Malaysian Trumpet snails are often considered pests in the aquarium hobby. However, although they have a high rate of reproduction, these mollusks are also very beneficial as detritus feeders and assist in preventing compaction of your substrate by burrowing through it.
To learn more about properly caring for Malaysian Trumpet snails, their usefulness, and ways to prevent them from overpopulating, keep reading!
Malaysian Trumpet Snails at a Glance
|Malaysian Trumpet Snails Info
|Common Name (species)
|Malaysian Trumpet snail, Malayan Trumpet snail, Red-rimmed Melania
|Around 2 years
|Minimum Tank Size
|64.5 to 86° F (18 to 30° C)
|7.0 to 8.0
|Slow-moving, well-filtered water
|Breeds readily and prolifically in the aquarium
Origins and Habitat
As their name suggests, the Malaysian Trumpet snail originated from Southeast Asia, especially around Malaysia.
However, thanks to its popularity as an aquarium snail and its skill for rapid sexual reproduction, the Malaysian Trumpet snail has since spread to freshwater habitats in other parts of the world, where it’s considered a nuisance invasive species.
Malaysian Trumpet snails are a tropical freshwater species that prefers slow-moving or still waters, including lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, and rice paddies.
These snails are mostly nocturnal, often burrowing into the soft, muddy, or sandy substrates of their natural habitat during daylight hours. That burrowing behavior helps the snails avoid predators, allows them to access food sources, and contributes to substrate aeration, which can be beneficial for plants and other organisms.
Wild Malaysian Trumpet snails are detritivores, which means they feed on decaying organic matter, such as dead plants, detritus, and occasionally algae. Their scavenging behavior is one reason the species is useful in the aquarium, as they help keep the substrate clean.
Malaysian Trumpet Snail Appearance
These snails are generally small, typically measuring from about 1/2 inch to 1 inch in length, though they can occasionally grow larger in the right conditions.
Malaysian Trumpet snails are so-named for their distinctive elongated, cone-shaped shells that resemble a trumpet, making it easier for the creatures to burrow into the substrate.
The shell typically varies from dark brown to a lighter tannish color and often has a pattern of dark brown bands or spots running around each whorl of the shell, creating an attractive stripy effect. The shell’s surface can be smooth or might have small bumps or tubercles, contributing to the snail’s scientific name, “tuberculata.”
The Malaysian Trumpet snail has a dark grey or black body, and when it extends out to move or feed, you can see tentacles that the snail uses to navigate its environment and a mouth area. An interesting feature of the snail is its operculum, a hard plate that the snail closes to seal itself inside its shell for protection against potential threats.
How Long Do Malaysian Trumpet Snails Live?
Like most snail species, the Malaysian Trumpet snail is relatively short-lived, surviving for just two years on average.
As mentioned above, Malaysian Trumpet snails are primarily nocturnal, which means they are most active at night. During the day, the snails usually bury themselves in the substrate and remain hidden. Once the lights go out, the creatures become more active, moving around the aquarium in search of food.
One of the most characteristic behaviors of the Malaysian Trumpet snails is their habit of burrowing into the substrate.
That behavior not only protects the snails from potential threats but also helps to aerate the substrate, which is good news for live plant growth and helps prevent the buildup of harmful anaerobic bacteria in your tank.
Another benefit of these snails is that they are great scavengers, feeding on detritus, leftover fish food, decaying plant matter, and algae, keeping the aquarium clean and tidy. If you’re awake at night, you’ll often see your snails climbing up the tank viewing panes in search of patches of algae.
Temperament and Tank Mates
Malaysian Trumpet snails are peaceful aquatic creatures that get along fine with a variety of tank mates. However, it’s essential to select species that won’t view the snails as a food source and are also compatible in terms of water parameters.
Suitable tank mates for Malaysian Trumpet snails can include the following species:
- Guppies, Mollies, Platies
- Corydoras catfish
These snails also do well with non-aggressive shrimp, such as Cherry, Ghost, and Amano shrimp. Other mollusks, especially Nerite, Ramshorn, and Mystery snails, can make suitable companions for Malaysian Trumpet snails, as can small, peaceful bottom-dwelling fish and dwarf cichlids.
It goes without saying that you can keep Malaysian trumpet snails with their own kind, although you should be prepared for a population explosion.
