The Rabbit Snail (Tylomelania towutica) is a fascinating freshwater snail that many aquarists love to own. Rabbit snails are also known as Elephant Snails in some regions. They are calm and peaceful species that have unique cone-shaped shells. Their beauty and peaceful nature make them great community snails. They are also very easy to care for and will not reproduce quickly like pest snails.
Because of their large size, most aquarists prefer to have a few of them in their larger tanks. When you make your tank conditions in their favor, your Rabbit Snail will thrive and live happily for a long time.
This article will guide you through everything you need to know about Rabbit Snails. We will cover care, diet, growth rate, size, lifespan, breeding, and more!
Species Profile & Overview
The Rabbit Snail, by far, is one of the most beautiful freshwater snails endemic to Sulawesi in Indonesia. They are mainly found in Lake Poso and the Malili Lake system of Indonesia. This snail is relatively a new species in the aquarium world but because of its large size and beautiful shell, it quickly gained popularity.
The lakes and waterways these snails live in their natural habitat are filled with plants and driftwoods. The water is crystal clear and visibility is very high which makes it easy for predator fish to find and chase their prey. This is why the rabbit snail developed a hard shell to protect itself from predators. Their shell color and their unique markings are specially evolved to camouflage perfectly in the aquatic jungles and driftwoods.
These peaceful snails are coming from super clean waters in the wild so you need to recreate the same environment for them to thrive in your aquarium. When conditions are right, the Rabbit Snail grows to a reasonable size, making them an ideal pet snail.
The rabbit Snail is a beautiful and large freshwater snail that grows slowly. They are usually painted in dark brown but some might have lighter shades of brown as well. The end of their shells usually gets damaged as they age and lose their brown color. Since there is no blood vessel at the end of the shell, they can not regenerate or repair it once it gets damaged.
They have a large cone-shaped shell with a very small opening. Their shell is very bold and chunky at the front but swiftly becomes narrow towards the end. Their large spiral cone has a lot of tiny layers that are developed as the rabbit snails age.
They come in many different body colors. Most of the time you might see them in a shade of yellow and with some sprinkles of dark gray or black colors on the head and tentacles. Yellow is the most sought-after body color. Unlike most snails, rabbit snails’ bodies are usually wrinkled, which makes them look old to humans. The contrast between their yellow body and their brown shell gives them a very unique and beautiful appearance.
On the back of their body, there is a circular object made of the same materials as their shell. This object is more commonly known as a trap door or shell door (operculum) that helps rabbit snails to block the entrance of their shells. This is the only defense mechanism they have against predators.
They have 2 tentacles attached to their large eyes on the head area. They use these tentacles to feel the hormones in the water and find food. These tentacles basically act as their nose and help them “Smell” in the water.
Unlike other snails, the rabbit snail’s mouth is pushed forward which gives them a rabbit or elephant-like look. This is the main reason they are called rabbit snails or elephant snails. Inside the mouth, there is a tongue-like object called a radula. The radula is made of many razor-sharp teeth that help this snail to cut small bites of the food they eat.
Rabbit Snail Size
Rabbit Snail size, once fully grown, is about 2 – 3 inches in length. This makes them one of the larger types of freshwater snails. Especially compared to other cone-shaped snails.
This makes them easy to get seen in a tank and is the reason why most people want to have them in their aquariums. Many aquarium snails stay small and only act as a cleaning crew but rabbit snails’ size lets them be seen and be a showpiece in the tank.
In a well-maintained tank, the Rabbit Snail’s lifespan is between 1 – 3 years.
Like most aquarium snails, this species will only live to its max life expectancy if you keep them well-fed and in pristine water conditions.
Behavior & Temperament
The rabbit Snail is a very passive and calm snail that minds its business at all times. They will not harm other fish or invertebrates in your tank. Because of their calmness and since they have wrinkles on their body some aquarists give the rabbit snail “The wise snails” nickname. They appreciate living with similar peaceful species in a tank.
Like other cone-shaped snails, rabbit snails bury their body in the sand or substrate. But because they are large and a little bit lazy, they usually prefer to stay on top of the substrate and hide in their shells when they feel threatened or when they want to rest. Food is a great motivator to bring these guys out of their shells. Because of their large size, they need to feed more frequently.
They are often at the bottom of the tank and will not climb up a lot. They are active both at night and during the day and will look for algae or other sources of food in the tank. Because of their large size, these snails move very slowly so they are usually staying in close proximity to the food sources.
As mentioned earlier, Rabbit Snails are calm and prefer to rest in their shells. But when tank setup and parameters are in their favor, they will move around continuously.
Rabbit Snail Care
Rabbit Snail care isn’t challenging, time-consuming, or hard. They will easily and quickly adapt to the different water conditions that your aquarium might have. However, these snails need specific water parameters to be able to thrive.
