Malaysian Trumpet Snails 101: A Comprehensive Care (Guide)

Malaysian Trumpet Snails are a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts looking to add a unique and beneficial species to their tanks. These small, cone-shaped creatures are known for their scavenging behavior, helping to keep the tank clean by consuming excess food and decaying plant matter.

In addition to their cleaning abilities, Malaysian Trumpet Snails also play a vital role in aerating the substrate, promoting healthy plant growth, and preventing the build-up of harmful gases.

This comprehensive care guide will delve into everything you need to know about Aquarium Trumpet Snails, from their ideal tank setup and water parameters to their diet and breeding habits.

malaysian trumpet snail

Whether you are a beginner looking to add these snails to your aquarium for the first time or a seasoned hobbyist wanting to improve your care techniques, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to care for Malaysian Snails in your tank successfully. 

Is Malaysian Trumpet Snail Pet or Pest in Aquarium?

The Malaysian Trumpet Snail (MTS) often sparks debate among aquarists, falling into a gray area between pet and pest. Their impact on your aquarium depends largely on your perspective and goals:

✅ The Case for “Pet”:

  • Natural Cleaners: MTS are efficient scavengers, consuming leftover food detritus and decaying plant matter, contributing to a cleaner and healthier aquarium environment.
  • Live Food Source: Some fish species relish MTS as a tasty snack, adding variety to their diet.
  • Interesting Behavior: Observing the snail Malaysian burrowing and scavenging activities can be fascinating.
  • Low Maintenance: They require minimal care and thrive in various water conditions.

❌ The Case for “Pest”:

  • Rapid Reproduction: MTS populations can explode under favorable conditions, potentially overwhelming an aquarium.
  • Substrate Disturbance: Excessive burrowing can uproot plants and create cloudy water.
  • Aesthetic Concerns: Their presence may not be desirable in aquascaped or show tanks.

⚖️ Finding Balance:

  • Population Control: Introduce natural predators like assassin snails or loaches to keep MTS numbers in check.
  • Manual Removal: Regularly remove excess snails by hand or using traps.
  • Prevent Overfeeding: Limiting excess food reduces the available resources for MTS to reproduce.

Whether you consider Malaysian Trumpet Snails pets or pests depends on your preferences and aquarium goals. Understanding their behavior and implementing appropriate management strategies can help maintain a balanced and healthy ecosystem.

What is the Problem with Malaysian Trumpet Snails?

Trumpet Malaysian snails (also known as Melania) are a type of freshwater snail that is native to Southern Asia. These snails are known for their elongate shells with a conical shape and are usually light brown marked with rust colored spots.

Malaysian trumpet snails have a unique operculum that allows them to retreat into their whorl for protection. They are commonly found in aquatic environments, including brackish water, where they feed on algae and dead plants.

However, Malaysian trumpet snails have become a problem in many ecosystems worldwide due to their ability to reproduce rapidly and outcompete native snails. They are considered an invasive species and have been linked to the decline of native snail populations.

In addition to outcompeting native species, Malaysian trumpet snails can serve as an intermediate host for parasites such as trematodes. These parasites can infect the snails and then transfer to other organisms, harming the ecosystem as a whole.

Research conducted by the USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database has shown that trumpet Malaysian snails can also carry diseases that can harm susceptible organisms. Efforts are being made to control the spread of Malaysian trumpet snails and prevent further damage to aquatic ecosystems.

This species reproduces asexually (parthenogenetically) and bears live young (ovoviparous). Females don’t need males to fertilize eggs. Instead, eggs develop inside the mother’s body, where they hatch.

The young snails grow within a special pouch until they are mature enough to be released. This pouch can hold an impressive number, up to 64 embryos at a time! The eggs are small, measuring only 60-90 micrometers in diameter.

How Big Do Malaysian Trumpet Snails Get?

Malaysian Trumpet Snails (MTS) are relatively small snails, typically reaching an adult size of around 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length. Some individuals may grow slightly larger in the brood pouch, but they rarely exceed 1.5 inches.

Factors Influencing Size:

  • Genetics: Slight variations in size can occur due to genetic differences among individuals.
  • Environmental Conditions: Optimal water quality, ample food supply, and appropriate water temperature can contribute to healthy growth.
  • Tank Size: While not a direct factor in their maximum size, providing adequate space helps prevent overcrowding and resource competition, allowing snails to reach their full potential.

