Skip to Content

Can Snails Swim?

There are plenty of species of snails out there that say yes to the question: Can snails swim? These are aquatic and semiaquatic snails that have actually evolved fin-like appendages that allow them to navigate the water.

These species of snails, such as pteropods, often live in the ocean and spend their entire lives swimming around. Other types of snails, such as terrestrial snails, can’t swim even though they like to soak in shallow, still water.

Even snails that are fully aquatic typically don’t spend much time swimming. They like to cruise along the sides of glass aquarium tanks as well as rocks, logs, and other objects in the water. However, they don’t actually spend too much time swimming.

Terrestrial snails never swim. They occasionally enjoy a nice soak in water in order to help them stay hydrated, but it can actually be dangerous for them to go in water that’s too deep or moving too quickly. Here is everything you’ve ever wanted to know about snails swimming.

Can Snails Swim?

Answering the question can snails swim comes with its own particular set of problems. It might surprise you to know that there are more than one type of snail out there and that each type of snail has a different relationship with water as well as its ability to swim.

There are some species of snails that spend their entire lives living in the open ocean while there are others that are terrestrial and try to avoid going in the water as much as they can. We’re going to have to talk about terrestrial snails and aquatic snails in order to understand the question: can snails swim?

Terrestrial snails cannot swim and typically avoid entering collected pools of water because it poses a risk that they might drown or get stuck.

Terrestrial snails do love damp weather, and if you have a pet snail it’s even going to spend some time soaking in his water bowl, but it’s never going to try to take a swim.

These snails simply lack any ability to navigate open waters which means that if they try to swim, they could drown. It’s a completely different story when we get to talk about aquatic snails.

There are particular species of snails that spend their entire lives living in the water. Nertile snails, assassin snails, and pteropods are just a few of the types of snails that spend their entire life cycle in the water.

Even still, only pteropods can actually swim out of these snails we mentioned. They have special adaptations that allow them to swim through water rather than just live underwater.

These snails use specialized limbs that look a lot like fins to help them navigate swimming in the water.

Why Is My Snail Swimming?

If you got a fish tank at home, there’s a good chance that you have some snails living in there. If you see your snail starting to swim about, it could be a sign that there are problems with the water quality in your aquarium.

Most snails don’t try to swim, but they will float to the surface to either eat film that grows on the surface of the water or escape bad conditions in the aquarium. If you have a type of snail that naturally swims, like a pteropod, then you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Most snails don’t actually swim when they live in an aquarium, but they can float around in their tank as they need.

Snails use this as a natural ability to quickly escape conditions that are unfavorable such as a dirty aquarium, low oxygen in the water, or other problems that they need to get away from.

If you see your snail floating around the aquarium, there’s a good chance that you need to change something about the water to make sure that your snail stays happy.

Snails can also start to float around the aquarium after they have died. It’s easy to tell if a snail is just floating to the surface to try to grab something to eat or if it is no longer alive.

Snails that have passed away will not try to retreat into their shells if you pick them up and they will also typically start to smell within 12 hours of dying.

If you start to see your snail is floating around, the best course of action is to attempt to figure out what’s causing them to be uncomfortable in your aquarium.

Can A Snail Survive In Water?

This can be a complicated question because there’s a lot of different species of snails out there and some of them actually spend their entire lives swimming in water.

Aquatic and semi aquatic snails can be perfectly at home surviving near and in water even while swimming around. Terrestrial snails might soak in water for short periods of time, but they do run the risk of drowning if they attempt to go in water that’s too deep or moving too quickly.

Let’s take a look at these two different types of snails and how they respond to living in and around water.

Aquatic snails have evolved to spend their entire lives, or most of their lives, underneath water.

They can go out of the water for extended periods of time to either lay eggs or change locations, but they’ll quickly go back in the water in order to stay hydrated.

Aquatic snails can even breathe underwater which means that there are many species that actually never surface and spend their entire lives under the waves.

Certain species of snails, particularly those that live in the ocean, have even evolved fins that help them swim around while they’re in the water.

Terrestrial snails, on the other hand, haven’t had these evolutionary adaptations and can’t spend much time in the water. It’s common for these snails to soak in puddles or their water dish in order to stay hydrated, to cool down, or just to relax.

However, you need to make sure that their water dishes aren’t too deep or the snail could get stuck and drown in the water. Terrestrial snails also don’t go into running water as this could be a serious risk for their health and safety.


So, can snails swim? There are plenty of species of snails out there that can swim, but these are typically found in the ocean and aren’t found in aquariums very often. There are other species of aquatic snails that can live underwater for their entire lives as well as terrestrial snails that only go in shallow pools of water to soak and get a drink. This means that there are some species of snails that can swim, and some that can’t.