4 Reasons Why Your Mystery Snail Is Floating (+How To Fix)

Snails can often exhibit a variety of behaviors, and for the uninitiated, it may look concerning or worrying.

And among other snails, Mystery snails continue to be favorites for almost any kind of aquarium. So, if and when they start floating or exhibiting irregular behavior, it’s good to know what to do and how to identify if it’s a cause for concern.

Today, I’ll take you through a full breakdown of how to handle your Mystery snail floating and what it may mean.

Why Does a Mystery Snail Float?

The first step to dealing with a floating Mystery snail is to know why it floats in the first place. Here are some common and possible reasons:

1. Poor Water Quality

If your Mystery Snail is alive yet floating for days on end, the most likely reason is that your water parameters are out of whack.

Depending on your feeds, types of fish in the tank, quality of plants, etc, there are chemicals or debris that get dissolved in the water. And snails are often quick to detect impurities in the water surrounding them. 

So, they’ll try to float up in search of a cleaner area. Unfortunately, they can’t go very far in an aquarium, so they end up floating for days.

If you see your Mystery snail floating after water change, then you know the reason why. 

2. Lack of Food

Another possible reason for Mystery snail floating is a shortage of food. If your tank has a healthy number of fishes, plants, and algae, your snails will have plenty of options to eat. 

But if there’s not enough food appearing, the Mystery snails will often float up and stay at the surface looking for additional food.

3. They Are Leveraging The Water Currents

As we all know, snails are slow and steady movers. They take ages trying to get from one point to the next if they’re crawling along with the soil or water bed.

So, Mystery snails (and many other snails) often intentionally float so that the water currents transport them to a different spot. 

This is normal behavior for most snails regardless of whether they’re in an aquarium or in their natural habitat. 

4. They’ve Died

Finally, the most dreaded reason why you may see a Mystery snail floating is death.

Mystery snails can live in your tanks for about a year if the conditions are right. 

But there’s no guarantee on this because the death may occur way before you find out what caused it. However, if you see your Mystery snail floating out of shell, that’s a reason for concern for sure.

why is my mystery snail floating?

Do Other Mystery Snails Also Exhibit This Behavior?

Yes, most Mystery snails will float from time to time. It doesn’t matter which kind of Mystery snails you have, they’ll occasionally float for the reasons mentioned above.

I constantly come across aquarium owners who suspect that a Black Mystery snail will float less or more than a Blue Mystery snail.

Other times, people ask if a Purple Mystery Snail avoids floating while the Yellow Mystery snail enjoys it. 

Most times, these conclusions are drawn from speculation or individual snail behavior and not from species traits. 

What Should I Do If I Find My Mystery Snail Floating?

When you find your Mystery Snail floating on top of tank, there are a few actions you can take:

1. Check Your Parameters

Test the water for impurities. If you have a chemical or mineral-related issue, the best way to fix it is to change the water.

But what I recommend is to change a little bit at a time instead of the whole tank. I only change about 20% to 50% water tank water at once.

2. Don’t Let The Snails Go Hungry

If your water quality is fine and your snail seems normal enough, food may be the issue. Make sure there are enough plants, fish, and algae in your tank based on the number of Mystery snails. Or you can drop bottom feeder tablets, too, if the situation is dire. 

3. In Case Of Death

If your snail is dead, removing it quickly is the best thing to do. It doesn’t take very long for dead snails to start floating, but they’ll start to give off unpleasant odors after some time. 

Just make sure your snail is really dead. Gentle touches can reveal if it’s still alive (retreating into the shell) or truly dead.

I once found my Mystery snail floating after laying eggs and thought it had died, only to find it relaxing back in the bottom later. 


Do dead Mystery Snails float?

Yes. Dead Mystery snails will start to float on the water and won’t show any signs of activity.

Do Mystery snail float when they sleep?

Mystery snails usually sleep on a surface – the waterbed, glass wall, etc.

So, floating isn’t the most common way they sleep. But it’s still possible that your sleeping Mystery snail got swooped up by the water currents and is floating. 

Is it serious when a Mystery snail floats?

It’s not always a serious issue when a Mystery snail floats, but it’s still worth checking up on.

For instance, if it’s merely floating around looking for a new spot, you can take it as normal behavior.

But if it’s famished and looking for food, or worse, dead, then it’s certainly a serious issue.

What to do to correct this?

Check the water condition, make sure the snails have enough to eat, or see if your snail is dead (in which case, dispose off quickly).
The best way to correct unhealthy floating is through the right feeding and ideal water environment.

However, if your Mystery snail is merely floating as a means of changing locations, it’s not something to be worried about.
Occasional floating is completely normal behavior in Mystery snails. So, don’t be alarmed. 

Is it normal to see my Mystery snail half out of shell?

Yes. Most of the time, Mystery snails may have a portion of their body out of their shell.
They may do this while feeding or mating. But any prodding will make it retreat back into its hard natural casing.
If it doesn’t react to being provoked, something may be wrong.

Further Reading