If housing your betta in a small-ish tank (think a 10-gallon, five gallons is the absolute minimum a betta can live in!), you may be concerned that there’s no space for your betta fish to have a friend.
Well, fear not! Mystery snails are great starter tankmates for anyone attempting their first community tank or just wanting to introduce their betta to another living being in the hopes they don’t attack it.
These two generally keep to themselves when housed together, so if you’re just starting to build a tropical community tank, then bettas and Mystery snails are excellent choices.
Should I Put a Snail with my Betta?
When choosing a snail to house with your betta, you need to pick a species that isn’t too small, or else they may get eaten. Typically, bettas will tolerate the presence of peaceful snails (that’s them being nice) and may not even realize that they’re there (unless they get hungry, but more on that later).
You can keep a few species of snails with your betta, and many hobbyists and experts recommend the following:
This article will discuss the Mystery snail, as it is one of the most popular snail species in the aquarium trade. However, much of the information in this article can apply to other snail species. Just ensure that if you decide on a type of snail other than a Mystery, you thoroughly research their needs before adding them into a tank with your betta.
Do Snails Benefit Bettas?
Aside from your fish tolerating them, you may wonder why people choose to have snails in their betta fish aquarium. There are actually quite a number of benefits to housing snails in your home aquarium.
They’re Excellent Cleaners
One of the main benefits of housing snails in an aquarium with your fish is that they help keep the tank clean by eating the algae. They’ll eat algae buildup from the tank walls, substrate, rocks, and decorations, leaving your tank looking squeaky clean!
Algae buildup can be incredibly harmful to your bettas if left to accumulate. It can make them very sick, and, in some circumstances, it can even be deadly. Allowing your snails to eat it helps keep algae levels low and prevents illnesses from occurring in your fish.
In addition to this, they pick up after your fish, too! As they’re constant grazers, they’re always up for a snack. Should your betta let any pellets, flakes, or other waste sink to the bottom of the tank, your snails will also begin to munch on those!
Their constant grazing may cause issues if you house any plants in your tank, as you won’t want them getting eaten, but it’s otherwise an excellent way of keeping your tank shiny and clean.
They Cycle the Oxygen
Snails can be very beneficial to aeration within your betta tank. As they move, they dig through the substrate, shifting it around. In turn, this helps to circulate oxygen throughout the tank, which makes for a far healthier environment for your fish to breathe in.
Adding snails to your betta tank is sure to make your aquarium look attractive and unique. They come in a wide variety of colors and sizes and can add a lot of extra life and variation to your setup. They’re basically living ornaments that help keep your tank clean. That’s a win in my book!
Can You House a Mystery Snail with a Betta?
Mystery snails are one of the best snail species to house with a betta.
In terms of their size, they’re typically larger snails, usually two to three inches in diameter, so they don’t make for a very easy snack when your betta gets hungry.
They can also keep themselves safe around these predatory fish, as this species has an operculum. An operculum is a little trap door on their shell that allows them to hide away inside and effectively close their door if any betta fish get too close!
While it must be pointed out that it is possible for a Mystery snail to kill a betta, this is far less likely to happen with a Mystery snail than a snail of another species because of their large size and ability to hide using their operculum.
Another reason these two make for great tank mates is their preferred water parameters. Both require similar water qualities, including pH, preference for soft water, temperature, and lighting needs, as they have the same day/night cycles.
Will My Betta Eat My Mystery Snail?
When introducing any kind of snail to a betta aquarium, it’s perfectly plausible to worry that it may get eaten. As mentioned before, a Mystery snail is not an easy meal, but you should keep your fish happy and well-fed to prevent this from becoming a possibility.
If you don’t give your betta enough food, it may look for a tasty snack elsewhere. As bettas tend to move quickly, and Snails of all species are notorious for their slow speed, it doesn’t take long for a betta to start nipping at the antennae of your Mystery snails.
So, as long as your tank is well taken care of and you make sure your betta and your snail are happy and healthy, it’s unlikely that your fish will try to make a meal out of his new tank mate. The last thing you want is to end up with a dead snail.
Will My Betta Stop Attacking My Snail?
If you notice your betta attacking your Mystery snail, it’s normal to be concerned and worry about what to do.
It’s not nice to see any of your animals being hurt, but you’ll be relieved to know that betta will only nip at the snails until they become used to their presence in the tank. Once they get used to them being there, they will typically leave them alone.
Fortunately, there are ways of preventing this from becoming a pattern. If you notice your betta beginning to nip at your snails, you’ll be pleased to know there are ways of turning this aggressive behavior around and allowing both species to coexist happily.
Make Sure You’re Feeding Them Enough
If your betta is not getting enough food, they may begin to see your snails as a good snacking opportunity. As bettas are a carnivorous species, any creatures living with them are at risk when they get too hungry, particularly smaller animals such as snails and sometimes shrimp.
To be certain that your betta is getting enough food, you should feed them twice a day with as much fresh, frozen, freeze-dried, and live foods, pellets, or flakes as they can eat within two minutes. This will ensure that they get all the nutrients they need in their diet and that they don’t end up peckish for snails later!
Rearrange the tank
Another way to prevent your snails from getting picked on, as funny as it may sound, is by rearranging the tank.
It may be that your betta thinks the snail is in his territory, so by changing the tank around and possibly even introducing new rocks and plants, your betta will feel as though he’s in a new home and will begin to accept the snails as part of his new territory.
This can also make them more tolerant of other tank mates, so it’s always good to try this before you feel the need to separate your community fish.
Add more décor!
As I mentioned before, adding new décor is one way to make your betta feel as though he’s in a new tank, which, in turn, can make him less territorial and, therefore, less aggressive to his tankmates.
Adding more plants and rocks is also helpful, as it can help block the snails from your betta’s line of sight. If they’re well hidden, your betta likely will either forget they’re there or may just not notice them often enough for them to become a problem.
If your betta doesn’t notice the snail is there, then he won’t attack it – Simple, really!
Remove your Snail
Sadly, if all else fails, and you’ve tried all the above solutions, then it may be time to separate your Mystery snails from your betta in the interest of their safety.
Occasionally, there are circumstances where your betta will just be aggressive to any tank mates, no matter what. To prevent anyone from getting seriously injured, separating them quickly can be a good idea before things escalate to the point of no return.
Setting up a separate tank to house your snails will keep them happy and healthy, or if you have another aquarium they may be compatible with, perhaps with less aggressive fish, you could see how well they fit in there!
How to Introduce Snails to a Betta Tank
Introducing Mystery snails into your tank should be easy. Ideally, you want to make sure to acclimate them in a separate tank so as not to stress your snails out with too many things at once.
After this, introduce your snails to your aquarium and ensure they’re entering a well-planted fish tank with a well-fed betta so that disaster doesn’t strike as soon as they arrive. After all, if you just moved into a new home, the last thing you’d want is to get eaten!
Before we sign off, It’s important to note that Mystery Snails shouldn’t be treated as a cure-all for algae issues, and they can actually add a lot to the bioload of the aquarium. So ensure you thoroughly clean the fish tank, do frequent water changes, and be sure to have a good filtration system to ensure the happiness and health of your fish and your snails.
Bettas and Mystery snails can often live together in complete harmony. And, although there is a small risk of the snails getting hurt, for the most part, these two make excellent tank mates. They enjoy similar tank conditions and can easily acclimate to one another.
So if you’re looking for an easy-to-keep tank mate for your betta fish, look no further than a Mystery snail or two!