How To Tell If A Snail Is Dead, Sleeping, Or Hibernating?

Estimated read time 5 min read

If you’ve ever had snails in your aquarium, I’m sure you’ve noticed they sometimes look dead.

They lay there completely still for hours, even a day or two. Don’t worry; it’s happened to us all.

In this article, we’ll share a few easy ways that will help you tell if your snails are dead, hibernating, or just sleeping.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • How to tell if your snail is dead
  • Differences between hibernating, sleeping, and death
  • Why did my snail die
  • What happens after they die
  • What you should do with a dead snail

And more!

How Do I Know My Snail Is Dead?

If your snail smells foul, is floating, motionless, not sticking to surfaces, or the body has come out of the shell, the snail has likely died. The best way to tell is by smelling the shell or snail itself. Your snail has died if it smells rotten, foul, or disgusting.

Why Did My Snail Die

Snails are super sensitive to any changes in the water parameters of your aquarium. High levels of ammonia, nitrates, or nitrites can cause death.

Also, If your aquarium water is more soft than hard, your snails may not be able to get the calcium they need for their shells.

Calcium is essential to snails; they need it to help keep their shells hard.

Their shells begin to erode and break down without the correct calcium levels, eventually killing the snail.

What Happens When A Snail Dies?

Here are a few things that can happen and how you can tell.

What Does A Dead Snail Look Like?

As you’ll learn below, the easiest way to tell if your snail is dead is to smell it. However, there are a few other ways you can tell.

Try these tips:

  1. Look for empty shells. Depending on how long the snail has been dead, the body will slowly decompose, leaving an empty shell behind.
  2. Suppose you see the body hanging out of the shell. The snail’s body will shrink when it dies, which eventually causes the body to fall or hang out of the shell.
  3. You can remove the snail, place it in a small bowl, and keep an eye on it for a few days to see if it moves.
  4. Turn the lights out. Many snails are nocturnal and will sleep/rest when the lights are on. Note where you last saw them and check again in the morning; if they’ve moved, they’re alive.
  5. A dead snail doesn’t stick. Likewise, a slow snail will not stick to your aquarium’s glass, rocks, or anything else. So if you see a snail stuck to anything but not moving, don’t worry. They are likely just taking a break.

How To Tell If A Mystery Snail Is Dead?

The best way to tell is by smelling the shell or snail itself. Your snail has died if it smells rotten, foul, or disgusting. Unfortunately, the snail species doesn’t make a difference when trying to identify a dead snail from a live snail.

Is My Snail Dead Or Sleeping Or Hibernating?

Let’s explore each question in detail below;

Do Snails Hibernate?

Snails will hibernate and sleep for days at a time. Keep an eye on them if they sit in the same place for more than 2-3 days. Pop them out and smell their shell; if it stinks, it’s likely dead.

Some snails are known to sleep for up to 3 days and then can become active. The assassin snails do this quite often as they tend to eat large amounts and hibernate for more extended periods.

Another way you can tell if your snail is sleeping or hibernating. It is to try shining light behind the shell; this might allow you to see if their heart is beating.

How Do Snails Sleep?

Snails usually sleep during the day since most species are active at night. A resting snail can appear dead, so don’t be too quick to judge.

Sleeping snails can be found sticking to almost anything, on the glass, rock, plant leaves, or just sitting on top of the gravel.

How Long Do Snails Sleep?

Snails sleep for very long periods (hibernation). Most snails’ sleep can last up to 2-3 days; however, it’s also been reported that within 18 hours, snails will have up to seven short sleep periods, followed by 30 hours of activity.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does A Dead Snail Smell?

Yes, a dead snail will stink. This is because once a snail or any animal in your aquarium dies, they start to produce ammonia.

What does it smell like? Well, it will smell bad, like garbage or food that has spoiled. You’ll also find the smell hard to get off your hands if you touch it.

So if you’re unsure, an easy way to tell if your snail is dead or alive, smell it.

Do Dead Snails Stick?

No, a dead snail will not stick to your aquarium’s glass, rocks, or anything else. So if you see a snail stuck to anything but not moving, don’t worry; they are likely just taking a break.

Do Snails Float When They Die?

Snails can float when they die; however, they can also sink, so ensure you check for other signs before you decide that your snail has passed.

What Should You Do With A Dead Snail?

If you have a dead snail, you’ll need to remove it immediately from the tank and complete a water change.

If you’re too late and the body has separated from the shell, there is an excellent chance one of your fish will eat it. If not, remove it immediately, as it can foul your water rapidly.

The shell can be left in the tank as it will not decompose unless it is crushed.

Video: How Do You Know If A Snail Is Dead

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