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4 Common Mystery Snail Siphon Questions Answered!

With mystery snails being considered one of the best additions to an aquarium to help control algae and detritus more and more people are adding a mystery snail to their tank with each month that goes by with many people choosing to add multiple mystery snails for larger tanks.

We constantly see a wide range of questions relating to mystery snails from the fish keeping community with a large number of people reaching out each month and asking questions about the mystery snail siphon.

We also see a range of slightly different questions from the community about the mystery snail siphon so we decided to cover them all in this article to try and provide as much information for our readers in one place as possible.

The majority of questions that we see people asking do usually fall into one of the four questions that we will cover so we are sure that we will be able to answer your question.

Due to covering a number of slightly different questions in this article, we have added our table of contents below to try and make it as quick and easy as possible to navigate the article.

You are able to click any of the sections in the table of contents to quickly skip to the specific section that you need information for regarding your mystery snail.

What Is The Tube On My Mystery Snail?

Mystery snails can have a siphon that some species will use to draw air from above the surface of the water if the water levels in the tank are too low. This can look strange the first time that you see it but the siphon tubes are totally normal and nothing to worry about.

Keep in mind that not all mystery snails are the same species of snail and the term “mystery snail” originally came from fish keepers who were unable to identify the species of snail that they had.

Although many mystery snails are apple snails, there are a number of other species of snail in there with some potentially not having a tube siphon so don’t worry if you never see your mystery snail with its siphon out.

Although a mystery snail with its siphon tube exposed can suggest that there is a low level of oxygen in the water, many mystery snails will extend their siphon tubes during the night or when there is low light in the tank too.

It is not known why some mystery snails do this while others don’t but it is common and does not always mean that there are issues with the oxygen levels in your tank.

“Mystery snail” by Geek2Nurse is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Why Do Mystery Snails Use Their Siphon?

Mystery snails use their siphon tube to get quick access to air above the surface of the water while keeping their body underwater. This allows them to breathe without having to leave the water and allows them to keep feeding without having to leave the water.

Some people also theorize that mystery snails will use their siphon for some types of communication but there is little to no evidence to support this. Most of the cases that people try to use to prove this point are usually correlations rather than causation of the mystery snail extending its siphon.

As we touched on above, there are also seemingly random times when a mystery snail will extend its siphon tube too, usually at night or when there is minimal light on the tank.

Some mystery snails can also have issues with retracting their siphons once they have extended them too so you may see a mystery snail with its siphon out for hours or even days in some cases due to not being able to retract it.

Why Does My Mystery Snail Leave Its Siphon Out?

The two most common reasons that a mystery snail will leave its siphon out is either due to there being low oxygen levels in the tank or due to it having problems retracting its siphon.

If fish nip at the mystery snail’s siphon while extended it can damage the muscles used to retract it resulting in the snail needing hours or even days to retract its siphon.

Although rare, some older mystery snails have been observed to randomly extend and retract their siphon tube too with seemingly no reason being present for the activity.

This can result in some fish keepers worrying about the oxygen levels in their tank but it really does just seem to be a random behavior in some older mystery snails with no real explanation as to why they do it.

The siphon tube on your mystery snail can sometimes end up damaged preventing the mystery snail from ever being able to retract it too.

This does tend to be very rare but there have been instances where a fish has nipped at the siphon and damaged it to a level where the snail is not able to retract it again.

Why Does My Mystery Snail Not Use Its Siphon?

Not all mystery snails have a siphon due to the term “mystery snail” actually being used to refer to a number of different species of snail.

Some snails simply never feel the need to extend their siphon either so you will never see them using their siphon but this does not mean that there is any problem with your snail or your water parameters.

In some situations, it can actually be a good sign if your mystery snail never extends its siphon tube as it suggests your water parameters are ideal for the snail.

As we mentioned above, sometimes mystery snails will only extend their siphon at night too while you are sleeping so this reduces the chance of you seeing your snails with their siphon out too.


That brings our article going over the mystery snail siphon tube to an end. We hope that you have found our article helpful and that we have been able to help you better understand what the siphon tube is and what it’s usually used for with mystery snails. As we mentioned though, there are some seemingly random behaviours when it comes to the mystery snail siphon tube that really do just appear to be random and not follow any logical pattern.