Sexing Mystery Snails

How to Tell the Gender of A Mystery Snail

  1. Find a comfortable spot with good lighting
  2. Take your chosen mystery snail out of the water (don’t worry, they have a lung and can breathe air — this does not harm them at all as long as they aren’t kept out of the water for a long period of time).
  3. Sit down and hold the mystery snail on its back between your thumb and forefinger in a slightly vertical position.
  4. Wait… wait some more… wait some more. In all sincerity this takes an incredible amount of patience because the snail could come out in 5 minutes, 30 minutes or not at all.
  5. Gender can be identified when the snail comes far out of its shell (see photos below for how far).
  6. Look at the snail’s RIGHT shoulder.¬† (The left side of each image as you look at the photos on your screen)
  7. On a female you will see what looks like two holes on either shoulder just under the shell.
  8. On a male, you will see the sheath mostly blocking the hole on the snail’s right shoulder side (left as you look at the photo on your screen).

Female Mystery Snails:

Male Mystery Snails:

What to feed assassin snails when there are no snails for them to eat

I think assassin snails are neat and want to keep them, but prefer not to feed them other snails. So what can they eat if live snails aren’t on the menu? They love any meaty food and frozen fish food works well as a diet. Mine love frozen mussels, with frozen bloodworms as a close second. They will also eat frozen mysis shrimp and in a pinch shrimp pellets but they would much rather have frozen food over freeze dried or flakes.

The picture above shows the snails congregating around a cube of mussels that was dropped in the water for them to eat.

Frozen mussels
Assassin snails love to eat frozen mussels (pictured) or frozen bloodworms if live snails are unavailable as a food source.

How to make Snello / Snail Jello

What is Snello or Snail Jello?

It is a home-made gel food that often yields superior results to store bought food due to the added calcium and higher quality ingredients.

Which ingredients do you need to make it?

This is the fun part, depending on your skill level and time it can be as simple as calcium (without vitamin D3)  fish food, vegetable baby food and gelatin or agar powder to bind it all together. Or you can make it more complicated with ingredients to suit your own personal snail raising/keeping needs.  A very basic recipe can be found here: Snello for Noobs without Great Kitchens.
*Note: It is best to use calcium carbonate powder rather than tums since tums have extra ingredients that are not useful for snails and could possibly be harmful.

Utensils and such:

  • a blender
  • measuring spoons
  • a microwave safe glass measuring cup to heat the mixture
  • pot holder (the mix is HOT when it is ready)
  • a spatula to smooth the mixture into molds of your choice
  • trays or molds to pour/spoon the mixture into
    Some ideas include:

    • mini silicon ice cube trays (I use these to make perfect sized portions for baby snails).
    • silicon bell shaped trays with pop out bottoms (good for adult and juvenile snails.
    • water bottle ice cube trays. These work best for aquariums with a large number of juvenile and adult snails as they reduce food competition due to greater surface area.
    • a square tupperware type container can also work. Line the bottom with parchment paper to easily lift out the snail jello and then cut into whatever size pieces you like.

The below gives you a general idea how I make snello. There is plenty of room for experimentation and different ingredients to give your snails more dietary variety if desired.

Basic Recipe
Blend ingredients after each ingredient is added until smooth before adding the next one.

