How Do Aquarium Snails Reproduce?

There are many, many different kinds of aquarium snails out there. Some are beautiful and helpful in your tank. And others will drive you up the wall.

Aquarium snails usually hitch a ride into your tank on live plants, or sometimes, even in the bags that fish come in.

It seems like, one minute, you have no snails at all. But then the next, you have 8 million of them!

If you find yourself in this situation, you may be asking, how do aquarium snails reproduce?

How Aquarium Snails Reproduce

Aquarium snails in tank

Snail Sexes

How snails reproduce depends on the species. Many species of freshwater snails are hermaphroditic, meaning they have both male and female reproductive organs.

Hermaphroditic snails can actually fertilize themselves, so all it takes to establish a breeding colony in your tank is a single snail.

These snails can also mate with other snails of their species. Since both have male and female parts, they both produce sperm and pass it to the other snail where it’s used to fertilize eggs.

Some species, like apple snails, nerite snails and pond snails, have two separate sexes. So, they can’t breed in the tank unless you have both a male and female.

But, the females of many of these species can retain sperm for months at a time and continue to fertilize themselves several times from just a single mating.

Snail Eggs

Snail egg super close up

The majority of freshwater snails reproduce by laying eggs. 

Apple and pond snails lay their eggs just above the water line, trying to avoid hungry fish.

Species like bladder snails lay many, many clutches of clear eggs that they glue to tank glass, plants, rocks and/or decor with super sticky mucus.

Snail eggs on aquarium glass

The advantage of egg laying is that more eggs can be produced. Apple snails produce several hundred eggs with every clutch.

How long the eggs take to hatch depends on the species and the temperature. 

Unlike some other invertebrates, snails don’t go through different forms as they age. They hatch out of their eggs as tiny perfect miniatures of their parents.

As soon as they’re free of their eggs, they start cruising around and munching on anything they can find.

Livebearing Snails

A few species of freshwater snails, most notably the Malaysian trumpet snail, hold onto their eggs instead of laying them. The eggs remain inside their parent’s body until they hatch.

This protects the eggs and prevents them from being eaten by fish and other predators.

The tiny baby snails emerge from their parents’ shells and wander off to start their own lives.

But, livebearing snails produce much fewer young per breeding since the space inside their shells is limited.


Aquarium snails reproduce in a variety of ways. I’ve always found the hermaphroditic snails to be the most interesting. 

The idea that each snail can just fertilize itself at will is kind of amazing.

Most aquarium snails lay eggs, either above or below the surface of the water. 

But, just like everything else, there are exceptions to the rule. 

Livebearer snails produce fewer snails per clutch, but the baby snails are protected and have a chance to hatch before they have to face the dangers of the outside world on their own.

I hope you find this article helpful and I wish you the very best.

Katherine Morgan
Katherine Morgan

Hey, there! I'm Katherine from Northwest Florida. An aquarium specialist, I've kept tanks for over two decades, enjoy experimenting with low-tech planted setups and an avid South American cichlid enthusiast.

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