Acclimating Malaysian Trumpet Snails to Brackish Water

Malaysian Trumpet Snails eating sand

Malaysian Trumpet Snails (MTS) are one of the few species of aquarium snails that can be acclimated into brackish salt water.

This is most often done by hobbyists wanting to add tank mates to their Opae Ula tanks as they have a few benefits.

  • Substrate disturbance: MTS will burrow themselves in the sand/substrate and slowly release gas bubbles which could otherwise become anaerobic and harm your shrimp
  • Glass cleaning: MTS will eat biofilm and algae growing on your aquarium walls, improving visibility
  • More life: The varying sizes of MTS contrast nicely with the small shrimp and make the tank more interesting to look at

Salinity ranges

Marine salt water is typically in the range of 1.022sg to 1.027sg (29ppt to 35ppt).

Malaysian Trumpet Snails can survive and even thrive in a wide range of salinity levels if the transition is slow enough; from pure freshwater to fairly salty brackish water (1.018sg or 24ppt). Although some hobbyists have even had success with acclimating MTS to salt water.

This range is very useful for Opae Ula keepers which are typically kept in water between 1.010sg to 1.018sg (13ppt to 24ppt). Keeping your tank at the lower end of this salinity range will allow both your Opae Ula and MTS to thrive.

Water Salinity range (sg)
Marine saltwater 1.022 - 1.027
Opae Ula brackish 1.010 - 1.018
Malaysian Trump Snail 1.000 - 1.018

How to acclimate

Warning: Moving any animal from one level of water salinity to another should be done very carefully and slowly. If you move them too quickly to a higher concentration of salt then the salt will quickly draw water from their cells. Going in the opposite direction too quickly could mean their bodies can't adjust to the new nutrient requirements in time and they become ill or even die.

Supplies

  • Pre-mixed brackish water
  • Temporary snail tank
  • Refractometer (or another tool to measure salinity)

Steps

  1. Every day mix in a portion of the pre-mixed brackish water so that their water increases by no more than 0.02sg or 3ppt a day
  2. Every few days, give them a break from adding more salt
  3. After around 1 week you will reach the desired salinity, but give them another day or so to adjust
  4. Move the MTS into their new tank

Warning signs

Look out for these signs of stress in your snails during the acclimation as well as shortly after moving them into the new tank:

  • Snails rushing to the surface (don't worry about one or two simply eating biofilm from the surface)
  • Snails hiding in their shell for days and not moving

Things to check

  • Test the salinity has not increased too quickly (up to 0.02sg increase each day)
    • Add RO water or freshwater until the salinity change is back to safe levels
  • Test the water's ammonia and nitrite levels