Rabbit snails, sometimes called elephant snails, are freshwater snails in the aquarium trade. They are non-aggressive and slow-moving gastropods, and they often sit for long periods without moving.
The rabbit snail’s unusual characteristics make it a unique addition to a community tank. Rabbit snails are, however, quite rare to find in pet stores.
The rabbit snail has a stunningly colored body, and a long, whorled shell. They exhibit a rabbit-like face, and their dropping antennae resemble a bunny’s ears. The resemblance to an elephant comes from their wrinkled skin and long “snouts.”
There are several varieties of the rabbit snail, each with its striking appearance. The yellow-spotted rabbit snail, for example, has a black body with a yellow- or white-spotted pattern. The snail’s long shells resemble a unicorn with colors ranging from dark brown to bronze.
Rabbit snails display a spectrum of colors that include red, green, blue, yellow, and dark chocolate. The patterns of the shells include dots and stripes. The snails have a small operculum for defense, but it only covers a part of their aperture.
Most rabbit snails in stores will be around two inches in size, and they will typically grow to three inches in the aquarium.
Rabbit snails are endemic to Indonesia’s Sulawesi region. Most populations have been recorded in the Malili Lake System and Lake Poso. The water in these systems is soft, with a PH of 7.5-8.5.
The snails have adapted to both soft and hard substrates in the wild. The snails seem to prefer depths of 3.2 to 6.6 inches as populations sharply decline below these depths.
Rabbit snails are not picky eaters, and they will continuously scavenge around the tank for edible feed. They love green meals and will snack on some forms of soft algae in the aquarium. You can offer them blanched leafy vegetables like spinach and lettuce.
Other meals to consider include zucchini, kale, peas, carrots, and broccoli. The snails will also eat any decaying plant matter that falls to the bottom of the aquarium. Remove any leftovers on the second day after introduction to discourage contamination.
Rabbit snails will also accept fish flakes, algae wafers, spirulina powder, and algae pellets. Some aquarists create their snail jello with additional calcium. While the snails require calcium in large quantities, ensure that any supplements you give them do not have copper.
Water & Tank Requirements
Tank Size: Rabbit snails can grow significantly larger than other freshwater snails. While most of them reach three inches in size, some individuals can attain lengths of five inches at maturity.
The snails also need space to move around, and you can comfortably house them in a 30-gallon tank. The tank should not be densely planted to give them room to explore.
Avoid overcrowding the aquarium to maintain suitable water conditions. Some aquarists keep the snails in a 20-gallon tank, provided you perform regular water changes and use a capable filter.
Your aquarium should be free of nitrites and ammonia, and the levels of nitrates should be as low as possible. Alkaline water in the range of 7.5-8.5 is preferred to promote the health of the shells.
You will need to provide tropical temperatures to mimic the natural habitats of these snails. Invest in a good heater to maintain a range of 75-85 °F. You may need to condition city water to ensure it is suitable for your snails. If you are using reverse osmosis water, you can consider re-mineralizing it with calcium and other essential elements.
Aquarists are often hesitant to keep rabbit snails with live plants since they have been known to snack on them. The pets especially like to nibble on the java fern and other plants with large and soft leaves.
You can use species with strong stems like Amazon sword and Anubias or floating plants. As long as your rabbit snails are well-fed, however, they will mostly leave the live plants alone.
The substrate can be compromised of fine sand, loam, or gravel. The ideal substrate should encourage the burrowing behaviors of the snails.
Stacks of stone slabs and rocks provide hiding caves for the rabbit snails. The light should not be too bright since the pets have been shown to prefer dimmer conditions.
Rabbit snails can be coupled with many kinds of snails, fish, and shrimps. Snails like trumpet snail, ramshorn snail, mystery snail, nerite snails, Gold Inca snail, Japanese trapdoor snail, and ivory snail. Some shrimp to consider include viper shrimp, wood shrimp, red cherry shrimp, Amano shrimp, and ghost shrimp.
You can keep your rabbit snails with zebra loaches, neon tetras, otocinclus catfish, dwarf chain, and cory catfish. Avoid aggressive tank mates like goldfish, cichlids, and crabs that can attack your snails.
Rabbit snails breed relatively slowly when compared to other snails, and they will not overrun your aquarium. The pets produce a single offspring at a time, provided the conditions are ideal.
Rabbit snails typically attain sexual maturity at about 1.5 inches in length. While they have distinct genders, you cannot distinguish between the male and female. After breeding, however, you can see a white and creamy trail behind the females.
The females can carry sperm for a long time, and they do not need to mate again once the males fertilize them. If you intend to breed the rabbit snails, keep at least six of them to increase the chances of having males and females in your tank.
The female carries one to three fertilized eggs at a time for around five weeks. The female rabbit snail will then release an egg sac that contains a fully-formed baby snail.
Juvenile rabbit snails are quite active, and they start exploring as soon as they pop out. They will roam around and eat algae, biofilm, and any other organic material they encounter. The young snails are around 1/8-1/4 inches at birth.
There are plenty of freshwater snails that you can keep in your tank, with rabbit snails being some of the most interesting species.
These snails are slow-moving, but they are excellent janitors as they move around scavenging for any leftover food. They are not picky eaters, and their peaceful aura makes them great additions to community aquariums.