Pagoda Snails – Not The Snail You Were Thinking

Pagoda snails, also known as Brotia pagodula, are freshwater snails native to the border between Thailand and Myanmar. They come from the Pachychilidae family, preferring to live in shallow bodies of fresh water, such as streams and rivers.

These gastropods are known by a host of other names, including porcupine snails and horned armor snails, and not an awful lot is known about them. Pagoda snails breeding, for example, is not fully known or understood; and some scientists even argue that the Brotia pagodula species should be split into two separate ones.

Confusing stuff, right?

What Do Pagoda Snails Look Like?

Pagoda snails have elongated brown, grey, amber, or mixed-colored shells that are thick and spiral in shape. The spirals, known as whorls, have small, flat spikes on them, and there can be up to 5 whorls in total.

Brotia pagodula has a trapdoor, called an operculum, and the body is also quite broad, yellow, or dark gray in color.

How Big Do Pagoda Snails Get?

These freshwater gastropods grow to between 1 and 2 inches (3 to 5 cm) in length.

How Long Do Pagoda Snails Live?

It is believed that pagoda or porcupine snails can live for up to 5 years, but it is quite rare for them to reach that age in captivity. Although commonly added to freshwater aquariums, not a lot is known about them. Because of this, caring for them can be quite difficult, especially when it comes to breeding. 

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What Do Pagoda/Porcupine Snails Eat?

If you’re hoping for this snail to become part of your aquarium’s cleanup crew, you might be a little disappointed. Brotia pagodula does eat algae, fish poop, and decomposing material, but they much prefer a more herbivorous diet. Because of this, you will need to add additional foods (fresh or frozen), such as:

  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Sprouts
  • Carrot
  • Spinach
  • Algae wafers
  • Fish food flakes

You will also need to consider adding supplements for calcium into the water to ensure your pagoda snails can maintain their shells. One of the biggest problems that aquarium enthusiasts come across with this species is shell deterioration or damage.

Pagoda snails will attack and eat live plants in the tank if you do not feed them enough of the above. You will need to feed them small amounts daily to keep your plant life safe.

Are Pagoda Snails Aggressive?

No, pagoda or porcupine snails are not aggressive. In fact, they are very peaceful and will happily get along with other freshwater snails, fish, and more.

You should not put this snail in the same tank as crabs or crayfish, assassin snails, or fish that are aggressive or eat snails.

This attractive species is actually quite shy and reserved, and solitary. It takes them longer than other gastropods to become accustomed to a new habitat. You may not see your pagodas for a few days after you introduce them to your tank.

Are Pagoda Snails Nocturnal?

Yes, it does appear that pagoda snails are nocturnal. This means that you’re not likely to see them during the day because they’ll be hidden away somewhere, sleeping, eating, or chilling.

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This snail is very solitary and easily spooked and is likely to spend long periods of time either hidden away in the tank or locked away in its shell.

Do Pagoda Snails Burrow?

No, pagoda snails are not burrowing snails. They don’t burrow to hide, nor do they burrow under the sand or substrate to find food.

Pagoda Snail Care

Just like many other species of gastropod, pagoda snails are incredibly sensitive to any kind of change to their habitat. This includes water temperature, levels of minerals and other compounds in the water, and more.

The water temperature must be between 70° and 82°F (22° and 26°C), and you will want a minimum of 10 gallons (40 liters). The more pagodas you intend to keep, the larger the tank must be. You will want to allow an extra 5 to 10 gallons per additional snail.

Nitrates must be 20ppm or below, and the pH level of the water should be between 7.0 and 8.0.

This snail lives in shallow but fast-moving water, which is full of oxygen. You will need to recreate the same highly oxygenated environment if you want them to thrive.

Pagoda Snails Breeding

It is notoriously difficult to breed these snails. The process is terribly slow, and not fully understood or observed. Determining males from females is difficult, so you will need to make sure you have snails in the tank for there to be different sexes.

This gastropod reproduces at a much slower rate than other freshwater species, birthing live young instead of eggs, and usually only two or three young at a time.