Malaysian Trumpet Snail Tank Mates

Malaysian Trumpet Snails are commonly kept in aquariums as they help remove debris and algae. However, it is important to choose suitable tank mates to ensure their well-being and compatibility.

Good tank mates for Malaysian Trumpet Snails include nerite and red-rimmed melania snails, as they are all peaceful and can share the same space without any issues. These snails can also coexist with ghost shrimp and cherry shrimp, as they are not aggressive towards each other.

When introduced to a tank with the right conditions, Malaysian Trumpet Snails thrive and reproduce without much effort, making them a popular choice for Malaysian and burrowing snail enthusiasts.

However, caution should be taken to prevent them from becoming invasive in the ecosystem. Malaysian Trumpet Snails are part of the Thiaridae family, which includes the red-rim Melania and tarebia granifera. These snails have the potential to spread quickly if not properly managed, so it is essential to monitor their population in the tank.

Studies have been conducted to determine the snail’s impact on local ecosystems, such as the case of the Malaysian snail in Biscayne National Park. Researchers have found that these exotic aquatic snails can harm native mollusk populations if not controlled.

Choosing Between Malaysian Trumpet Snails and Ramshorn Snails:

Both Malaysian Trumpet Snails (MTS) and Ramshorn Snails are popular additions to freshwater aquariums, but they each offer different benefits and considerations. Let’s explore their characteristics to help you decide which is best for your tank:

Malaysian Trumpet Snails:

  • Pros:
  • Excellent substrate cleaners: They burrow into the substrate, aerating it and consuming detritus and leftover food, which helps maintain water quality.
  • Control algae growth: While not as efficient as some algae eaters, they keep algae in check.
  • Peaceful and won’t harm plants or fish: Safe for community tanks with various species.
  • Reproduction control: Their reproduction is linked to food availability, so overpopulation is less likely than that of Ramshorn snails.
  • Cons:
  • Can become numerous if overfed: While generally manageable, overfeeding can lead to a population boom.
  • Difficult to remove from the substrate: Their burrowing nature makes manual removal challenging.
  • Not the most visually appealing: Their cone-shaped shells are often buried, and their appearance is less vibrant than Ramshorn snails.

Ramshorn Snails:

  • Pros:
  • Visually appealing: They come in various colors and patterns, adding a decorative element to your tank.
  • Algae eaters: More efficient at consuming algae than MTS, particularly for soft algae types.
  • It is peaceful and safe for most community tanks.
  • Cons:
  • Can overpopulate easily: They reproduce quickly, potentially leading to a population explosion if not controlled.
  • They may nibble on delicate plants. While not their primary food source, they might damage fragile plant species if other food is scarce.
  • Less efficient substrate cleaners mainly focus on surfaces and decorations, providing less aeration and cleaning compared to MTS.

Here are some additional factors to consider when making your choice:

  • Tank size: Smaller tanks benefit more from efficiently cleaning MTS, while larger tanks can accommodate the potential population growth of Ramshorn snails.
  • Substrate type: MTS thrives in sand or fine gravel, while Ramshorn snails do well on various surfaces.
  • Plant species: MTS might be a safer choice if you have delicate plants.
  • Aesthetic preferences: Ramshorn snails offer a wider variety of colors and patterns than the more subdued MTS.

Ultimately, the best choice depends on your specific needs and preferences. Consider your tank setup, desired level of algae control, and aesthetic appeal when deciding.

Species summary for Snail Melanoides Tuberculata

Trumpet Snail

Common Name: Malaysian Trumpet Snail, Red-rimmed Melania


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Class: Gastropoda
  • Order: Neogastropoda
  • Family: Thiaridae
  • Genus: Melanoides
  • Species: M. tuberculata

Origin: Southeast Asia, but now widely distributed across the globe.


  • Shell: Cone-shaped with a pointed apex, it is typically brown or dark grey with reddish-brown bands or markings. The shell length ranges from 1 to 3.5 cm.
  • Body: Soft and elongated, dark grey or black with lighter speckles. They possess a long siphon for breathing and detecting food.


