Spixi Snail – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding

Asolene spixi guide

Asolene spixi species is one of the most beautiful and, at the same time, the rarest snail species in aquarium hobby nowadays. There is also a lot of conflicting information about them. Therefore, in this guide, I have done my best to gather all information about the proper care of Spixi snails.

Although Asolene spixi snails are not the best algae-eaters, they have another superpower that can be very useful for many community tanks because Spixi snails can eat pests like a hydra.  

So, keep reading for everything you need to know about Asolene spixi snails care and keeping them happy and healthy!

Important: Asolene spixi species has been made illegal to cross state lines. So check your state laws before purchase. The reason for this restriction – it belongs to the notorious Ampullariidae family that includes Pomacea canaliculata (pest snail).

In fact, Pomacea canaliculata is on the list of the world’s worst 100 invasive alien species (and top 40 in Europe.), due to their potential effect on the ecosystem and huge economic losses especially in Asia.

Basically, because of several pest snails in Ampullariidae family, Asolene spixi species was restricted as well… just in case. The only good news is that Spixi snails are not illegal to keep. So you would have to find a local breeder for yourself.

Quick Notes about Asolene Spixi Snails

Name Spixi snail
Other Names Spixi Apple Snail, Zebra Apple Snail
Scientific Name Asolene Spixi
Tank size (minimum) 2.5 gallons (~10 liters)
Keeping Easy
Breeding Medium 
Size 2.5 to 3 cm (1 – 1.2 inches)
Optimal Temperature 24 – 28 C (75 – 82F)
Optimal PH 7.0 – 8.0
Optimal GH 4 – 15
Optimal KH 3 – 8
Dwellers Mid and bottom
Nitrate Less than 20
Diet Omnivore
Temperament Peaceful (with caution)
Life span up to 3 years
Color Form Yellow with black stripes

Distribution of the Spixi Snails

These snails originate in South America:
Argentina. Provinces of Formosa, Chaco, Corrientes.
Southern Brazil: Rio Grande do Sul States, Mato Grosso.
Bolivia: Santa Cruz de la Sierra Department, Chiquitos province.
Paraguay: Alto Paraná Departments, Itapuá, Ñeembucú.
Uruguay: Cerro Largo Department.
Peru: known for the Amazon.

Natural Habitat of the Spixi Snails

They are common in ponds, ditches, shallow lagoons, slow-moving streams and rivers with the loamy and sandy bottoms. Spixi snails prefer an environment with a lot of vegetation.

Description of the Spixi Snails

Asolene spixi snail on sandSpixi snails are a smaller freshwater snail species, reaching a maximum size of about 1 inch (2.5 – 3 cm) in the aquarium setting.

They are easily identifiable with series of dark spiral stripes along their yellowish shells which are formed by 4 or 5 convex whorls and somewhat depressed towards the upper edge. The shell opening is oval and elongated.

The body of the snail is slightly darker than the shell and may acquire a yellowish or brown hue. They also have dark spots throughout the body that can change over time.

The tentacles are about the length of the foot when completely extended and breathing siphon is short (about the length of the labial tentacles).

Spixi snails have a “door” (an operculum) which they use to completely close their shell when disturbed or threatened.

Healthy, genetically-strong Spixi snails will live 2 to 3 years on average, and up to 5 years with exceptional care. The wide range of reported life spans is a result of different habitat conditions.

The Behavior of the Spixi Snails

Spixi snails can be shy and quiet, especially when newly introduced into an aquarium.

These snails are mostly nocturnal and during the day they will often bury themselves within the substrate. However, when they do it, they do not bury completely in the ground, it is still possible to see the top of their shell.

Note: By doing so they prevent the risk of a gas pocket being built up which can be dangerous to your fish or shrimp.

Although they are most active at night, when they are hungry, they will be relatively active during any time. They can also attach themselves to the top of the water (because of surface tension).

