Gold Inca Snail (Pomacea bridgesii) Caresheet

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The gold Inca snail is also known as the mystery snail. These aquarium snails belong to the apple snail family, of which there are believed to be more than 100 species. Apple snails generally won't eat your plants. They prefer to graze on your tank glass and aquarium decorations and look for algae. If you have a sandy substrate, gold Inca snails like to bury themselves during the day and come out at night.

While gold Inca slugs are pretty easy to care for, there are a few things you need to know if you are planning to add some of these fascinating creatures to your shell.

Read our comprehensive guide to learn everything you need to know about caring for the Gold Inca Snail.

Gold Inca snail – overview

The gold Inca snail belongs to the tropical apple snail family that is found throughout South America. These attractive gastropods are also sold under many names including:

  • Inca snail
  • Gold snail
  • Mystery snail
  • Apple snail
  • Golden mystery snail
  • Gold mystery snail
  • Secret apple snail
  • Spike-topped apple snail

You will sometimes see these snails known as Pomacea australis, although their correct scientific name is Pomacea bridgeii.

Be careful when choosing snails at your local fish shop. To make sure you take a healthy snail home with you, never buy a snail with a damaged or cracked shell and watch out for those that move or are attached to a decoration or glass. Lively snails are usually healthy and foraging, which is always a positive sign.

A healthy Gold Inca snail lives a year or two, feeding on algae and decomposing plant material, helping to keep your tank clean, and returning nutrients to the ecosystem for your plants.

Did you know that these snails have highly complex eyes that sit at the end of a cephalic eye stalk? Since the eye stalk does not contain any other sensory organs, it can completely regenerate in a few weeks if it is damaged or even severed!

Where do Inca snails come from?

The gold Inca snail is found in Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, and throughout South America. Unfortunately, in the northern areas of North America, the Chinese species of mystery snail is considered an invasive species.

In nature, the snails live in swamps, rivers and rivers, where the vegetation is dense, and supply many dead and decomposing plant substances that the snails use as a source of food. The gold Inca snail spends most of its time on the substrate and around the plant roots, where there is plenty to eat.

These peaceful herbivores are right at the end of the food chain and are infested by a number of species of fish and birds that can break through the snail shell.

Gold Inca snail behavior

Mystery snails are almost the most peaceful animal you can keep in your aquarium. In fact, most of the snails' time is spent eating algae on the surfaces of your tank.

When the snail feels threatened, it retreats into its shell. To keep your Gold Mystery snail from getting stressed out, keep it in a community of peaceful, non-aggressive fish. The more relaxed and secure the snails feel, the more active they will be. This is good news for the cleanliness of your tank.

You may notice mystery snails crawling up on top of the aquarium before falling freely back to the bottom. These lovely little animals sometimes only let go of part of their foot and slide across the glass instead.

What do gold Inca snails look like?

In general, Mystery Slugs come in a variety of colors including gold, black, brown, and ivory, which makes the tank very attractive. You can find clams in banded, tiered, and firm varieties so you can choose from a wide variety. The foot and head of the snail are ivory white and form a nice contrast.

The gold Inca snail has a diameter of about 5 cm and is therefore perfect for small and large aquariums. The snail shell forms a spiral vortex with the tip toward the side of the opening or opening of the creature. An adult Golden Mystery snail has roughly four vertebrae, which makes these snails comparatively small.

Snails have a lid. The lid is a thick, meaty plate that the snails use to close the opening of their shell. The lid is closed on healthy snails. When the snail dies, the lid falls off, and in sick snails the lid hangs partially open.

The head of the Golden Mystery snail has two long tentacles that the animal uses to find food and navigate its environment. Immediately behind the tentacles are the snail eyes, which can detect light and movement.

These senses allow the snail to find food and warn it of the presence of predators. When threatened, the snail hides in its shell and closes the opening by pulling up the lid, similar to a drawbridge.

Among the tentacles, the Gold Mystery Snail has a second set of tentacles and a mouth, both of which are used for eating. On the left side of the snail's head is a siphon that the snail uses to draw water through its gills.

Gold Inca snail care instructions

This section of our guide to the Gold Inca Snail will teach you how to care for these lovely little mollusks.

Which tank size?

The Golden Mystery Snail is suitable for almost any size of tank. However, because these slugs are such peaceful creatures, we recommend adding them to an established community in a 5-gallon or 10-gallon tank or larger.

The shape of the tank is irrelevant; However, you need to choose one with a lid or a tight fitting lid to keep the snails in the tank as they have a habit of migrating.

How many mystery slugs can you keep?

Although the gold Inca snail is peaceful, they still require a lot of personal space for them to move around and search at will.

So we recommend keeping a mystery snail or two per five gallons.

Tank decoration and furnishings

The Gold Inca Mystery Snail needs a tank with dense vegetation and lots of living plants, partly as a source of food and also as a shelter. Plants to include in your setup are Hornwort, Java Fern, and Java Moss. All of these are easy-care, sturdy plants that are ideal for beginners.

When it comes to tank decorations and substrate, the Gold Inca snail is not fussy and has no preferences. However, they like to bury themselves underground, so something soft and sandy is your best bet.

