Malaysian Trumpet Snail (Melanoides tuberculata): Care Guide

malaysian trumpet snail

Malaysian Trumpet Snails (Melanoides tuberculata) are fascinating freshwater mollusks highly regarded in the aquarium hobby for their beneficial role in maintaining a healthy aquatic environment. These snails are known for their unique ability to burrow into the substrate, which helps aerate and prevent anaerobic pockets from forming in the tank’s bottom layers. 

A remarkable aspect of Malaysian Trumpet Snails is their reproductive strategy; they are livebearers, meaning they give birth to fully developed offspring rather than laying eggs. This characteristic, along with their nocturnal habits, makes them efficient cleaners that work behind the scenes. Additionally, they have a hardy nature, allowing them to thrive in a wide range of water conditions, making them an excellent choice for both novice and experienced aquarists. Despite their benefits, their rapid reproduction rate can lead to overpopulation in tanks if not managed properly, showcasing their adaptability and resilience in various environments.

Common Name(s)Malaysian Trumpet Snail, Malaysian Live Bearing Snail, MTS
Scientific NameMelanoides tuberculata
OriginSoutheast Asia
Temperature70-78°F (21-26°C)
SizeUp to 1 inch (2.5 cm)
Minimum Tank Size5 gallons (but more space is better to manage their population)
Food & DietOmnivorous – algae, leftover food, detritus. They help in cleaning the substrate by eating detritus.
Lifespan1-2 years, depending on conditions
Water pH6.5 to 8.0 (tolerates a wide range from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline)
Tank MatesPeaceful with most species; avoid aggressive fish that might prey on them.
BreedingHermaphroditic, live-bearing, can reproduce quickly in suitable conditions.
Common DiseasesGenerally hardy; poor water conditions can lead to stress and vulnerability to diseases.

Malaysian Trumpet Snail Care

Malaysian Trumpet Snails are known for their hardiness and ease of care, making them suitable for both beginners and experienced aquarists. They thrive in a wide range of water conditions, preferring a pH range of 6.5 to 8.0 and temperatures between 70 to 78°F (21 to 26°C). 

A key aspect of their care involves providing a substrate for burrowing, as they enjoy digging into the tank’s bottom to search for food, which helps aerate the substrate and prevent the build-up of harmful gasses. Malaysian Trumpet Snails are efficient scavengers, feeding on algae, leftover fish food, and decaying plant matter, thereby contributing to the tank’s cleanliness. However, their population can grow rapidly if overfed, so it’s important to monitor their numbers and adjust feeding accordingly. No special lighting or additional food supplements are typically required, making them a low-maintenance addition to most freshwater tanks.

Food & Diet

As part of their care, it’s important to understand Malaysian Trumpet Snails’ dietary needs. Here’s a breakdown of their diet and food preferences:

Natural Diet

  • Detritus: They primarily feed on detritus, which includes decomposing plant matter, dead fish, and leftover food that sinks to the bottom of the tank. This helps in keeping the substrate clean.
  • Algae: They consume algae growing on tank surfaces, decorations, and plants. Their grazing can help control algae growth, although they are not as efficient as some other snails or algae-eating fish.
  • Biofilm: A layer of microorganisms that grows on surfaces submerged in water, including bacteria, fungi, and algae. Malaysian Trumpet Snails feed on this nutritious layer, contributing to the cleanliness of the aquarium.

Supplementary Diet

While Malaysian Trumpet Snails are great at cleaning up, they might need supplementary feeding, especially in very clean or newly set up aquariums where natural food sources are limited.

  • Vegetables: Blanched vegetables like zucchini, cucumber, spinach, and lettuce can be offered. These should be cut into small pieces and boiled or microwaved until soft, then cooled before adding to the tank.
  • Commercial Snail Food: There are commercial foods available specifically designed for snails. These often contain calcium, which is crucial for shell health.
  • Calcium Supplements: Ensuring they have enough calcium is critical for their shell development. This can be provided through added calcium-rich foods or supplements. Cuttlebone placed in the tank is a common method.

Feeding Guidelines

  • Moderation: Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues, such as increased ammonia and nitrate levels, which can be harmful to all aquarium inhabitants.
  • Regular Feeding Schedule: If supplementing their diet, offer food in the evening, as they are more active at night. Remove any uneaten vegetables after 24 hours to prevent decay and water pollution.

Important Considerations

  • Population Control: These snails reproduce quickly, especially if there is an abundance of food. Managing their population is important to prevent overpopulation.
  • Tank Maintenance: While they help in cleaning the tank, regular maintenance is still necessary. This includes water changes, monitoring water parameters, and manually removing excessive waste when needed.

Malaysian Trumpet Snails can be an excellent addition to a freshwater aquarium, acting as a natural cleanup crew. However, their diet and population should be managed to maintain a balanced and healthy aquarium environment.

