Why Is My Snail Floating

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By Oluwaseun Bamisile


Do you own a pet snail and are wondering why it is floating? In this article, we will delve into the intriguing phenomenon, providing insights and explanations for this behavior.

I will start this article by explaining various potential reasons your snail may levitate in water. Then, we will explore several tips to navigate such a situation.

Meanwhile, you will find answers to common questions people often ask related to this article’s topic in the FAQ section.

Reasons Your Snail Is Buoyant

Reasons Your Snail Is Buoyant

If your snail is buoyant in water, it may be a cause for concern, as snails are not natural floaters. They are typically bottom-dwelling creatures in aquatic environments.

Due to this, hovering snails can be a sign that something is wrong in their habitat or with their health. Here are several possible explanations for why your snail might be floating.

1. Air Bubbles

The most common reason for a floating snail is the presence of air bubbles trapped inside its shell. According to en.wikipedia.org, snails have a small opening called a “pneumostome” through which they breathe air.

However, if a snail surfaces too quickly or accidentally takes in too much air while feeding at the water’s surface, it can become buoyant. This buoyancy is a result of the trapped air providing extra buoyant force.

Typically, snails control their buoyancy by regulating the amount of air in their shell, as suggested by marvelaquarium.com. By varying the air inside, they can sink or float in the water as needed.

Nevertheless, when excess air is trapped inside the shell, it can disrupt this delicate balance and cause the snail to levitate.

2. Water Quality

Water quality plays a pivotal role in the health of aquatic creatures, including snails. Hence, poor water quality can stress your snail and lead to various health issues, including buoyancy problems.

For instance, elevated ammonia and nitrite levels can be toxic to snails, as hinted at by animals.mom.com. These compounds can irritate their gills and skin, leading to stress and reduced buoyancy control.

Similarly, rapid changes in pH levels can be stressful for snails. Extreme pH values can also affect the availability of calcium, which is crucial for shell health.

3. Water Film

According to jaljeev.com, another major reason snails levitate in water is due to water film. In case you’re wondering, a water film refers to an extremely thin layer that adheres to a water’s surface.

Furthermore, it is often composed of harmless bacteria, minerals, plant proteins, and other particles. However, some snails, like pond snails and Malaysian trumpet snails, love to eat the film.

Hence, since it is usually at the water’s surface, they may float along the top to eat the film.

4. Cooper Poisoning

Copper poisoning is a severe and potentially life-threatening condition for snails and other aquatic organisms. When snails float due to copper poisoning, it is typically a sign of significant distress.

Furthermore, it can be attributed to the specific toxic effects of copper on their physiology. Copper is a heavy metal essential in trace amounts for some biological processes in aquatic ecosystems.

However, when copper levels in the water exceed the tolerable limits for snails, it becomes toxic. Fishtankadvisor.com says copper can enter aquatic environments through various sources, including fish medicines and aquatic plant fertilizers.

5. Your Snail Is Dead

When a snail becomes buoyant in water, one potential explanation is that it is dead, as suggested by escargot-world.com. As a snail’s body decomposes after death, gases are produced as a natural byproduct of microbial activity and decomposition processes.

These gases can get trapped within the snail’s body, causing it to become buoyant. The snail essentially becomes a vessel filled with gases, which makes it float to the water’s surface.

Besides, upon death, a snail’s muscles lose their ability to function, as expected. Snails typically use their muscular foot for crawling and their foot’s contraction for maintaining buoyancy.

When they die, this muscle control is lost, and the snail may no longer be able to control its position in the water, causing it to float.

How To React When Your Snail Is Floating

When you notice your snail levitating in water, it’s essential to take appropriate actions to address the situation and ensure the well-being of the snail. Floating snails can indicate underlying issues with their health or the aquarium conditions.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to react when your snail is hovering in water.

1. Observe Carefully

When you first notice your snail floating, take a moment to closely observe its behavior. Look for any signs of distress or unusual movements.

Healthy snails should generally be attached to a surface or slowly crawling along it. If your snail is unresponsive or exhibits erratic behavior, it may be experiencing issues that need attention.

