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Rabbit Snail ‘Tylomelania’: A Complete Care Guide

Rabbit Snail ‘Tylomelania’: A Complete Care Guide

Rabbit snails are fantastic additions to established community tanks and moderately easy to care for, provided you follow some essential care guidelines. 

The most critical parts of Rabbit snail or Tylomelania care are maintaining appropriate water conditions and a healthy diet. Rabbit Snails prefer hard water between 76–84°F (24.4–28.9°C) with a pH of 7.2 or higher. They also require a calcium-rich diet to maintain strong, healthy shells.

This guide explains everything you need to know about rabbit snails and how to care for them. 

Rabbit Snail Overview & Origin

  • Common name: Rabbit Snail
  • Scientific name: Tylomelania
  • Family: Pachychilidae
  • Care level: Moderate
  • Size: 3 – 5 inches (7.6 – 12.7cm)
  • Life Span: Up to 3 years
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Vegetarian/Algae
  • Minimum tank size: 30-gallon
  • Water temperature: 68°F – 86°F (20°C – 30°C).
  • Water pH: 7.2 – 7.5 pH
  • Water hardness: 2 – 15 dKH

Tylomelania, commonly known as “rabbit snails,” is a genus of freshwater snails in the Pachychidae family. There are over 40 described species, with malacologists still working to identify and name 170 unclassified species.  

Also called bunny snails, elephant snails, Poso snails, and Sulawesi snails, Tylomelania is endemic to Sulawesi, Indonesia. The vast majority are confined to the Malili Lake system and Lake Poso. Due to this distribution, researchers believe they cannot exist at altitudes over about 700 m (2,297 ft).

Rabbit Snails have only been on the fish-keeping market since 2007. They’re still extremely rare and often difficult to get in many places. 

Those fortunate enough to own these peaceful gastropods usually rave about how enjoyable they’re to have in their aquarium. Not only do they give an exotic flair to your tank with their unique appearance, but they’re also easy to care for and will even help you clean their aquarium!

Rabbit Snail Appearance & Size

Rabbit Snails have elongated heads with wrinkled, rabbit-like faces and drooping antennae resembling rabbit ears. Their faces feature a long snout, much the same as an elephant trunk, with small eyes set beneath its tentacles and a downward-facing mouth.  

All species are dioecious, meaning there are both male and female genders. However, they’re also sexually monomorphic, so both genders are identical, making it impossible to tell the difference by sight alone.    

Rabbit Snails have long, conical shells comparable to unicorn horns, with a spiral pattern running from the top to the aperture. They also have a small operculum used for defense that covers a portion of the opening.  

Beyond these traits, each species has a unique appearance. Body colors range from vivid orange, red, yellow, or cream to dark grey or black. Some species are monochromatic and feature additional streaks, spots, or other markings. 

Species also have variations in shell colors, textures, and markings. Shells can be smooth or rough and are usually multicolored with a mix of black, grey, white, brown, or orange. 

Rabbit snails grow longer as they age and tend to be bigger than other snails. Babies start at .125 inches (3.2mm) and grow to 3 – 5 inches (7.6 – 12.7cm) on average as adults, depending on the species.

Rabbit Snail Personality & Behavior

Rabbit snails have peaceful yet outgoing personalities. When kept together, they’re quite social and may cluster together when feeding or withdrawing inside their shells to sleep.

As active daytime grazers, these curious creatures enjoy exploring their environment while searching for edible patches of algae and other scraps. It’s common for them to use the entire tank, including burrowing in the substrate. They can also be active at night. 

Despite being relatively active, rabbit snails also take random breaks, resting motionless for long durations, sometimes lasting up to 3 – 4 days. During these times, they curl their bodies into their shells and pull their operculum into the opening for protection. 

Rabbit Snail Average Life Span

Generally speaking, the life expectancy of snails varies based on their environment and overall life quality. Under good conditions, the average observed lifespan of a Rabbit Snail in captivity is between 1 and 3 years. Some species can live even longer in optimal conditions. 

