Rabbit Snail - Tylomelania

Rabbit Snail – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet and Breeding

by Michael

Rabbit snail (Tylomelania) is a genus of viviparous freshwater snails, which came to us from freshwater lakes of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Currently, there are around 50 described species of Rabbit snails in science. Although Rabbit snails entered the aquatic community around 2007-2008, they are still not very common in the aquarium world. Therefore, we do not have many guides on how to care and breed them. There are only several different types of Rabbit Snails available in pet stores today. For example, the most popular types are Yellow Rabbit Snails, Chocolate Rabbit Snails, Golden Rabbit Snails, Black Rabbit Snails, and White Spotted Rabbit Snails.

Also regarded as Elephant snails, Rabbit snails make a fantastic addition to any existing tank. The peaceful nature of rabbit snails is one factor that makes it interesting to cater to them. Rabbit snails are not fond of troubling any creature that is with them in a tank. Instead, they are only known for being inquisitive about their environment. Another possible reason why people love Rabbit snails could be tied to their active lifestyle. They love to move around the tank whether it is daytime or nighttime.

Are you looking forward to keeping and breeding some Rabbit snails, but you do not know where to begin from? You have just come to the right place because all the most popular questions regarding how Rabbit snails are being raised will be touched on accordingly.

Quick Notes about Rabbit Shrimp 

Name Rabbit snail
Common Name
Rabbit snail, Elephant Snail, Sulawesi snail
Scientific Shrimp Tylomelania
Tank size (minimal – optimal) 20 gallons (~20 – 40 liters)
Keeping Easy
Breeding Easy-Medium 
Size Up to 10 – 12 cm (~3 – 4,5 inches) depending on species
Optimal Temperature 26 – 30°C  (~77°F – 86°F)
Optimal PH 7.8 – 8.2 (7.3 – 8.5)
Optimal GH 6 – 8 (4 – 12)
Optimal KH 4 – 8 (2 – 15)
Optimal TDS 100 – 200 (50 – 400)
Nitrate Less than 10 ppm
Diet Algae eater/omnivore
Temperament Peaceful
Life span 1 – 3 years
Color Form Huge variety of colours and patterns (orange, brown, dark, white, and with spots)

Rabbit Snail Description

Rabbit snailYou might wonder why are they called Rabbit snails? Well, they have a long rabbit-like face with the droopy antennae looking like the ears on a rabbit. Another unique feature of these snails is that their “face” can have many expressions from smiling to wistful to prankish.

Due to the fact that there are many types of Rabbit snails, it will be a hard task to describe all of them. Therefore, I will just point out the main features of these snails.

Their shells are medium to large size and can have numerous different color forms (brown, dark, whitish, with spots, etc.). The shell has an elongate conic structure (unicorn-horn like), spire angle 13–25°. Top whorls in adult specimens almost always corroded to a varying degree. Aperture oval, pointed at the top and slightly siphonated at the base.

The size of Rabbit snail is largely dependent on how old it is. Some types of Rabbit snails can grow up to 3 – 4,5  inches (10 – 12cm) in size. However, their size is not the only reason why they are also called Elephant Snails. They have a very long proboscis which reminds the elephant’s trunk.

Note: The rabbit snails that are sold in stores are up to 2 inches in length. So a snail that is small in size is not an indication that it is less healthy. Instead, it is just a sign that it is young in age.

Rabbit Snail Lifespan

Under the right tank conditions, Rabbit snail can live as long as between 1 and 3 years, or even longer with some more luck. While these snails are quite active, it is not totally out of place for them to be immobile for a considerable period, since that is how they rest (sleep). Whenever they are resting, their bodies normally curl up inside their shells, with their operculum repositioned to their aperture.

Therefore, do not panic and do not jump to the conclusion that your Rabbit snail is dead, simply because it has not moved for a while in the tank.

Interesting fact: According to some observations, in general, snails can be awake for 30+ hours with clusters of around seven bouts of sleeping over a 13-15 hour period.

Rabbit Snail Care

Rabbit snailAquatic enthusiasts do consider Rabbit snails as being easy to deal with. As it is with the majority of freshwater snails, taking care of Rabbit snails begins with a stable, established and healthy aquarium. Make sure your Nitrite and Ammonia levels never exceed 0 ppm.

They prefer alkaline water in the 8.2 to 8.4 region but can tolerate pH that is as low as 7.3. It is absolutely vital for them to have alkaline water to prevent their shells from wearing out.

Water temperature should be between 76 and 84°F. Regular community lighting will be appropriate.

