Bladder Snail: Best Care Guide Explained in Details (2022)

By: Martin McAdam
Updated: December 27, 2021

Welcome to the wonderful world of bladder snails! They make a wonderful addition to any invertebrate tank and are generally very low maintenance, as they eat mostly detritus.

However, it is important to know their survival needs. To keep your bladder snail healthy and happy, you must first learn about its habitat, diet, and water requirements.

Bladder Snails Overview

Bladder Snail
  • Scientific Name- Physidae
  • Common Name- Bladder Snail
  • Average Size- 1-2 inches
  • Color- Brown, gray, or black
  • Diet- Algae, detritus, and small invertebrates
  • Habitat- Fresh and saltwater
  • Tank Size- 10 gallons minimum
  • Temperature- 65-75 degrees F
  • pH Range- 6.5-8
  • Lifespan- 1-2 years

Physidae, more commonly known as bladder snails, are a family of freshwater and brackish water snails that live near the surface of still or slowly moving water.

A popular member of this family is Physa heterostropha, which has been popularized by pet stores and used in many classrooms for educational purposes. These snails are brown, gray, or black and generally grow to 1-2 inches in size.

They eat algae, detritus, and small invertebrates and can be found in both freshwater and saltwater habitats. Bladder snails require a tank size of 10 gallons minimum and a temperature range of 65-75 degrees F.

They are sensitive to changing water conditions, so it is important to keep the pH between 6.5-8 and replenish minerals with supplements like Seachem Replenish.

The "bladder" in bladder snail is a bubble of air that the snail stores for breathing. Bladder snails are hermaphrodites, which means that they contain both male and female organs, but cannot fertilize their eggs. Because of this, they must mate with other snails to reproduce.

The bladder snail is one of the most common freshwater snails in the world. They can change their color to match that of their surroundings; thus, they can use this ability for camouflage.

Their habitats vary depending on the species. Some are found in water, while others are found in moist soil. They are scavengers, feeding mainly on detritus, but can also feed on algae, bacteria, and decaying plant matter.

How Does Bladder Snail Look Like?

Bladder snails possess an operculum, which is a trapdoor-like structure used to seal the opening of their shell. This allows them to close themselves off from predators.

Bladder snails also have eyes at the base of their tentacles and can move around slowly using a muscular "foot." Their shells are brown, tan, gray, or black and often have distinct spiral patterns.

Bladder snail's shells are spiral-shaped and elongated, with a long aperture. The shell is white in most species, but coloring such as brown or yellow can be seen. Their shell length (measured from the tip of the spire to the outer lip) reaches about 8 millimeters (0.3 inches).

The body of a bladder snail is a small, brownish-gray mass that is retractable into the shell. They have two pairs of tentacles on their head – one pair is used for smelling, and the other pair is for seeing.

Bladder snails have a foot that they use to move around, and they can also crawl up the sides of the aquarium.

Average Lifespan Of Bladder Snails

Bladder snails have an average lifespan of one or two years. However, there are reports of bladder snails living up to six years. They reach their full adult size around three months after hatching.

Average Size Of Bladder Snails

Bladder snails (Physidae sp.) are hermaphroditic gastropods that reproduce by laying eggs. They range in size from 0.5 cm to 1.0 cm for the giant bladder snail (Physa sphaerica).

The shell is an oval shape, with a length of about 2-4 mm, and a width of about 1.5-2 mm. Their body is dark brown or black with an opaque white bottom shell.

Habitat Of Bladder Snails

Bladder snails are freshwater invertebrates that prefer a densely planted tank with open areas for crawling. The bladder snail makes its home among the plant roots, where it feeds on decaying plant matter and bacteria.

They can also be found in slow-moving streams and ponds, but avoid areas with high levels of toxins or pollutants.

Temprament Of Bladder Snails

Bladder snails are slow movers that will retreat into their shells when threatened. They sense food sources via chemoreceptors on the tentacles near their eyes.

These snails eat algae, detritus, bacteria, and decaying plant matter. They are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female reproductive organs, but cannot fertilize their eggs. To reproduce, they must mate with another snail.

Average Tank Size For Bladder Snails

Bladder snails are extremely small, so they can easily be kept in small or large aquariums. They will mostly stay near the bottom of the tank, so having live plants to provide them with cover is not necessary.

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Bladder snails do well in most aquarium setups, but they prefer a densely planted tank with open areas. They can be kept in tanks as small as 5 gallons (20 liters), but it is recommended that you keep them in at least 10 gallons (38 liters) tank.

Suitable Tank Mates For Bladder Snails

Bladder snails are peaceful creatures that can be kept with most community tank mates. They will hide in their shells when threatened, so it is especially important not to house them with fish or other invertebrates that like to nip at snail's eyestalks. Even though these snails are small, they can be preyed upon by fish larger than them.

bladder snail

The best tank mates for bladder snails are other scavengers such as Malaysian trumpet snails, Nerite snails, and Mystery Snails. They can also be kept with small, docile fish like guppies and tetras. Bladder snails should not be kept with fish.

Puffers and other aggressive fish will also attack them. The bladder snail is a scavenger and can be kept with shrimp and snails. Bladder snails may become prey to frogs and newts, but they're usually not bothered by them.