Water parameters

The mystery snail is a tough species, although it does not appreciate rapid changes in water conditions and prefers well-oxygenated water with moderate agitation. If your tank is heavily planted, the water's oxygen levels should be quite high, which is perfect for the snails.

When it comes to water parameters, the snails are quite flexible. The pH range should be between 7.6 and 8.4, with water hardness between 12 and 18 dGH and water temperature between 68 ° Fahrenheit to 84 ° Fahrenheit.

The most important point here is that snails of all species need a fairly high pH. If the pH is too low, the calcium carbonate, which gives the snail shells strength, begins to dissolve.

Once this happens, the snail is vulnerable to damage from other tank dwellers. So it's a good idea to add calcium supplements to your tank to keep the snail shells healthy and strong.

Tank mates

The gold Inca snail does not interact with the fish or invertebrates in the tank. Basically, any peaceful species of fish is fine with mystery snails. Shrimp species are also good buddies for snails. Other species of snail handle the gold Inca snail well, including nerite snails, ivory snails, and ramshorn snails.

Do not keep snails with cichlids, crabs, Oscars, or any other fish or crustacean that could turn the snail into a meal.

Although snails are very fortunate to live in isolation, mystery snails can easily be kept in groups, even with other species of snails, provided they have plenty of room to grow and move around. Just be careful when overfilling your tank.

So let in a snail or two for every 5 gallons of water and you won't be too far wrong. Overcrowding is a big problem for snails, as if you have too many, and they can suffer from damaged shells, delayed growth and food shortages.

Gold Inca Snail Diet and Nutrition

Gold Inca snails are herbivores and spend much of their time grazing on the algae that grow on the surfaces and decorations in your tank.

The snails also eat decomposing and dead plant material and only occasionally nibble on living plants when no other food is available. The best way to keep your snails full and nutritionally satisfied is to provide them with natural foods.

So, let some algae grow in your tank and add lots of lush planting too. As plants grow, they naturally drop their leaves, providing the Gold Inca snail with an ideal source of food alongside naturally growing algae.

The gold Inca snail's algae-eating habit is one reason it is such a popular addition to the home aquarium. These hard-working little creatures suck on the sides of the tank to graze on the algae that grow there. This keeps your tank clean and tidy and saves you work.

Check the jar for signs of small tracks that the snails are grazing on. These marks are caused by a radula that they use to scrape the surface to remove the algae. While the snails can handle what they find in the tank, it's a good idea to supplement this with pellets, flakes, and seaweed wafers.

The snails will also appreciate the addition of some blanched vegetables such as zucchini and lettuce. However, you need to remove any uneaten items from the tank so as not to pollute the water.

Gold Inca Snail Health and Disease

Gold Inca snails are quite tough and healthy creatures, though they can suffer from a health condition or two that you should be aware of.

Shell health

The most important thing in caring for snails is to keep their shells healthy and undamaged. By making sure the pH of the water is kept within acceptable parameters and adding calcium supplements, problems with shell damage can be avoided.

Repair can be done in the event that the snail shell is damaged. However, you will need to remove the auger from the tank and hand apply a fish-safe epoxy to the damaged area, which is a risk to say the least.

Rat lungworm

Angiostrongylus cantonensis is a relatively common parasite that attacks snails. The common name for the parasite is rat lungworm, and it is not surprising that the adult form of the worm is found in mice and rats. However, the larvae spend part of their life cycle maturing in snails.

Most rat lungworm cases occur in wild snails because most of the animals for sale are raised in captivity. So make sure your snails aren't caught in the wild before you bring them home.


Pinworms are a kind of coincidence that has been reported in aquariums where wild snails were kept. These parasites manifest as tiny white cysts at the base of the snail that eventually burst and the leeches release into the water column.

This is bad news for your aquarium as the leeches attack your fish, attach themselves to the host fish's body or gills, or burrow in the fish where the parasite will remain until the fish dies. Fortunately, grub worms do not multiply in your aquarium and can be treated with over-the-counter medication that you can buy from good fish stores.

Breeding and reproduction

Unlike some species of snail that can reproduce on their own, Gold Inca snails require a snail of each sex to reproduce. So when you buy a group of snails, it is pretty certain that you have at least one husband and one wife.

Breeding mystery snails is straightforward. You don't need a separate breeding tank or change the conditions in the tank, although you can often encourage spawning by lowering the water level in the tank by about an inch. The female snail lays her eggs in a cocoon or above the surface of the water.

After about a month, the eggs will hatch and the baby snails will fall to the bottom of the tank. Young snails feed just like their parents, so you don't have to worry about feeding them special foods.


Gold Inca snails can be found in most fish stores. Because of this, these snails are inexpensive to purchase and only cost a few dollars per auger. If you buy a small group of copies, you will most likely get them at a slightly reduced price.

In summary

The Gold Inca Snail is an adorable little gastropod that makes a helpful and decorative addition to a peaceful community aquarium that does not contain aggressive fish species. These adorable snails are completely herbivorous, grazing on algae on the tank glass and decorations, and eating rotting plant matter on the bottom of the aquarium.

While these snails need a reasonably high pH or calcium supplement to keep their clams healthy, their water preferences are well in line with most types of low-maintenance tropical fish, making these lovely, helpful creatures a nice addition for beginners.

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