White Spots on Snail Shell [09 Reasons, Solution & Prevention]

White spots on snail shells are commonly attributed to calcium deficiency, high CO2 levels, physical damage, or fungal infection. Additionally, natural factors like age and genetics can also contribute to the formation of these white spots.

White spots on a snail shell can be a cause for concern, as they may indicate underlying health issues or potential infection. These spots, which appear as small white patches or specks on the shell’s surface, can be caused by a variety of factors.

Whatever the cause, it is important to address the issue promptly to ensure the snail’s health and well-being. Here in this article, I’ll address the causes of white spots on snail shells and discuss potential treatments and prevention methods.

Snails in one of my aquarium ecosystem
Snails in one of my aquarium ecosystem

What Causes White Spots On Snail Shells?

Many causes can trigger white spots on a snail shell. I’ve listed down the 7 possible causes which can help you identify the reason, and provide the necessary remedies.

1. Calcium Deficiency

Calcium plays a vital role in the health of aquarium snails. It is the building block for its shell formation.

One significant sign of calcium deficiency is the appearance of white spots or pits on the snail’s shell. These spots indicate that the shell growth is incomplete and irregular due to the lack of sufficient calcium.

In more severe cases of calcium deficiency, the snail’s shell may start to erode or deteriorate. Without enough calcium to keep the structure intact, the shell’s quality gradually declines, affecting the snail’s buoyancy and movement.

With weakened shells, snails become more vulnerable to injuries. Even minor bumps or contact with sharp objects can cause cracks or breaks in the shell. These openings not only cause discomfort to the snail but also pave the way for potential infections.

A sick mystery snail shell is deteriorating
A mystery snail shell is deteriorating

I hope as you’re keeping snails you already know the importance of calcium for them. But what if you’re giving them all the calcium they need, and still those annoying white spots show up on their shells?

I’ll suggest checking the water stuff in your tank, like potassium and pH levels. Sometimes, if there’s too much potassium and the pH is too low, it can make it hard for snails to use the calcium they need.

2. High Level of CO2 in Aquarium Water

When the CO2 levels in the water get too high, it starts messing with the water chemistry. The water becomes more acidic, which is not great news for our snails.

Do you know why? Because snails need just the right pH level to build and maintain their lovely shells. But when the water becomes too acidic, it becomes harder for them to do that.

Nerite snail turning white
Nerite snail turning white Owner: Lisa Jenkins

So what happens then? Well, their shells may start to show signs of wear and tear, and white spots are one of them. Certain snail species like Nerite snails are more prone to develop white spots due to high CO2 levels.

The snails might also have a harder time moving around because high-level CO2 means low levels of oxygen. If your tank water contains high levels of CO2, snails, and other fish species will exhibit discomfort, and they will stay mostly near the water’s surface to get oxygen.

I have a separate article on signs of too much CO2 in aquarium water, you can also read that.

If you have a CO2 injection system, it’s better to install some sort of CO2 indicator so that you can readily know the status of the CO2 level in the tank water.

3. Fungal Infections

In some cases, fungal infections can lead to white spots appearing on snail shells. These infections can be triggered by poor water conditions or stress.

One of the most noticeable impacts of fungal infection is the deterioration of the snail’s shell. Fungi can eat away at the shell’s surface, causing it to become pitted, discolored, and weakened.

Mystery snail in an aquarium
Mystery snail in an aquarium Owner: Amanda Orlich Ahern

4. Expose to Copper

The presence of copper in aquarium tank water can have a significant impact on the formation of white spots on aquarium snails’ shells. Copper, which can sometimes find its way into aquarium water from various sources (tap water, decors, etc.) can be toxic to aquatic organisms, including snails.

Copper, even at low levels, can corrode and weaken the shells of snails. This can lead to shell erosion and the development of white spots on the snail’s shell surface. The copper disrupts the shell’s structure and integrity, making it more susceptible to damage and discoloration.

White spots due to age in one of Mystery snails
White spots due to age in one of Mystery snails

Exposure to elevated copper levels can hinder the normal growth and development of snail shells. The snails may struggle to lay down new shell material properly, resulting in irregular and pitted shell surfaces, which may appear as white spots.

5. Shell Erosion Due to Age

Over time, a snail’s shell may naturally wear down due to factors like age. As the outer layer of the shell becomes worn, white spots may become more apparent.

