Malaysian Trumpet Snails: Pros and Cons in the Aquarium Hobby

Malaysian trumpet snails, scientifically known as Melanoides tuberculata, are small freshwater snails native to Southeast Asia, including Malaysia. They have become popular in the aquarium hobby and very spread tank snail which is at the same time loved and hated by aquarists. On the one hand, trumpet snail eats feed leftovers, algae and they perfectly mix tank bottom substrate to prevent it from getting sour. On the other hand, these snails breed to produce a huge number of species and this can become a complete disaster for a tank keeper.

Habitat in the wild

Shellfishes of Melanoides kind are from Thiaridae family and Gastropoda shellfish class. Their area of habitat is rather wide. In their natural habitat, malaysian trumpet snails are found in freshwater environments throughout Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Due to high adaptivity they continuously explore new areas: South of Northern America, South of Europe and etc. have already become their new habitats. In the wild this shellfish inhabits in small waters with low flow, where they occupy mainly sandbanks and riverside areas up to 1 m deep, however they were also seen at about 3-4 m deep.

MTS snails prefer soft bottom consisting of mud, sand and clay mixture. There they form quite high populated colonies. From one square meter of such bottom substrate one can get about 1.5-2 thousands of species and if the substrate is extremely reach with feed one can get about 30-35 thousands of shellfish from the same sized area.

Diet consists of lower algae, semi-decayed organics and etc., which means that these snails are typical detritus eaters. When looking for feed they actively move round a tank bottom and deepen into it at the condition that it’s loose enough and not pressed by stones and thick doubling of plants’ roots.

Unlike the majority of freshwater snails known by aquarists malaysian trumpet snails breathe with the help of grills, i.e. they are capable to digest oxygen saturated in the tank water and they don’t need to go to the water surface to get some ear. They even breed unlike the others – viviparity is characteristic for them.


Melanoides tuberculata has an elongated shell that in its widest part is about 5-7 mm in diameter and it is 10-25 mm long (in specialized literature some Melanoides snails are mentioned to be about 7-8 cm long).

How long do malaysian trumpet snails live? Malaysian trumpet snails (Melanoides tuberculata) have a relatively short lifespan compared to some other aquatic organisms. On average, they live for about 1 to 2 years. However, with proper care and optimal conditions, some individuals may live slightly longer, while others may have shorter lifespans.

The main color is gray with some admixture fo greenish, olive, brown colors in different proportions. Spiral turns of the shell are wider and more saturated near the beginning. Rust-coloured dashes are rather noticeable on the spiral turns and they are usually parallel to the shell axis. These dashes’ length, width, color and their pattern are individual for each snail. Very seldom one can see an MTS snail which has several first spiral turns that completely differ from the rest – such species look very scenic, especially of there’s a combination of dark and light areas.

Scientific NameMelanoides tuberculata
Size1-2 centimeters in length
Shell ShapeElongated cone-shaped with ridges or spirals
Shell ColorLight brown to dark brown or black
Burrowing BehaviorHighly adapted to burrowing in substrates
ReproductionLivebearers, giving birth to live offspring
Feeding HabitsDetritivores, consuming decaying plant matter and algae
HabitatFreshwater environments such as rivers, ponds, and marshes
AdaptabilityTolerant of various water parameters and temperature ranges
Ecosystem RoleContribute to nutrient cycling by consuming organic debris
Natural PredatorsCertain fish species, crustaceans, and other snails
ThreatsChanges in water quality, habitat destruction, and non-native species introductions

Keeping in a tank

Amateurs usually deal with malaysian trumpet snails. Trumpet snails of this kind are essential part of indoor tanks’ ecosystem. It’s rather hard to trace back these species history and how they got into aquarium husbandry. It seems more likely that they were accidentally brought in together with plants from some Asian or African waters. They travel from tank to tank the same way nowadays. To avoid such a migration is difficult enough: it’s hard to see small MTS snails in the plants even using a magnifying glass.

