Japanese Trapdoor Snail (Cipangopaludina): Ultimate Care Guide


Common NameJapanese Trapdoor Snail
Scientific NameCipangopaludina
OriginJapan
Temperature72F – 80F
Water pH7.0 – 7.6
Adult Size2 inches
DietOmnivorous

Japanese Trapdoor Snail Facts

  • Japanese Trapdoor Snails can be added to an outdoor pond, they will feast on plant waste, but never eat live plants.
  • Japanese Trapdoor Snails are considered an invasive species, and are even illegal in some states. You will want to make sure that you check your local laws before purchasing.
  • Japanese Trapdoor Snails are a favorite food of raccoons. This is good to keep in mind, if you are planning on keeping Japanese Trapdoor Snails in an outdoor pond.

Japanese Trapdoor Snail

Japanese Trapdoor Snails can have a wide variety of colorations on their shells. The shells can range in color from varying shades of black, brown, and green. The shells can even have white mixed in. For the snail body, you can expect it to be the typical brownish-tan coloration that you can find in most snails, with antennae that extend outward. The texture of the Japanese Trapdoor Snail’s shell is slightly grooved due to the growth pattern.

Japanese Trapdoor Snails will all have unique shell colorations, and their shells will usually have 3 whorls. It is not uncommon to see a Japanese Trapdoor Snail with 4 whorls.

Japanese Trapdoor Snails have something called an operculum. An operculum is a structure that covers the end of the snail’s shell when they are hiding inside, and helps protect the snail from predators. This structure is most likely where they get their name.

Japanese Trapdoor Snail (Cipangopaludina)
Japanese Trapdoor Snail (Cipangopaludina). Judy Gallagher, CC BY 2.0

How to Tell the Difference Between Males and Females?

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of differences between the male and female Japanese Trapdoor Snail, but you can tell them apart by looking at them. The antennae of the female Japanese Trapdoor Snail tend to be longer than the males antennae. The shorter antennae of the male Japanese Trapdoor Snail sometimes lean to the right.

Food and Diet

Japanese Trapdoor Snails are omnivorous creatures that spend their time searching out and grazing on algae and leftover food in the tank. This makes them a great addition to any tank as a helpful cleanup crew. Overall this will also help in keeping the water clean. You will see them eating plant waste, but they will leave your live plants alone.

Size and Lifespan

Japanese Trapdoor snails can grow up to 2 inches, which is considered on the larger side for aquarium snails. They do not typically grow this large in captivity, but their growth is largely dependent on the care that they receive as they are growing. Japanese trapdoor Snails can live anywhere from 3 to 10 years if maintained properly.

Tank Requirements

Japanese Trapdoor Snails are considered easy to care for. They can live and thrive in a tank that is a minimum of 10 gallons. 5 to 6 Japanese Trapdoor Snails can be kept in a 10 gallon tank. Providing them with a larger tank will not cause any harm, but it will give you the opportunity to keep more snails.

Japanese Trapdoor Snails are considered easy to care for. They can accept a wider range of water conditions, but they do best when kept in water that is 72F to 80F and 7.0 to 7.6pH.

Tank Setup

Japanese Trapdoor Snails are not snails that leave the water. You will want to make sure that you have a secure lid so that they do not escape the tank, become injured, or die.

Another thing to consider for safety in the tank of the Japanese Trapdoor Snail is the filter intake. Japanese Trapdoor Snails have been known to search and graze for food around the filter intake, and they can become stuck. Trying to remove them from the intake can cause them serious or even fatal injury. To make it more safe for them, you can cover the intake with a sponge.

Japanese Trapdoor Snails do not require special lighting, and will be fine with a regular aquarium light.

Tank Mates for Japanese Trapdoor Snail

Japanese Trapdoor Snails are peaceful creatures that will not bother fish or plants in the aquarium. They can be safely added to aquariums and ponds and make for an excellent cleanup crew. Good tank mates for Japanese Trapdoor Snails are Shrimps, and some peaceful fish like Cory Catfish.

You will want to avoid placing them in tanks with aggressive fish, or predatory fish that will mistake them for food.