6. Poor Water Condition

Poor water conditions can also contribute to the development of white spots on snail shells. It’s crucial to maintain ideal water parameters, including temperature, pH, and hardness.

Inappropriate water conditions cause stress to snails leading to the formation of white spots. Overcrowding and lack of maintenance are major reasons for bad water quality in the tank.

7. Physical Damage

Shell-cracked mystery snail

Improper tank mates or sharp decors may cause physical damage to their shells, such as cracks or chips, and can lead to the formation of white spots.

When a snail’s shell gets physically damaged, it weakens the overall integrity of the shell structure. The protective layer that keeps the shell strong and smooth gets compromised, leaving it vulnerable to various factors.

The damaged areas of the shell are more prone to accumulating debris, algae, and other particles. Over time, these deposits can lead to the formation of white spots on the shell’s surface.

8. Genetic Factors

Genetic variations can also contribute to the appearance of white spots on snail shells. Some snail species naturally possess a genetic predisposition for certain shell patterns, including white spots.

Sometimes white spots may appear naturally for Mystery snails when they change colors. However, white spots found on Mystery snails during changing color also disappear over time.

9. Other Snails Eggs are Sticking On Snail’s Shell

Nerite snail eggs attached to the Mystery snail shell
Nerite snail eggs attached to the Mystery snail shell

If you’re a fan of keeping different snail species together in your aquarium (which can be a great idea to control snail populations), there’s one important thing to be aware of.

When you have Nerite snails in the mix, you might notice something intriguing – their eggs can stick to various surfaces, including the shells of other snails.

Now, here’s the cool part – Nerite snail eggs won’t actually hatch in freshwater. But those tiny, round eggs can be found attached to different areas, and they might hitch a ride on the shells of other snails in the tank.

Differentiating Between Natural Markings And White Spots

Some snail species naturally exhibit unique markings on their shells, which may include white spots. These natural markings are typically symmetrical and consistent in appearance, providing aesthetic appeal to the shells.

Abnormal white spots, on the other hand, may appear irregular, discolored, or raised. They can be indicative of underlying health issues or damage to the shell.

It is essential to carefully observe the pattern and characteristics of the white spots to determine whether they are natural or abnormal.

Natural White Mark up on the snail
Natural White Mark up on the snail Owner: Alyssa Hofmann

Identifying White Spots On Snail Shells

White spots on snail shells can vary in size, shape, and texture, providing valuable clues about their origin and potential causes. By closely examining these characteristics, we can gain a better understanding of what these white spots might indicate.

  • Size: White spots can range from tiny specks to larger, more prominent patches.
  • Shape: They can be round, oval, irregular, or even elongated.
  • Texture: The surface of the white spots might be smooth, rough, or bumpy
  • Color variations: The white spots can appear pure white, off-white, or cream.
  • Pattern variations: The spot pattern can be scattered randomly, grouped in clusters, or follow specific lines or patterns.

Diagnosing And Treating White Spots On Snail Shells

White spots on snail shells are a common issue that many snail keepers encounter. These spots can be concerning, as they may indicate an underlying problem or potential health issue.

Steps To Accurately Diagnose The Cause Of White Spots

  • Observe the shell closely: Examine the white spots on the snail shell and take note of their size, shape, and location.
  • Assess water parameters: Test the water parameters in the snail’s tank, including pH levels, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. Any imbalances in these parameters can cause shell issues.
  • Identify potential infections: Look for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge around the white spots. Bacterial or fungal infections can manifest as white spots on the shell.
  • Evaluate dietary deficiencies: Assess the snail’s diet and ensure it receives adequate calcium and other essential nutrients. Calcium deficiency, for example, can lead to white spots on the shell.
Test snails tank water parameters
Test snails tank water parameters

Effective Treatment Methods For Different Causes

  • Maintain optimal water conditions: If poor water quality is the culprit, it is crucial to address the issue promptly. Perform regular water changes (10-25% weekly), ensuring the water parameters are within the appropriate range for the specific snail species including the CO2 level, pH, temperature, etc.
  • Check copper levels: Use a reliable copper testing kit, and check for copper. If it is high use activated carbon blocks to remove copper from the water, and also change the water to reduce the concentration.
  • Treat infections: If you suspect bacterial or fungal infections are identified, you can consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. They may prescribe antibiotics or antifungal medication to address the specific infection.
  • Calcium supplementation: If the white spots are due to calcium deficiency, it is essential to provide the snail with a calcium-rich diet or calcium supplements. Natural sources of calcium include cuttlebone and crushed eggshells.
  • Consider shell repair solutions: In some cases, special shell repair products are available in the market that can help restore and strengthen the damaged areas of the shell. These products can be effective when used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Nerite snails egg attached to the snail shell
Nerite snails egg attached to the snail shell

How To Prevent White Spots On Snail Shells

Prevention of white spots on snails’ shells is possible, and for that, you need to provide proper tank conditions. Please go through the list of items below, and think of those as a checklist to follow for providing a tank environment and care for snails.