Rabbit Snail Care & Tank Setup

A stable, healthy, and established tank is the first step to optimal care. Rabbit Snails need specific water conditions to thrive, and undesirable or poorly maintained environments can lead to shell damage, stress, disease, and shortened lifespan. 

Here are some important tank guidelines to keep Rabbit Snails happy and healthy.

Tank Size

Due to their large size, Rabbit Snails require a good amount of space to support their growth and activities. For this reason, a 30-gallon tank or larger is recommended to house these giant gastropods. 

Some aquarists have successfully kept their snails in a 20-gallon tank, but these snails will appreciate a little extra room to explore and hide if possible. This is especially true if you have multiple Rabbits or plan to keep them in community tanks. 

Besides, a larger tank is more difficult to accidentally overpopulate. Too many companions can cause a rise in nitrate and ammonia levels, which are hazardous to Rabbit Snails. 

It’s also essential to get a lid for your aquarium. Rabbit Snails climb the tank walls to clean off algae and can slip out of the tank if they reach the top. 

How Many Rabbit Snails Are Suitable For a 30-Gallon Tank?

One to two Rabbit Snails are suitable for a 30-gallon tank. These snails get larger than other species and need adequate space to grow and explore. A larger tank is recommended when keeping multiple Rabbit Snails, especially if they’re over 2 inches (5 cm) long. 

Water Parameters

  • Water temperature: 68°F – 86°F (20°C – 30°C)
  • Water pH: 7.2 – 7.5 pH
  • Water hardness: 2 – 15 dKH

Sudden changes in water parameters can harm or even kill a Rabbit Snail, so maintaining a suitable environment is crucial. When introducing Rabbit Snails to a new tank, conduct extra tests to verify the appropriate parameters. 

Water Temperature

In general, rabbit snails prefer warmer temperatures between 68°F and 86°F (20°C and 30°C). with 76°F to 84°F (24.4°C to 28.9°C) as optimal

While an adaptable species, Rabbit Snails tend to be less active, and their metabolism slows down in unfavorable water temperatures. In addition, they may not reproduce or grow as large in cooler environments. 

Water Hardness 

Rabbit snails require hard water, typically in the range of 2 to 15 dKH, which contains higher levels of minerals, particularly calcium. The calcium content in the water is essential to maintain the health and strength of their shells. Without adequate calcium, the shells of the snails become soft and fragile, making them vulnerable to breakage.

If providing calcium supplements, ensure they don’t contain copper, as this is toxic to Rabbit Snails. 

Water pH levels

Rabbit snails can handle a pH of 7.2 or above yet prefer more alkaline water ranging between 8.2 to 8.4 pH. Maintaining a higher pH is crucial to help prevent shell erosion or corrosion. 

Tank Hazards

As mentioned, Rabbit Snails are sensitive to nitrate and ammonia, and high levels of these can harm them. Keeping Nitrate and Ammonia levels at 0 ppm in your Rabbit Snail’s tank is important. An aquarium filter is recommended, but experienced aquarists can use aquatic plants as a filter via The Walstad Method if desired.   

What Rabbit Snails Need In Their Tank

Water quality and temperature are top priorities for a Rabbit Snail’s tank. After that, a few more details are needed to create an optimal environment.


Rabbit Snails love to roam and burrow in the substrate, scavenging for algae and other food. They prefer sand or very fine gravel, as these allow them to safely and comfortably explore the tank’s bottom. Avoid using sharp rocks or coarse gravel, as these can easily injure snails.

Ideal Plants and Decorations

Rabbit Snails will appreciate decor they can hide in, such as driftwood or rock caves

They also enjoy lush vegetation, as they feed off the dead plant matter. Choose planted and floating plants, the latter helping diffuse bright lighting overhead. 

Sturdy plants are best, like Anubias or Java moss. You may want to avoid stem plants, like water hyssop, as Rabbit Snails will eat them. 

Notably, owners have occasionally observed these snails eating Java ferns, even after being sufficiently fed. However, they tend to leave aquarium plants alone if you give them enough food.

Avoid overcrowding the aquarium, sticking to a semi-densely planted tank with limited decor. 