Japanese Trapdoor Snails have an operculum which helps keep them safe, and this also makes it so they can be housed with fish that they might not normally be able to be kept with otherwise.

Japanese Trapdoor Snails and Goldfish

Japanese Trapdoor Snails can be kept in a tank or pond with Goldfish. Neither Goldfish or Japanese Trapdoor Snail will bother each other, and like Goldfish, Japanese Trapdoor Snails can survive in freezing temperatures with no problems.

Japanese Trapdoor Snails and Koi Fish

Japanese Trapdoor Snails and Koi Fish can be kept together successfully, but there are a few conditions. If you are introducing Japanese Trapdoor Snails into a setup with small Koi Fish, you can add in smaller Japanese Trapdoor Snails, but if you are wanting to add them into a setup with larger fish it is best to wait until the snails are roughly 2 inches. Koi Fish will go after and eat small Japanese Trapdoor Snails if they can fit them in their mouths, but they will leave the larger ones alone.

Japanese Trapdoor Snail Disease

It is not uncommon to see your Japanese Trapdoor Snail remaining motionless, or retracted and hiding in its shell. Even if they remain this way for quite some time, it is not an indicator that your Japanese Trapdoor Snail is suffering from an ailment or that it is dead. This could just simply mean that they are taking a break. It is a good idea to monitor the snail so that you can get to know its behaviors. This will make it easier to tell if there is something wrong that needs to be addressed. 

A common ailment that older snails can get is called Oedema. This is a buildup of too much fluid in their tissue. You will be able to see swelling in the fleshy body of the snail. If this happens, there really isn’t much you can do for them other than give them time to recover.

Japanese Trapdoor Snails can carry common parasites, but they are fairly resistant to everything else. It is important to know that copper is extremely toxic to snails. This is important if you have to treat other fish in their aquarium. Most fish medications contain copper.

Japanese Trapdoor Snail Breeding

Japanese Trapdoor Snails do not require special circumstances to breed in your aquarium or pond. The females give live birth after a 9 month gestation period, and will give birth to up to 20 snails per cycle. Japanese Trapdoor Snails reach sexual maturity at around 1 year.

Do Japanese Trapdoor Snails Lay Eggs?

Female Japanese Trapdoor Snails give live birth. The snail embryo develops inside the mother’s brood chamber. After the baby snail is born, the female Japanese Trapdoor snail uses her antennae to remove the membrane around the baby snail. The baby snail is fully developed and has a shell at birth. Baby Japanese Trapdoor Snails are roughly the size of a pea.

In the wild, Japanese Trapdoor Snails give birth usually twice a year, but in captivity, they can give birth every 2 weeks. It is important to know that female Japanese Trapdoor Snails can store the male’s semen for later use. This means that even after a male is removed from the tank, the female could still produce offspring at a later date.

Are Japanese Trapdoor Snails an Invasive Species?

Japanese Trapdoor Snails are considered an invasive species, and are even illegal in some parts of the world. You will want to make sure that you check local laws before purchasing.

Japanese Trapdoor Snails vs Mystery Snails

Japanese Trapdoor Snails are sometimes called Mystery Snails. With the two being so similar in nature, there are still debates today about whether they are different species, or merely just a different form of the same species.

It is sometimes said that a notable difference between the two is their size. Mystery Snails can sometimes be larger. This is not a for sure fact as the size and growth rate of both snails are largely dependent on their environment.

Where Can I Find Japanese Trapdoor for Sale?

If your local laws allow and you are looking to purchase Japanese Trapdoor Snails for your home aquarium or your pond, you will be able to find them at most pet stores and for sale online. When purchasing your snails in person, it is important to observe them for a moment. You will want to purchase snails that are out moving around, and being active in the tank. This is a good indicator that you are purchasing a healthy snail. It is still wise to quarantine any new additions for a few weeks to make sure that they are not bringing any parasites along with them. When purchasing online, make sure that you are buying from a reputable source so that you are sure to get healthy snails. You can expect to pay around $3 per snail.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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