Safely Breeding Bladder Snails

Bladder snails are hermaphroditic and can reproduce by self-fertilization or cross-fertilization. They lay eggs in a gelatinous mass that is attached to plants or other objects in the tank.

bladder snail

The eggs hatch in about two weeks, and the young snails reach maturity in about three months. Breeding bladder snails is quite easy; all you need to do is to provide them with the right tank conditions and food. If you want your bladder snail to breed, then follow these steps:

  • Provide the Right Tank Conditions

Bladder snails require a densely planted tank with open areas for crawling. This type of tank setup will provide the best conditions for them to breed, so it is recommended that you keep bladder snails in this type of setup.

  • Provide The Right Food

Bladder snails are omnivores and will eat most types of food. If you want them to breed, then include plenty of algae and decaying plant matter in their diet.

  • Wait for Them to Breed

Once you have set up the right tank conditions and food, just wait for your bladder snails to breed. They will lay their eggs among the plants, and the eggs will hatch into miniature snails.

Be sure to remove any uneaten food or waste from the tank daily and change the water weekly. If your snail appears to be sick, take it out of the tank and treat it as you would any other pet.

Reproduction Cycle Of Bladder Snails

Bladder snails are hermaphrodites, meaning they contain both male and female reproductive organs. However, they cannot fertilize their eggs without the aid of another individual. When mating with other snails, one snail will act as the "male" while the other acts as the "female."

The mating process begins when one snail shoots out its penis (which is located inside its mouth) and into the other snail's vagina.

Bladder snail

The sperm then fertilizes the eggs, which are laid in a gelatinous mass. Bladder snails can lay up to 100 eggs at a time. The eggs take about two weeks to hatch, and the young snails will reach maturity in about three months.

Bladder snails are not a threatened species and can be found in many pet stores. They make interesting and low-maintenance pets and are considered to be beneficial in the aquarium hobby as they help control algae growth. With proper care, bladder snails can live for one or two years.

Bladder Snail Care Guide

Here are the points to be taken into consideration for proper care of bladder snail.

Housing

Bladder snails can be kept in any medium or large aquarium. The tank should be at least ten gallons because of the snail's relatively large size. A variety of hiding places should be provided to help reduce stress and aggression between individuals. Decorations like rocks, driftwood, ceramic objects, and artificial plants are good choices.

Water Conditions

The water temperature for bladder snails should be between 65 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH should be in the range of 6.5 to 7.5, and the water hardness should be moderate to hard. Bladder snails can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, but they prefer slightly murky water.

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Bladder snails are very sensitive to changes in water parameters due to their permeable shells. Except when breeding, they require only humidity in the tank and occasionally soak in the water. The water must be at least 2/3rds full, so the snail can retract fully into its shell. If there is not enough water, it cannot retreat to its shell and will die from desiccation.

Filtration

Bladder snails are extremely tolerant of poor water quality. They do not need strong or efficient filtration since they feed on organic detritus and algae that accumulate in the aquarium.

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Even so, using a filtration system is still recommended because it will help reduce stress on its inhabitants. The filter should be strong enough to turn over the tank's volume at least three times an hour.

Maintenance

Bladder snails are not very active, so water changes should only be performed when necessary. The ideal time for a 20% water change is once every two weeks. When performing a water change, you can safely remove up to 80% of the water without causing any harm to the snails.

Food

Bladder snails are scavengers and will eat a variety of things, including algae, detritus, bacteria, and decaying plant matter.

They can be fed a commercially-prepared diet specifically for snails, but they will also do well on a diet of other food sources. Vegetables, low-quality flake food, peeled peas, and lettuce are excellent choices for bladder snails.

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Some recommended vegetables include kale, spinach leaves, zucchini, cucumber slices, green beans, and cooked/boiled potato slices. These can be left to sit in the aquarium, so algae growth is encouraged.

Diseases

Since bladder snails are scavengers, they rarely fall ill. Since they can eat almost anything, it is hard for them to digest it properly.

Some of the most common diseases that affect bladder snails include poor nutrition and indigestion. If you notice any changes in their behavior or appearance, take your snail out of the tank and consult a veterinarian.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for diseases that affect bladder snails. However, by providing them with a healthy diet and clean tank conditions, you can help keep them healthy and free from disease.

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Be sure to remove any uneaten food or waste from the tank daily and change the water weekly using a siphon. If your snail appears to be sick, take it out of the tank and treat it as you would any other pet.

Advantages of Keeping Bladder Snails

Bladder snails are a great addition to any aquarium, as they help keep the tank clean and free from algae. They are very small and peaceful and can be kept with most community tank mates. Bladder snails also have a healthy appetite for algae, so they can help keep your tank looking its best.

If you are looking for an easy-to-care-for, scavenging snail to add to your tank, then a bladder snail is a perfect choice. They are hardy and will thrive in most aquarium conditions. So, whether you have a small or large tank, these little snails can be a great addition.

