If you keep Pomacea bridgesii or Pomacea canaliculata Apple Snails you may find yourself in the predicament of discovering a lovely grape-like egg cluster deposited on the side of your tank or maybe even up on the cover of your aquarium. Do not panic! Read these simple instructions and you will be well on your way to raising up your own baby Apple Snails. These instructions are NOT intended for rearing Marisa Cornurietis (Giant Colombian Ramshorn) snails as they lay aquatic eggs.
Hatching them out naturally
Most of these types of Apple Snails will lay their eggs along the top edge of the glass on the aquarium wall, that is, if you leave at least 2" of glass between the waterline and the rim. Usually the eggs will be fine there, unless there is an overabundance of condensation that prevents the clutch from adhering properly to the glass and rim. My clutches that are laid nearest the heater seem to have better luck hatching out without any problems. I believe this is due to the slightly drier environment and proximity to the heat source. Clutches generally take between 2-4 weeks to hatch. Make a note in your calendar when the clutch was laid. Mark the 2-week anniversary and a 5-week anniversary. Don't get too excited about them until the 2-week mark. At 2 weeks, check them and see if there is any difference in their appearance. My Pomacea bridgesii clutches (light pink) tend to darken up as they are nearing their hatch date. The Pomacea canaliculata clutches (reddish-orange) look whiter and more dry the closer to hatching they get. Check weekly for differences. If they have not hatched by 5 weeks, gently slide the clutch on the glass until it slides freely and can be lifted off the glass. Break it in half slowly and peer inside. If there is only gel-like goo and it smells kind of bad, toss it. It's infertile. If you see some tiny brownish babies or if the clutch crumbles in your hand when you try to slide it off, it is ready to hatch and they just needed some help. Take the pieces of egg clutch and swish them in the tank water you wish to rear them in. They will float to the bottom and begin seeking food. Apple Snails can store sperm for months at a time and will wait until conditions are optimal before laying eggs. Don't be surprised if you purchase one Apple Snail and find that it has laid eggs 3 months later. They may be infertile or they may have been previously fertilized before you bought her. If she decides to lay eggs, consider yourself lucky. She apparently thinks you have provided a lovely home for her. It's a compliment!
Hatching them in a homemade "incubator"
This is where it can get tricky. Either you've had the eggs laid in your own tank and they fell off, you needed to move them or you purchased the eggs someone else had. In any case, you need to build an "incubator" quick. Building an incubator can be done in many ways. It's pretty easy and requires no special knowledge or tools.
The Net Breeder Method
(Read all instructions before purchasing any of the components)
This is very much like the Critter Keeper method, except you are utilizing the warmth of your tank and the same water. To me this method is somewhat easier to deal with. But it all depends on your tank situation. I install this so that the net breeder hangers (metal clips) are positioned on the short side of my tank. The contraption is just underneath the lid of the tank so I can easily check on them with minimal disturbance to the clutches. (1) Net Breeder made for fish. You can purchase these also at WalMart or any fish supply store. They run about $6.00 each. (1) Sheet of Plastic Canvas from the craft section of WalMart or any craft store.
*Requires that you have a light hood on your aquarium.
Place the net breeder in your tank after putting it together. You don't have to install the plastic plants that are sometimes provided. They are not needed for this application. Adjust the metal hooks so that when you put a sheet of plastic canvas over the top, there will still be room to place egg clutches without hitting the lid of the tank. Make sure to adjust it so that your aquarium hood still fits reasonably well over the metal hooks that hold the net breeder up also. There should be at least a couple inches of water at the bottom of the net breeder. Now, cut a sheet of the plastic canvas to fit on top of at least ½ of the net breeder. The plastic canvas will be supported on 3 sides by the top of the net breeder. Scoot at least one edge of the plastic canvas underneath the edge of your aquarium hood. This will help ensure it doesn't fall.
Add your egg clutch(es) to the top of the plastic canvas. Shut the lid to your aquarium. If you've adjusted it all correctly, there should be no problems shutting the lid. If there is a problem, take the clutches off and readjust it.
I use this method because I don't have to worry about the cats knocking the Critter Keeper down and I am going to put the babies in that same tank anyway. I just want to control where they hatch, so I can inspect them and not worry about the clutch falling in while I'm away from home.
The Plastic Canvas in the Critter Keeper Method
(Read all instructions before purchasing any of the components)
(1) *medium sized Critter Keeper, a plastic box that you can purchase at your local WalMart or Petsmart which comes with a lid and usually a handle on the smaller ones. *Size you buy is dependent upon if you intend to house the babies in there for any length of time or if it is merely to get them hatched out and moved to a regular tank just after hatching. Cost: $7.00 or more on average, depending on size. (2) sheet of plastic canvas found in the craft section of your local WalMart or other craft store. Buy whichever size will meet the needs of your Critter Keeper. Take the sheet of plastic canvas and put it inside your Critter Keeper. It needs to be cut to fit in order to make a "U" shape, held in place by tension against the sides of the Critter Keeper. Pretty simple design, really. You want the bottom of the "U" to NOT touch the water you will put in the bottom. If you just intend to hatch the babies out in the Critter Keeper and not house them for more than a week or 2 at best, just add about an inch of water or whatever will cover an airstone without it making a huge amount of noise. If you are housing the babies in there until they are large enough to place in a tank with other fish, etc. in it, perhaps you will add a few inches of water. Either way, you need some water in the bottom of it for the babies to hatch and fall or crawl into. Once you have put it together, put the water in the bottom, add your plastic canvas "U" and add your egg clutch on top of the "U". Cover the Critter Keeper and either keep it in a warm place, or put a heating pad on the lowest setting underneath 1/3 or so of the Critter Keeper. Ideally, you can place it on top of your existing aquarium and the radiant heat from the light and tank will heat it for you, unless you have cats like I do, which will promptly knock the whole contraption over and drink the water contained inside! After the babies hatch, add the air hose with airstone attached to an pump. The babies will relish the added air and will sometimes ride the bubbles.
Rearing the Babies
Now that you've hatched those darling baby Apple Snails out, you must care for them. They are easy to care for so there's nothing to it.
Food: They relish algae wafers/pellets, shrimp pellets and depending on species, enjoy some fresh veggies like Romaine lettuce, Spinach and Cilantro. P. bridgesii seem to be the least fond of the veggies though. So they're fine with the commercial foods mentioned. Break the wafers or pellets into smaller pieces and sprinkle them throughout the tank so the little guys don't have to roam far to eat.
Care: Snails in general produce a lot of waste. Give regular water changes and test for ammonia levels and pH. They need a pH level of 7 or over. The higher the better. Of course ammonia levels should be -0-.
That's about it, in a nutshell. Pretty easy stuff. Read the snail care guides for the species you keep. And don't forget to visit your one-stop-snail-site http://www.applesnail.net for information on these wonderful pets. Good luck!