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Bladder Snail ‘Physa Acuta’: A Complete Care Guide

Bladder Snail ‘Physa Acuta’: A Complete Care Guide

Bladder snails can be either super convenient or a nuisance in your aquarium, depending on how many you have and your reasoning for having them. Either way, it’s essential to understand the care these aquatic creatures need.

Bladder snails, also commonly known as tadpole snails or acute bladder snails, are a part of the Physidae family, and they’re typically roaming around the tank, eating algae. Additionally, they’re very peaceful creatures, so they won’t bother the other fish in the tank.

The rest of this article will give an overview of the bladder snail, including its appearance, behavior, and tank setup needed to thrive.

Bladder Snail Overview & Origin

First, let’s go over an overview of the bladder snail:

  • Common name: Bladder snail, tadpole snail, acute bladder snail
  • Scientific name: Physa acuta or Physella acuta
  • Family: Physidae
  • Care level: Easy
  • Size: Up to 0.6 inches (1.52cm)
  • Life span: One year
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore/Algae
  • Minimum tank size: One gallon
  • Water temperature: 64°F – 84°F (17.8°C – 28.9°C)
  • Water pH: Between 7.0 – 8.0
  • Water hardness: 12 – 18 dGH

Bladder Snail Appearance & Size

Bladder snails are very small, measuring around half an inch (1.27 cm) as an adult. Therefore, they’re very easy to miss. However, their small size often comes in handy — especially when cleaning the algae tank.

Additionally, bladder snails typically have a translucent color on their shells with some slight yellow markings on their bodies.

Bladder Snail Personality & Behavior

The bladder snail has a very peaceful personality. However, due to their small size and peaceful personality, these snails often end up as prey to other aquatic life in the tank.

You might notice your bladder snails exhibiting some odd behaviors in your tank, such as: 

  • Swimming upside down: These snails are air breathers. Thus, they have to go to the surface to get air. The snails often swim upside down at the surface to breathe and eat simultaneously.
  • Flicking their shells back and forth quickly: When bladder snails flick their shells back and forth quickly, they’re likely doing so to avoid being eaten by predators.

These behaviors, while odd, are completely normal for bladder snails.

Bladder Snail Average Life Span

Bladder snails have a relatively short lifespan, with most only living up to a year. However, many people have experienced bladder snails living closer to two years.

So, depending on how well they’re cared for and their needs are met will determine how long they live. Additionally, bladder snails are common prey to other creatures in the tank, which shortens their lifespans.

Bladder Snail Care & Tank Setup

Bladder snails are some of the easiest snails to care for, as they can live in almost any water condition. However, there are specific tank conditions that they prefer over others, which will allow them to live longer. I’ll go over this and more in the following sections.

Tanks Size

Unlike many snail species, bladder snails don’t require a specific tank size. They can survive in as little as a one-gallon tank. However, if you plan on keeping tankmates, getting a bigger aquarium to give your snails and other aquatic creatures more room to roam is better.

How Many Bladder Snails Are Suitable For a One-Gallon Tank?

One bladder snail is suitable for a one-gallon tank. For small snails like the bladder snail, it’s best to keep only one per gallon, as it gives the snail and other tankmates more room. Therefore, if you plan on keeping more than one bladder snail, it’s best to have at least a five-gallon tank.

Substrate

The best substrate for your bladder snail is soft sand. Snails prefer substrate that allows them to bury themselves in. 

However, unlike many other snails, bladder snails don’t normally dig around in the substrate often. Because of this, they don’t have specific substrate needs — you can put them in the tank with sand, pebbles, or gravel, whichever you prefer.

Water Parameters

  • Water temperature: 64°F – 84°F (17.8°C – 28.9°C)
  • Water pH: Between 7.0 – 8.0
  • Water hardness: 12 – 18 dGH

Let’s discuss the water parameters necessary for a bladder snail, including the temperature, pH and hardness level, and calcium contents.

