackish.

Faunus ater appearance

Faunus ater is definitely one of the more spectacular freshwater aquarium snails.

Its common name ‘black devil snail’ is derived from its black body. Its shell is also usually black, although there are also Faunus snails out there with brown shells and even ‘gradient’ shells (from black to orange to white). These are sometimes referred to as ‘cappuccino’. It’s unsure whether these are actually Faunus ater or another species in the Faunus genus.

Faunus ater looks similar to Sulawesi snails: both sport an elongated shell. In reality, Faunus snails are actually said to be more closely related to Malaysian trumpet snails. They grow to a maximum size of around 3.5″/9 cm.

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Faunus ater requirements

What do you need to keep your Faunus ater snails happy and healthy? Actually, not that much!

  • Tank & equipment. Because these snails grow fairly large, you’ll need to go for an aquarium of at least around 10 gallons/38L. As with all fish and invertebrates a filter is needed to keep the tank cycled. Even though Faunus ater doesn’t like things too toasty, a heater is recommended to keep the temperature stable.
  • Substrate Like some other snail species, Faunus ater likes to burrow from time to time. This means a sand substrate will be appreciated, although gravel will probably work too.
  • Salinity. Interestingly, this snail is actually not strictly freshwater! If you’re setting up a brackish tank for peaceful fish like bumblebee gobies, you can consider Faunus ater as a tankmate. Some sources report Faunus snails being kept at a salinity up to full marine succesfully.
  • Decor. Although not all aquarists seem to have trouble with their Faunus ater snails munching on plants, some do report damage. This means it might be wise to avoid these snails in aquascapes or tanks with expensive and rare plants. Some hiding places are probably appreciated, though, so try a few cheap plants and/or rocks and driftwood.

Faunus ater tankmates

When it comes to tankmates, Faunus ater snails aren’t fussy.

As can be seen in the video below, they are a great choice for super-peaceful setups with dwarf shrimp like red cherries and other vulnerable tankmates. This way, there won’t be any nippy fish to damage the snails’ fragile antennae and even the tiniest shrimp will be left alone. Be sure to keep at least two of these snails, as they do love company. No need to worry about snail babies!

If you do want to keep your Faunus ater snails with larger and more active fish, try to avoid any active hunters. Species that love a very low pH value and soft water don’t make a great choice either.

Faunus ater diet

Like many other aquarium snails, Faunus ater snails are omnivores that will eat pretty much anything they come across.

Any leftover fish foods will happily be consumed, and the same thing goes for dead (or even live) plant bits. Algae is also a favorite, so your Faunus snails will appreciate it if you leave some in the tank.

Because most of our aquariums are a little too ‘clean’ to sustain a few of these snails you’ll need to supplement their diet. Use an invertebrate food that contains plenty of calcium to ensure proper growth; I’ve found high-quality shrimp foods (like the appropriately named ‘Frenzy’ food) work well. Other than that, anything goes. Blanched fresh veggies, algae tabs, regular fish food and even frozen foods will all be devoured.

Faunus ater behavior

This snail behaves exactly as you would expect a snail to, with one big difference. They are fast.

If you’re looking for an active snail that spends a lot of its time zooming around the tank in search of algae, Faunus ater is a great choice. They are actually reported to be more active than their Sulawesi cousins and certainly cover more distance!

Breeding Faunus ater

Breeding Faunus ater snails is not an easy task. This means no risk of a baby explosion, but unfortunately also no way to ensure a steady supply of snails.

Although not much seems to be known yet, it’s suspected that breeding happens in brackish water.

Buying Faunus ater

Although Faunus ater snails definitely aren’t as widely spread in the aquarium hobby as some other snail species, you might be able to find them at your local aquarium store. You can also easily order them online from Amazon here!

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8 thoughts on “Caresheet: Black devil snail | Faunus ater”

  1. I have one black devil horn snail in my 125g tank ( along with a ton of mystery snails) and this snail has had 5 babies so far that I can see. I’m so confused because A) there’s only one and, B) I was told and have read that the only reproduce in brackish water. Has anyone else ran into this situation?

    • Hi Melissa!

      So there actually isn’t a lot of research available about these snails. It is generally believed that they only reproduce in brackish and marine conditions, though some hobbyists have found some freshwater exceptions to that rule recently. This is actually some pretty good insight you’re providing for the community!
      As to how the babies ended up there… it’s possible that the snail was pregnant before it was introduced to the tank. Other reasons could be that they are asexual, or that there is another snail present in the tank (unless you’re entirely certain there isn’t).

    • Hello! I actually had a conversation about this with another reader just recently. It’s possible to repair aquatic snail shells, it’s explained here for example.

    • Hi! Gravel should be fine for the, although they might appreciate being able to burrow in sand. Their average age I’m not sure about, but mine is still going strong 🙂


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