This snail needs scheduled water changes so the water parameters do not reach dangerous levels. They prefer to live in similar clean and tropical waters that they get in the wild. So you need to make sure your tank is clean and well-oxygenated at all times.
A quality diet that provides them with all the nutrients they need is also super important for the overall health of the rabbit snails.
To create the best living environment for your rabbit snail, we recommend following the below-mentioned steps.
The minimum tank size for a single Rabbit Snail is 30 gallons. Rabbit snails are large aquarium snails and need stable water parameters. Having a large tank will give your snail enough space to live in as well as keep water parameters stable. Stable water parameters are the key to keeping these snails happy. More on this in the “Water Parameters” section of this article.
However, they can survive in smaller tanks that are aged and well-established. Smaller tanks that have a few species can be used as temporary homes for your rabbit snail, but they might face issues if kept there for a long time.
With a larger aquarium, you can safely go to bed knowing your tank can handle ammonia spikes or waste buildup in the tank. Ammonia spikes can easily kill a rabbit snail.
Setting up an aquarium to house your Rabbit Snail is easy and simple. Fortunately, these snails are not too fussy and can adapt to any tank environment. Ideally, they want to live in a tank that replicates their natural habitat. The water needs to be clear, warm, and well-oxygenated at all times.
Think of your aquarium as a tiny section of the lake your rabbit snails are coming from. In Poso lake, where they originate, the water stays super clear and light can easily reach the bottom of the lake where plants can grow. The lake also has a lot of driftwood washed from the nearby jungles. So you need to incorporate plants and driftwoods in your aquarium for your rabbit snail.
Since an aquarium is a tiny space, every decoration you place in it should serve a purpose other than just beauty. The items you keep in your tank have the potential to change the water parameter of your aquarium setup. Knowing this will help you balance your tank’s parameters passively by incorporating the right natural decorations to achieve the ideal parameters for your rabbit snails and other inhabitants.
Having natural decorations like driftwood, rocks, and live plants will make your tank look more natural and appealing. At the same time, they provide more surfaces for your rabbit snail to explore and search for food.
Rabbit snails prefer to sand or fine gravel as their tank substrate. As mentioned earlier, these snails like to bury themselves in the substrate, so a softer substrate is necessary for your tank. Sand is the ideal substrate in the aquarium and it’s very close to what rabbit snails have in their natural habitat.
In order to keep your Rabbit Snail healthy and happy, you will need to keep your tank clean and with stable water parameters. Simulating their natural habitat in your tank is the best way to make these giant snails feel at home. However, these snails are hardy and can live in a wider range of parameters but might not flourish.
In the wild, Rabbit Snails have warm and well-oxygenated waters that have low TDS. Below is the ideal range of parameters you can keep these beautiful snails in:
- Temperature: 65 – 82 Degrees Fahrenheit
- PH: 6.0 – 8
- TDS: 60 – 200 PPM
A TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) meter will help you track the water parameters of your tanks. The TDS will tell you how much dissolved solids from food and waste products of the fish are available in the water. This will let you change your water change schedules to maintain the water parameters in the above-mentioned range.
Rabbit snails eat a lot and as a result, they produce more waste. If you keep a handful of them in a large tank then you should not face any issues with ammonia spikes. However, if you want to fully pack your tank with snails or other species, it is important to have a strong filtration system.
If your filtration system fails to keep up with waste products in your tank, your rabbit snails will suffer and may even develop diseases. Poor water conditions and diseases will shorten the life expectancy of your snail.
Having a filter that is rated for 2-3 times the size of your tank can be an ideal filter for your rabbit snails. Bigger filters will prevent ammonia spikes and can keep the water in pristine condition. The only thing you need to be careful of is not to buy a filter that creates fast currents in the water. Rabbit Snails prefer to be in waters that have a very slow current.
We can not stress enough the importance of stable clean water parameters! To maintain a perfect aquarium with a stable water parameter, it is recommended to change 10 – 25 percent of your tank’s water weekly.
Sponge filters and hang-on back filters are the best type of filters for rabbit snails. If you have a larger tank you can also use canister filters. Canister filters are very strong filters that can house a lot of nitrifying bacteria. Just make sure not to get a very strong canister if you have a smaller tank as they tend to create a lot of current in a smaller tank.
Common Diseases & Prevention
Rabbit Snail is one of the hardy types of snails in the aquarium hobby, however, it lives in a tiny ecosystem inside your home. Since an aquarium is a very small ecosystem, it is very easy for things to go wrong. In an aquarium, diseases will easily transfer among the living creatures so it is important to follow a safe approach when bringing in new fish or snails.
While Rabbit Snails are not at risk of getting most fish diseases, they do get fungus and some bacterial infections. Poor tank maintenance and low water quality usually lead to bacterial or fungal infections in snails.