Temperature & Water Parameters

In order to ensure Malaysian Trumpet Snails can thrive in an aquarium, it’s important to maintain proper temperature and water parameters. Here’s what you need to know about the ideal temperature and water conditions for these snails:


  • Ideal Range: Malaysian Trumpet Snails thrive in a temperature range of 68°F to 78°F (20°C to 26°C). They can survive in slightly cooler or warmer waters but maintaining temperatures within this range ensures optimal health and activity levels.
  • Tolerance: These snails are quite hardy and can tolerate a wider range of temperatures, but sudden changes should be avoided as they can stress or harm the snails.

Water Parameters

  • pH Level: The ideal pH level for Malaysian Trumpet Snails is between 7.0 and 7.5, though they can adapt to a range between 6.5 and 8.0. Maintaining stable pH levels is crucial as significant fluctuations can be detrimental.
  • Hardness: Water hardness should be in the range of 5 to 15 dGH (General Hardness). Malaysian Trumpet Snails need calcium for their shells, so water that is too soft can lead to shell problems.
  • Water Quality: Like most aquatic creatures, these snails require clean, well-oxygenated water. Regular water changes and good filtration help remove harmful toxins like ammonia and nitrites, ensuring a healthy environment.

Additional Considerations

  • Acclimation: When introducing Malaysian Trumpet Snails to a new tank, it’s important to acclimate them slowly to avoid shock from sudden changes in water parameters.
  • Compatibility: Ensure the tank conditions not only suit the snails but also are compatible with other inhabitants of your aquarium. Some fish and other snails may have different requirements.

By maintaining the proper temperature and water conditions, you will provide a healthy environment for your Malaysian Trumpet Snails to thrive, benefiting both the snails and the overall balance of your aquarium ecosystem.

Tank Setup

An ideal Malaysian Trumpet Snail tank setup is one that balances the needs of these beneficial gastropods with the overall health of the aquarium ecosystem. Firstly, the tank should have a size sufficient to support the snail population without overcrowding, with a minimum of 5 gallons recommended to start. A key feature of the ideal setup is a substrate of fine sand or soft, silty bottom material, which allows these snails to burrow and sift through for uneaten food particles and detritus, aiding in tank cleanliness and aeration of the substrate.

Malaysian Trumpet Snails thrive in well-oxygenated water, so a filtration system that provides gentle flow without creating strong currents is preferable. This setup should also include live plants, as Malaysian Trumpet Snails are known for their ability to coexist with plant life without causing harm, contributing to a balanced ecosystem by breaking down waste products and providing plants with accessible nutrients.

To promote healthy shell growth, the water should have a good level of hardness, supplying necessary calcium for the snails. However, it’s important to avoid overfeeding and overstocking the tank, since they are prolific breeders, and their population can quickly increase under ideal conditions. Regular monitoring and maintenance, including partial water changes and checking water quality parameters, are crucial to keeping the snail population in check and ensuring the tank environment remains healthy for all inhabitants. A well-planned tank can greatly benefit from these snails’ natural behaviors, leading to a cleaner and more balanced aquatic environment.


Malaysian Trumpet Snails are considered to be peaceful and non-aggressive inhabitants of freshwater aquariums. Their temperament is such that they do not pose a threat to other tank mates. Here are some key points about their behavior and interaction with the aquarium environment:

  • Detritivores and Algae Eaters: These snails primarily feed on detritus, algae, and leftover food. This makes them excellent for helping keep the aquarium clean. They are not known to harm live plants, making them safe for planted tanks.
  • Nocturnal Behavior: Malaysian Trumpet Snails are mostly active at night. During the day, they often bury themselves in the substrate. This behavior helps aerate and turn over the substrate, preventing the buildup of harmful gasses and promoting a healthy tank environment.
  • Community Tank Compatibility: Given their peaceful nature, Malaysian Trumpet Snails can coexist with a wide variety of fish, shrimp, and other snails. They are not known to engage in competitive or aggressive interactions with other tank inhabitants. Their peaceful demeanor, coupled with their contribution to substrate aeration and cleanliness, makes them a popular choice among aquarists.

Tank Mates

When considering tank mates for Malaysian Trumpet Snails, it’s important to choose species that are compatible in terms of water parameters, temperament, and environmental needs. Here are some guidelines and suggestions for choosing suitable tank mates for Malaysian Trumpet Snails:

Suitable Tank Mates

  • Peaceful Fish: Many small to medium-sized community fish are suitable tank mates for Malaysian Trumpet Snails. Species such as tetras, rasboras, guppies, mollies, and danios are generally peaceful and do not pose a threat to snails.
  • Other Snails and Invertebrates: Malaysian Trumpet Snails can coexist with other non-aggressive snail species, such as Nerite Snails, Mystery Snails, and Ramshorn Snails. Shrimp, like Cherry Shrimp and Amano Shrimp, can also make good tank mates as they share similar requirements and are not aggressive towards snails.
  • Bottom Dwellers: Bottom-dwelling fish that are peaceful, such as Corydoras catfish and Otocinclus catfish, can be good companions for Malaysian Trumpet Snails. These fish species usually don’t bother snails and have similar dietary needs.