Water Temperature

Bladder snails like a water temperature between 64°F and 84°F (17.8°C and 28.9°C). However, this snail species isn’t overly sensitive to water temperature, so as long as your tank is within the recommended temperature range or close to it, your bladder snail will be just fine.

pH Levels

While water temperature isn’t the most crucial aspect of water parameters for bladder snails, the pH levels are. The pH level in the tank should be between 7.0 and 8.0, but definitely no lower than 7.0. Lower pH levels can cause harm to snails, as the acidity can deteriorate their shells.

Water Hardness

Bladder snails require hard water — between 12 to 18 dGH. The harder the water is, the more calcium and other valuable minerals it has. Snails need these minerals to grow and survive properly. Calcium specifically encourages shell growth and strength in snails.

Importance of Calcium

Calcium is the most important mineral that all snails need because it provides protection and strengthens the snail’s shell.

Additionally, calcium is especially important when it comes to egg laying. So, if you plan on breeding your bladder snails (I’ll get into what this entails later in the article), you must ensure the calcium in the tank is high enough.

To ensure your water has the right amount of calcium, it’s best to have a calcium test kit. This is especially important if you only house snails in your tank.

I recommend the API Calcium Test Kit from Amazon.com. This test kit is straightforward and should be used weekly to test the water.

Tank Hazard

Many people view bladder snails, considered “pest snails,” as a tank hazard because they reproduce very quickly, which can overwhelm a tank. While most of the time they’re unwanted, these pest snails won’t harm your tank — they’ll only help it.

Additionally, because the snails are so small, they can get stuck in various places around your tank, including the filter, which can be hazardous.

What Bladder Snails Need In The Tank

Bladder snails are hardy creatures, so they don’t need many specific things in a tank — they can practically live in any condition. However, there are some things these snails prefer over others if they can help it, which I’ll discuss in the following sections.

Substrate

Bladder snails don’t have a specific substrate preference. Most snails prefer sandy substrate over pebbles or gravel, allowing them to dig and hide. However, these pest snails only care that there are enough hiding places for them around the aquarium.

Decorations

Bladder snails like having various plants and objects around them for climbing and hiding purposes. Some great decoration ideas for bladder snails include:

  • Rocks
  • Artificial plants
  • Ceramic objects
  • Driftwood

Ideal Plants

Bladder snails don’t have a preference when it comes to plants, as they don’t eat or bother living plants in the tank. However, they do like to have a lot of plants around because it gives them various places to hide in the tank.

Heater

Bladder snails don’t require a heater; they can adapt and survive in almost any water condition. However, they do have a preferred water temperature of between 64°F and 84°F (17.8°C and 28.9°C). 

So, if you want to keep the water temperature within this range and you need a heater to do so, a heater might be best for your tank.

Filtration

Because the bladder snail species are very hardy, they can survive in most conditions, including unfiltered water. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to change the water often — you should still ensure the water is clean.

Bladder Snail Tank Mates

Since bladder snails are considered “pest snails,” it often means they’re used as a food source for other aquatic life. Therefore, if you want to keep bladder snails to breed or have as pets, you won’t want to put them in a tank with the following:

If you don’t want your bladder snails to get eaten, you’ll have to pair them with fish that won’t eat snails, such as the Oto fish.

Bladder Snail Food & Diet

While many people find bladder snails a nuisance, their eating habits are very beneficial to your tank.

Bladder snails primarily eat algae and decaying meat or waste. Therefore, they’ll clean up your aquarium nicely. They won’t bother or try to eat other tank members, and they don’t typically eat living plants.

How Often Should You Feed Bladder Snails?

Bladder snails are constantly eating, and you don’t necessarily have to feed them. They feed on algae and decaying matter around the tank. If you want to breed the bladder snails, simply ensure there’s always some decaying matter for them to eat.

Breeding Bladder Snails

The biggest nuisance regarding bladder snails is how quickly they breed and reproduce. Bladder snails are considered hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female sex organs.

Therefore, these snails reproduce very quickly. Additionally, it only takes around a week for the resulting eggs to hatch, and the snails can lay up to 40 eggs at a time.

