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Bladder Snails: Everything You Need To Know

Have you ever brought home some fresh plants or fish for your tank, only to discover some unwelcomed guests the next few days? They probably are bladder snails that feed on algae in an aquarium setting. They are labeled as pests, yet have you considered snails as pets? Yes! You have read that right.

Snails can be pets to keep in a tank aside from fish. Commonly, these snails are calm creatures with an insatiable appetite. Whether you are happy to welcome bladder snails or wish to drive them away, this guide will enlighten you.

Bladder Snail


These gastropods are pale in color, such as yellowish or gold tints.
These gastropods are pale in color, such as yellowish or gold tints.

All snails might look the same for people who are not fond of exploring the fauna. In our eyes, they might just vary in color and size. In fact, we often confuse bladder shells with pond shells. However, we shall look at its details closely.

These gastropods are pale in color, such as yellowish or gold tints. Their shells are translucent and slender, giving them a distinct appearance. The flesh of the snail may be seen through its shell. Pond snails, however, come in a range of colors, including gray, green, brown, and black.

Furthermore, these creatures are sinistral which means that their shells are swirling leftwards. This implies that should it be held with the aperture facing the viewer and the spire facing upwards, the aperture is on the left side, whereas pond snails are dextral spiraling to the right.

The shell that shelters the snail is fashioned as an egg that has a pointed apex. It lacks an operculum that serves in the fashion of a trap door that other snails use to defend themselves against predators.

Expert Tip: The average shell has 4 to 5 swirls with a translucent shell. The mantle, which comprises the snail’s exterior wall, is somewhat more vibrant. It has yellow-orange dots on it.

The bladder has thinner whip­like antennas compared to the pond snails. Finally, these snails have short, thin tentacles, whereas a pond snail embedded thick triangular tentacles. Their eyes are located at the base of those thin tentacles.


Antennas, also known as tentacles, refer to the long projections from a snail’s head. It functions to detect scents and orientation.


The state of the snail's surroundings has a considerable impact on its lifetime.
The state of the snail’s surroundings has a considerable impact on its lifetime.

The typical bladder snail longevity is generally little no more than two years under optimal circumstances. They can very much become unwell much sooner. On the matter of life expectancy, there are no certainties. However, the state of the snail’s surroundings has a considerable impact on its lifetime.

They also have more feeding possibilities in dirtier tanks. As a result, they are able to sustain longer and reproduce more frequently.

If you’re concerned that your snail might be sick, particularly whether it’s become older, follow these steps to see if there’s anything wrong with it:

  • Inspect to see if your snail is floating, some snails may float if they are frail this does not necessarily mean that it is unwell, but one must maintain a watch on it in case the condition develops.
  • Try to see whether your snail is tiptoeing, snails commonly do this when they are old and near death.
  • Mantle collapse occurs when a snail’s shell becomes partially or completely separated from the mantle; it is a serious ailment that can potentially be deadly.
  • Check to see if your snail’s foot is bloated or bleeding, certain chemicals in the water, such as plant fertilizers or anything containing copper, can cause this. If found early, this is not a significant problem, all you have to do is change and clean the water.

    They can thrive in dense as much as in soft water, as well as varying pH levels, in fact, they can withstand sewage life in the wild, so they’ll be well in the safety and convenience of your regulated tank.

Interesting Fact

Although they are susceptible to copper, bladder snails’ oxygen transport is not performed by hemoglobin, as in humans, but by a comparable copper-containing enzyme (hemocyanin). That is why, when they are oxygenated, their blood goes from colorless to pale blue.

They also thrive in a wide variety of varying degrees of heat and cold and can breed in water temperatures ranging from 59 to 86 degrees F. However, they have greater reproductive rates in colder water and are considerably hampered in warmer water.

Average Size

They have a maximum size is 15 mm (0.6 inches) long and 7 mm (0.3 inches) wide, however, these small invertebrates only measure around 1/2 inch in size on average. In comparison, several pond snail species, such as the great pond snail and the big ear pond snail, may reach a diameter of 3 inches.

Expert Tip: These are tiny kinds that do not take up much space. However, don’t be fooled into thinking they won’t have an effect on bioload. Larger populations could have as much of an effect as huge species.

Bladder Snail Care

Bladder snails have been discovered in sewers.
Bladder snails have been discovered in sewers.

There is no need to note optimal water conditions and basic tank setups because these little invertebrates belong to one of the most resilient organisms in the aquatic habitat. They are quite strong and undemanding in terms of water hardness, temperature, and pH.

They live in industrially contaminated rivers in the wild. Bladder snails have been discovered in sewers. It’s no surprise that one of their common names is “Sewage snail.” Aquarists may use them for recycling their tanks in some instances.

According to studies, they can also endure salt levels ranging from 500 to 1000 mS/cm. Moreover, bladder snails grew and reproduced the most in intermediate salinity treatments rather than low salinity treatments.

These snails are unconcerned about temperature. They can grow and breed in temperatures ranging from 15 to 30 degrees Celsius, as mentioned earlier.

One disadvantage is that they may ultimately block a filter inlet or other portions of the filter. So, should you be in possession of a lot of snails, keep an eye on them. Most aquarists prefer to eliminate these invertebrates rather than nurture them.

Tank Size

There are no minimum or maximum tank size restrictions. They can, in fact, multiply and spread practically everywhere. However, the tank size should be determined by the sort of dish that will be kept in the aquarium.

