Incubating Apple Snail Clutches

Posted by on February 1, 2012 | 0 comments

Apple snail breeding is what really initially got me involved with invertebrates. I started out with a few and worked on making some of the more recessive colors (pink, purple, etc) dominant. They are still one of my favorite invertebrates and come in a wide range of colors: blue, ivory, “black”, purple, pink, green, gold, many with striped variations as well. They are sex specific snails who lay their clutches above the water line. It’s important to make sure they have space to lay or they will leave the tank through any available hole to lay their clutches. It is very obvious when “snorno” is occurring, as the males are very amorous.

Female “mystery” snail laying a clutch.

Each clutch can result in up to about 200 baby snails. Because of this, its important to be a responsible hobbyist. Adult snails generally need about 2.5g of tank space, each, so it can take a fair amount of space to raise all of these babies. Snails have a relatively large bioload, so an ample sized grow out tank is a necessity. I get a lot of questions about how to hatch the clutches, so have outlined it below.

First, I gather supplies. I use a small tupperware with lid and 3 paper towels (as well as the clutch).

Easy to find supplies to make an incubator.


I fold the paper towels into quarters
Slightly moisten one (squeeze as much water out as you can) and place it in the bottom of the container. The place the two DRY quartered paper towels on top of that.
Then place the clutch on the topmost DRY paper towel and tightly lid the container. I then float it in the tank that I am going to be using to raise the young (temperature is important to prevent growth rings).

Clutch in incubator, almost ready to be placed in the tank.


Check the container daily, removing any condensation in the lid. If you find that the uppermost paper towel is damp, replace it with a dry one. At about 6 days, the clutch will get a moldy/blue-gray appearance. Often at 8 days I break open the clutch and release the babies. If you decide to not do this, at 8-9 days, you will see hatching babies, which need to be transferred to a grow out tank.

Clutch at 9 days old, beginning to erupt.


I prefer a breeder net for the first 4-6 weeks as its easier to feed and monitor them. This image shows one clutch of hatched babies after about a week. You can see the colors showing and how high the survival rate was.

A single hatched clutch can produce up to 200 baby snails!


If not prepared to raise all the young, you should either crush or freeze the clutch before discarding. Some have success, as well, with breaking the clutch into pieces to incubate a smaller amount at once.

Once the babies reach pea-size, I release them into the tank. At this point, its easy enough to vacuum around them and maintain the tank.

I keep p. diffusa in ALL my breeding tanks. They eat uneaten food, fungused eggs, and also create infusoria within their slime trail which is an exceptional first food for all fry, be it fish or invertebrate. They do need a calcium rich diet and hard water to maintain good shell health. They do not eat plants (other than duckweed) and are just a colorful addition to most tanks. You must be cautious if keeping them in a tank with tons of shrimp as the shrimp can pester them to the point that they stop eating.

An excerpt on snails and first foods for fry:

Masters (i) suggests that infusoria for starter cultures can be collected from any stagnant pond where decaying vegetable matter is present, from the debris on established aquarium filters, from water in which cut flowers have been standing, or from the partly digested plant tissue in the droppings of infusorial snails (Ampullaria).
From this article on producing infusoria and paramecium cultures

Often their droppings get trapped in their slime. It’s basically partially digested vegetable matter which produces the infusoria. Similar to starting an infusoria culture with crushed leaves, hay, etc in a jar of water.

A brief profile of these snails can be found in my species gallery.