Chinese (Oriental) Mystery Snail  (Viviparus malleatus) 

Photo credit: Animal Pictures Archive,
Credit: This web page was first developed by Stacey A. Bataran.

The size of a native Chinese Mystery Snail shell is 60 mm, or about two and one quarter inches in length, yet the introduced species occupies a larger shell. Color is uniform, light to dark olive-green, without any color bands. Coloring of the shell also varies between the native and introduced species.  Native species show fine color banding that ranges from light to dark olive-green.  The introduced species has similar color that is uniform, or without banding. 

Shell composition is the same for both native and introduced species.  The smooth, thin shell has very fine growth rings.  The whorls are tightly wound in a strong, convex shape with deep sutures, creating a slight shoulder.  The outer lip has a round, or slightly oval shape. 

Although the shell has distinguishing character, Chinese Mystery Snail may be mistaken when an individual is small, or depressed in size, and darker in color.  The common oversight may lead one to believe the individual is V. intertextus

(Source: 1. Poss, Stuart G. with the University of Southern Mississippi,; 2. A. Florida Museum of Natural History,


Nonindigenous aquatic species impact an ecosystem in many ways. One of these is the restructuring of established food webs. For example, when these snails introduced into the Great Lakes occurred in Sandusky Bay, Lake Erie, Ohio, in the 1940s, they reached high densities in Sandusky Bay. Therefore, fishermen often made seine hauls containing "2 tons" of snails. This is done through competition with native species for food and space, which may result in the total devastation of a native species.  

(Source: 1.SGNIS,


Chinese Mystery Snail originated in Asia. There are several information about their origin and introduction methods. According to Wood (1892), in San Francisco, around 1892, the first live specimens were imported for sale in a Chinese market. In addition, The first credible sighting of this species was in 1911 by Hannibal.  He found a population thriving in San Francisco Bay, California.  In 1915, Johnson reported
these snails on the east coast of North America in Boston, Massachusetts.  Clench and Fuller reported the species established on both coasts of North America in 1965. Widely distributed in the United States, the snail's Great Lakes distribution in 1965 included isolated populations in Michigan and Indiana and abundant populations along the Ohio shoreline of Lake Erie (Clench and Fuller 1965, Jokinen 1982).

The probable mode of transportation and release was through the home aquarium market.  Other possible modes that aid the spread of nonindigenous species include ship's ballast water, transoceanic vessels, and bait buckets.

(Sources: 1. SGNIS,; 2.Poss, Stuart G. with the University of Southern Mississippi,


Information concerning chemical and biological control of Chinese Mystery Snail  is not available. However, general methods of snails eradication will be described in this section.

Biological Controls

Puffers, most cited are the green Tetraodon fluviatilis and samphong's, T. samphongsi. These avid snail eaters, are also fin nippers and worse; keep your eye on them. Also, be aware that often the 'freshwater' puffers offered are more brackish to marine.

Loaches: The larger Botia hymenophysa and orange or red-finned B. modesta are the best snail getters, but can turn mean to community fishes. The ever-popular clown loach, B. macracantha will do. For smaller systems the dwarf loach,Botia sidthmunki is a sure winner.

Cichlids for the job include the lowly convict/pink congo to the specialized africans, Haplochromis placodon, Chilotilapia rhoadesi, Lamprologus tetracanthus among others. As usual with this diverse family, you may be minus the snails, traded for cichlid-destroyed plants, excavation... Be wary of keeping large cichlids and live plants together.

Snail-Eating Turtles: I mention in an effort to be thorough. In the old pet-fish store days we used to 'lease/lend' such turtles to aquarists who wanted to rid their systems of snails. They worked.

Lots of Fishes will bug snails (possibly to death); bettas and their relatives, the gouramis; swordtails & guppies...

Chemical Control: An Oxymoron For Sure

The least desirable means of snail eradication; too toxic, dangerous. If you're going to resort to poisoning, thin the herd first by the methods described under physical removal; baiting and hand-netting.

If you consider semi un-selective poisoning to be the modern way to rid your tanks of snails, do purchase a product specifically formulated for this purpose and utilize exactly per instructions. In particularly, be accurate as to how many real gallons of water are in the system and turn off, remove chemical filtrants while treating.

Those pretty blue copper compounds labeled as snail-i-cides are the most efficacious; be wary of nicotine and organophosphate treatments. If still not dissuaded, please see my gratuitous self-citations regarding chemical safety and use.

(source from: 1. Snails- Bane/Boon, Selection/Elimination: WetWebMedia,


Credit: Drs. Foster & Smith

Viviparus: Florida Museum of Natural History

This site provides a brief description of Viviparus.

Viviparus malleatus
This site contains edible molluscs' data base found in terrestrial and freshwater.

Viviparus malleattus:
This site includes a brief information of
Viviparus malleattus: origin, characteristics, and reproduction.

Snails- Bane/Boon, Selection/Elimination: WetWebMedia
This site explains some advantages and disadvantages about snails, and control methods.

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