Additionally, Rabbit Snail’s shell tends to break down and chip away. This problem is usually caused by age and wear and tear of moving around in the tank. But the main cause is probably the lack of calcium in the water. As rabbit snails grow, they need to have a sufficient amount of calcium in their diet to grow a hard shell. They also need a sustainable source of calcium in their tank at all times to maintain their shell. The “Calcium For Rabbit Snail” section of this article guides you through all the information you need about calcium supplementation for your rabbit snail.
But probably the most common way for the snail to get sick is through the introduction of new sick snails or plants that might carry diseases. That said, you should never introduce new snails or plants to your tank without correctly quarantining them. Regular water changes and tank maintenance are also extremely important. Never leave any uneaten food in the tank for a long time as it will start to rot and increase the risks of bacterial or fungal infection.
Diet & Feeding Requirements
Rabbit Snails are super easy to feed as they tend to eat anything you give them. They have evolved to be one of the cleaning forces of nature. So they will eat anything edible, plants, dead fish, algae, and freshwater sponges are among the common sources of food they feed on.
However, they mainly feed on algae and decaying plant matter which makes it even easier to feed them. Most fish foods already have high amounts of plant-based ingredients and can be great food for your snails as well.
Algae wafers and shrimp wafers or any sinking pellet are the best choice of food for rabbit snails. Mixing a few different types of foods will give you snails most of the ingredients they need. These foods will also make it easy for you to feed your snails as you just throw them in the tank without worrying about any consequences.
It is also necessary to feed your rabbit snails Fresh vegetables so your snails get all the vitamins and minerals they need. You can feed them green beans, zucchini, cucumber, carrots, and potatoes. The only downside to feeding fresh vegetables to your snails is that if you feed more than what they can eat the food might rot and pollute the water. Make sure to only feed low amounts of fresh vegetables at a time so your snails can eat it all in one go.
Calcium For Rabbit Snail
Rabbit Snail is a soft-bodied invertebrate, the only defense mechanism they have is their shell. The shell is mainly made of calcium carbonate with a few other elements that cause the coloration of the shell.
Calcium makes up about 98% of the shell and the remaining 2% is other elements like Fe, Mg, Mn, Al, Na, and K that cause the different colorations on the shell.
While there are many commercially made calcium supplements for aquariums, our favorite way of adding calcium is by placing eggshells. Egg shells are a great source of calcium for your rabbit snail and other types of invertebrates that need calcium.
Simply grind a few dried egg shells into powder and have them by your tank and add a pinch every few days or after water changes. This is the most inexpensive way of adding calcium to your snail’s tank.
You can also place a cuttlebone into your tank so your snails can feed on it. A cuttlebone can be a sustainable long-term calcium solution for your tank. You can find cuttlebone in the bird’s section of most retail or local pet stores.
Breeding Rabbit Snail
Breeding Rabbit Snail is as simple as it gets. It’s pretty rare for owners not to be able to breed them in their tanks. All you need to do is to place a few rabbit snails in your tank and soon you will notice tiny versions of your rabbit snails are moving around in the tank.
Rabbit snails are dioecious creatures, meaning they have male and female genders but both genders are very similar and can not be distinguished. The female carries a fertilized egg in her belly for about 4 to 6 weeks and releases it right before it’s time for the egg to hatch.
The egg is very large in comparison to other snails. It’s usually around the size of a kidney bean and is very soft to the touch. The size of the egg depends on the size of the female, younger and smaller snails usually lay smaller eggs.
Rabbit snails only breed once or two times per month. This makes them a great pet snail for aquarists who don’t want to have a ton of snails in their aquarium. In order to have a good chance of breeding, you need to have a group of 3 – 5 rabbit snails. This will increase the chances of getting a male and a female in your tank.
As long as you follow the recommendations in the “Tank Setup” of this article, your Rabbit Snail can live with the most peaceful species of fish and snails. They can also be a great addition to shrimp tanks as they need the same feeding and care requirements. They can live with most fish and snails that can tolerate the same water parameters as rabbit snails.
However, you should avoid adding fish or snails that are known to be predatory and go after snails. Aggressive and carnivore fish are not a good choice of tank mates for your rabbit snails.
To help get you started, here are some tank mate ideas for Rabbit Snail:
- Neocaridina Shrimps
- Nerite Snails
- Apple Snails
- Mystery Snail
- Herbivore Plecos
- Neon Tetra
- Ghost Shrimp
- Ramshorn Snail
- Amano Shrimp
Now that you are familiar with Rabbit Snail care, you can confidently look after this species in your tank. These snails are very calm and won’t bother their aquarium companions which makes them even easier to look after. For maximum growth and health make sure your tank is super clean and they receive a sufficient amount of food.