Spixi snails are not social, they simply do not care about being in a group of their own kind.

They will not display aggression towards other snails unless they are very hungry and potential prey is small enough to be completely covered by their foot. Nonetheless, predation on eggs and snails has been well documented.

Spixi Snails Diet

Although Spixi snails can feed on algae, they are mostly detritivore. They do prefer decomposing plant and animal matter to anything else.

They will eat the same food you feed your fish and shrimp (shrimp pellets, shrimp granulesfish flakesalgae wafers, etc. – check out the price on Amazon), but mostly survive on what is in the tank. They may even pick up the crumbs and leftovers, so to speak. They are natural scavengers.

Do not forget about adding blanched vegetables like carrot, sprouts, spinach, cucumber, zucchini.

Like all other species of snails, you will want to provide them with some sort of calcium supplement to help keep their shell beautiful and healthy. Calcium will prevent shells from deterioration. So, I highly recommend reading my article “How to Supplement Shrimp and Snails with Calcium”.

Keep in mind that just like other invertebrates, Spixi snails are sensitive to copper and copper compounds (read more here). Therefore, when purchasing aquarium fertilizers ensure that they do not contain copper-based chemicals.

You can read some of my related articles (the principle is the same with snails):

Indian almond leaves and Alder Cones.
How to Blanch Сucumbers and Zucchini for Shrimp.

Are Spixi Snails Plant Safe?

Asolene spixi snail on plantAlthough Spixi snails are usually compatible with a planted tank, they are still not completely plant safe. If given a chance, Spixi snails might eat soft and tender plants (like Frogbit or cryptocorynes) even when well fed.

Nonetheless, unlike over plant-eater snails (like Marisa cornuarietis (Giant Colombian Ramshorn snail)), they only nibble little holes rather than chopping off entire leaves. In addition, you need to know that it also depends on several things.

  1. Type of plants. Spixi snails do not have strong radula (a tooth-studded tongue) and simply cannot eat hard plants.
  2. Age. They are more prone to eating live plants when they are young. Tip: Feeding them veggies should curb their appetite for aquariumplants to some degree.
  3. Cross-breed. Spixi snails can actually interbreed with Marisas cornuarietis. These hybrids can feed on any living and decaying aquatic plants. So, do not mix them.

Do Spixi Snails Eat Hydra?

There is some level of disagreement as to whether or not Spixi snails can eat hydra.

There are some reports that Spixi snails did not pay any attention to the hydra. On the other hand, there are also many aquarists who claim that they eat all hydras in their tank within days (weeks).

Some people believe that only hybrids of Spixi snails and Marisas cornuarietis eat hydras but because they look alike, people mistakenly think that Spixi snails can do it as well.

Keeping Spixi Snails

These snails are not demanding, and easy to care for. They are almost perfect if you are just getting into the hobby.

As with any fish, shrimp or snail tank, make sure that the tank is set up correctly, and that the water is properly cycled. This ensures you have the appropriate bacteria’s which will convert harmful compounds into less harmful ones.

Tank Size:

Spixi snails do not require a lot of space. They can live even in 2.5-gallon (10 liters) tank.

Water parameters:

This is a hardy species that is not too fussy about water parameters. Try to aim for a pH between 7.0 – 8.0 and a hardness between 0 – 20.

Although they can tolerate pH 6.5, it is better not to leave them in acidic water for a long time (weeks).  Acidic water slowly dissolves their shell (usually in form of tiny holes).

The same goes for temperature. Spixi snails can easily thrive in a wide range of temperature conditions 18 – 30 C (64 – 86 F). However, the optimal temperature should be in the range of 24 – 28 C (75 – 82F).

When the temperature drops too low Spixi snails tend to bury and hibernate until it is warm enough.

Lighting:

Spixi snails do not really need light. They are nocturnal, remember?
Lighting should be adapted to the needs of plants and fish in the tank.