Keep in mind that Rabbit snails can become inactive and stressed if the parameters are too hard for them. 

The water parameters in the shallows of Lake Matano and Lake Towuti (the natural habitat of Rabbit snail):

Temperature (°C) 28.7 (~84F)
pH 8.5
General hardness (°GH) 7
Carbonate hardness (°KH) 5
Conductance (μS) 175
Total dissolved solids (ppm) 87.5
Oxygen (mg/l) 6.93

Keep them with the sand substrate (or very fine-grained gravels). Rabbit snails enjoy burrowing themselves in the sand, and later resting with just their head emerged from the sand. This is what they do in their natural habitat. Therefore, if you replicate these conditions, you will make them very happy.

Rabbit snails are pretty comfortable when regular tank conditions are observed, especially when the temperature is slightly warm.

Note: Some aquarists keep Rabbit snails in a temperature of 72 to 74. Although this temperature will not harm them, it will slow down their metabolism. As a result, there is a very high chance that they will not breed at all.

Tip: Some snail keepers add mix crushed coral in with their sand or gravel substrate, or place coral in their filters to increase KH (carbonate hardness) in the water.

Tip #2: Do not forget to acclimatize them carefully, as you would do for your shrimp.

Rabbit snails and Tank Size

Because of their gigantic size and appearance, they require a big tank. Actually, it is recommended to have at least 20-gallons tank to accommodate their needs.

Note: You are advised to avoid overstocking the tank with too many snails. They are much better off in a tank with plenty of spaces and places to hide.  

Rabbit snail Feeding

Rabbit snails are great scavengers that are obviously interested in consuming soft algae that grow on hard surfaces. They also like to eat rotten plant matter, which has found their way to the tank’s bottom. This does not mean you should limit what they eat to these algae and plant matter.

They will accept almost any fish or shrimp food like flakes, algae wafers, Spirulina wafers and tablets, sinking pellets, earthworm pellets, algae pellets, even frozen bloodworms. Other reliable food sources are lettuce, spinach, and blanched green zucchini.

In addition, it is appropriate to support their natural feeding habit with supplements that contain adequate calcium.

Tip: Another great way to add additional calcium sources is to add cuttlebone to the tank. However, it is recommended to boil the cuttlebone first (this way it will sink easily).

Tip #2: On the next day, it would be better to remove the leftovers of food before they really foul the tank. 

Rabbit snail and Plants

Concerning plants, Rabbit snails are not really interested in eating up plants that are inside the aquarium. Although they seem to behave slightly different when they are around Java ferns. It has been mostly reported by aquarists that rabbit snails like to feast on Java ferns.

Other than that, you can consider your aquarium plants to be safe around Rabbit snails. And if you want to be mindful about your Java ferns, then please do not keep them close to your Rabbit snails.

Generally, if you feed your Rabbit snails with a balanced diet comprising green leaf supplements and also keep them with strong plants such as Anubias, then you do not have anything to worry about.

Note: Keep in mind that most aquarium plants cannot live in high temperatures anyway.  

Rabbit Snails Maturity. Breeding Rate

They become sexually mature when they are about 4 cm (1.5 inches) long. In general, they do not grow fast so it can take them close to 1 year to become adults.

Rabbit snails have a very low rate of reproduction, so even if they are kept in large groups it will not be likely to over-populate the aquarium.

These snails give live birth and produce one round white pod every 4 – 6 weeks or so, within which will be one, two, or rarely three baby snails. The baby snails exit the pod within a few minutes of the “birth” and are fully formed miniatures of the adults.  

Rabbit Snails and How They Breed Inside Freshwater Aquariums

Rabbit snails, like Mystery snails, have both male and female genders. As with all snails, it is not possible to see the difference with the naked eye, as visual differences are not apparent.

It is normal for Rabbit snails to breed inside freshwater aquariums when the right tank conditions are observed. However, do not be alarmed! Their breeding is not as rampant as what you have with some other snails. They produce their offspring one after another. That way, your tank will not be overstock at any given time. 

When Rabbit snails breed, a tiny creamy egg sac that is white in color is often left behind. The egg sac is as big as a pencil eraser. Within the egg sac, will be a Rabbit snail baby that is fully formed and looks very hungry. You will notice the baby snail almost immediately moving around the tank in search of what to eat. It is such an amazing sight to behold! Plus they look so adorable due to their flawless shell. Their shells have no scuffs or pit marks, only a properly formed whorl from its apex to its aperture.