Remember: while many species can coexist harmoniously with Malaysian Trumpet snails, it’s essential to ensure that the tank’s conditions are suitable for all its inhabitants.
Always monitor any new introductions to see how they interact with the snails, and be ready to remove them if there’s any aggression between the species.
Tank Mates to Avoid
Some fish species are known to feed on snails or harass them, such as pufferfish, clown loaches, yoyo loaches, and some of the larger cichlids.
Fish species that are territorial or aggressive can stress or harm the snails, even if they don’t necessarily eat them. Finally, overstocking an aquarium can lead to competition for resources and can stress all the tank inhabitants, including the snails.
Malaysian Trumpet Snail Care Guide
In this part of our guide, we explain how to care for Malaysian Trumpet snails in the aquarium.
By providing your Malaysian Trumpet snails with the right tank size, filtration, water parameters, decoration, and lighting, you can create a healthy and happy environment for these fascinating creatures.
Malaysian Trumpet snails don’t require a lot of space and can comfortably live in a 10-gallon aquarium. However, if you plan to keep a large number of snails or other fish, you may need a larger tank to ensure that everyone has enough space and prevent overcrowding.
Remember that these snails can climb, so you’ll need a tank setup with a tightly fitting lid or at least a cover slide to prevent them from escaping. It’s also sensible to block any gaps around pipework and external cabling outlets.
A good filtration system is essential for maintaining the water quality in your aquarium for all your livestock. Malaysian Trumpet snails produce waste like any other living organism, so it’s crucial to remove any excess waste from the water to prevent ammonia and nitrate buildup.
In their wild habitat, the water flow rate is very slow or stagnant, so you’ll need to replicate that in the aquarium environment if possible.
Range of Water Parameters
Malaysian Trumpet snails prefer slightly alkaline aquarium water with a pH range of 7.0 to 8.0, moderate hardness of 5 to 15 dGH, and a water temperature between 64.5 to 86° F (18 to 30° C).
Malaysian Trumpet snails are not particularly picky about decorations, but they will appreciate a few hiding places in the aquarium.
You can use live or artificial plants, rocks, pebbles, and driftwood to create a natural-looking environment for your snails.
As mentioned previously, these snails have a habit of burrowing into the substrate during daylight hours while they are relatively inactive, so a soft sandy substrate is the best choice. Avoid using coarse gravel, as that could injure the snail’s soft, vulnerable body.
Malaysian Trumpet snails don’t need specific lighting requirements. Still, you should aim for around 8 to 10 hours of light daily to provide your snails with a natural day/night rhythm and enable living plants to photosynthesize.
Feeding Malaysian Trumpet Snails
Malaysian Trumpet snails are opportunistic scavengers, grazing on the soft algae that grow on the surfaces within the tank, including on decorations, plants, and tank walls.
The snails also eat decaying organic matter, including plant detritus, uneaten fish food, and even dead tank mates!
The snails spend the night sifting through the substrate, consuming detritus and microscopic organisms. Their behavior not only feeds them but also aerates the substrate, benefiting the tank’s ecosystem.
That said, it’s essential to supplement the snails’ diet to ensure they receive all the nutrients they need to remain healthy and thrive.
You can feed your snails vegetable-rich sinking pellets or tablets designed for bottom-dwelling fish and algae wafers, as well as snail or invertebrate pellets.
Fresh vegetables can be a treat and nutritious addition to the snails’ diet, including blanched lettuce, spinach, kale, zucchini, cucumber, and carrots. Remove any uneaten vegetable matter from the aquarium after 24 hours to prevent it from decomposing and polluting the water.
Snails need calcium for healthy shell growth, and although they can obtain calcium from their diet, adding supplements can be beneficial.
Add calcium-enriched tabs that you can get from good pet stores, or try placing a cuttlebone in the tank, where it will dissolve slowly, releasing calcium into the water.
How Much and How Often to Feed Malaysian Snails
Since Malaysian Trumpet snails are natural scavengers, daily feeding isn’t necessary, especially if they have other food sources in the tank, like algae and detritus. If you choose to feed your snails commercial food or vegetables, two to three times a week should suffice.
However, be careful not to overdo it since overfeeding can lead to water quality issues.