Tanks smaller in size but filled with plenty of fish might create more waste and provide an ideal habitat for bladder snails to multiply quicker. Remember that each living creature added to an aquarium creates a bioload that affects the water’s state. Bladder snails are no exception.

If you wish to maintain bladder snails for maintenance, it’s best that you store them in a bigger tank to reduce their impact.

What To Put In Their Tank

Bladder Snails Tank
Bladder Snails Tank

Calcium is vital for the shell of the snail to develop. Their development and reproductive rates will be reduced in a low-calcium environment, and sustainability is jeopardized.

If you want them to cleanse your aquarium, it is best to add eggshells and other elements to the tank. Newly hatched snails have fragile shells and will quickly seek calcium sources to harden them.

Give the snails lots of natural food sources if you want the population to grow. This includes plants that will decompose over time, driftwood that will accumulate algae, and other things. Apart from that, the layout is entirely up to you.

Expert Tip: Overfeeding your fish will result in the snails being overfed as well. Overfeeding fish waste causes algae growth, which impairs and is a danger to other plants that point, bladder snails will consume the suddenly ailing plants.

If you notice an excess of bladder snails, it’s an indication that the aquarium is in dire need of immediate care.

Tank Mates

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We usually refer to tank mates as pleasant neighbors.

We usually refer to tank mates as pleasant neighbors. However, in the case of these snails, aquarium companions may be feeders who will manage the bladder snail number, as well as to who the bladder snail supplies food.

If the bladder’s population is going beyond your tank’s limit, you may opt to Purchase a carnivorous fish. Include a feeder fish in your aquarium, which will view the snails as a sumptuous feast. Predators that consume bladder snails include loaches, betta fish, pufferfish, assassin snails, and crayfish.

Common Possible Diseases

Technically, they are susceptible to all of the same diseases just as much as any other mollusk. Fungal and bacterial diseases are the most prevalent problems that snails face. Severe occurrences can result in serious shell damage.

Food & Diet

Bladder snails eat decaying plant matter and waste, as well as algae which are scraped plants as well as stones. Algae, diatoms, dead and decaying organic stuff (meat, insects, vegetables, or plants), and leftover fish or shrimp are also food for them. To put it simply, they are by nature, omnivores.


Too much food available might cause problems. Growing snail colonies are an indication that you’re overfeeding your fish! To keep the population inside freshwater aquariums moderate, try to reduce waste and rotting objects.

Behavior & Temperament

Despite their negative reputation, bladder snails may be an efficient element of the aquarium cleaning team because they spend most of their time grazing on wastes and other forms of algae. These snails are always looking for food. When they locate it, they prefer to stay in the exact location until it is depleted.

Fun Fact

These creatures have the unusual ability to shrug off leeches and other bothersome crawling critters that may be hitching a free ride on their backs. In aquariums, you may occasionally observe these snails forcefully shaking their shells to unload a hitchhiker!

You may occasionally observe the “passing through” the water. That is totally natural, as the snail usually is utilizing their built-in air bladder to flee danger.


Bladder snails possess both masculine and feminine reproductive organs, making them hermaphroditic. As a result, these snails have two ways of reproducing. Similar to other asexual invertebrates, bladder snails frequently opt to act as one of two sexes or the other. They have the ability to perform like either sex or both.

Freshwater snails are sexually dimorphic, they possess a sperm bank organ, and having a pair of reproductive organs allows them to breed by internal self-fertilization as well as cross-fertilization (mating).

If one snail does not find a mate, it will self-fertilize internally, especially if they are threatened and seek to reproduce before being destroyed. Self-fertilization is not advantageous since the organism that resulted has a reduced survival rate.

Even if it does not feel threatened, after eight weeks of not discovering a mate, a bladder snail would further turn to self-fertilization.

The snails will deposit little egg capsules containing anything from 10 to 40 eggs. They often lay them behind vegetation leaves and others on inconspicuous surfaces. It takes only approximately weekly for the eggs to hatch.

Expert Tip: They have the capacity to attain maturation as soon as a month. Thus, the population grows quickly!

Bladder Snail vs. Pond Snail


Pond Snails: 1 -3 inches (2.5-7 cm)
Bladder Snails: Up to 0.6 inches only (average of 1.5 cm)

Shell Form

Pond Snails: Dextral
Bladder Snails: Sinistral

Shell Color

Pond Snails: Brown variations (gray, green, brown, and black)
Bladder Snails: Pale colored with markings (yellowish spots)


Pond Snails: Thick and triangular in shape
Bladder Snails: Thin and short


Pond Snails: Productive egg layers
Bladder Snails: Highly prolific “Born pregnant”


Overall, bladder snails can thrive on their own. They are easy to propagate, hence, the challenge is more on controlling their population. They are qualified as pests in the aquarium hobby since they reproduce in a small amount of time and are burdensome if not removed.

They can enter your tank without notice. They are also completely and utterly harmless and do not harm vegetation. They will consume algae and help to maintain the cleanliness of your tank. So, they aren’t entirely horrible when properly regulated.

If you wish to, you can care for or remove these little gastropods from your aquarium, you must first understand the species and consider its advantages and disadvantages to your tank.

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About Ava Wellington

Hi, my name is Ava and I am a editor for GuideYourPet. I love pets, and am the owner of 2 horses and 2 dogs! I have loved pets all my life, and have owned everything from bearded dragons to snakes! I am excited to help you take the best care of your pet!