Rabbit Snails need warmer temperatures to breed and maintain good metabolism as a tropical species. If you live in an area that is lower than 70°F, I recommend an aquarium heater to ensure the water temperature remains ideal. They can handle temperatures between 70°F and 84°F. However, warmer water temperatures are preferred and your Rabbit Snail will love you for it!


Rabbit Snails also prefer a subduedly lit environment. They hide among decorations and plants if the aquarium has bright lights. If needed, use floating plants to diffuse intense lighting. 


A Rabbit Snail tank requires a good filtration system to help reduce Nitrate and Ammonia levels. However, snails can easily get sucked into inlet tubes and trapped in the slots of power or canister filter intakes. For this reason, you should use sponge covers over the inputs or invest in a sponge filter system

Rabbit Snail Tank Mates

Due to their adaptable nature, Rabbit Snails are kept safely with several species of snails, shrimp, fish, and live plants. These calm, slow-moving fellows survive long and are compatible with other Rabbits and other non-aggressive snails, including:

Rabbit Snails also do well with several freshwater shrimp, such as:

  • Amano 
  • Bamboo
  • Blue Tiger
  • Blue Velvet 
  • Cardinal
  • Cardina Babaulti
  • Ghost
  • Malawa
  • Neon Yellow 
  • Sakura Red Cherry 
  • Sulawesi Harlequin
  • Vampire
  • Viper 
  • Wood 

Any species of Sulawesi shrimp are ideal tank mates since they share identical living conditions. Regardless of species, dwarf shrimp and Rabbit Snails make a great team because these snails produce a lot of waste containing beneficial bacteria for the shrimp’s digestive system. 

Other excellent companions include non-aggressive, small fish like Cory Catfish or Otocinclus Catfish.

Avoid keeping Rabbit Snails with aggressive tank mates, including Crayfish, Crabs, Cichlids, Goldfish, and loaches, as they can easily and quickly injure, kill, or eat Rabbit Snails. 

Rabbit Snail Food & Diet

Rabbit Snails love to eat – especially greens. Still, these scavenger vegetarians aren’t picky about what they eat, consuming anything appearing edible and caring more about quantity over quality. They feed primarily on soft algae and decaying plant matter yet happily feed on other food scraps. 

In aquariums, Rabbit Snails serve as fantastic janitors. They continually search for leftover food, digging in the ground and eating detritus off the substrate. They even tend to graze on slime trails other snail tank mates left behind. 

However, Rabbit Snails should not be limited to nutrition naturally occurring in the tank. Good supplements include algae wafers or pellets, spirulina powder, bottom-feeder pellets, and fish flakes. Consider trying a few options to see what your snails prefer.

Rabbit Snails also love vegetables like peas, broccoli, cucumbers, bell peppers, blanched zucchini, and especially leafy greens like spinach and lettuce. 

Remember, the most crucial element in their diet is Calcium, as it’s needed to keep their shells in good condition.

How Often Should You Feed Rabbit Snails?

You should feed rabbit snails every other day. Provide small amounts that your rabbit snail can eat within a few minutes, and avoid overfeeding, as this can lead to health problems. Remove any uneaten food to keep your aquarium water from clouding. 

Breeding Rabbit Snails

Rabbit Snails breed slowly compared to other species. They produce one, occasionally two, or rarely three offspring every 4 – 6 weeks. Breeding begins when they approach about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in length, typically around one year of age. 

Unlike most other snails, Rabbit Snails are viviparous. So, females carry developing embryos in pouches inside their shells instead of laying eggs. The mother then expels one to three egg sacks or pods resembling pearls. 

Within a couple of hours, the offspring will emerge from the pods as fully formed miniatures of the parents. Depending on the species, their size is anywhere from 0.125 inches (.32 cm) to 0.7 inches (2 cm). 

Take note that offspring are born curious and incredibly hungry. They immediately begin exploring their environment and eating anything green. 

You’ll need at least three Rabbit Snails for a good chance of breeding. To catalyze the process, ensure your snails are well-fed.

Rabbit Snail Common Health Issues, Treatment & Prevention

Generally, Rabbit Snails are resistant to disease. However, they’re still susceptible to some issues if their diet or environment is lacking. Here are some common problems to watch for in Rabbit Snails. 

