The Apple Snail (Pomacea bridgesii)

Apple snail.

Apple snails (Pomacea bridgesii) are among the most popular freshwater aquarium species renowned for their size, striking coloration, and unique behaviors.

Apart from their unique appearance and behavior, Apple snails are popular among aquarium hobbyists because they are relatively easy to care for and help keep tanks clean by eating algae and other debris. However, they can also breed rapidly, which can sometimes be a nuisance.


The scientific name for the species, Pomacea, comes from the Greek word “pomax,” which means “cover” or “lid,” and refers to the operculum or “trapdoor” that the snail uses to seal itself inside its shell.

The other common name for the species, “mystery snail” is believed to have originated from the fact that these snails were once challenging to identify as a specific species, leading to their “mysterious” classification.

Natural Habitat

Apple snails are native to South America and can be found in various freshwater habitats, including slow-moving rivers, ponds, swamps, and marshes. They prefer calm, shallow waters with a lot of aquatic vegetation and rocky substrates for attaching their eggs.

While Apple snails are native to South America, they have been introduced to many other parts of the world due to the aquarium trade. They are now considered invasive in some areas, where their rapid reproduction and ability to outcompete native species can cause significant ecological problems.


Apple snail.

Apple snails are medium-sized freshwater snails that have a distinctive appearance. They have a rounded, conical shell typically around 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, although some specimens can grow up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) or more. The shell is usually brown but can also be yellow, gold, blue, or purple, and it has a series of whorls that gradually increase in size as the snail grows.

The body of the Apple snail is soft and slimy, with a dark gray or black head and foot that protrude from the shell. The snail’s foot is used for crawling and attaching to surfaces, while the head has two tentacles with eyes at the tips. Apple snails are equipped with a siphon, a long tube-like structure that can be extended from the shell and which they use to breathe.

Apple snails have a hard, calcareous operculum, or “trapdoor,” which they use to seal themselves inside their shells when threatened. This operculum is usually brown or yellow and can be seen at the back of the shell when the snail is fully retracted.

Tank conditions

Apple snail.

The ideal tank conditions for Apple snails are:

  • Water temperature: 68°F-82°F (20°C-28°C)
  • pH: 7.0-8.0.
  • Water quality: Regular water changes, decent filtration, and maintenance
  • Substrate: Fine gravel, sand, or rounded river rocks
  • Decor: Plenty of hiding places and surfaces to climb on. Live or artificial plants, driftwood, and rocks can provide shelter and variety to their environment.


In the wild, they feed on dead plants, algae, and detritus and may also scavenge on dead animal material. In the aquarium, Apple snails can be fed a variety of foods, such as:

  • Algae wafers
  • Vegetables
  • Sinking pellets high in calcium

Temperament And Good Tank Mates

They are generally peaceful and non-aggressive, which makes them good tankmates for many fish and invertebrates.

Here are some good tankmates for Apple snails:

  1. Peaceful community fish: Many peaceful community fish, such as Tetras, Guppies, and Corydoras, can coexist with Apple snails in the same tank. Aggressive and/or large fish should be avoided.
  2. Other snails and invertebrates: Apple snails can be kept with other types of snails and invertebrates, such as shrimp.


Apple snails mating.

Apple snails are prolific breeders; all they need is a healthy tank with a handful of their kind. They will lay their eggs above the waterline, usually on the tank walls. If breeding is not preferred, these eggs should be removed and destroyed.


These snails are usually resistant to diseases and infections. Poor water conditions or diet can cause issues such as

  • Shell erosion
  • Microbial infections
  • Parasitic infections

Keeping them well-fed on a calcium-rich diet and preventing injuries will keep these issues at bay.

Closing Remarks

Apple snails are popular among aquarists with their unique appearance and size, peaceful temperament, and ease of care. They are great at controlling algae growth, and they are one of the most readily available types of snails in the aquarium hobby.

Common NameMystery snail, Apple snail, Spike-topped snail
Scientific NamePomacea bridgesii
Care LevelEasy
TankmatesOther invertebrates and peaceful community fish
DietAlgae wafers, sinking pellets, calcium supplements
Size2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm)
Lifespan2 years

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