  • Keep the tank clean- Bladder snails are great at keeping the tank clean by scavenging on decaying plant matter and bacteria.
  • Peaceful- They are very peaceful snails and can be kept with most community tank mates without any problems.
  • Healthy appetite- Bladder snails have a healthy appetite for algae, so they can help keep your tank looking its best.
  • Easy to care for- They are one of the easiest snails to care for and do not require any specific tank mates or conditions.
  • Hardy- Bladder snails are hardy and will thrive in most aquarium conditions.
  • Prolific breeders- Bladder snails are prolific breeders and can quickly increase the population of your tank.
  • Good for beginners- They are a great snail for beginners as they are easy to care for and do not require any specific tank mates or conditions.
  • Affordable- Bladder snails are affordable and can be found at most pet stores.
  • Thrive in most aquarium conditions- They thrive in most aquarium conditions and can be kept in any size tank.
  • Help keep the tank clean- Bladder snails help keep the tank clean by scavenging on decaying plant matter and bacteria.

Disadvantages of Keeping Bladder Snails

  • May eat live plants- They may eat live plants if there is not enough algae and detritus for them to scavenge on.
  • May reproduce rapidly- They may reproduce rapidly and can quickly increase the population of your tank.
  • Algae eater- Bladder snails are primarily algae eaters and may not feed on other types of food.
  • Needs dense vegetation- They need a densely planted tank with open areas for crawling and may not be suitable for tanks with few plants.
  • May get sucked into filters- Their small size makes them vulnerable to being sucked into the filter intake, so be mindful of this when setting up your tank.
  • Prone to escaping- They are very small and good at climbing, so they can escape from an inadequately covered tank.
  • May carry diseases- They may carry diseases that can affect other tank inhabitants.
  • Needs weekly water changes- They need weekly water changes to keep the tank clean and free from pollutants.
  • May is not suitable for all tanks- Bladder snails may not be suitable for all tanks if they do not have enough algae and detritus to feed on.
  • Breeding difficulties- While bladder snails are prolific breeders, breeding them can be difficult if there is not a mature population in the tank.
  • Not suitable for nano tanks- Their small size makes them unsuitable for most nano tanks as they may get lost in the tank.

What Makes Bladder Snails Different From Pond Snails ?

Bladder snails are freshwater snails, while pond snails are marine. Bladder snails live in the water column, while pond snails live on the bottom of still or slow-moving bodies of water.

  • Size- Bladder snails are generally smaller than pond snails.
  • Diet- Bladder snails eat algae, detritus, and small invertebrates, while pond snails eat algae, plants, and small invertebrates.
  • Habitat- Bladder snails live in the water column, while pond snails live on the bottom of still or slow-moving bodies of water.
  • Reproduction- Bladder snails are hermaphrodites, they contain both male and female reproductive organs, but cannot fertilize their eggs. Pond snails are either male or female and can fertilize their eggs or another snail's eggs. Click here to learn more about the reproductive behavior of pond snails.
  • Color- Bladder snails can change their color to match that of their surroundings, while pond snails are usually a mottled green and brown.
  • Location- Bladder snails live in freshwater habitats, while pond snails live in marine habitats.
  • Operculum- The trapdoor-like structure used to seal the opening of a bladder snail's shell is called an operculum. Pond snails do not have this feature.
  • Distribution- Bladder snails are found worldwide, while pond snails are found mostly in Europe and North America.

Bladder Snail Varieties

There are many different types of bladder snails, including Physa gyrina, Australorbis iphthimostomus, and Aplexa hypnorum.

The common bladder snail comes from the family of Physidae. This snail is classified as a true freshwater snail. It needs water to survive but can live out of water for a brief period.

There are two main types of bladder snail: the Physa and the Physella. The Physa is smaller, typically less than a centimeter in length, and is more common in North America.

The Physella is larger, typically around two centimeters in length, and is more common in Europe. Both species are often used interchangeably. The most popular varieties of bladder snail are stated as follows.

  • Physa heterostropha– The most commonly kept bladder snail.
  • Physa Integra– A smaller species that grows to be only an inch in length, but has a more domed shell than P. heterostropha.
  • Carinaria gyliota- This is the largest snail in this family, reaching up to 2 inches in length. It is a saltwater snail that can be found in estuaries and brackish water.
  • Physella acuta- A small, almost transparent snail that inhabits fast-flowing water.
  • Gyraulus Parvus- A small, white freshwater snail found in small rivers and streams.
  • Helisoma trivolvis- A large, gray snail found in ponds and marshes across North America.

Conclusion

Bladder snails are easy to care for and make a great addition to any community aquarium. They scavenge on algae and detritus, so they do not require any specific tank mates or conditions. Keep their diet rich in calcium to keep their shells healthy.

If you notice any changes in their behavior or appearance, take them out of the tank and consult a veterinarian.

So, if you are looking for an easy-to-care-for, scavenging snail to add to your tank, then a bladder snail is a perfect choice. They are hardy and will thrive in most aquarium conditions. So, whether you have a small or large tank, these little snails can be a great addition.

Disclaimer

AquaMarinePower.com does not intend to provide veterinary advice. We go to great lengths to help users better understand their aquatic friends. However, the content on this blog is not a substitute for veterinary guidance. For more information, please read our disclaimer.

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