For more information, you can read my “Advanced Guide to Planted Tank Lighting”.

Filtration:

There are no special requirements as well. As long as you have got the filter that works great with the size of the tank you have got you will be fine.

Substrate:

Ideally, you need to have a substrate that will allow the snails to bury. Therefore, sand and soil substrates will be the best choice.

Some people keep them in bare bottom tanks or using gravel as a substrate. Do not be like them! We need to replicate their natural environment. Otherwise, it can constantly stress Spixi snails and shorten their life span.

Do not forget that they need careful acclimation (read more about it here) as all invertebrates. 

Basic Tank Equipment (links to check the price on Amazon)

Breeding Spixi Snails

Asolene Spixi snail laying eggsDepending on the temperature, Spixi snails reach maturity at the age of 4 – 5 months old. There is no visible sexual dimorphism between males and females. Therefore, if you want to breed them, you will need a group of 5 – 6 to improve the odds of getting both genders (They are a non-hermaphroditic snail). The male mounts the shell of the female on its right side to initiate copulation.

Note: In all copulations observed, males were a little bit smaller in size than females. Mating duration is highly variable, ranging from a few minutes to several hours.

They need high temperatures (26 – 30C or 79 – 86 F) to lay eggs.

Females lay eggs only underwater. Their clutches are colorless and translucent. The eggs are deposited on stone, driftwood, glass, or vegetation (but never on the bottom of the aquarium) and are embedded in a gelatinous mass of about 1.5 – 2 cm (0.5 – 0.8 inches) size.

The total amount of eggs per female varies between 10 and 30. Eggs also need at least 25 C (77 F) temperature to develop. Young Spixi snails hatch within 14 – 21 days.

It is important to remove or isolate egg masses in the aquarium because they can be eaten even by the mother.

Baby snails should not be kept with adult snails because they are also cannibalistic and they can eat their own young.

Spixi Snails and Suitable Tank mates

Snails

I have to repeat it once again. Spixi snails can be semi-aggressive. Therefore, you need to be very careful if you want to socialize them with other snails, as they are capable to eat their eggs and baby snails. Especially species, which do not have trapdoors to protect their feet as they must grasp the foot to consume a snail.

There are several reports where they managed to completely suppress the population of Malaysian Trumpet Snails, Pond snails, and Bladder snails. At the same time, there is still a good chance that well-fed Spixi snails will not bother snails at all.

Obviously, do not keep them with Marisa cornuarietis. They will crossbreed and their hybrids are more aggressive.

Note: Even though they might eat other snails, they are not super effective against them. They aren’t built to eat snails as Assassin snails are.
Do not think that Spixi snails can fight back Assassin snails. Assassin snails will easily overpower and eat Spixi snails.

Fish

Concerning the fish species and some natural enemies, Spixi snails should not be kept with Botia lohacata, Cichlids, Loaches, and Goldfish. Keep in mind that some fish do not feed on the snails but eat the exposed eyestalks or long tentacles.

Their tankmates should include other calm and peaceful community tank fish (for example, Pygmy Cory Catfish and Otocinclus Catfish).

Dwarf Shrimp

Shrimp species that prefer a slightly alkaline water will be the best choice. For example, Vampire shrimpBamboo ShrimpAmano ShrimpGhost shrimpCherry shrimpBlue tiger shrimpSnowball shrimpCaridina cf. babaultiBlue Velvet Shrimp, Malawa Shrimp, etc.

Crayfish

Also, keep Spixi snails away from all types of Crayfish (even Dwarf Mexican crayfish) and even some types of predatory shrimp such as Macrobrachium family. All of them can be very aggressive towards the snails.

In Conclusion

Although these beautiful snails can be an interesting addition to the tank. They are nearly impossible to find nowadays.

Nonetheless, if you manage to get Spixi snails, be sure that they are not hybrids because they can be very destructive in planted tanks and too aggressive towards smaller snails.

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