Ranging from beautiful pale yellow to rich gold in color, golden apple snails -- also known as golden mystery snails -- are eye-catching additions to any freshwater tank or pond. These hardy creatures quickly adapt to a variety of habitat environments, as they are able to breathe through a lung when out of water and a gill-like respiratory system when submerged.
Some Interesting Traits
A golden apple snail sports three pairs of tentacles and a mouth on his head. Just like other snails, the golden apple snail uses a single foot to move from place to place, including vertically up the sides of glass tanks.
In times of drought, a golden apple snail is able to draw up his hard operculum, or shell door, to lock in moisture, helping him survive until rainfall.
Golden apple snails hail from the Amazon river basin. Since their introduction to southeast Asia in the 1980s, they have become a common agricultural pest in that region.
Golden apple snails are peaceful and non-territorial, so they're suitable additions to most tanks and ponds. They won't attack your fish, but large cichlids, loaches and puffer fish are notoriously aggressive; they may kill and possibly attempt to eat your snails.
Tanks for the Memories
In the wild, apple snails live in water systems such as ponds, rivers and swamps. When keeping golden apple snails as pets, you need at least 3 gallons of water per large snail. Because these snails will often climb out of the water to rest on the tank's sides, keep a space of about 6 inches between the water and the tank hood.
Pond-dwelling golden apple snails need some kind of screen or cover over their habitat, otherwise these curious and tenacious pets will wander -- slowly -- away from the enclosure. Murky pond water is just as hospitable as crystal clear tank water to these adaptable mollusks.
Golden apple snails are excellent eaters, consuming everything from fish food to algae to blanched veggies. These hungry snails need a food supply, as simply scavenging the bottom of the tank will not be enough for them. Cucumber slices, lettuce leaves and zucchini are some appropriate meal options for a ravenous snail. Before putting these tidbits into the habitat, wash them free of pesticides.
In the fall and winter, snails tend to move a little more slowly, and as a result they consume less food. Figuring out the amount to feed depends upon how many snails share the enclosure and how much food they can eat in a daily setting. If leftovers remain after 12 to 16 hours, feed them a little less the following day. Repeat this method until the snail or snails are eating everything in the pond or tank within a day.
Breeding and Beyond
Unlike most snails, golden apple snails are not asexual -- a male and a female are required to mate. If you have adult snails of opposite sex, breeding is relatively easy. Triggering mating does not require a change in temperature, and a breeding pair will attach themselves to one another, making a mating rather easy to spot.
Once snails have finished mating, the female will move to a space just above the waterline. There she will deposit a bright pink cluster of eggs that cannot be submerged. If you wish to keep your snails from overrunning your tank or pond, simply scoop the eggs from the tank and dispose of them.
Golden apple snail eggs hatch after a few weeks and will eat the same food as adult snails.