  • Freshwater environments with varying water conditions.
  • Prefer substrates of sand or fine gravel for burrowing.
  • Thrive in established aquariums with ample biofilm and detritus.


  • Primarily nocturnal, spending most of the day buried in the substrate.
  • Emerge at night to scavenge for food on the substrate and aquarium surfaces.
  • It is peaceful and does not harm plants or fish.


  • Detritivores feed on decaying organic matter, leftover food, and biofilm.
  • They contribute to algae control but are less efficient than dedicated algae eaters.


  • Livebearers, giving birth to live young.
  • Reproduction rate is linked to food availability, preventing excessive population growth under normal conditions.

Role in Aquarium:

  • Substrate cleaners: Aerate and clean the substrate by burrowing and consuming detritus.
  • Algae control: Contribute to reducing algae growth, especially on the substrate.
  • Water quality improvement: By consuming waste and aerating the substrate, they help maintain a healthy aquarium environment.


  • Population control: While generally manageable, overfeeding can lead to population booms.
  • Manual removal: Their burrowing behavior makes removing them from the substrate complex.
  • Visual appeal: Their dark shells are often hidden, making them less visually striking than other snail species.

Melanoides tuberculata is a valuable addition to many freshwater aquariums, contributing significantly to substrate cleanliness and overall water quality.

Where can you find Malaysian trumpet snails for sale?

To buy Malaysian trumpet snails, check online aquarium stores, local fish shops, or online marketplaces like eBay and Facebook groups.

How to get rid of Malaysian trumpet snails?

To control Malaysian trumpet snail numbers, manually remove them, introduce snail-eating fish, or reduce overfeeding.

What eats Malaysian trumpet snails?

Several fish species prey on Malaysian trumpet snails, including assassin snails, loaches, pufferfish, and bettas.

How fast do Malaysian trumpet snails breed?

Malaysian snails reproduce quickly, giving birth to live young. Overfeeding can lead to population explosions.

What do Malaysian trumpet snail eggs look like?

Malaysian trumpet snails don’t lay eggs. They’re livebearers, meaning they give birth to fully developed miniature snails.

What do Malaysian trumpet snails eat?

Malaysian trumpet snails are opportunistic feeders, enjoying leftover fish food, algae, residue, and decaying plant matter. They’re excellent aquarium cleaners!

Are Malaysian trumpet snails good?

Malaysian trumpet snails can benefit from planted tanks, turning substrates, and eating waste. But, they can reproduce quickly and become overwhelming if not managed with low-feeding and snail-eating fish.

Do Malaysian trumpet snails eat other snails?

No, Malaysian trumpet snails are detritivores and scavengers. They eat decaying matter and algae, not other living snails.

Do Malaysian trumpet snails eat fish eggs?

Yes, Malaysian trumpet snails are opportunistic feeders and will likely consume fish eggs if they find them. Consider removing eggs to a separate tank for better hatching chances.

Are trumpet snails pests snails?

Malaysian snails can be beneficial or become pests. They clean waste but reproduce quickly. To control their population, limit food and add snail eaters (if your tank is compatible).

What eats trumpet snails?

Few fish target trumpet snails due to their rugged, elongated conical shells. Assassin snails and some loaches like yoyo loaches may eat them, but tank maintenance is a better long-term control method.

Is a filter needed for a tank that contains only snails?

A filter isn’t mandatory for a snail tank, but it helps! Live plants, sponge filters, and frequent water changes can maintain water quality in a snail tank with a low bioload.


Whether you’re a seasoned aquarist or just starting your underwater journey, maintaining a healthy and balanced ecosystem is crucial. While fish often steal the spotlight, let’s not forget the hardworking janitorial crew – the invertebrates! From the algae-munching prowess of snails to the efficient detritus-clearing abilities of shrimp, these little helpers play a vital role in keeping your aquatic world thriving.

So next time you admire your sparkling clean tank, take a moment to appreciate the often-overlooked heroes working tirelessly behind the scenes. And if you’re looking for a practical and low-maintenance cleaning crew, consider adding a team of Malaysian trumpet snails to your aquarium – your substrate will thank you!

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About Me

I am the founder of, a devoted wife and mother, and an avid fish enthusiast. My aim is to assist fellow fish lovers worldwide in understanding how to properly care for and breed their pet fish.

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