Malaysian Trumpet snails are known for their rapid sexual reproduction rate. These snails are livebearers, meaning they give birth to live young instead of laying eggs.
In ideal conditions, the baby snail population can explode, which is often a real concern and problem for many aquarists. That said, the snails’ prolific breeding habit at least means you have a self-sustaining population, given the creatures’ short lifespan.
Health and Disease
Before delving into diseases that might affect your Malaysian Trumpet snails, you should know how to recognize a healthy specimen. That way, if you notice a sickly snail, you can remove it from your tank and quarantine it to prevent the disease from spreading to your other livestock.
- Look for active movement, especially during nighttime.
- Consistent shell growth without discoloration or cracks.
- A firm, sealed operculum or “trapdoor” on the snail’s underside.
Here are a few common health issues that can affect Malaysian Trumpet snails:
Pitted, eroded, or thin shells, sometimes with white spots appearing on the shell, are usually due to a lack of calcium in their diet or low pH levels in the water.
You can correct shell deterioration by introducing calcium-rich foods to the snails’ diet or adding cuttlebone to the aquarium. Monitor and adjust the water’s pH level if necessary.
Parasitic infections (caused by invasive species like parasitic lungworms) cause reduced activity, visible parasites on the snail’s body, or poor appetite.
Parasites usually get into your tank in contaminated water or with infected plants or animals. Keep parasites out by quarantining the affected snails and treating the entire tank with a suitable anti-parasitic treatment.
Bacterial infections cause discoloration of the snail’s body, lethargy, or refusal to come out of its shell.
Poor water quality or injuries can make snails vulnerable to bacterial attacks, so take action to improve water quality by changing it more frequently and removing decaying organic matter.
You might also want to consider antibacterial treatments, but ensure all medications are snail-safe and don’t contain copper, which is deadly to snails.
Ensuring the health and well-being of Malaysian Trumpet snails is not just beneficial for the snails but for the entire aquarium ecosystem. By being attentive to the snails’ needs and vigilant about potential health issues, you can enjoy a thriving and harmonious tank.
Malaysian Trumpet snails are available in most fish stores for a few dollars each, but buying a group of them is generally cheaper. One good thing about this snail species is their prolific breeding habits. Once you’ve purchased a few snails, you’ll probably never need to buy more!
Frequently Asked Questions
In this part of our guide, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about caring for Malaysian Trumpet snails:
Can You Keep Malaysian Trumpet Snails Together?
Yes, you can definitely keep Malaysian Trumpet Snails together. They are social animals and tend to thrive in groups.
How Many Can Be Kept Per Gallon?
As a general rule of thumb, you can keep one Malaysian Trumpet Snail per gallon of water. However, if you have a heavily planted aquarium and a good filtration system, you may be able to keep more.
What Size Aquarium Do They Need?
In terms of the aquarium size, Malaysian Trumpet Snails don’t need a lot of space. They are small in size and can comfortably live in a 10-gallon aquarium.
How Big Do They Get?
Malaysian Trumpet snails start off very small, but given the right conditions, they can grow to around an inch in length from apex to aperture, with shells roughly the same width as a standard pencil eraser.
What Is the Lifespan of Malaysian Trumpet Snails?
Malaysian Trumpet snails can live for up to 2-3 years under ideal conditions.
Do Malaysian Trumpet Snails Eat Other Snails?
Malaysian Trumpet Snails are known to eat a variety of food, including dead plant matter, algae, and other debris in the aquarium. However, they are not known to eat other snails.
Are Malaysian Trumpet Snails Invasive?
While Malaysian Trumpet Snails can reproduce rapidly, they aren’t considered invasive. In fact, the snails are often used in aquariums to help keep the tank clean.
Malaysian Trumpet snails are a common tropical snail species that many aquarists like to keep in their fish tanks. The snails can be incredibly helpful because they eat algae and general organic debris, helping to keep the environment clean and tidy.
In addition, Malaysian Trumpet snails have a habit of burrowing into the substrate, providing aeration that benefits living plants and helps to disperse pockets of harmful bacteria.
These snails are prolific breeders, meaning you will most likely never need to buy more once you’ve started an initial colony. They also get along well with most peaceful fish and invertebrate species.
However, we recommend that you research any newcomers carefully to be sure they won’t view the snails as a source of food and share the same basic tank conditions.