Tank Mates to Avoid

  • Aggressive Fish: Aggressive or large predatory fish, such as cichlids, Oscars, and large catfish species, should be avoided. These fish may attack, harm, or even eat the snails.
  • Loaches and Puffer Fish: Both loaches (e.g., Clown Loaches) and puffer fish are known snail eaters and can decimate a population of Malaysian Trumpet Snails. They have specialized mouths that allow them to extract snails from their shells.

General Tips

  • Research: Always research the specific needs and behaviors of any fish or invertebrate before introducing them to your tank to ensure compatibility.
  • Observation: After introducing new tank mates, observe their interactions closely for the first few weeks to ensure there are no aggressive behaviors towards your snails.
  • Tank Conditions: Maintain optimal water quality and parameters suitable for all inhabitants of your aquarium to keep them healthy and reduce stress-induced aggression.

Choosing the right tank mates for your Malaysian Trumpet Snails can lead to a harmonious and balanced aquarium ecosystem. Always prioritize the well-being of all your aquatic pets by providing a safe and suitable environment for them to thrive.

Common Disease & Health Issues

Malaysian Trumpet Snails, like any other living creature, are susceptible to health issues. Some common diseases and health problems that can affect Malaysian Trumpet Snails include:

  • Shell Degradation: This occurs when the snail’s shell becomes thin, cracks, or shows holes. It’s often a result of calcium deficiency in the water, essential for shell growth and maintenance. Poor water conditions and low pH levels can exacerbate this issue.
  • Parasitic Infections: Snails can be hosts to parasites, which can affect their health or even transfer to fish within the same tank. One example is the trematode parasite, which can cause swelling or abnormal growths on the snail’s body.
  • Fungal Infections: Fungal growth on the shell or body of the snail can occur, especially if water conditions are poor or if there is an excess of organic matter in the tank.
  • Bacterial Infections: These can lead to issues such as shell rot or internal infections that can be fatal to the snail. Overfeeding and poor tank maintenance often contribute to bacterial outbreaks.

Prevention and Treatment:

  • Maintain Water Quality: Regular water changes, monitoring of water parameters (such as pH, hardness, nitrate, and ammonia levels), and avoiding overfeeding can help prevent most health issues.
  • Supplement Calcium: Providing a calcium-rich diet or adding calcium supplements to the tank can help prevent shell degradation.
  • Isolate Sick Snails: To prevent the spread of any disease, it’s wise to isolate snails showing signs of illness.
  • Consult with a Veterinarian: For severe cases or if you’re unsure about the diagnosis or treatment, consulting with a veterinarian who specializes in aquatic animals is advisable.

Ensuring a clean, well-maintained aquarium with balanced water parameters is key to keeping Malaysian Trumpet Snails healthy and avoiding common diseases and health issues.


Here’s an overview of how Malaysian Trumpet Snails breed and some tips for managing their population in your aquarium:

Breeding Process

  • Hermaphroditic Nature: Malaysian Trumpet Snails are hermaphroditic, meaning each individual possesses both male and female reproductive organs. However, they typically do not self-fertilize and require another snail for reproduction.
  • Breeding Conditions: They breed readily in freshwater aquariums, especially when conditions are favorable. Key factors include ample food supply, good water quality, and stable temperature. MTS are known for their rapid breeding rate, especially when overfeeding occurs in the tank.
  • Egg Laying and Hatching: The snails lay eggs in small clusters, often hidden within the substrate or on hard surfaces. The eggs are encased in a gel-like substance that protects them until they hatch. Hatching time can vary based on water temperature and conditions but generally occurs within a few weeks.

Population Control

Managing the population of Malaysian Trumpet Snails is important to prevent overpopulation, which can lead to competition for resources with other tank inhabitants.

  • Avoid Overfeeding: Overfeeding your fish can lead to excess food falling to the tank’s bottom, providing a feast for the snails and encouraging rapid population growth. Monitor feeding closely to ensure minimal food waste.
  • Manual Removal: Regularly inspecting your tank and manually removing excess snails can help keep their numbers in check. This can be done during routine tank maintenance.
  • Predators: Introducing natural predators, such as certain species of loaches, bettas, and assassin snails (Clea helena), can help control MTS populations. However, ensure that any new additions are compatible with your existing tank inhabitants.
  • Barrier Methods: For smaller tanks or specific setups, creating physical barriers or traps can help manage snail populations. Commercial snail traps are available, or DIY options can be effective as well.


While Malaysian Trumpet Snails are beneficial for aquarium health, it’s crucial to monitor their population to prevent issues associated with overpopulation. They are excellent indicators of the tank’s overall health and feeding regime. Adjusting feeding habits and maintaining good water quality can naturally help control their numbers without resorting to chemical treatments, which can harm other aquarium inhabitants.

By understanding their breeding habits and employing strategies for population control, aquarists can enjoy the benefits of having Malaysian Trumpet Snails in their aquariums without facing the drawbacks of an unchecked population.

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