The size of the babies depends on the species. Newly hatched snails of some species of Tylomelania can be anywhere from 0.125 inches (3.2 mm) to 0.25 inches (6.35 mm).

Females can also carry sperm long term, releasing the baby snails over the course of several months.

Note: According to some discussion on the German forums, some aquarists also mentioned the possibility of hybrids within their populations. 

Rabbit Snails Best Tank Mates

As you must have learned, these snails are slow in their movement and calm in their behavior, so it makes a lot of sense if they are kept together with tank mates that are equally non-aggressive. They survive long and do very well when they are put with Japanese trapdoor snail, Ramshorn snail, Nerite snailsMalaysian Trumpet snails,  Ivory snail, Gold Inca snail, and Mystery snail.

They do equally well with freshwater shrimps such as Amano shrimpBamboo shrimpRed cherry shrimp, and Ghost shrimp, etc. However, their best companion shrimp would be the Sulawesi species (for example, Cardinal shrimp), as they have identical living conditions.

Other fantastic tank mates include Otocinclus catfish. Other small-looking tank fish can be considered as tank mates, provided they do not possess any aggressive nature. Some aquatic enemies never to be used as tank mates include Crayfish, Cichlids, loaches, and Goldfish. It does not take these animals anything to put a Rabbit snail to death in no time.

Note: Since these snails will be producing a lot of wastes, they will make an excellent team with dwarf shrimp. A lot of shrimp keepers noticed that the poop of the snail is extremely beneficial for shrimp. It contains the bacteria that is good for the digestive system of the shrimp.

Rabbit Snail and Possible Danger

  1. Be very careful with your canister filter (if you use one). The problem is that Rabbit snails occasionally get themselves caught in filter intake slots, thereby resulting in injuries or even death. This can be prevented when filter intakes are covered with sponge pre-filters.
  2. It is good to have your tanks covered as much as you can. While Rabbit snails are not the expert when it comes to escaping, they may exit the tank if given the opportunity, leading to their demise eventually.

However, this is not the only problem. Even if they cannot get out of the tank, they can still fall from the glass back into the tank. Because of the size and weight, Rabbit snails often break tips of their shells. Therefore, it will be a good idea to put something soft right at the aquarium glass.

  1. Keep in mind that you need to be also cautious about the use of plant fertilizers and medications on their Rabbit snails. These snails are very sensitive to such chemicals. Watch out for copper, as it can kill your Rabbit snails very easy.

Note: In my article “How Copper Affects Dwarf Shrimp” I also give examples of the safest fertilizers for shrimp and snails.

Rabbit Snail and Leeches

Unfortunately, it is not a rare thing to see leeches in Rabbit snail, especially on imported specimens of Tylomelania. They are pests and, obviously, we do not need them. So, how can we remove these parasites?

I have searched everywhere and I found different recommendations from aquarists. There are several temporal methods to do that besides manual removal.

– Aquatic salt.

  1. Take 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of salt and add it to a cup of aquarium water (~10 ounces or 0.3 liters).
  2. Dissolve the salt in the water by stirring it.
  3. Take Rabbit snail and put it into the cup for about 10-15 minutes.

Note: it will not kill all leeches. If they are deep within the shell some of them can survive. In this case, you will have to repeat the procedure in a few weeks or a month.

– Alcohol soaked cotton

  1. Use a toothpick with a cotton (soaked in strong clean ethanol (about 70%-90%).
  2. Put a snail out of the water and I wait when the snail will stretch out.
  3. When touch a leech with alcohol soaked cotton. Usually, the snail will create much mucus that will cover the dead leech. When the snail’s body will appear again, you can remove the dead leech covered with mucus.

– No-planaria

I found a video on YouTube about it. Unfortunately, the author did not say the dosage of his treatment.

Warning: Be very careful, because No-planaria is extremely dangerous for the snails. Shrimp keepers use it to treat Planaria in their tanks.

Conclusion

Rabbit snails are not very common in the aquarium world yet, but their popularity is growing. They are perfect inhabitants for a shrimp tank.

Rabbit snails are worth giving a try because of how easy it is to keep them. Having known a couple of things from how to treat them, to how they can be fed to how they can be managed due to their unique breeding habit, you are sure to have a nice time when you start caring for your Rabbit snails. 

Can Assassin snail eat Rabbit snail?

Yes, they can. However, it does not happen often because Assassin snails prefer smaller prey. Nonetheless, if you keep them hungry they will attack even the bigger prey. Therefore, do not hope that the big size of your snail can keep them safe forever.

In addition, it will not be possible to breed Rabbit snails if you have Assassin snails in your tank. 

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