If your tank is overrun with bladder snails and you don’t want them in your tank anymore, I recommend adding an assassin snail to the tank. Assassin snails will take out an entire pest snail population reasonably quickly.

Bladder Snail Common Health Issues, Treatment & Prevention

Bladder snails can encounter health issues just like every other aquatic creature. Most of the time, these health issues involve bacterial or fungal infections, but you can sometimes encounter parasitic infections, although it’s very rare for bladder snails.

Fungal or Bacterial Infections

Fungal or Bacterial Infection Symptoms

If your bladder snails aren’t scavaging for food or eating the algae around the tank like usual, they might have a fungal or bacterial infection. If this is the case, you must be very careful that the infection doesn’t spread around the tank, which might mean quarantining your infected snails.

Fungal or Bacterial Infection Treatment

Treatment for fungal or bacterial infections can include feeding your snails special food or adding chemicals to the tank’s water to disinfect it. However, you should always separate your infected snails from the other tankmates, as bacterial and fungal infections can quickly spread through the aquarium.

If you’re unsure if your treatment option is safe for the tank mates, it’s best to ask an exotic vet.

Fungal or Bacterial Infection Prevention

The best way to prevent fungal or bacterial infections in your bladder snails is to maintain your aquarium. Regularly changing and filtering the water will help keep the tank clean and infection-free.

Additionally, it’s essential to know that any new additions to the tank aren’t carrying an infection that might spread to the other tank mates. This is one of the most common reasons bacterial or fungal infections enter the aquarium.

Are Bladder Snails Right For Your Tank?

Bladder snails are right for your tank if you want snails that won’t bother your living plants and will clean the tank of algae and various decaying matter. However, it’s important to remember that bladder snails are pest snails and can quickly overwhelm a tank.

Most people only keep bladder snails as food for their other aquatic pets. However, others like to have bladder snails as pets. Either way, bladder snails can be beneficial to your tank.

But, if you want the bladder snails to be pets and not a food source, it’s best to have them in a separate tank or only house them with creatures that won’t try to eat them.

Bladder Snail FAQs

What’s the Difference Between Bladder Snails and Pond Snails?

The difference between bladder snails and pond snails is their size. While both bladder and pond snails are considered “pest snails” and look very similar, pond snails are almost always bigger. Pond snails can reach up to 3 in (7.62 cm), while bladder snails only grow to about 0.5 in (1.27 cm).

What Eats Bladder Snails in an Aquarium?

Various fish and other aquatic creatures eat bladder snails in an aquarium, including assassin snails, clown loaches, betta fish, and yoyo loaches. Bladder snails are considered “pest snails,” so they often fall prey to tankmates in an aquarium.

Can Bladder Snails Live With Shrimp?

Bladder snails can live with shrimp. Shrimp don’t typically eat or bother living snail tank mates, but they will eat decaying snails. Additionally, bladder snails won’t bother shrimp but will eat decaying shrimp in the aquarium. Therefore, they tend to make good tank mates.

Do Bladder Snails Produce Ammonia?

Bladder snails don’t produce ammonia the way other aquatic life does. Bladder snails typically reduce the ammonia in the tank, as they’re avid tank cleaners and eat a lot of algae. However, they can produce ammonia if they die in the tank.

Can Bladder Snails Live in Stagnant Water?

Bladder snails can live in stagnant water. They typically prefer to live in either stagnant or slow-moving water in a tank. However, this isn’t a specific need that must be met with bladder snails, as this species can live and adapt to almost any water environment.

Wrapping Up

Bladder snails are a snail species that you either love or hate. While many aquarium owners experience these snails against their will, others keep them as pets in order to keep the tank clean.

While bladder snails are excellent tank cleaners and very easy to care for, they reproduce very quickly — overwhelming your tank in just a couple of weeks.

So, if you want to add bladder snails to your tank for the cleaning benefits, it’s best to add tankmates that will keep their population down, such as assassin snails or betta fish.

I’m Elle, the founder of FishHQ. I created this website to share knowledge, tips, and inspiration for beginner hobbyists to help them create a healthy, happy, and vibrant environment for their fish to thrive. Read more...