Malaysian Trumpet Snails: Warm-Climate Wanderers

Malaysian Trumpet Snails infographic

Have you heard about the Malaysian trumpet snail? Just like the decollate snail, and many other gastropod species, it has managed to make its way around the world a few times, setting up homes in pastures exotic and new. Not just a wild wanderer, this is a common species found in heated tanks and aquariums around the glove.

Shall we take a closer look?

What are Malaysian Trumpet Snails?

These freshwater gastropods are known by a host of other names, including the scientific name Melanoides tuberculata, and the abbreviation MTS. You may also know them as Malayan trumpet snails, Malayan livebearing (/live-bearing) snails, or red-rimmed melania.

What Do Red-Rimmed Melania Look Like?

As the name suggests, there is a little bit of redness on this otherwise gray, brown, or black shelled snail (not to be confused with the black devil snail). It is more of a rust-red than a bright red, though. The shell also changes color depending on where the snail is in the world. Those found in Israel are often darker to help them camouflage amongst dark colored basalt rocks.

The shell itself is quite different to most other freshwater snail shells, which is another reason why many aquarium hobbyists choose to add them to their tanks.

Malaysian Trumpet Snail on a glass aquarium

The shell of Malaysian trumpet snails looks similar to an ice cream cone that you’d buy from the ice cream person in their van. It’s spiral in shape, usually with between 10 and 15 individual spirals (called whorls), and rather than being flat and round, it’s long and tapers as it twists.

How Big Do They Get?

The Malaysian trumpet snail can grow to shell lengths of 0.7 inch (2 cm) to 1.2 inch (3 cm).

Some “exceptional” individuals have reached lengths of 3.2 inches (8 cm).

What is the Lifespan of Malaysian Trumpet Snails?

In captivity, Malaysian trumpet snails can live for up to 2 years. It is believed they may live a little longer in the wild – up to 3 years and potentially longer.

Do Malaysian Trumpet Snails Eat Other Snails?

This species is a peaceful and calm one, so it’s unlikely you’ll see a Malaysian trumpet snail battle with other critters in the tank. That’s not to say it won’t defend itself, though. Or eat other snails…

What Do Malaysian Trumpet Snails Eat?

Malaysian trumpets will eat other snails – if they have died and started to decompose. It is a species commonly added to tanks and aquariums because of its ability to help clean up by consuming the following:

  • Fish poop (detritus)
  • Leftover fish flakes/food
  • Micro algae and other microbial films (primary source of food in the wild)
  • Dead plants
  • Dead fish, shellfish, snails, etc.

Depending on your tank setup, you may need to substitute your Malaysian trumpet’s diet with fresh or frozen vegetables. You can add cucumber, lettuce, spinach, and broccoli to the tank. Algae wafers are another option.

Do Malaysian Trumpet Snails Eat Aquarium Plants?

No, they don’t usually eat plants. If there are no other food options, however, it will eat whatever it can. (Just bear that in mind!).

These snails will be quite content just slithering around the tank, sucking and scraping the algae and waste material from glass, the substrate base, any ornaments, etc.

Where Does Melanoides Tuberculata Live?

Malayan livebearing snails (or whatever your preferred name is for them) originally came from southern regions of Asia and northern regions of Africa. They have made their way around the globe since then, though. You’ll find them in both subtropical and tropical parts of the world, including Trinidad, the US, New Zealand, Netherlands, Brazil, Cuba, and more.

Are Malaysian Trumpet Snails Good for an Aquarium, or Bad?

Just like most gastropods, these snails can be both good and bad for your tank. One of the biggest pros, of course, is the fact that they eat the stuff that you would otherwise have to clean away or filter out.

A con, however, is that they will breed prolifically all the while they have plenty of food, and that will mean more snail poop, more competition for food and other resources, and potentially even changes to the water parameters over time. You will need to clean snail waste out of the tank.

Then again, there’s another pro: they are quite unique in appearance, despite not coming in a wide assortment of bright colors or interesting patterns.

You can also use this snail as a feeding gauge. If you all of a sudden have a whole bunch of new, young snails in the tank, the population is booming. It is likely an indication that there is too much food in the tank. Could you be overfeeding your fish?

Are Malaysian Trumpet Snails Invasive?

Yes, in some parts of the world, Malaysian livebearing snails are an invasive species. They’re super adaptable and can survive in pretty much any water, of any salt level, in a wide temperature range. In Hong Kong, for example, they are commonly reported as a pest.

You should check the laws and legislations in your local area before making any decisions about this shelled slitherer.

Sometimes, these snails will enter home aquariums by hitch-hiking on plants and ornamental items. In such a case, they are likely to be invasive in your watery habitat. Many people refer to them as pests online, especially when they accidentally made their way into the tank.

Malaysian Trumpet Snail Care

This snail is so easy to care for, they’re often recommended for aquarium beginners. In terms of water temperature, they’ll be happy with as cold as 64 F (18 C) and as hot as 90 F (32 C).

This freshwater gastropod can survive in low oxygenated water, heavily polluted water, brackish water, and full salt water – but the water does need to have a high pH level (between 7 and 8) and increased hardness. Acidic water is not a friend of shelled animals, such as snails.

Tank Mates for Malaysian Trumpets

This snail needs alkaline, hard water, so it is obviously not going to work in a tank setup that is designed for fish that need soft water, and a higher acidity level.

You should also avoid homing this gastropod with fish and other animals that eat snails. They will, obviously, eat your Malaysian trumpets.

Aggressive fish are not great tank mates, either. This includes loaches, goldfish, and gouramis, to name but a few. Aggressive snails, such as the aptly named assassin snail, should also be avoided.

How Many Malaysian Trumpet Snails Do I Need?

Again, being a part-time invasive snail means this species can survive in small tanks and aquariums that others would struggle in.

Some aquarium hobbyists suggest starting with a 3-gallon (11 liters) tank, with no upper limit. Obviously, the more space they have, the happier they’ll be – but this also means they’ll have more room to fill with the next generation of snails.

Red-Rimmed Melania Breeding

If you find miniatures really cute, you’re going to love this gastropod. This snail doesn’t lay eggs. Instead, it gives birth to live young, which are teeny-tiny replicas of their parents – male and female. The youngsters are, quite literally, adorable. And, to make things even more interesting, they are also, quite literally, teeny-tiny replicas of their parents.

Malaysian trumpet snails (or red-rimmed melanias, if you prefer that name) gives birth to young via a process known as parthenogenesis. Females don’t actually need their male counterparts to breed; they just create small (0.08 inch or 0.2 cm) carbon copies of themselves – up to 200 of them, to be exact.

In the words of Beyonce: “Who run the world? Girls!”

Little disclaimer:

Not all of those baby snails will survive. You’re probably not going to end up with 200+ snails in your tank. Some of them will get eaten by the others. Fish and other tank mates may also eat them.

Does Red-Rimmed Melania Burrow?

Yes, this is a burrowing species – and it’s all because they are nocturnal.

For the majority of the day, this species will be hidden away in the tank’s substrate. They’ll be sleeping down there, but they’ll also be moving around, looking for food, and helping to aerate.

When the sun goes down, the snails come out. They are most active at night, and you’ll be more likely to see them on the glass or any ornaments in the tank.

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