  1. 1 table spoon of agar powder per 8oz of snello mixture. I start with 2 table spoons in 4-6 oz of water and then add more agar at the end of necessary.
  2. Choose a 10 oz package of frozen snail-safe vegetables. Some good vegetables are: sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, peas, green beans or butternut squash.
  3. Add a protein source 2-4 table spoons. This can be fish food flakes, frozen fish food, freeze dried copepods, krill, shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia or tubifix worms etc.
  4. Optional: add a teaspoon of spirulina and/or kelp powder. These enhance color, offer an iodine source and other trace minerals.
  5. Add up to 1 table spoon of calcium carbonate powder per 8oz of mixture.
    *you may want add only a teaspoon per 8 oz of liquid mixture if you have other sources of calcium like cuttlebone or wonder shells in your aquarium to reduce the risk of overdosing the snails on calcium.
  6. Blend well one last time and then check how much liquid you have. My batches range anywhere between 16 and 32 oz depending on what has been added to the mixture.
  7. Heat in the microwave until bubbling. This takes 4-6 minutes. It will be HOT. Use a pot holder to remove and set on a heat safe surface. Stir well with a spatula and then spatula or spoon it into your chosen molds.
  8. Let sit on the counter for 25 minutes or until cool. Smaller molds cool faster, larger molds take the full 25 minutes.
  9. Gently pop out onto a double layer of paper towels. Let sit for 15 minutes. This step helps to absorb extra water as the snello usually acquires extra moisture from the ice that forms on it after it has been frozen.
  10. Portion out into the amount you will use in 1-2 days and freeze. I put portions in sandwich bags and then double bag in freezer bags or place in freezable plastic containers. Then I just take out what I need the night before and it thaws in the refrigerator over night.

My Example Recipe: Sweet Potato Snello

  • 1 table spoon of agar powder per 8oz of snello mixture.

    The final mixture amount can be anywhere from 16-32 oz so I start out with 6oz of water with 2 tablespoons agar powder, blended in a blender for 1 minute on low to evenly disperse the agar.

  • 1 organic 10 oz package of organic sweet potato chunks. Rinsed until thawed, then added to the agar water mix and blended until smooth.

  • 3 table spoons omega 1 freshwater flakes (choose fish food without copper added as copper is toxic to snails)

  • 3 table spoons of freeze dried arctic copeopds.

  • 2 squeeze packages of 3.5 oz organic baby food; mixture of pumpkin, mango, blueberry and apple. If the blender sounds like it is having trouble blending, I will add a couple more ounces of water. The idea is to have the mixture be very thick but still blend smoothly.

  • 2 heaping table spoons of calcium carbonate powder. I don’t sweat adding the max amount possible because my snails have free access to Weco wonder shells and bird cuttlebone so they can access more calcium if they individually¬† need it rather than risking overdosing them on it by force feeding it to them.

  • 1 teaspoon of kelp powder
  • 1 teaspoon spirulina
  • The final amount of liquid mixture was 32 oz so I added 2 more table spoons of agar powder and blended one final time.
  • Heated the mixture for 5 minutes and 30 seconds until bubbling (4-6 minutes may be required depending on amount of liquid and microwave wattage)
  • I used a spoon to place the mixture into the water bottle ice cube tray cells and then used the spatula to smooth the mixture and move extra mixture to the next tray/mold.
  • I let the mixture sit on the counter in the molds for 25 minutes.
  • Popped the pieces out after this time and let them sit on paper towels for 15 minutes to absorb extra water.
  • Then placed individual day portions into sandwich bags and then into freezer bags or freezer safe plastic containers to help guard against freezer burn.
  • I usually leave out one day’s worth ( in the refrigerator) after making it so I don’t have to thaw for the next day’s feeding.
Sweet Potato Snello
Sweet Potato Snello

Yellow Spotted Rabbit Snail – Tylomelania / Sulawesi Snails

It’s been a rough road trying to acquire the yellow spotted rabbit snail over the last two years. I am up to 5 adults and 15 juveniles made up of the rare petstore find and a few purchased from other hobbyists online. I have not succeeded in finding any additional adults that may be old enough to breed. Hopefully with some patience, the juvenile snails will grow up to form a small breeding group. The current adults may possibly all be the same gender because I haven’t seen any proof of breeding despite the fact that they seem to like my aquarium conditions (they are quite active and dive in with the mystery snails to eat snello and vegetables such as cut organic green beans). The photographs below show the variety of patterning on this species as well as the unique antennae coloration.

Aquatic snails for sale in North Central Florida