White Shell

Your Rabbit Snail’s shell may start to turn white for any of the following reasons:

  • Constant stress 
  • Calcium deficiency
  • Too low pH
  • Exposure to Copper
  • Abrupt fluctuations in water temperature
  • Deteriorating health
  • High levels of Potassium and CO2 (these prevent Calcium absorption)
  • Lack of sunlight
  • Old age

Note that if you have Coraline Algae in your aquarium, this may cause a white crust to form on your Rabbit Snail’s shell, giving the appearance of a White Shell. 

If your Rabbit Snail is older, you can do nothing to restore its shell color. However, for all other cases, here are some ways to help regain shell color and prevent White Shell from occurring in the future:

  • Change tank water more frequently
  • Add more Calcium
  • Increase water hardness
  • Remove all Copper
  • Condition the water

Shell Erosion

Shell erosion depends on a few environmental factors, though low pH levels tend to quicken the rate at which Calcium dissolves. In an aquarium, Calcium normally begins to dissolve at around 7.6 pH. Thus, it’s important to maintain more alkaline water to prevent premature corrosion of your Rabbit Snail’s shell. 

Keep in mind that it’s common to see some dissolution near the tip of the oldest part of the shell in adult snails. 

Leech Attacks

Leeches prey on and slowly eat snails, attacking their shells first, then spreading over their bodies. Usually, wild-caught Rabbit Snails have leeches and pass them on to their offspring. 

Symptoms may include abnormal behavior, loss of appetite, lethargy, and visible signs of leeches on your snail’s body.

You must eradicate any leeches you find on your Rabbit Snail. This requires giving your snail a salt bath for up to 24 hours.  

Shell Damage

Occasionally, a Rabbit Snail can damage its shell through an unfortunate mishap. Usually, a damaged shell doesn’t pose a serious health risk. However, it provides inadequate protection, which can lead to health issues.   

If you notice a small crack in your snail’s shell, remove the snail from the tank and cover the damaged area with clear quick-dry nail polish. This helps to seal the crack and prevent the shell from breaking further before it can heal. Allow the polish to dry before placing the snail back into the aquarium. 

Are Rabbit Snails Right For Your Tank?

Rabbit Snails are great for tropical freshwater aquariums and community tanks. Yet, they’re sensitive to water quality and temperature, and if you cannot maintain an appropriate environment, these snails may not be right for your tank.     

Rabbit Snail FAQs 

Where Can I Buy Rabbit Snails?

You can buy rabbit snails at tropical fish-keeping stores and from online suppliers. However, these rare snails are difficult to purchase in the United States and are frequently on backorder. The average purchase size of rabbit snails ranges between 1.5 to 3 inches (3.8 to 7.6 cm) in length. 

Do Rabbit Snails Reproduce Asexually?

No, they don’t. Rabbit snails belong to the Tylomelania family, where sexual reproduction is the norm. Interestingly, it’s not easy to distinguish between male and female rabbit snails based on their appearance alone.

How Often Do Rabbit Snails Lay Eggs?

Rabbit Snails have a slower reproductive rate compared to other aquatic snails, usually laying eggs every 4-6 weeks under favorable conditions. Rabbit Snails release a small white egg sack that usually has one or two baby snails.

Do Rabbit Snails Uproot Plants?

They sure can, going in search of leftover food, they will dig in the ground, and can uproot newly planted plants. This will be less likely to happen when the plants establish their root system over time.

Can Rabbit Snails Be Out Of Water?

No, they cannot. Aquarium snails, including Rabbit snails, cannot survive for long outside of water as their bodies will dry out. If placed on land, they can survive only a few hours. While some snail species may venture out of the water to feed or lay eggs, they quickly return to their aquatic habitat.

Wrapping Up

Rabbit Snails or Tylomelania are easy-going and easy to care for, even for beginners. These outgoing and peaceful creatures do well in stable environments and help to brighten up your tank with their bright colors. 

Water temperature and quality are essential. It’s important to keep copper, nitrate, and ammonia levels at 0 ppm, as Rabbit Snails are extremely sensitive to them, even in tiny amounts.

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...