Try gently prodding the snail or tapping its shell to see if it responds. An unresponsive snail may require more immediate intervention and may indicate death.

2. Check Water Parameters

Water quality is critical for the well-being of aquarium inhabitants, including snails. Due to this, test your aquarium’s water parameters using appropriate test kits.

In addition to that, pay attention to ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and temperature. Elevated levels of ammonia or nitrite can be toxic to snails and may lead to buoyancy problems.

Furthermore, fluctuations in pH or temperature can also stress them. Address any parameter imbalances by performing water changes, adjusting your filtration system, or using water conditioners as needed.

3. Adjust Diet and Feeding

Ensure your snails receive a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. Snails require calcium for shell health, according to several contributors on quora.com.

Hence, include calcium-rich foods like algae wafers, blanched vegetables, or specialized snail pellets in their diet. However, avoid overfeeding, as excess food can lead to poor water quality and stress.

Additionally, remove uneaten food promptly to prevent decay.

4. Remove Trapped Air

Removing trapped air is a crucial step in addressing snails hovering in water, mainly when it’s caused by air bubbles within the snail’s shell. Trapped air can disrupt a snail’s natural buoyancy control and make it float unintentionally.

So, gently submerge and remove the snail in the water while holding it, as suggested by aquariumstoredepot.com. This allows water to enter the shell and displace the trapped air.

As water enters, you may notice small bubbles escaping from the shell. It may take a moment for the snail to regain its natural buoyancy control.

However, it should gradually sink back to its preferred depth.

5. Consult An Expert

Consulting an expert is an important and responsible approach when your snail is floating. Aquatic experts, such as experienced aquarists, possess extensive knowledge about various species of snails.

Furthermore, they know snail care requirements and common health issues. Thus, they can provide valuable insights into the specific needs of your snail species and offer guidance based on their expertise.

Experts can recommend tailored solutions based on their assessment of your snail’s condition and the unique circumstances of your aquarium.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why Did My Snail Leave Its Shell?

According to animals.mom.com, snails may leave their shell to search for food or lay eggs.

2. Are Snails Mammals?

No, snails are not mammals. Snails belong to the animal group known as mollusks.

Mollusks are a diverse group of invertebrate animals that include creatures such as snails, clams, octopuses, and squid.

3. Can Snails Live Out Of Water?

Yes, there are air-breathing snails, such as ramshorn, that live out of water.

4. How Long Do Snails Live?

Snails normally live between 2 to 5 years in the wild, as suggested by a-z-animals.com. However, some of the larger species may live up to 15 years.

5. Can Snails Drink Water?

Yes, snails drink water.


Floating snails can be a concerning sight for aquarium enthusiasts. Furthermore, understanding the underlying reasons behind this behavior is essential for the well-being of the snail.

Fortunately, this article discussed several potential reasons your snail may levitate in water. We also explore various steps to take when you encounter such a situation.

Ultimately, the key to addressing hovering snails is early detection, prompt action, and maintaining a well-maintained and stable aquatic environment. Regular observation, water quality management, and appropriate care are essential for the health of these unique aquatic creatures.

Consulting with experts or experienced aquarists can provide valuable guidance in addressing this issue.

We trust that you have found this article informative and beneficial. If you have derived value from it, we kindly request you to consider sharing it with your friends on social media.

Should you incline more articles covering related subjects, we invite you to explore our Animal & Pets page.

References And Further Reading

  3. fishtankadvisor.com – Why is My Aquatic Snail Floating? Reasons, What to Do
  4. escargot-world.com – Why is My Snail Floating?
  5. aquanswers.com – Why is My Aquarium Snail Floating?
  6. jaljeev.com – Here’s Why Aquarium Snails Float + How To Stop Their Floating

About the Author

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Oluwaseun Bamisile

Oluwaseun is the Lead Content Editor at Ilifeguides.com. He holds a National Diploma in Computer Science (currently studying part-time for his Higher National Diploma). An internet geek with a love for automobiles, he writes relationship articles, travel guides, and general life hacks on the site.

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