Besides, it’s even more hard to find them in a mixture of gravel and pebbles. To free the substrate from shellfish completely such a tough measures are required as boiling or annealing of the substrate and they aren’t always doable (in case of big capacity tanks, for example). Luckily, such situations occur very seldom.

However, one has to mention that if there’s a moderate number of snails in a tank, decentish permeability and airing of substrate you won’t see malaysian trumpet snails in a lighted tank very often. It’s not that they are timid, but it’s their burrowing behavior makes them tend to dig into the substrate. The burrowing speed depends on the substrate structure: the smaller the particles are, the faster the snail burrows. By the way, the opinion that MTS snails can live just a few hours without a substrate is rather exaggerated.

Tank size

The number of Malaysian trumpet snails you can have per gallon can vary depending on factors such as tank size, filtration capacity, and the specific needs of your aquarium. It’s important to maintain a balanced population to prevent overpopulation and maintain a healthy ecosystem. As a general guideline, a commonly recommended ratio is about 1 to 3 Malaysian trumpet snails per gallon of water. However, it’s crucial to monitor the snail population and adjust accordingly based on the conditions of your specific tank. Regular observation and population control measures can help prevent any negative impacts that may arise from excessive snail numbers.

Water parameters

Such things as filtration, water acidity and hardness really don’t mean much, since snail will adapt to everything. At that, it won’t require any efforts from your side. The only thing these shellfish won’t take is cold water, since tropics are their habitats in the wild. They are incredibly enduring.

The ideal temperature range for Malaysian trumpet snails is between 75°F and 82°F (24°C – 28°C). They can tolerate slight temperature fluctuations, but it’s best to avoid extreme temperature swings.

Malaysian trumpet snails prefer slightly alkaline to neutral water conditions. The recommended pH range for them is between 7.0 and 8.0. It’s important to maintain a stable pH level within this range to ensure their well-being.

They can adapt to a range of water hardness levels. However, a moderate to slightly hard water hardness of 8-12 dKH is generally suitable for Malaysian trumpet snails.


Malaysian trumpet snails are burrowing species, and they require a substrate that allows them to dig and create burrows. A sandy or fine-grained substrate is ideal as it provides a soft and loose texture that is easy for the snails to burrow into. MTS snails is not in vain called a sandy snail, since sand is the easiest place for it to inhabit. However, it doesn’t mean that it can’t live in other substrates. They will do in fine gravel or even without any substrate in a tank with large cichlid fishes, for example.

Providing a sufficient depth of substrate is important to allow the Malaysian trumpet snails to dig and create burrows. A substrate depth of at least 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 centimeters) is recommended to accommodate their natural burrowing behavior.


No special conditions are needed in a tank for feeding, since they will feed on everything that remains from other inhabitants meals. Also they eat some soft algae and this way help to keep a tank clean.

If you want to give some additional feed to the snails, you can give them any tablets for catfish, some boiled and sliced vegetables – cucumber, cabbage, squash. By this you can get rid of some excessive number of snails – give them some vegetables and take the snails that came to the food out of the tank.


Breeding Malaysian trumpet snails (Melanoides tuberculata) is relatively easy, and they are known for their prolific reproductive capabilities. Malaysian trumpet snails are diclinous, so for breeding you’ll need a couple of shellfish. They breed very fast (sometimes too fast) provided with good tank conditions. In several months couple can turn into a colony of several dozens species. Juveniles grow at 5-6 mm of their length in month. Nothing special is required for breeding, since even small number of them can eventually fill even a large tank.

Malaysian trumpet snails are livebearers, meaning they give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. After successful mating, the female will carry developing embryos inside her until they are ready to be released as miniature snails. Once the embryos are fully developed, the female snail will release the miniature snails into the aquarium. The young snails are self-sufficient and will start burrowing and foraging for food immediately.