  • Test Water parameters: Regularly test your aquarium or tank’s water parameters and make necessary adjustments to keep pH levels, temperature, and water hardness stable. This will help prevent the formation of white spots on snail shells.
  • Offer a variety of foods: Snails have a diverse diet, consisting of vegetation, fruits, and calcium-rich sources. Provide a variety of leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and lettuce, as well as fruits like apples and melons. Additionally, offer calcium supplements like cuttlebone or crushed eggshells to ensure they receive enough calcium for shell growth.
  • Avoid drastic changes: Sudden changes in water conditions or habitat can stress snails and lead to shell issues. When making adjustments, do so gradually, giving the snails time to acclimate.
  • Clean the tank properly: Regularly clean the tank to prevent the build-up of waste, which can alter water chemistry and negatively affect the snail’s shells. But be cautious not to use any harsh chemicals that could harm your snails.
  • Include hiding spots and climbing options: Snails appreciate having hiding spots to retreat to when they feel stressed or threatened. Adding rocks, pieces of wood, or live plants to their habitat can give them options for climbing and hiding.
  • Ensure proper lighting: Snails need a balance of light and darkness to maintain their natural rhythm. Provide a gentle, indirect light source during the day and a dark period at night to promote healthy shell growth.
  • Provide substrates: Snails enjoy burrowing and hiding, so it’s important to provide a suitable substrate such as coconut fiber or potting soil. This allows them to create tunnels and find their preferred sleeping spots.
White spots on snail
Nerite snail eggs attached to bladder snail Owner: Nicole Martini-Hicks

Common Myths And Misconceptions About White Spots On Snail Shells

Many snail owners believe that white spots on their shells indicate a sign of poor health or disease. However, this is not always the case. Here are some common myths related to snail shell health:

Myth 1: White spots are always a sign of illness.

Contrary to popular belief, white spots on snail shells are not always indicative of a health concern. While it may be a cause for concern in some cases, there are various other factors that can contribute to the formation of these spots.

Myth 2: White spots are contagious

It is often misunderstood that white spots on snail shells can spread to other snails and cause an outbreak. In reality, white spots are not contagious and cannot be transmitted from one snail to another. However, if the underlying cause

Myth 3: White spots can only be caused by poor water quality.

While water quality can certainly impact snail health, it is not the sole cause of white spots on shells. There are several other factors, including genetics and age, that can contribute to the development of these spots.

Frequently Asked Questions For White Spots On Snail Shell

Are White Spots On A Snail Shell Harmful?

White spots on a snail shell may not always be harmful. However, it tells that something not going right for snails in the tank unless it is related to age or genetics

How Can I Prevent White Spots From Forming On A Snail Shell?

To prevent white spots from forming on a snail shell, it’s crucial to provide them with a calcium-rich diet. This can include foods like cuttlefish bone, eggshells, and calcium supplements specifically designed for snails. Additionally, ensuring a clean and comfortable habitat for the snails can also help prevent any potential shell issues.

Will The White Spots On A Snail Shell Go Away On Their Own?

White spots on a snail shell will not go away on their own. These spots are a permanent part of the shell’s pattern and will remain there unless the shell itself is replaced through natural shedding or growth. However, by providing proper care and nutrition, you can prevent the formation of additional white spots in the future.

Wrapping Up

White spots on a snail shell can indicate various factors such as calcium deficiency, stress, or a natural part of the snail’s life cycle. It is essential to maintain a well-balanced diet and provide appropriate conditions for snails to prevent the formation of white spots.

The appearance of these spots should not be a cause for immediate concern, as long as the snail remains active and vibrant.

However, if there are other accompanying symptoms of illness or the snail’s activity levels decrease significantly, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian or an experienced snail enthusiast for further guidance.

Sujit Modak

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